Innovative decommissioning for offshore foundation systems

Research projects

Project Description:

This project is open to applicants until 16 May 2024. The successful candidate will begin their study in September 2024.

With the expansion of offshore wind comes the unavoidable question of what happens when we no longer need the foundations? So that we may minimise long term liability, and operate in a sustainable manner, a cradle to grave approach needs to be considered – one that reaches right back to the development of systems that allow for both maximum performance during the lifetime of the turbine, as well as its cost-effective removal at end of life.

At present removal is broadly categorized into three methods: overpressure (pressurising the void at the top of the monopile to produce an upwards traction), vibration and rotation (which both utilise movements of the pile to reduce the strength of surrounding soils into which it is embedded). While some exploratory work has been carried out by contractors to date, none of these techniques have yet to be studied in detail at the scale of a typical offshore monopile.

The aim of this PhD project is to develop computational models of these removal processes, to understand their effectiveness in different soil conditions, and to enable the development of prototype and full scale take-up to be developed. In doing so, a cost-effective parametric analysis will be granted, and virtual prototyping prior to expensive demonstration and risk adverse deployment. The nature of this study though computational techniques will not only allow for extraction methods to be optimised, but also the geometry of piles for future designs to aid extraction whilst maintaining in-service requirements.

The novelty of this project is found in its aims to:
(i) Develop new computational techniques of much wider applicability to problems in civil and mechanical engineering;
(ii) First parametric study of monopile removal techniques;
(iii) Derivation of initial guidelines for removal methods for industry.

Training & Skills

The student will (depending on prior experience) receive specific technical training in computational methods (especially the MPM), continuum mechanics, geotechnics, Matlab and Julia languages. The Advanced Research Computing unit at Durham will also provide training in HPC, programming and version control.

You will benefit from a taught programme, giving you a broad understanding of the breadth and depth of current and emerging offshore wind sector needs. This begins with an intensive six-month programme at the University of Hull for the new student intake, drawing on the expertise and facilities of all four academic partners. It is supplemented by Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is embedded throughout your 4-year research scholarship.

Further Queries

If you would like more information about this project, please let us know by emailing

Entry Requirements

If you have received or expect to achieve before starting your PhD programme a First-class Honours degree, or a 2:1 Honours degree and a Masters, or a Distinction at Masters level a degree (or the international equivalents) in engineering, earth science, mathematics and statistics, physics, we would like to hear from you.

If your first language is not English, or you require a 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. Please contact for further guidance or questions.


The CDT is funded by the EPSRC, allowing us to provide scholarships that cover fees plus a stipend set at the UKRI nationally agreed rates, £19,237 per annum at 2024/25 rates (subject to progress).


Our funded Doctoral Scholarships are available to UK Students. In addition, we have a number of Scholarships that are open to International Students. Research council funding for postgraduate research has residence requirements. 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.

How to apply

Please note, you may only apply for ONE project offered through the EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Energy Sustainability and Resilience.

Applications are open until 16 May 2024.

Applications to this project are made via the Durham University admissions system. If you have not applied to Durham University before, you will need to set up an account to enable you to track the progress of your application and upload supporting documents.

Follow this link to apply for CDT projects at Durham University:

For CDT projects based at Durham University you need to select “PhD Engineering” as your course and “H1A201” as your course code. Please make sure you select “October” intake – although note that the PhD will actually start in September, with the 6-month taught programme, based at the University of Hull.

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.
  • Your Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  • A completed Supplementary Application Form (upload when asked for your Personal Statement).

Guidance on completing your Supplementary Application Form:

The EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Energy Sustainability and Resilience is committed to generating a diverse and inclusive training programme. As part of our inclusive practices, the Centre adopts a process of assessing applicants’ experience, skills and attributes independently of personal details. To enable us to do this, we ask you, as the applicant, to complete the Supplementary Application Form, omitting the following personally identifying information from the form – name(s), ethnic group, nationality, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation. The form is then 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 the personally identifying information specified.

Completing the form

Applicants must:

  • Remove references to: Name(s), ethnic group, nationality, age, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation
  • Complete all sections of the form in font and size Calibri 11pt

Please download the Supplementary Application Form here.

Uploading the form

When you have completed the form, please save it as a pdf format and labelled as follows:

Last name_first name PhD application form

Upload the form as part of your application documents through the Durham University student application portal, when asked to add your Personal Statement. The form replaces the Personal Statement and so you do not need to complete the Personal Statement section.
Our support team will then process the form removing your name and allocating you a number prior to your application being assessed.


Interviews will be held during June and will be conducted by a panel of academics from Durham University.
For an informal discussion please contact

For an informal discussion, call +44 (0) 1482 463331
or contact