Over the past four years, Halswell has been investigating the science and engineering behind an innovative flexible lifeboat design, working with the RNLI on its D-class five metre inflatable lifeboat, as part of EngD research at the University of Southampton's industrial doctorate centre for transport and the environment.
The D-class lifeboat handles well in rough conditions because it has a unique combination of a stiffened hinged composite deck and inflatable fabric hull. First used in 1963, there are now around 150 on station around the country, saving lives at sea in the worst weather. When RNLI engineers wanted to measure its hydroelasticity so they could reduce vibration for the crew and casualties and further improve performance of the boat, they commissioned the research at Southampton.
Halswell, supervised by Professor Philip Wilson and working alongside the RNLI's in-house engineering team, has carried out static and open water tests, probing the forces on the structure with 52 sensors attached to the hull. His use of a CompactRIO datalogger to save the data for analysis in rough conditions helped him win the award. He is about to finish his EngD and will start a job at the engineering company Fraser-Nash Consultancy in Dorking in January 2014.
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