Effect of Blade Surface Contamination on Wind Turbine Energy Production

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 and will continue their PhD research at the University of Hull.

Watch our short video to hear from Aura CDT students, academics and industry partners:


The Project

This project aims to use CFD analysis and wind tunnel testing to assess the effects that sand-induced leading edge erosion and sand adhesion to wind turbine blades has on energy production.

Leading Edge Erosion of wind turbine blades, caused by rain, hail and particulate impacts, can significantly affect the aerodynamic performance of blades and reduce the energy yield of turbines. Recent results have shown that the progression of erosion and the reduction in Annual Energy Production can be modelled with good accuracy. As offshore wind energy becomes more widely deployed, the impact of atmospheric sand on turbine performance becomes more important. In desert regions and offshore sites close to desert areas, airborne sand adheres to turbine blades and also causes leading edge erosion. The mechanisms and effects of sand adhesion and erosion are less well understood than rain induced effects.

This project will use field data on sand adhesion and sand-induced erosion of turbine blades as inputs to computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models in order to assess the effect of these phenomena on the lift and drag of typical aerofoil sections. The results of these numerical models will be validated through wind tunnel testing of appropriate scaled blade sections. The resulting aerodynamic performance changes will be combined with wind resource data to estimate the effect of sand on annual energy production and this will be compared to field data for full scale turbines. Applicants for this project should have experience of computational fluid dynamics. Experience of wind tunnel testing would be an advantage but is not essential.


For more information visit www.auracdt.hull.ac.uk. If you have a direct question about the project, you may email auracdt@hull.ac.uk or the project supervisor.


Training and Skills

The student will be trained in CFD methods and development of appropriate wind tunnel testing methods. Career opportunities include: offshore wind farm planning and development; development of blade leading edge protection systems; Operations and Maintenance planning in industry or in academia.


Entry requirements

This PhD research project is suitable for applicants with a background in Engineering or Physics. If you have received a First-class Honours degree OR a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters OR a Distinction in a Masters Degree, with any Undergraduate Degree, in one of the above subjects, (or the international equivalents,) we would like to hear from you. Experience of Computational Fluid Dynamics would be an advantage.

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. Please note, we have already allocated all our places for International Students to this cohort, so please do not apply unless you are a Home student.


How to apply

Recruitment is open until 16 April 2023 for Aura CDT PhD Scholarships beginning study in September 2023.

Applications are made via the University of Hull admissions system.

If you have not applied with the University of Hull before, you will need to set up an account to enable you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents.

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.
  • A completed Supplementary Application Form (please upload when asked to add Personal Statement).

Guidance on completing your Supplementary Application Form: The Aura Centre for Doctoral Training is committed to generating a diverse and inclusive training programme. As part of our inclusive practices, the Centre adopts a process of assessing applications purely based on skills and attributes and does not consider any personal details. As such we ask applicants to remove any personal details from the Supplementary Form which is used by the Panel to assess and select applicants for interview. The form asks for details of your education, training and employment history as well as some specific questions about your motivations and research experience and interests. It is very important that you do not include any personally identifying information.

Applicants must:

Remove all personal references in their application. Specifically, do not include the following details: Names, age, country, sex, gender, religion, disability, race, sexual orientation

Complete all sections of the form in font and size Calibri 11pt

Indicate your interest in applying to a maximum of two Research Projects (you may apply for one or two, but no more than two)

Once fully completed, you should upload the form when asked for your Personal Statement, as part of your application through the University of Hull student application portal using the links below. (You will also be asked for your degree transcripts during the application process). Please do not send your form directly to the Aura CDT.


Application links:

Apply for a full-time PhD Scholarship with the Aura CDT.

Apply for a part-time PhD Scholarship with the Aura CDT.



Duffy, A., Ingram, G. and Hogg, S. (2022) ‘The Significance of Bypass Transition on the Annual Energy Production of an Offshore Wind Turbine’, Wind Energy, 25 (4). pp. 772-787

View our webinar recording from 29 November
for information on our 2023 PhD Scholarships

For enquiries, contact auracdt@hull.ac.uk