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

Research projects

Project Description:

The Project

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.



  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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