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Dynamic soil-pile interaction for emerging large-diameter monopiles supporting offshore wind turbines (ENG1304)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 29, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Are you interested in structural dynamics, soil-structure interaction and mathematical modelling? Offshore wind turbines are dynamically sensitive systems, with the potential for resonance between the rotational frequencies of the blades, the frequency of waves in the ocean and the natural frequency of the structure. This resonance can cause fatigue in the system and is best avoided. Understanding the dynamic soil-structure interaction is therefore paramount to safe, reliable design of these systems.

This project aims to:

Expand a recently developed finite-element model updating approach capable of estimating the soil mass and stiffness acting in the dynamic motion of monopile foundations. The existing approach can estimate the soil stiffness by applying a weighting factor to a postulated soil-stiffness with depth, and updating this to match recorded data. The project aims to expand this method to enable depth-dependant stiffness updating to obtain a better estimation of the acting soil stiffness. Since many existing approaches rely on empirical equations to specify soil stiffness, the approach is urgently needed.

Expand the existing approach to incorporate nonlinear soil stress-strain behaviour.

Benchmark/calibrate the developed approach against data from experimental testing to be completed at Nottingham Centre for Geomechanics (NCG) on large-diameter model piles.

Expand the approach to other types of foundations including gravity base, suction caissons, and other soil-structure systems to improve design reliability.


Applicants should have, or expect to obtain, a 1st class or 2.1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in Civil Engineering, Materials Science, Physics or a related subject. A relevant Masters degree in these areas would be advantageous.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

Students with experience or a willingness to learn software such as MATLAB and Python are encouraged to apply. Computer programming skills are an advantage.

Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK or EU candidates.

How to apply

Informal contact with Dr Luke J Prendergast () before submitting an online application. Please send a brief cover letter and a copy of your CV with your up-to-date relevant experience by email. An informal Skype chat can be had prior to submitting an official application.

Online application can be made via Please quote the studentship reference and Dr Luke J Prendergast.

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.

Funding Notes

Eligible for Home / EU candidates only. This project will include the payment of tuition fees as well as a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (currently at £15,009p.a. tax free for 2019-20) awarded to the suitable candidate.

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