The 2015 British Geotechnical Association Cooling Prize awarded to William Beuckelaers

Congratulations to William Beuckelaers (St Catherine’s College), a first year DPhil student in the Department of Engineering Science, who has been announced as the winner of the 2015 British Geotechnical Association Cooling Prize at an event hosted by the Southern Geotechnical Group at Southampton University.

The aim of the Cooling Prize competition is to encourage young engineers to write their first technical paper. Named after Dr Leonard Cooling, who was one of the founders of British Soil Mechanics, it is designed for those in the Geotechnical/Ground engineering industry under the age of 30. Entrants are required to write a paper on any topic dealing with the engineering behaviour of the ground, whether it is a description of an industrial design or construction project, development of a new piece of equipment or research.

William Beuckelaers Receiving Cooling Prize
Pictured here with William Beuckelaers at the British Geotechnical Association Cooling Prize event is Christine Cooling, daughter of Dr Leonard Cooling.
William Beuckelaers, who at the age of 23 is one of the youngest recipients of this prize and the first student from Oxford University to win it in 29 years, said: “Offshore wind energy is growing to become one of the major alternative energy sources in Europe. The UK and Denmark have taken the lead in this field, with more than 1000 offshore wind turbines currently installed off the UK’s coast and over 500 off Denmark’s. The capacity of these turbines ranges from 3 to 6 MW, with current costs being around 3m£ per MW installed. Growth of the industry over the next few decades will likely see a combined investment of more than £100bn and the creation of more than 40,000 jobs”.

William added: “Offshore wind energy has several advantages to onshore wind: at sea, the wind blows more steadily and the average wind velocity is higher leading to more effective energy extraction. Moreover, these wind turbines do not disturb the environment (NIMBY-effect) and so larger turbines can be installed. These effects can justify the extra installation and maintenance cost for offshore structures. However, driving down the cost remains essential to stimulate investment in offshore wind. My paper on ‘fatigue life calculation of monopoles for offshore wind turbines using a kinematic hardening model’ brings insight on the soil damping for these structures, which can have a significant impact on the required amount of steel for each structure”.

What the judges said

The judges of the Cooling Prize competition said that they felt that William’s presentation “provided the best elaboration of the material described in his paper and provided an insight into how his research may be used in future to optimise offshore wind-farm foundation design”.

William’s DPhil supervisor, Professor Harvey Burd, said: “The Cooling Prize is a prestigious national competition. Winning the competition during the first year of his DPhil program is an exceptional achievement”.

William will receive a £200 prize fund from Ground Engineering, a cut glass decanter and British Geotechnical Association sponsorship to attend the European Young Geotechnical Engineers conference to be held in Durham later this year ahead of the European Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering  in Edinburgh in September.‎ His prize-winning paper will also be published in Ground Engineering later this year.

Research being undertaken by William contributes to the Pile Soil Analysis (PISA) joint industry project aimed at investigating and developing improved design methods for laterally loaded piles, specifically tailored to the offshore wind sector. The PISA project is led in the Department by Professor Byron Byrne, in collaboration with DONG Energy, funded through the Carbon Trust Offshore Wind Accelerator. The funding partners include DONG Energy, Alstom, EDF, Iberdrola (Scottish Power), RWE, Statoil, Statkraft, SSE, Vattenfall with contributions to the Department covering senior investigator time, a post-doctoral researcher and William’s studentship.

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