“Waves are extremely difficult to predict, especially when they begin to break,” Dr Rudman says. “Also, the movement of the wave and the platform influence each other in complex ways. We use a mathematical technique which was originally developed in astrophysics to model stars forming and galaxies exploding.”
Dr Rudman’s ComputationalModelling group has been developing simulation techniques that predict the coupled motion between fluid and structures – in this case, the ocean and semi-submersible oil or gas rigs. This computer simulation, combined with fluid-flow mathematics, can assist in the sensible and safe design of platforms.
Traditionally experiments of this type are performed using wave tanks, which can be costly and time-consuming. Measurements made also need to be ‘scaled-up’, which can be difficult to do with confidence, says Dr Rudman.