Smart megastructures

Efficiency and safety at sea. To this end, TNO is committed to research into foundations, alternative fuels, joints and ship dynamics. Through sensor and communication technology in particular, we help enable better support from the coast so that crews can derive maximum benefit from the latest innovations. 

Would you like to know more about TNO’s research into safe ships?

Please contact Martijn van Roermund


“The continuous monitoring of systems is becoming increasingly important,” says Haico van der Heijden of TNO. “Companies want to know the status of a system at all times. Firstly, due to the increasing costs of inspection and, secondly, ongoing optimisation is bringing us ever closer to the fatigue limit. In order to properly analyse the data and to be able to intervene in time, we need to make materials and large constructions smarter.” 

Calculations and previous assumptions  

One example of TNO’s efforts is research into large structures. Van der Heijden: “Structures such as wind turbines and oil and gas platforms are becoming so large and heavy that the calculations and assumptions of the past no longer necessarily apply. The same is true of alternative fuels such as LNG and hydrogen. The storage and transhipment techniques that have been developed over the years for bunker vessels cannot simply be adopted by a fishing vessel.” 

Enabling the next enlargement 

The scaling up of joints also poses new technical challenges. “Why, despite all of the calculations and all of the research, do joints still fail? Which joint do we need to make the next enlargement possible? We are calculating this together with industry. We are also applying this knowledge to the ships themselves. Think of slamming, when a ship smacks hard against a wave, or whipping, when the ship continues to vibrate for a long time.” 

The Netherlands leading the way 

“The further we in the Netherlands can lead the way, the better things are for the survival of the maritime industry,” explains Van der Heijden. “Whatever the challenge, we’ll see if we can make it possible. We always develop solutions together with the market. We use the latest technologies, from artificial intelligence to machine learning. We also have experience with this in other TNO clusters, such as automotive, buildings, defence and logistics.”

More information

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Safe and Sustainable Living Environment

Ir. Martijn van Roermund

  • Maritime Structures
  • Safety alternative fuels
  • Offshore wind
  • Structural Dynamics
  • Structural Reliability