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Assessment of condition, safety and reliability of wind energy infrastructure systems using structural health monitoring

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Omenzetter
    Dr S Sriramula
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Wind turbines are exposed to frequent structural damage increasing the cost of wind energy generation. To drive these costs down, this project will develop new automated methods for detection and severity assessment of structural damage to wind turbines by examining vibration responses such as accelerations and strains measured by sensors attached to the structure. Dynamic responses will be used to detect differences between healthy and damage structural components (foundations, tower and rotor blades). Damage severity will be assessed using calibration of numerical structural models based on measured responses. Data for the research will come from computer simulations under different damage scenarios and experimental validation will be undertaken using physical models of wind turbine tower and rotor blades.

As the off-shore wind turbines are relatively new types of structures, there is generally dearth of knowledge about their long-term structural reliability and performance, and indeed there are growing concerns in the industry that the existing structures will struggle to reach their design life-span of 25 years. There is thus a strong interest from the industry in coming up with design and maintenance practices that would maximize the reliability and longevity of wind turbines in a cost efficient way. Another sub-objective of this project is to develop a methodology for optimization of the trades-off between maximizing the structural reliability and minimizing the costs related to initial construction, inspections, monitoring and maintenance throughout the life-cycle of wind turbines and entire wind farms. In simple terms, the methodology will answer the question: Should we build more expensive structures or cheaper ones but pay more for inspection and maintenance?

There is also generally dearth of data and understanding as to how large structural systems, such as modern wind turbines, perform in their in-situ environment and such knowledge can only be gained via monitoring actual loadings and responses. This study will also consider monitoring of a wind turbine dynamic structural responses (accelerations, displacement and strains), system identification, and development of models to quantitatively assess performance and reliability.

This industry-relevant research will be supervised by the academics associated with the University of Aberdeen Lloyd’s Register Foundation Centre of Safety and Reliability Engineering and will pave the way for industry uptake of the automated damage monitoring technologies and optimal state-of-the-art design and maintenance practices to increase wind turbine safety and reliability and reducing their costs.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have an Honours Degree in Civil (Structural), Mechanical, Aerospace, Mechatronics Engineering, Physics, Mathematical Physics at 2.1 or above (or equivalent).

Candidates must have a strong academic background in engineering, applied science or applied mathematics. Enthusiasm, can-do attitude and strong skills in structural mechanics, dynamics and mathematical and computer modelling (or strong motivation and clear potential to learn these), and willingness to engage in experimental work are a must. Preference will be given to applicants who can demonstrate both a clear potential for research excellence and their suitability for research project described above.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal enquiries can be made to, Dr P Omenzetter, University of Aberdeen with a copy of your current CV and a covering letter detailing your suitability for the project. Email: ([email protected]). All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

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