Monday, 24 April 2017

Update on research - Prologue to the probabilistic analysis of Offshore Wind Turbines (OWT)

Hello !

Here we are again, this time to talk a bit about work.

As you may know from previous posts I have been working on characterizing probabilistically the OWT towers, specifically for the fatigue analysis.

The fatigue analysis recomended for the design of OWT towers usually involves a very high number of simulations and some statistical distributions.
What is done is to run multiple simulations that reproduce the loads on the OWT; apply a methodology to count the loads that happen in every simulation; use the well know fatigue curves and linear damage sumation and then work on reproducing the best the complete lifetime of the turbine.
Obviously, it is quite unfeasible to make simulations for the full 10, 20 or many L years of simulations. So, what is usually done is to, using all the loads the we can obtain, extrapolate the loads for the period of time we want to design. This is assuming that the high load ranges will have the most impact on the fatigue life.

It is easy to understand that ideally the L years of life should be assessed completely, but that is a hard task. Even not "running" all the L years of loads accomplishing the design to fatigue is a heavy task. Now imagine if you want to run it for a probabilistic approach? Not easy. That would mean, for instance, simulating multiple turbines and see the variations in the extrapolation if you want to focus only on the loads. Naturally, there are other uncertainties that have also some influence in the expected life.

I have been working to implement a new methodology to assess the fatigue of the OWT and that is specifically working with Kriging surrogate models. The Kriging surrogate models are an amazing tool originnally developed for  geostatistics that interpolates function in a Gaussian process. Is true, I was amazed the first time I ran into them. Of course, their Gaussian characteristic which accounts for some uncertainty and the possibility to interpolate functions made them quite popular for reliability. Lately, their usage spread into the reliability world.

As I believe they are a very interesting tool, I will keep a full post for them, and that will be the next one.  For now this was a small introduction to present them.

Regards and see you very soon. This time as the topic is already introduced I won't be able to escape ;)


Sunday, 19 March 2017

New working paradigm

So, two posts ago we started a brief discussion about how work is faced nowadays, introducing also, the fact that the working reality is (looking like) changing. 

People have been spending lots of time thinking on what is happening and I am not different. So I also brainstorm a bit about what is really happening everywhere... With so much crazy stuff happening around the world lately. 

So, the exercise is simple: Let's look around us and think on what are we seeing everywhere.

Unemployment is in fact a big problem today as the society and capitalism is quite built on work. With it comes big migrating movements, further social inequality, is deeply connected with criminality, and etc etc... 

Lots of the recent world changes, and specially the growing trends of radicalism are also connected to it. People are not happy in general and blame what they shouldn't blame, they are longing for change. Opportunists appear, as in EUA or UK appear and tell people exactly what they want to hear. In the end, you can't blame people for, in desperation or unhappiness, voting for change. 

I read recently about the election in the EUA and how the middle regions EUA contributed strongly for the election of the current president. It stated that in average a middle class worker in the primary sector in these regions earned today the same as 40 years ago. Being this fact a reality, it is normal that these people are moving for change instead of keeping the same system. 

In the UK things present the same trend. The big argument behind the Brexit was deeply connected to protectionism and work issues. 

Okay, it's happening and its here among us. Everyone is worried about work issues, the change in lifestyle and not being able to have a "home". Everyone is voting for a change, and waiting for the measures to come with people that bring new ideas, that are going to "protect" the countries and etc...

Well, in fact its not going to happen. Everyone is searching for the answers in the past, and they are not there. People still move around where the few working opportunities are but let's see: 

I always find funny when now and then Portugal presents the unemployment statistics and they are always decreasing (lately). So, let's see, world population is steadily increasing, work are decreasing due to automated work, so how can the unemployment be decreasing? Well, maybe if the population decreases... because decrease of  automated work is not happening for sure... 

It is proved that a huge share of the current work can be replaced by automats. It is proved that even the highly "thinking" jobs will be replaced in the future by machines. So, how will we be able to keep everyone occupied and earning money in the future? It is much more interesting for a business to have a machine that almost needs no attention than a person that is very demanding... 

Work is changing to the point that now, the problem is work itself. We are wasting the last moments debating redundant stuff by electing all these weirdos to conduct countries, but just to realize that they do not have the answer too....

