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PhD Studentship in Offshore Energy at the University of Exeter

PhD Studentship in Offshore Energy: Design optimisation of floating offshore wind turbines Ref: 2592

About the award

Location: Penryn Campus; Cornwall; UK; TR10 9FE

Primary Supervisor: Professor Lars Johanning

Secondary Supervisors: Professor Gavin Tabor & Dr Philipp R. Thies

Project Description:

The most important factors that influence the lifetime and reliability of a wind turbine system are the aerodynamic loads, which are dependent on the operating environment. When designing a wind turbine, it must maintain its structural stability in different conditions, so adapting the shape of the blades and dimensions of the tower is critical to optimise its performance, stability and survivability. The operating environment for offshore wind turbines is significantly different to that for land based turbines and offshore wind turbines are subjected to different extreme conditions than onshore wind turbines. In addition, floating offshore wind turbines are subjected to hydrodynamic forces from waves as well as large oscillations from aerodynamic forces from the wind. For this reason research on load and fatigue analysis of wind turbine blades for various conditions of wind speed and turbulence is essential in this field.

This project will investigate the load and fatigue on floating wind turbines using a variety of computational modelling approaches. The engineering parameters of the wind turbine will be examined using aerodynamic and structural analysis using a Matlab blade element-momentum (BEM) code, validated against separate 3D CFD modelling. The BEM code will take into account the dynamic stresses and fatigue loads. Based on this approach optimization processes will be developed using surrogate modelling and multi-objective Genetic Algorithm approaches, and also Adjoint Optimisation methods.

Contact for informal enquiries:

For more information about the project and informal enquiries, please contact the primary supervisor, Professor Lars Johanning

Academic Entry Requirements:

A strong Mathematical and Physical understanding is required to translate theoretical studies into new knowledge that properly represents the behaviour of the system. The successful candidate will have a strong background in Engineering, Physics or Mathematics and IT. This will include a strong background in CFD applications, and preferably some knowledge of optimisation methods. Previous experience of numerical modelling, Matlab programming and working with simulation models are highly desirable, and experience with field demonstration would be beneficial.

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the English language requirements and provide proof of proficiency. Click here for more information and a list of acceptable alternative tests.


Application deadline:

3rd May 2017

Number of awards:



3.5 year studentship including UK/EU tuition fees plus a stipend equivalent to RCUK rate (£14,553 for 2017/18)

Duration of award:

per year

Contact: Postgraduate Research Office

[email protected]

How to apply

To apply, complete the online form. You will be asked to submit some personal details and upload a full CV, covering letter and details of two academic referees. Your covering letter should outline your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake this project.

Interviews will be held at Streatham Campus week commencing 29 May 2017.

Please quote reference 2592 on your application and in any correspondence about this studentship.

Please note, driving license is not an appropriate requirement as is discriminatory.

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