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Developing Dynamic CFD Models to Understand Tidal Device Performance Under Various Control Strategies.

Cardiff School of Engineering

Cardiff United Kingdom Energy Technologies Environmental Engineering Fluid Mechanics Marine Engineering Mechanical Engineering Offshore Engineering

About the Project

3 Years Start 1st April 2021, 1st July 2021, 1st October 2021 and January 2022

Tidal devices have been known to be subjected to extreme loading events brought about through the interaction of dynamic flow artefacts and the complex task of controlling tidal devices for optimal power extraction. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling has been a useful tool in developing understanding of device performance and loading under either steady conditions or conditions representing resource transients only, generally models address turbulence or wave conditions with steady-state turbine operation. This project will develop the remit of CFD modelling by integrating device control side transients along with resource transients into fully resolved high definition CFD models. This integrated modelling approach will be a crucial aspect of accurate tidal system representation under extreme conditions such as generator or control system faults, as well as extreme weather events. The project will utilise high-quality, experimentally validated CFD models and systematically study and characterise the effects of including control transients in the model formulation via the use of user defined functions executed for each time-step. The effects on model convergence, stability and accuracy will be examined and a comparison with experimental results drawn. Transient aspects of a synthesised extreme event will be modelled, and the quality of the model reported.  

The tidal industry is moving towards commercialisation with 2020 seeing reports of record energy production and the announcement of optimistic plans for array deployment both within the UK and abroad (Canada and Japan). These development show promise for the industry; the planned array operations and developments represent a step towards technical maturity. However, in order to be truly competitive, the tidal industry must continuously develop and reduce costs. This proposal seeks to develop innovation which will inform technical development of tidal devices through to commercial maturity and into the incremental changes which can revolutionise larger industries with small efficiency savings. This project will achieve this by developing CFD tools to simulate device operation in both normal and abnormal conditions – the results from this work can be developed to understand load profiles under extreme events and help reduce over engineering and breed innovation in design. The development of such tools is inevitably a complex undertaking with interdependencies between rotor behaviour and control system behaviour creating feedbacks and non-linear effect which need to be studied in detail, this work seeks to embark on this undertaking which is of critical importance if the use of such tools is develop in line with the industry. 

This research builds upon the high-quality research into CFD modelling for tidal applications undertaken at the Cardiff Marine Energy group. The research will take high quality, validated CFD models and introduce the novel aspects of including transient device operations into the CFD models by incorporating realistic control feedback. The ambition of this work is to develop CFD models which can successfully simulate extreme loading events experienced by tidal devices. The proposed project whilst ambitious in developing applied understanding of extreme loading events will be undertaken systematically and will report on the fundamental aspects of the inclusion of the device transient behaviour due to varying levels of rotor acceleration. The work will report on inertial and damping effects under prescribed changes in the upstream flow, building on basic flow scenarios and adding complexity. 

The project will aim to engage with industrial partners to help quantify particular events and aspects of control and dynamic device response scenarios that will be of interest, helping to develop an industrially focused project with feedback to and from industry. The project will boast integrated webinars with aimed at the CFD research community detailing the methodology for simulating dynamic events, these webinars will be developed with aim of engaging with researchers utilising differing variations of CFD software helping to develop this capability in the broadest and must impactful way.

Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or a MSc degree in a relevant engineering/science subject.  

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent)

Contact for further information ; ;

Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University  webpages ( ) including;

·        an upload of your CV

·        a personal statement/covering letter

·        two references (applicants are recommended to have a third academic referee, if the two academic referees are within the same department/school)

·        Current academic transcripts

Applicants should select Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering), with a start date of

PLEASE CHOOSE - 1st April 2021, 1st July 2021 or 1st October 2021 .

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, reference AMJ-MJA-TO'D-SF-2021

Funding Notes

This is a self funded project open to students worldwide

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