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Research project: Tailored composites for deformation control in unsteady fluid-structure interactions

Currently Active: 

Staff involved Dr Stephen Boyd - Principal Investigator Prof Stephen Turnock Dr Sandy Wright Dr Joe Banks - Research Fellow

Tidal turbine wake
Tidal turbine wake

Research Challenge

Composite materials are made from layers of reinforcing fibres combined with a polymer resin.  Once cured the material behaves as one.  It is possible to manipulate the directions of the fibres in specific layers to provide specific deformations under loads.  This technology has been previously applied in the aeronautical and wind energy industries.

The project aims to improve the efficiencies of composite propellers, underwater turbines and marine control surfaces by tailoring the fibre architecture in the composite structure.  In a simple box beam if the fibre direction on the upper and lower surfaces are mirrored a bend-twist response to load will occur.

Current Activities

Bend-twist coupling
Bend-twist coupling

Materials for passive adaptation

How do we get a beam to bend and twist when only a bending load is applied?  This aspect involves changing the angle of the fibres in the composite material creating a bend-twist coupled beam.  The beams are representative of the central spars generally found in high performance sailing catamarans.  Digital Image Correlation was used to determine the twist angle.  Manufacture of the beams, loading and instrumentation was conducted in the Transport Systems Research Laboratory.

Calibration of DIC on Daggerboard
Calibration of DIC on Daggerboard

Full field deformation measurement

An experimental methodology has been developed to assess the deformation of a multihull daggerboard under realistic loads.  The technique involves the use of 3D Digital Image Correlation.  Studies have been conducted to assess various speckle patterns to ensure accuracy of measurement.  A bench test has been conducted to demonstrate the deformation of a daggerboard under static load.


CFD of daggerboard
CFD of daggerboard

 Computational Fluid Dynamics

In order to determine the pressure forces being applied to the daggerboard under sailing conditions and to provide an input of pressure to a Finite Element Analysis, Computational Fluid Dynamics is used.  The curved daggerboards are modelled in OpenFOAM.  The next stage is to conduct a fluid-structure interactions analysis.

Related research groups

Maritime Engineering
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