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KESS2 Scholarship: High-resolution sub-seafloor characterisation to optimise zonal appraisal and front-end engineering for renewable energy projects.


Project Description

We urgently need to accommodate a zero-emissions society using technology that is available today. We are in a climate crisis and we cannot wait for new technology to emerge. To make current and near-future technology economically viable, we seek cost-effective and sustainable ways to extract renewable sources of energy. A poorly considered design leads to high development costs and these are currently often hampering effective implementation of marine energy development schemes whilst we need to speed up the plans to decarbonise the UK.

We aim to address the challenge of designing marine energy converters in the variable and complex environment that is the glaciated sub-seabed. During the Last Glacial Maximum (about 25,000 years before present), a marine-terminating ice sheet, called the British-Irish Ice Sheet, was drained by one of the largest ice streams. The nature of that ice streaming defines the subsurface properties of the seabed on which we build our offshore infrastructure today. A better understanding of the (palaeo-) glacial processes that impacted sub-seabeds should therefore inform a more cost-effective zonal appraisal and design for an offshore engineering project. This work will apply to all offshore regions with variable (sub-)seabed properties due to a complex glacial history.

How improved subsurface characterisation can inform design of energy converters:

Acoustic and sedimentological data can be used to map out shallow subsurface geological and geotechnical variations in offshore bed. Parameters like bed stiffness, presence of boulders, depth to bedrock, bed heterogeneity, silt channels and seabed slopes directly impact the design of the foundations for renewable energy converters. These parameters are defined by glacial processes of the past, and a better understanding of those should lead to a better method to characterise the sub-seabed. In the sub-seafloor of offshore North Wales, with patchy distribution of boulders and large pro-glacial fans for instance, we have an excellent case study to set up these new links between palaeo-glacial processes, sub-seabed geology, geotechnics and acoustic facies.

Collaboration with renewable energy industry leaders

In this PhD project, we link with Innogy Renewables, an industry leader in renewable energy development at the fore-front of this decarbonising effort. Innogy is Germany’s leading energy company, with a revenue of around €43 billion (2017), more than 42,000 employees and activities in 15 countries across Europe. They have been responsible for £4bn of new UK renewable energy investments in the last 5 years. Their MO is to offer sustainable and innovative energy solutions and via a placement at Innogy, you will discover their novel approaches in renewable energy extraction.

What will you learn (as a minimum):
• Academic knowledge of glacial dynamics applied to offshore engineering solutions
• Marine geophysical data processing and analyses using industry standard software packages
• Marine sedimentological and geotechnical analyses
• Advanced image analyses
• Networking via placements at Innogy, via collaborations with Liverpool University (Prof. Richard Chiverrell) and via links with the new £7M Smart Efficient Energy Centre (SEEC) at the School of Ocean Sciences.

To apply

Please send a CV and covering letter to Katrien Van Landeghem () and cc to Penny Dowdney ().
Project ID: BUK2E036
Application Deadline: 28 February 2020 - midnight

Funding Notes

Annual Stipend: annual tax-free training allowance (stipend) of circa £14.5k with full-time fees waived by the University and additional standard allowances for travel, conference, consumables, training and support costs.

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