Design and Testing of Composite Tidal Turbine Blades

A PhD is proposed in the design and testing of composite tidal turbine blades. This will involve advanced structural design of composite materials using numerical techniques such as finite element analysis and physical testing of tidal blades and will be based at the new Structural Composites Research Facility (SCRF) at the University of Edinburgh. The Composites and Structures Groups at the University and industry collaborative partners are active in developing and characterising composite laminates, substructures and full-scale tidal blades using novel composite materials and manufacturing techniques.

The PhD will experimentally validate existing theories of stress development, transfer and concentration in complex extended structures by means of distributed load cells and strain-measurement devices. The PhD will also model in detail the performance of the SCRF, its loading frame, control system, hydraulic power system and various displacement, load and blade deformation measurement systems, and will assist in the design and commissioning of the facility.

The University is establishing an innovative Structural Composites Research Facility (SCRF) for accelerated testing of stiff and slender composite structures, such as tidal turbine blades, with funding provided by the EPSRC Strategic Equipment Scheme. A typical tidal turbine blade will see 10 million loading cycles in a 15-20 year lifetime, which will take over 3 years to fatigue test in current facilities. The SCRF will use novel hydraulic technologies to accelerate the testing of these structures by a factor of 10, reducing the lifetime fatigue testing time to only 4 months, which will make the facility unique in the world. The facility will be the first of its kind, based on the use of ultra-efficient digital displacement hydraulics and regenerative pumping. For tidal turbine blades (shown), the novel hydraulic actuation system will only use 10-15% of the energy input required by conventional hydraulics, thus enabling practical academic research into fundamental engineering options for new materials technology and cost-effective certification of tidal turbine blades. This will enable impact-led academic and applied research into fundamental engineering options for new materials technologies. The 10x decrease in fatigue testing times offered will enable researchers to study and characterise statistically-significant numbers of fatigue failures of real structures at much larger numbers of loading cycles within research project timescales (typically 1-4 years).

Closing Date: 

Friday, September 1, 2017
SR2000 Blades
SR2000 Blades

Principal Supervisor: 

Assistant Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in Mechanical, Civil or Structural Engineering, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU students (International students not eligible); Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: