PhD Studentships at the School of Natural and Built Environment: Queens University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast

These studentships cover a range of topics including:

Flow optimization within a SuDS vortex retention brake.

This project will investigate differences in how such vertical vortices prime and de-prime, as a full understanding of the differences that occur is essential if an optimum design of a vertex brake is required. The work will be both experimental and numerically based using computational fluid dynamics.

SALine INtrusion in coastal Aquifers (SALINA): Hydrodynamic Assessment and Prediction of Dynamic Response

The team of researchers within Civil Engineering has recently been awarded £1.1m for research into the intrusion of salt water into coastal freshwater aquifers.  The SALINA project brings together a multidisciplinary research team from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and Imperial College London (ICL).  The PhD student will become a member of that team and will work with the researchers at both universities.

Fluid structure interactions on the flow field around a tidal current turbine

Tidal flow represents an abundant yet significantly untapped source of renewable energy.  In order to capture and use this energy source ongoing research is continuing into the design of tidal machines and blades optimisations.  An integrated approach to the modelling of the hydrodynamics, with improved full field validations, and the response of the machine to those conditions will offer a significant advance in knowledge. Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) or a Lattice Boltzmann Method (LBM) approach coupled with a Discrete Element Method (DEM) will be used in this study backed by on site and lab based measurement.

Hydrodynamics of monopile wind turbines considering nonlinear load and load effects

Larger wind turbines appear offshore to reduce the cost of produced power in order to make offshore wind energy comparative with onshore wind power. Increased size of turbine results in the larger foundation; monopile foundations are the most installed substructures used for offshore wind installations due to their relatively low cost. The power generation, structural dynamics and survivability of the monopile wind turbines will be investigated to reduce the sensitivity of the structure to extreme events.

Regional Geochemical Provenance of Feedstock:  Investigation of possible Influence on Anaerobic Digestion

The performance of grass fed ADs varies from location to location across Northern Ireland – why? 

This project will examine the geochemical make-up of anaerobic digester feedstock and by-product from a geographical spread of ADs across Northern Ireland.  The aim will be to assess if regional variations in underlying geology and geochemical make-up of soils, and ultimately the underlying soil parent material, play a role in efficiency?  The project will make use of results of the award winning Tellus Project geochemical survey of Northern Ireland and other geological map and data resources.  A combination of fieldwork, sample collection and analysis, ARCGIS and geospatial/statistical methods would be available to use to assess the issue.

Remote Image Analysis for Resource Assessment of Tidal Energy Sites

Using digital imagery for flow characterisation of a tidal energy site has never been done before. Demonstrating that airborne surveillance method can accurately characterise the spatial and temporal nature of a tidal site may significantly improve the levelized cost of energy. Further this method could provide high-resolution spatiotemporal heterogeneity of turbulence to overlay with top predator behaviour (mammals, fish and birds) to understand how they interact with the marine environment.

Further details on these can be found at

To apply for the above projects please complete an application form on the Queen’s University Postgraduate Applications Portal

To be eligible for consideration for a studentship (including a stipend of £14,777 and fees), the candidate must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years (with no restrictions). EU residents may be eligible for a studentship covering fees-only.

Closing Date for Application: 30th March 2018

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Northern Ireland