Project: TopBridge - Topology optimization of bridge girders in cable supported bridges

Prace Call: 17th
ID: 2018184414, Leader: Ole Sigmund
Affiliation: Technical University of Denmark, DK
Research Field: Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Collaborators: Niels Aage Technical University of Denmark DK , Mads Jacob Baandrup COWI A/S DK
Resource Awarded: 15 Mil. core hours on Joliot Curie - SKL


Since its introduction in the late 1980’s, the material distribution method known as topology optimization has become an integrated design method in many industries such as automotive, aerospace, architecture, etc. However, until recently the method has been restricted to component design due to the lack of scalable software that allows for full-scale optimization of complete assemblies. This severe bottleneck was circumvented using HPC in a previous PRACE project TopWing, which demonstrated the application of ultra largescale structural optimization to design the support structure of a transatlantic airplane wing and was published in Nature (and awarded with 2016 PRACEDays best industrial presentation). The resulting design provided new insight into for example the layout of ribs and spars that allowed for a reduction in the yearly fuel consumption by 40-200 tonnes per aircraft. In this project, we wish to apply this giga scale optimization methodology to the design of bridge steel box girders in cable supported bridges. Current state-of-the-art design methods, which are now 50+ years old, are based on orthotropic box girders, which in turn are prone to stress hot spots and fatigue issues, and leave almost no room for further optimization. Furthermore, the sheer size of each bridge section means that discretizations in the excess of one billion voxels is required in order to obtain designs with feature sizes in the same order of magnitude allowed by current production methods. This advocates the use of HPC to investigate the bridge girder design problem, and we hypothesize that once a systematic study of the design space has been conducted, we will be able to push next generation bridge design into an era with sustainable and lighter bridge girders and increased lifespans.