Computer modelling of irregular nonlinear surface waves and their effects on offshore wind turbine structures

Research projects

Project Description:

This PhD scholarship is offered by the Aura Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment; a partnership between the Universities of Durham, Hull, Newcastle and Sheffield. The successful applicant will undertake a PG-Dip training year at the University of Hull and will continue their PhD research at Durham University.

For more information visit Or if you have a direct question about the project, please email and we will forward the query to the relevant supervisor. Please do not contact the project supervisors directly.


Given the growing demand for wind energy power production via offshore wind farms, the need to develop user-friendly mathematical and numerical models for predicting the effects of the complex environmental conditions acting on wind turbine structures exposed to rough wind and sea conditions has become a necessity. While reliable numerical models are available for the aero-elastic problem, overly simplistic linear theoretical models are currently adopted for predicting wave-induced loads [1-4].

A novel mathematical model and numerical algorithm able to predict nonlinear hydrodynamic wave loads acting on offshore wind turbines exposed to severe sea states would represent a huge step forward – particularly so in relation to the interest being shown in placing wind turbines further off shore in deeper water, and especially so in the case of turbines mounted on floating platforms. The overall aim of the project is to create a user-friendly, accurate and superior predictive model for use by the offshore energy industries in providing greater understanding of the behaviour of nonlinear wave loadings in the case of offshore wind turbines. The resulting model and associated numerical algorithm will have clear benefits to the offshore industry. In addition, the results generated will have spin-offs in relation to the equally important and complementary research area of optimised wind farm layout and performance.


Training & Skills

The holder of the studentship will work within a research team that facilitates and encourages interaction with established researchers and a wide postgraduate cohort within the Department of Engineering at Durham. The project will provide an in-house specialist training on mathematical modelling and fluid mechanics and externally lead training on Matlab, C programming and numerical methods, all of which represent an attractive and widely transferable skill set. Mathematical modelling with application to an offshore wind energy project such as the one proposed, offers an exciting and extensive research training opportunity wherever the career aspirations of the successful applicant might lie; whether that’s engineering in general, the energy sector, consulting or finance.


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 (Mechanical, Aeronautical, Wind, Renewables), Mathematics, Physics, Computer science and related subjects, such as Oceanography we would like to hear from you. Experience of one or more of the following topics would be advantageous: fluid mechanics, mathematical modelling, numerical methods, computer programming, high-performance computing, CFD.

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.



The Aura CDT is funded by the EPSRC and NERC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, circa £17,668 per annum at 2022/23 rates (subject to progress).



Research Council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. Our Aura CDT scholarships are available to Home (UK) Students. To be considered a Home student, and therefore eligible for a full award, a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the scholarship (with some further constraint regarding residence for education). For full eligibility information, please refer to the EPSRC website. In addition, a number of Aura CDT Scholarships will be available to International Students across the projects offered by the partner institutions.


How to apply

Applications are via the University of Hull online portal; you must download a supplementary application from the Aura CDT website, complete and submit.

For more information about the Aura CDT including links and detailed instructions please visit our how to apply page.



  1. Engsig-Karup, A.P., Bingham, H.B. and Lindberg, O., 2009. An efficient flexible-order model for 3D nonlinear water waves. Journal of computational physics228(6), pp.2100-2118.
  2. Paulsen, B.T., Bredmose, H., Bingham, H.B. and Jacobsen, N.G., 2014. Forcing of a bottom-mounted circular cylinder by steep regular water waves at finite depth. Journal of fluid mechanics755, pp.1-34.
  3. Marino, E., Borri, C. and Peil, U., 2011. A fully nonlinear wave model to account for breaking wave impact loads on offshore wind turbines. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics99(4), pp.483-490.
  4. Schløer, S., Bredmose, H. and Bingham, H.B., 2016. The influence of fully nonlinear wave forces on aero-hydro-elastic calculations of monopile wind turbines. Marine Structures50, pp.162-188.

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