Our 15th Integrative Think Tank (ITT) was delivered in partnership with the Central Laser Facility and the Bath Beacon for zero carbon offshore power at the University of Bath. ITTs take challenges posed by partners and reformulate them into mathematical questions that underpin long-term, collaborative research projects.

Working safely in person

With careful planning and Covid-19 safety measures in place, we were pleased to be able to hold the ITT in person (with online access for those who were isolating/shielding). Our participants appreciated the opportunity to work together in person.

Planning and precautions were well communicated. I think people felt comfortable and as safe as it's possible to feel.

Problem formulation

Challenges brought to the ITT included using measured light intensity and inverting it to reconstruct images; modelling of electricity grid dynamics accounting for short-term and long-term characteristics of wind and tidal power generation; modelling of wind turbine dynamics and fatigue to allow more sustainable design, construction and control of wind turbine blades; how to quantify uncertainty in renewable energies; and optimisation of placement of generators.

Dr Anna Young, who leads the Bath Beacon in zero carbon offshore power, shared her experience of being a partner at ITT15:

We went in with three quite broad questions relating to understanding the offshore power resource, modelling the physics of wind turbines, and predicting the stability of the electricity grid. It was great to see the students grappling with such a wide variety of problems; over the week we explored lots of approaches and I'm sure there are several projects that we'll pursue in the coming months.

Future research collaborations

Following the ITT, students write up technical reports, which explore the formulation of the problems in more depth. Often ideas developed at ITTs become collaborative PhD research for our SAMBa cohort, either through a SAMBa student picking up the project, or by recruitment of a student directly onto the project. ITTs lead to deep and long-term relationships with partners, with projects often materialising sometime after the end of the ITT. Recent examples of joint PhDs that have been supported are with Novartis (partners at ITT12 in September 2020) and BT (partners at ITT11 in January 2020).

More ITTs to come

We are currently planning for ITT16 which will be held in June 2022 with partners Schlumberger and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

You can find out more about the ITT model, and read about previous ITTs, on the SAMBa webpage.