Numerical modelling of deep penetrating anchors for floating wind installations

Research projects

Project Description:

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

This Research Project is part of the the EPSRC CDT in Offshore Wind Sustainability and Resilience’s Offshore wind energy geotechnics Cluster.

Floating wind offers the possibility of opening up energy resource in deeper water than feasible with fixed solutions (e.g. monopiles or jackets) which become impractical in water depths over 45m for monopiles and 80m for jackets. While the UK may have sufficient potential capacity in water depths suitable for fixed wind there are large parts of the world where floating wind will be significant due to minimal continental shelves, such as Norway and Japan. There is an opportunity, therefore, for technology and expertise linked to floating wind to be developed in the UK and exported overseas, much as has been done with the current wind technology developed in Europe.

At present, future floating wind support structures are expected to be one of three concepts: spars, tension-leg platforms or semi-submersibles. For each concept there are a number of exciting technical challenges to be addressed if floating wind is to become effective and economic, but one challenge that links them all is anchoring. Anchoring solutions for floating structures of the nature and number anticipated cannot be simply adapted from oil and gas solutions for technical and economic reasons. For example, traditional drag anchor design is based on empirical approaches which are neither linked to seabed deposit mechanical parameters nor adaptable outside of a given anchor geometry. In addition, final installation position is difficult to control, which conflicts with the need for turbines in floating arrays to be precisely located, for moorings to be shared, for adequate space for cabling and for much smaller seabed footprints for closely-spaced array components. Dynamically installed anchors, such as Deep Penetrating Anchors (DPAs), offer a potential solution by allowing precisely located moorings which can be directly below a floating structure. They are installed by allowing a heavy anchor body to drop through a given depth of water above the seabed, and to then penetrate to an embedment level in the seabed, dissipating their own kinetic energy. They avoid the need for long pulls to embed as with a traditional drag anchor, or the use of catenaries (near horizontal pull being a limitation of many anchor types), neither of which are suitable for small seabed footprints.

The aim in this project is to develop a computational model of the installation and life of a DPA to both (a) predict embedment depth in a given soil and (b) arrive at an accurate picture of the state of the disturbed soil above an installed anchor. The tool developed within (a) will allow quick assessment of the effectiveness of new DPA geometries within different soil conditions. Results from (b) could be ported to a standard commercial code for analysis of the longer-term behaviour of the installed anchor.

Training & Skills

Student will be trained in advanced numerical modelling, computational mechanics, plasticity, large deformation mechanics, etc. in addition to the general research skills training offered at Durham University. This PhD will open the door to several careers were strong analytical & problem solving skills are essential.

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, computer science, physics or a related subject with experience of coding, 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