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Shock and Vibration
Volume 16, Issue 4, Pages 335-353

Protecting Offshore Wind Turbines against Ship Impacts by Means of Adaptive Inflatable Structures

Cezary Graczykowski and Jan Holnicki-Szulc

Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, SMART- TECH Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, 21, 00-049 Warsaw, Poland

Received 13 September 2007

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Collisions with small service ships are serious danger for offshore wind turbines. Installing torus-shaped adaptive inflatable structure that surrounds a wind turbine tower at water level is one method of effective protection. Proposed pneumatic structure contains several separate air chambers equipped with devices for fast inflation and pressure release. The system can be adapted to various impact scenarios by adjusting the level of initial pressure in each chamber and by controlling the release of compressed air during collision. The paper presents finite element simulation of ship collision with wind turbine tower protected by pneumatic structure, conducted using ABAQUS software. Introduced methods of pressure adjustment are aimed at mitigating tower and ship response. The performed feasibility study proves that inflatable structure can effectively protect the wind turbine tower and the ship against serious damage.