Taking Fistuca’s prototype BLUE Piling Technology a step closer to commercial reality through numerical modelling

Fistuca case study header

Client:Fistuca
Application: Scaled input test data and numerical simulations to assess a prototype lownoise technology.
Location: Netherlands
Sector: Renewable Energy – Offshore Wind

The Client backgroundFistuca logo
Fistuca is a young, dynamic and ambitious company that started as a spin-off from the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology 
(TU/e).

Since 2008, Fistuca has designed and built innovative equipment for the foundation industry. In 2011, Fistuca started the development of its BLUE Piling Technology for driving large piles in the offshore industry.

Background to the project
Underwater noise is a big issue when installing offshore wind farms as turbine foundations are mostly undertaken via pile driving using hydraulic hammers. These hammers typically consist of a steel ram, weighing around 150-200 tonnes, which impacts the pile top to drive it down.

Unlike conventional hydraulic hammers, Fistuca’s ground-breaking BLUE Hammer Technology uses the acceleration of a water column by combustion of a gas mixture to drive the pile into the ground. A combustion cycle pushes the water column in the air after which it falls back on the pile, delivering a second blow.

In addition to having a natural low-noise advantage, the process of the water column’s combustion and re-bounce is relatively slow and has far less impact on the monopole, meaning less material stress. This gentler pile driving method could therefore result in a longer lifetime for the foundation, and the possibility of driving a pile with secondary steel attached.

Any offshore foundation installation technology that can both reduce the noise at source as well as extend asset life has huge game-changing potential for the industry, and the computer modelling of the prototype had suggested promising results.

In order to progress the technology towards mainstream development, Fistuca needed to test and validate their assumptions in order to prove that the BLUE Hammer could meet the most stringent noise pollution regulations, which are currently in Germany.

Fistuca diagram edit 

How Lloyd’s Register helped
Fistuca asked LR’s Engineering Dynamics team to help with assessing the underwater noise.

The team used their expertise to assess and combine scaled input test data and pressure calculations, with a carefully adapted vibroacoustic model, and performed numerical simulations of the expected underwater noise from the prototype device during operation.

Outcome for the client
According to LR’s simulations, the BLUE Hammer technology has the potential to produce far less noise than the current and widely used method of hydraulic hammers.

LR’s model is not only a valuable prediction tool, which will continue to improve as the client gathers more offshore data, but also has tremendous relevance for the utility companies Fistuca are seeking to work with, as they need to have a high degree of confidence in underwater noise propagation predictions.

“We achieved valuable data from our reduced scale measurements and pressure calculations. The LR team was then able to combine the lab and calculation data with a carefully adapted vibro-acoustic model. This has become a very valuable prediction tool for us.” - Jasper Winkes, Founder and Director, Fistuca