Graduation assignment Topology Optimalisation

Vuyk Engineering Rotterdam B.V.
Branche / Vakgebied
Research and Development
Vereiste taal
Engels, Nederlands



Vuyk Engineering Rotterdam is a design and engineering company that specialises in integrated vessel design, equipment design and marine operations engineering. With these disciplines Vuyk has an extensive track record in executing projects independently, in-house with their highly skilled, specialist engineering team. Vuyk’s tailor-made designs are always created in close consultation with the customer, resulting in solutions that are “designed to function”.
As part of their policy and mission Vuyk offers apprenticeships and graduation assignments to the Technical Universities and polytechnics. Under the supervision of experienced engineers, the students can work in the project teams as apprentice or do their research for their graduation. The research topics are related to technical issues that Vuyk is running into in the course of the projects that are executed. This can be directly linked to an engineering question that needs to be solved or can result in a research question that can serve as a graduation assignment. The topics are therefore always closely linked to the actuality of the projects.


Research issue

For the installation of offshore wind turbine generators, the towers and blades are transported from the installation port to the field by the installation vessel. As to not having to rotate the objects in the field (and thus reduce lead time), the towers are typically positioned upright and bolted on a tower grillage; the blades are typically transported horizontally, positioned in modular blade racks. The blade racks are in turn positioned on a blade rack substructure.


So far, tower grillages are typically built-up from large plate structures. Blade rack substructures are typically truss-like structures, with round-pipe braces. In the quest for less steel and reduced welding, optimisation might be possible, preferably through the use of topology optimisation in FEA.

Note that topology optimisation is typically used in mechanical engineering solutions (sometimes in conjunction with 3D-printing). However, advances in OWF engineering are to be expected if used in this field as well.
This can be partly due to the fact that topology typically not covers plate buckling, beam-column buckling nor fatigue damage checks.

Reduction in steel means not only a reduced purchase price, but also an increased effective payload (as OWF installation vessels are still often jack-ups, with a limited jacking capacity).The reduced welding means less production costs for a tower grillage/ blade rack substructure, which is important in the ever more competitive world of green energy which is building more and more OWFs which are subsidy-free.

During optimisation, practical aspects shouldn’t be ignored: personnel access, space for bolting an unbolting the towers, bolt trays should be able to be lifted in, welding access during production, access to tower during transport, etc.


Research question

  • What constraints can be applied to FEA topology optimisation to give quick/workable solutions with noticeable gains in steel weight and reduced production costs (mainly welding length) for OWF WTG installation, focusing on tower grillages and/or blade rack substructures?
  • Within constraints of current, actual tower grillage masses and production costs, how and how well can FEA topology optimisation be guided and used to optimize tower grillage stiffnesses? (in order to steer tower grillage stiffnesses clear of tower VIV peaks)
    Will this result in a workable, day-to-day method?
  • Can FEA topology optimisation methods be pushed into design fatigue friendly details or be limited to a certain fatigue limits?
    Similar for (plate) buckling limits?


Support during graduation

During the graduation assignment a graduation supervisor from Vuyk will be assigned. He or she will coach you through your assignment and will have regular meetings to check the progress and the content. As you will work for a longer period of time in the company, you will find out that many colleagues will be able to help you out with practical issues, and will discuss with you on technical matters.

Furthermore Vuyk is using a variety of software for design, strength, motion and flow calculations. These can be used during your assignment and you can get support on the application of the software.

Vuyk will also prove a graduation fee to each student that will perform his or her research in our office.

We are happy and willing to support the students at all time. However, a graduation assignment will be an independent exercise for the student. The responsibility for execution and planning will be with the student. We try to assist you on these aspects, but expect a pro-active and independent attitude.


For questions, please contact:

Sebastiaan Schuurman –