I believe that the problem is much more on the society roots than everyone is realizing. We can be here worried and criticizing everyone and how the life turned so harsh...

In the past people lived to work, they still do. But now, we need to adapt the coming generations for the change in the work paradigm and teach these people to live in other ways. How should we do this, that is a big question. 
But for now, I believe we need to face work as the new social problem not in the sense that we need to find new works but in that they won't come again. Its a message that needs to be spread I think! 

A big text just to talk a bout a drop in the ocean of the problems we face today :)

Sorry this is not really connected to wind energy, but its a message that needs to be spread as i told. Next post, very soon, we will be talking about wind and one issue I have been working on. 


Sunday, 5 February 2017

End of secondment in Aberdeen and Training week Barcelona

Hi all ,

Sorry for the disappointing update frequency of this blog, its really a hard task a "not pure breeded social guy". That is why we all want to follow these guys that live of youtube and blogs, but almost anyone can make it :) 

Well, I will do a quick update of the things at work and talk about how was the second phase of my secondment. 

As you know I am now in Aberdeen. A city that I have to tell you is not as bad as as I thought in first place. I was thinking earlier this week, and its true, expectation is the secret for a happy life. Everyone was before, you're going to Aberdeen in Winter? Good luck! Or... you'll go crazy...etc etc 

In the end it wasn't that bad. Its a small city but very nice. Its grey, its true, but has its own spirit. The times were better before when oil was "pumping" people say, well... its the time for new clean energy...I say :) use that positive tension to foment it.

So, this is my last week here. Well, I enjoyed but its time to go back. It was a very enriching experience. 

Talking a bit about my work, which I rarely do but I should. 

These for months of secondment contributed for settling interesting knowledge in the analysis of offshore wind turbines, modelling them, analysing loads, getting the feeling of "something is wrong with these results" and more,  much faster than I would do anyway on my own.  This helped to boost my work a lot and I have to say, I even exceeded my expectation on how much I could get in  this 4+a bit months. Again, low expectations are the secret ! Haha 
It went great, now its time to go back, settle knowledge and return in the future. 
I have been working in applying probabilistic methodologies to Offshore wind turbines in the specific case of the fatigue. Fatigue is a very challenging topic for offshore wind turbines, it can drive the failure of towers for example but also its quite resource consuming. Its good to melt your brain ! 

Lets see, now that things are more settled in the analysis and understanding of the dynamics of the turbine, what value can be added to its probabilistic analysis. I already have very nice ideas that were submitted to a conference, but the complexity is big and I hope to talk about them here very soon. 

You know that we had a trainning week in January? Yes, I would like to leave here a special thanks to all the organisers from TRUSS and UPC. 
It was great, again, Its crazy how much you can learn when the teaching process is carefully aimed. We should really think about this...

Anyway, here we are; all happy. This is us: 

And this is us v them (some of them...): 

Well, I left a topic unfinished I hope to finish it next time. I'll also bring more news on work development too.

Tchin tchin ! New design too


Sunday, 1 January 2017

End of first phase of secondment and 2017 greetings

Hello guys,

Here I am again to tell you a bit more about my recent adventures. 

Last month I just finished the first phase of my secondment in London. What this means?! Yes, I left London...I'm now in Aberdeen, but midway I would like to share some of what I learn and how some things bother me...hmmm..

Overall the experience of the secondment in London was great! I won't say everything was a sea of wasn't. The secondment experience can be quite disruptive. Among going to a big city, changes of house, one thousand travels, etc etc your energy gets "pulled" out of you quite fast and that can be really disruptive for your day to day work. 

Fortunately, I experienced all of that, which is also an important part of the learning process, but from the work side I had a very productive learning experience that really minimised all the negative effects I mentioned.
I know I was lucky. When going on a secondment these conditions are unlikely to be found. That's why I would like to thank all the people that I worked with during these two months. (With a special thanks to my supervisor in Lloyd's from whom I learned crazy amount of stuff ). 

They didn't save me from some little positive embarrassment in the goodbye with a speech (which is traditional from long term workers)... it was funny... So, here, thank you all!

