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PhD Studentship: Lubrication in Wind Turbines

University of Sheffield

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Sheffield
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th August 2021
Closes: 13th November 2021

We have a vacancy for an enthusiastic and self-motivated PhD student for a PhD project in the Centre for Doctoral Training, CDT in Tribology and the Leonardo Centre for Tribology at the University of Sheffield funded by GE Renewable Energy. 

About the Project

The growth in the wind energy sector has been rapid, and there is much more planned as nations turn to low carbon energy production. Single large size machines are more efficient than fields of smaller turbines. But with an increase in size, moving components become less reliable, and need more maintenance. A critical area is how we lubricate large highly loaded slow moving bearings, such as the main and the pitch bearings. Pitch bearings are also being used in a new way – called variable pitch control, this means continually pitching the blades to get the most energy out of the wind as it changes power and direction. This puts considerable strain on the oil film between the bearing rolling elements.

This project is about working out how best to lubricate these bearings; what type of greases should we be using and how they behave in the bearing. We’ll be conducting experiments to build an understanding of how grease lubricates these kinds of contacts, how we model the process, and how we use this to select best greases for use in full size applications. The work is funded by GE Renewable Energy. You will be working closely with them, as well as lubricant suppliers, and our partners the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC).

About the Centres

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Tribology is based in The Leonardo Centre in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. It is one of the leading tribology groups in the UK with 6 academic staff and over 50 PhD students. The Centre covers a wide range of fundamental and applied research and has a large group of industrial funders and collaborators. You will be joining a great team of helpful and social PhD students working in three well-equipped labs.

GE Renewable Energy are a major world supplier of on and offshore wind turbines. The portfolio combines onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, and grid solutions as well as hybrid renewables and digital services offerings, GE Renewable Energy has installed more than 400+ gigawatts of clean renewable energy; including the most powerful offshore turbine in the world, the Haliade-X.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult based in Blythe are the UK’s leading technology innovation and research centre for offshore renewable energy. They play a key role in delivering the UK’s net zero targets by accelerating the creation and growth of UK companies in the offshore renewable energy sector. The unique facilities and research and engineering capabilities bring together industry and academia and drive innovation in renewable energy.

For further information on the project itself please contact Prof Rob Dwyer-Joyce –


  • 1st or 2:1 degree in Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics or other Relevant Discipline.
  • The PhD is funded at the standard EPSRC rate covering fees and bursary. Funding is only available to cover the level of fees set for UK applicants for 3.5 years. Applicants from non UK/EU will need to cover the extra fees form their own funds.
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