I-CPIE Team Led by Muhannad Suleiman Receives Funding from DOE

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Muhannad Suleiman with students at Lehigh's ATLSS Engineering Research Center.

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 13 projects awarded a total of $28 million in research funding to advance wind energy nationwide. Six projects will receive a total of $7 million to conduct testing and upgrade facilities to support innovative offshore wind research and development, utilizing existing national-level testing facilities. Among these six recipients is a team of I-CPIE faculty members who received funding to upgrade Lehigh’s soil-foundation interaction laboratory and structural testing and modeling capabilities at the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems (ATLSS) Engineering Research Center. The upgrades will combine computer simulation with physical testing, referred to as hybrid simulation, in support of modeling the impact of wind, waves, currents, and other factors on offshore wind turbines.

Principal Investigator Muhannad Suleiman, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will collaborate with a team of researchers from Structural Engineering and Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics, as well as industry partner Fugro USA. James Ricles, Bruce G. Johnston Professor of Structural Engineering, and Richard Sause, Joseph T. Stuart Professor of Structural Engineering & I-CPIE Director, will focus on the hybrid simulation and large-scale structural experimental components. Justin Jaworski, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics, and Arindam Banerjee, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics, will provide expertise on how to integrate the aero (wind) and hydro (currents and waves) components into the simulation. Dr. Mohamed Mekkawy from Fugro will participate in the design, instrumentation, and testing of the soil-foundations experimental substructure. The research team is also collaborating with an external advisory board that represents major stakeholders in the U.S. offshore wind industry. This proposal was completed with assistance from I-CPIE.

The soil-foundation interaction laboratory is a part of Lehigh’s ATLSS Engineering Research Center. ATLSS is the only laboratory in the U.S. capable of routinely performing large-scale, multi-directional, real-time simulations. For years, researchers at ATLSS have been developing and applying hybrid simulation to onshore structural systems subjected to earthquakes and wind. Soil conditions, foundation types, and structure installation methods are simulated in the soil-foundation interaction laboratory. The upgrades completed under this grant will allow researchers to apply hybrid simulation to offshore wind turbines and other offshore structures.

Suleiman, who does most of his research work in the soil-foundation interaction laboratory, saw an opportunity to shape the U.S. offshore wind energy industry, which he says is considered to be in its nascent phase. Once the upgrades to the facility are complete, researchers will be able to simulate conditions in all five U.S. offshore regions: the North Atlantic, Mid Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Great Lakes. To that end, Suleiman notes that this funding is, “a great opportunity to establish Lehigh as a national hybrid testing facility for offshore wind energy in the U.S., which is consistent with and expands upon one of Lehigh's current research focus areas in energy and infrastructure, and cyber-physical systems” Ultimately, the project is expected to lead to advances and innovations in offshore wind turbine technology.