Also, some days after leaving I won there (even not being there) a bottle of wine in a raffle...its funny...I never get one win in these things....and when I get....I'm not there hahaha

Now, talking about other things... 
One of the things that I enjoyed in Lloyd's was the working culture, and with that I learned a lot! I believe is something common in the places I got to know recently. There the culture is highly focused on the worker and it's life.

This is really great and positive and I am highlighting it here because it is something that always disturbed me as someone that sees the working culture decay everyday with the current mess we have in the world (Portugal is a very good "generalized" example for instance where the culture of work being already bad has also been decaying since the economical crisis). 

I always wondered how can lots of Portuguese companies sum so many hours of work and yet we are still quite a not very rich country comparing with the European average..(there are exceptions of course)? It took me ages to understand, and I didn't yet...
We know that there are numerous macroscopic "things" that explains this. Although, from the side of the work I believe we are doing it all wrong. During these 2 months I realised that having some positive "worker" working culture is really important.

First point is, working too many hours is against your production as this usually means, for instance, having less time for yourself . And regardless of the job brainstorming or physical complexity, you need that time. I experienced both sides before, and this right balance much fomented by Lloyd's worked really well.

Second point, is imeasurable how much people can do when they are spiritually well. Okay, motivation is almos eveything but having a positive working culture really helps..its not just something adopted from the trendy IT companies out of nothing... it really works.  

Well, the negative part is that currently there's no point in adressing deeply the talk about working culture.
There are companies that always worked bad (most of them), there are companies that always worked well. Maybe in the past the divergence and discomfort of the people working didn't show as much as now and that´s not because the new people are weak (as many people say) or are used to facilitism.
It is because in the past, there was plenty to everyone, so that any discomfort was covered by this plenty of advantages and economic resources given to the workers (e.g. extra-hours paid, crazy opportunities of progressing career, etc). Today, things are really different.

Anyway, its nice to defend and  foment the working culture. We have seen lots of entities working hard on that but in reality the very short future tells us that the real challenge is what to do with people and their free time...

Starting 2017 in big style with a heavy message. Sorry! I had started this text in 2016  and in the first of the year I was lazy to start another text again...

Happy New Year !!! Enjoy 2017 and lets work together for the best success in this crazy changing world!

Ill be back soon with the continuation of my experience and reflection on working culture, or lets say, "non-working" culture !

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Cmon, it's time to talk about work again...

Hi guys,'s been a long time since I talked about, no escaping today. 

It's amazing, only one year has like I don't know what..and I feel I have learned quite a lot. Well, but I'm still far from a relevant level...just 5 minutes of talking with any of my supervisors, at Trinity or Lloyd's to have my intelectual ego put at place again!

So, I started with a probabilistic assessment of the reliability methodologies used to analise offshore wind turbine towers and foundations, then I diverged to the analysis of external loads and how to extrapolate extreme events, with particular focus on significant wave heights. Currently I am again working on the turbine tower itself. 

For that I have been learning and working with an amazing open source software that probably all of you are working with wind turbines know about; FAST developed by NREL from United States. For  an open source software it's really capable. Basically, lets say its developers deserve a statue in the wind energy research world. Well, but not everything is a sea of flowers, it's learning curve can be quite harsh... 

Lloyd's has been a great "support" so far. It's really good to have this close contact from a company with so much experience. Only "seeing" everything from the university can be quite hard to get the real awareness of how things are processed in the business world. 

The analysis of turbine towers is straightforward but complex. They are calculated with the partial safety codes recommended in the standard and with support of several Design Load Cases (usually called DLC) to guide the designer. Of course these codes have a whole world of probabilistic assessment background.

No surprise that such a technological sector has such advanced techniques and a whole world of regulations behind. Well you know...its a big sector... usually, if  "mountains" are not moved that means that there is not enough money at stake...

Anyway, dark things aside, like in almost every field (and one of the reasons why there is all this ruckus around the research world and its inadaptability to real applications) there are still some gaps between the industrial world and the research world.

I am now focusing on how to define the failure of the offshore wind turbines, and the first thing I have seen....there are lot's of really interesting methods, with really huge potential to be applied in the analysis of offshore wind turbines. We are talking of methods that probably are able to acess the reliability of a wind turbine  for some of the more complicated DLC in less than one day.

