Aura CDT & ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship: Hydrodynamic loading of offshore wind infrastructure


Funded PG Dip and PhD


4 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

Sunday 16 August 2020

About this project

The UK is committed to the use of offshore wind energy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The EPSRC-NERC Aura Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment will enable delivery of this target by developing environmental and engineering solutions to key offshore wind sector challenges; thereby supporting a sustainable energy supply. In partnership with Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult), a 4-year taught and research industry-sponsored Aura CDT PhD is offered. The PhD directly addresses sector needs to understand hydrodynamic loading and environmental impact of infrastructure.

Large areas of continental shelf seas, designated for future global offshore wind (OWF) development, comprise of waters where density varies with depth, i.e. are stratified, through thermal, saline or suspended sediment gradients. Unlike existing OWF, thermal density stratification is prevalent in areas identified for future windfarm development.

Flow past infrastructure creates constant hydrodynamic loads, which must be accounted for during OWF foundation design. However, whilst it is known that stratification of flow past infrastructure increases mixing, the impact of stratification on hydrodynamic loading of OWF foundations is not included in infrastructure design. Enhanced mixing of stratified waters at existing OWF have been directly observed to influence both sediment transport, evidenced by large turbid plumes in the wake behind monopiles, and cause far-field modification to oceanographic density stratification. The environmental impact of enhanced mixing on marine ecosystems is unknown.

New understanding of turbulent mixing in stratified flow past OWF is therefore needed to inform future structure design and quantify environmental impact, from single turbine to array scale. The successful candidate will develop computational fluid dynamics to model turbulent mixing, and imposed loads, from stratified flow past infrastructure; performance of different foundation designs will be tested. The numerical models will be validated using a state-of-the-art experimental facility which enable the dynamics of stratified flow past infrastructure to be physically resolved.

This project will address three key research questions:

  • What role does density stratification have on hydrodynamic loading of offshore wind infrastructure?
  • How does wind turbine infrastructure affect density stratification and sediment transport?
  • Can the influence of offshore wind infrastructure on density stratification be mitigated against through novel foundation design?

These research questions will be addressed through a combination of experimental studies, using state-of-the-art optical tomography, and computational fluid dynamics.

The post is available from September 2020 as a full-time position. You will join Cohort 2 of the Aura CDT in Hull, in the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary – the global centre for research, innovation and development for the sector. Initially, you will study for a Postgraduate Diploma in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment, followed by a 3-year PhD supported by ORE Catapult.

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This full-time ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘Home/EU/International' student rate and maintenance (£15,285 per annum, 2020/21 rate) for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

If you have received a First-class Honours degree or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters (or the international equivalents) in Engineering, Mathematics or a Science discipline, we would like to hear from you. A background in programming and fluid dynamics would be desirable.

If your first language is not English, or you require Tier 4 student visa to study, you will be required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency level that meets the requirements of the Aura CDT’s academic partners. This course requires academic IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in each skill.

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How to Apply

Please apply online which enables you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents.

The online form can be accessed here. You will need to create a University of Hull MyAdmin account in order to make your application.

All applicants choose Aura CDT from the ‘Programme Type’ drop-down box.

Applicants for Industry Partner Scholarships should also choose the appropriate research project title from the ‘Scholarship’ drop down box.

With your application, you need to upload copies of the following supporting evidence:

  • complete transcripts (and final degree certificate(s) where possible). If your qualification documents are not in English, you will need to supply copies of your original language documents as well as their official translation into English.
  • current Curriculum Vitae.
  • personal statement (please see guidance below on what you need to include in your statement).

Guidance on completing your personal statement

Your personal statement should be around 2 pages long. In your statement you should highlight:

  • your interest in the Aura CDT and the research proposal and how it fits with your career aspirations
  • how your previous study links with the Aura CDT and the research proposal
  • why you have an interest in offshore wind and the environment, particularly if your background is in an academic discipline not included in the list above
  • relevant work experience or other experience relevant to the Aura CDT
  • anything else you would like to tell us about yourself that makes you a great candidate.

Please also describe:

  • any relevant research experience (such as a project completed during a previous degree)
  • any academic work you have published or which is awaiting publication including venue/s
  • why you believe you are the best candidate to study with the Aura CDT.

International students must tell us about all prior UK study (whether completed/passed or not, including any short courses).