Enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure with ORE Catapult

Aura CDT Industry PhD Scholarships

ORE Catapult: Enhanced mixing of stratified waters by offshore wind infrastructure

In partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, we are offering a 4-year taught, and research industry-sponsored PhD scholarship with the Aura CDT. The PhD research directly addresses sector needs to enable ORE expansion into deeper stratified waters.

Despite its importance to many geophysical systems, including the atmosphere and the world’s oceans, there remain significant open challenges to our fundamental understanding of turbulent stratified flows. Whilst offshore wind developments to-date have predominately been constructed in well-mixed unstratified coastal waters, growth of the offshore wind sector now requires the first ever large-scale industrialisation of stratified shelf seas. Sector growth and development in these new environments is necessary to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero carbon commitments, yet the impact of offshore wind infrastructure, a source of anthropogenic mixing to stratified shelf seas, has not yet been quantified.

Stratification is a critical system control in shelf seas. Vertical density variations act to suppress vertical transport of energy, nutrients, CO2, heat, salinity, and sediment. Stratification is therefore crucial to both the physics and ecosystems of shelf seas, and the potential impact of anthropogenic mixing is significant. In addition, turbulent mixing of flow past infrastructure imposes constant drag forces on foundations which will vary in stratified waters. Understanding the impact of stratification on mixing from, and hydrodynamic loading of, offshore renewable energy structures is needed to inform Environmental Impact Assessments as well as future fixed and floating platform designs. It is vital that environment-engineering based solutions are developed now to enable sustainable and rapid large-scale expansion of offshore renewable energy into stratified shelf seas.

New understanding of turbulent mixing in stratified flow past infrastructure is required to aid both future design and to quantify environmental impact, from single turbine to array scale. To address these challenges the successful candidate will develop local scale oceanographic computational fluid dynamic models of turbulent mixing in offshore windfarms. Models will be used to quantify environmental impact, and imposed loads from stratified flow past different infrastructure.

This PhD will address three key research questions:

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

These research questions, critical to enabling growth of the offshore wind sector, will be addressed using state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics including high-fidelity Large Eddy Simulations.

Academic Supervisors

Dr Robert Dorrell                  email: R.Dorrell@hull.ac.uk

Dr Stuart McLelland             email: S.J.McLelland@hull.ac.uk

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, Physical Oceanography or have a background in computational fluid dynamics, we would like to hear from you.

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.


This full-time ORE Catapult PhD Scholarship will include fees at the ‘Home/EU/International’ student rate and maintenance (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) for four years, depending on satisfactory progress.

The scholarship is available from September 2021 as a full-time position (part-time study is available). You will join Cohort 3 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 project supported by the ORE Catapult.

Applications are open until 20 June 2021. Please see our instructions on How to Apply

Watch our webinar to find out more

For enquiries, contact auracdt@hull.ac.uk