Yet the industry still keeps analysing these same DLC in months or (more if multiple computers and processing methods are note use). What's wrong here?

I believe there is a big problem of perception...and I believe that almost everyone has this nothing new.

These amazing methodologies, sometimes, are not that tangible. But tangible approaches in their way may not be that interesting from the point of view of research. For companies is hard to put so much at stake risking with something that they "cannot" touch to some extent. So, where do we stay here? Well, approaches like TRUSS are looking directly to fill this space full of new blood (don't look at it with all that inovative sense, this is the gap were more money is being invested lately). Maybe we won't turn 10000 time domain simulations in 70, but if we can make it 2000 Wooww!

In the end, apart from all the critics to the research world and industrial world we listen around magazines, news, etc, I really believe everyone is really bringing their best to achieve new improvements.

And this applies to everything, is really easy to sit and criticize so much stuff...and you don't need to be at home in the coach...or be the Portuguese called "bench coaches" (ones that criticize without any responsability or are deeply destructive in their approach)  but also everyone in the profissional world, etc etc... So, be carefull with your approach if you in some sense feel that you don't know better, but deeply. And most of the times, if you really feel you know better, I would say you're wrong.

It gets always boring when the topic is work :) see you soon!

Anyway,the real question that I have been wondering lately is, who programs the traffic lights in Dublin?... talk about real crazy and full of adrenaline experiences...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

New phase : Secondment

Hello guys!

Well, here I am to tell about the new phase I just got into. 
In the beginning of October I just started my secondment at Lloyd's Register. Yes yes you all know it because I said in my previous post...but this time is for real, not just an especulation about what will happen.

So, this means 2 weeks in London working in a big company. For me, a completely different experience. I worked in a company before but this is big. 
And big is really the word to qualify London. 

First day of secondment and it was automatically beginner mistake. In London everyone dresses minimally formal, keep that in mind for future experiences. Well, it is not something that I am crazy about or support much but in this "old world" Is still a rule and it won't change in one day, takes time. Of course that with time I got my pace too. 

People in my office are very nice too. Already made some good friends, friends of coffee, friends of the weekly day out to lunch, friends of works discussion and friends out of work...well...etc etc. The important part is that I have been around people that have lots of "kilometers" or better...miles in the offshore engineering field and that has been quite rewarding. Big learning process!

About London, is what you know, experienced or heard about. It's hugeeee! And crazy! I have been taking my time to walk around and know the city. For instance in Saturday I walked 27 km and Sunday I went to the Natural history museum and crashed in the middle of the visit (which took me 4h, you can tell how big) ...well, it was the weight of the age talking louder. 

Some areas of London are lovely, really amazing. It's great for some time. Really great. 
Already found, accidentally, a place to go chill out some time. A pleasant surprise. Definitely my favorite spot in London...but you need to go like 5 minutes before closing for 5 minutes of reflection. Or when it is raining like infinite, otherwise it will be packed. 

It is just perfect to go out inside. Kyoto garden. 

Well, that was all for now. I'll come back soon. 

P.S. guys, no worries, I still prefer Dublin...I'll be back. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Quick Update and Start of New Season

Hello guys,

Here we are again after a long period out. My fault as always...
Today, I'll make a small update of the situation around here.

First, some new things!
Regarding work, things are progressing well. Just finishing a substantial part of the work now, one that I've been working the last months.  And then embrace a new challenge.

Sooo,  as part of the program I'll be moving to London and Aberdeen during 4 months starting very likely in the beginning of October. Going to work on a company called Lloyd's Register.  Probably many of you heard about...

Well, Lloyd's Register it's a super company from the UK that has a cross sectorial approach with activity in many engineering fields. Offices all around UK, and that's what will make me go around a bit. Anyway, for sure a very enlightening experience.

Two weeks ago was in CERI2016 presenting a paper on the comparative assessment of methodologies to estimate the probability of failure of offshore wind turbine towers! Seeing some friends, doing new ones and discussing research in contemporary way. That was it!

Heavy TRUSS around there :) 

To end, I'll leave you with the most recent creation by our "mastermind"  behind the scenes... But let's leave that mastermind thing for when she receives her statue ... 

I'll come back soon! Stay tuned!