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PhD Research Project

IDTC/EngD-4 The Influence of Water Quality on Underwater Noise from Propeller Cavitation (QinetiQ)

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Institution Location

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Engineering & The Environment
Prof S.R. Turnock
Prof V. Humphrey
No more applications being accepted
Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

There is an increasing awareness of the role underwater noise associated with human activity (anthropogenic) may play in the marine environment. This has been recognised by the EU through its Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which effectively classifies underwater noise as a pollutant and recognises its potential impact on marine life. In the low frequency range shipping is a major contributor to underwater noise. Consequently the EU has already funded two FP7 projects on shipping noise; Southampton is a partner in one of these (SONIC).

A range of research initiatives are now being stimulated as a result this increased awareness of anthropogenic noise. In the context of shipping a major source of noise is cavitation occurring in the vicinity of the propeller. Techniques of minimising the cavitation and noise are now being investigated using both numerical modelling of the fluid flow and experimental measurements in cavitation tunnels and flumes. However the onset of cavitation, and the resulting behaviour of the bubbles formed, is strongly influenced by the quality of the water, depending on the presence of nuclei and surfactants, as well as dissolved gas concentration.

This project will look at the issue of cavitation noise from propellers and the significance of water quality on the cavitation processes. This will be achieved by a mixture of Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling of propellers to determine the pressure fluctuations responsible for generating cavitation, modelling of bubble dynamics using bubble simulations, and practical/experimental work aiming to understand the impact of water quality on cavitation. The latter may involve the construction of a dedicated experimental flow system into which suitable particles/surfactants can be added. The work on the effect of water quality will be facilitated by the use of equipment loaned by the sponsor and measurements in suitable cavitation tunnels as appropriate.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Stephen Turnock, Fluid-Structure Interactions research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2488 or Prof Victor Humphrey, ISVR: Fluid Dynamics and Acoustics research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 4957.

Start date: 1 October 2014

To be eligible students need to have UK status or be a European Union (EU) national who has been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for three years prior to the commencement of studies.

Limited relaxation of student eligibility requirements:
Outstanding international applicants, currently based in the UK and able to attend an interview at the University of Southampton, who have the equivalent of a very good first class UK degree (typically with 75% or above overall) may be eligible to compete for the international doctoral scholarship (IDS) on the EngD scheme. If you wish to apply for the IDS, please indicate this on your application form and ensure a personal statement, full degree transcripts and two references are included on applying.


Funding Notes:

This EngD project will be funded through the Industry Doctoral Training Centre (IDTC) The studentship comprises support from both EPRSC and an industrial sponsor.

How good is research at University of Southampton in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 192.23

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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