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ECR Research Fund - Funded Research Projects

The ECR Research Fund is designed to be a flexible research fund for ECRs to support small activities that either supports and develops existing research activities, or develops ECR skills further. Research activities should be aligned with the objectives of the Supergen ORE Hub, further details of which can be found HEREand funded research is directed at offshore wind, wave or tidal energy research. Multi-disciplinary or multi-sectoral proposals are also welcomed. The maximum award size within each ECR Research Fund call is limited to £5,000 per ECR (direct costs only).

Details of future ECR Research Fund calls will be announced through the Supergen ORE Hub’s ECR Network mailing list, social media accounts and website in the future. 


Supergen ORE Hub - Second ECR Research Fund Call, October 2020 - Funded Research Projects

We are pleased to announce that the Supergen ORE Hub awarded almost £36,000 to eight Early Career Researchers from our ECR network in our second round of ECR Research Fund allocations. Congratulations to all who were successful in this second funding round. A summary list of ECR research projects can be found below.


The offshore renewable energy industry requires efficient anchoring systems to support floating offshore wind turbines as well as floating wave energy and tidal turbine devices. This project will extend my recent work on the whole-life time-dependent capacity of anchoring systems – which has revealed potentially significant ‘hidden’ capacity – by opening a collaboration with the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute on consolidation and aging effects. This collaboration will explore new methods to capture long term anchor behaviour for design via laboratory tests through three activities: (i) a program of new soil element tests involving realistic ‘whole-life’ loading, (ii) data mining into NGI’s extensive database of cyclic and long term soil testing and (iii) collaboration on efficient computational models to integrate the anchor into a floating system model. These activities will be facilitated via a placement at NGI, and will lead to both conventional research outcomes and also industry-aimed outputs (webinar and software demo).


The very high loads experienced by tidal and wind turbine blades push the material selection towards high-specific-strength materials, such as Glass- or Carbon-fibre reinforced thermoset polymers. The composite blades’ load-carrying capacity primarily depends on the longitudinal failure behaviour of the laminates. Even though thermoset matrices are prone to environmental degradation, the failure of the composite blades primarily depends on the fracture toughness associated with the tensile fibre failure. This project aims to investigate the translaminar failure behaviour of carbon fibre reinforced plastics exposed to varying environmental (temperature, moisture) conditions. The evolution of failure mechanisms due to moisture ingress and thermal expansion in comparison to room temperature dry conditions (RTD) is the primary focus of this study. This understanding would enhance the selection of material and layup configurations suitable for varying in-service conditions, which will consequently improve the life-cycle cost and performance of the offshore blades.


Wave energy is a renewable energy source that has immense potential for exploitation as clean energy. Among the different type of wave energy converters (WECs), the terminator-type of WEC, “oscillating water column (OWC)” device is considered in this present study for the reason that it can be easily integrated with coastal structures as a multi-purpose system to reduce the total cost and also easy maintenance. The foremost burden in the advancement of OWC WEC technology is the financial aspect in comparison with alternative renewable technologies. For this reason, a multiutilitarian system is potential and more feasible. This multi-purpose option made the OWC device installation integrated into the breakwater in a larger scale at ports in both the places Mutriku in Spain and Civitavecchia in Italy. Based on the author’s experimental study on the hydrodynamic optimization of OWC WEC, it has been observed that the integration of OWC devices with breakwater decreases the reflection which leads to increase the stability of the breakwater against wave action. Also, the study of wave force measurement on OWC WEC subjected to non-breaking wave condition revealed that due to higher wave power absorption around the natural frequency of the system the total shoreward horizontal wave force on the OWC device decreases about 50%. Though the total wave force on the structure decreases compared to conventional caisson breakwater, the lip wall in the OWC system prone to heavy damage, as occurred in Mutriku wave power plant, during the extreme wave conditions. As the development of OWC WEC technology has increased in detail and scope, the need for developing design methods for impact loads due to steep and breaking waves is required in a trade-off with system performance to ensure its service life. The successful deployment of these devices in the real field help to achieve a reduction in carbon gas emission thereby minimizing the effect due to climate change and aids to attain the sustainable economy, which meets the growing energy demand.


Despite decades of research and development, large-scale wave energy deployment is hardly seen due to many remaining challenges. From the economic point of view, the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCoE) of wave energy is still higher than other sustainable energy recourses, e.g. offshore wind. Technically, reliability and survivability of wave energy converters (WECs)in extreme waves conditions are not yet fully resolved. This project conducts innovative and cross-disciplinary research about wave energy, aiming to develop a revolutionary Smart Control Algorithm (SCA) to tackle the two challenges mentioned above. Based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the SCA forecasts future wave loads and implements tailored control actions to the WEC. Mechanical control of the WEC is realized by the well-known declutching control, where the Power Take Off (PTO) system is loaded and off-loaded alternately according to the forecasted future wave loads. During operational conditions, the PTO system is controlled in such a way so that the device will resonant with the incoming wave and thus maximizing the power output. When the SCA predicts an extreme event, the WEC is locked in position to prevent potential structural damage. The developed SAC will be implemented on a controller board and tested with a pre-existing WEC model available at the Kelvin Hydrodynamics Laboratory (KHL) of the University of Strathclyde. Both the developed SCA and the controller hardware will be made available to wave energy research requires a control method within the SuperGen framework. The planned implementation of the hardware will base on the industrial-grade national instrument (NI) controller, meaning it can be applied to a full-scale WEC with little additional effort. It is anticipated such research will lead to a step reduction on the LCoE of wave energy ultimately, by enhancing the power output and at the same time increasing the survivability of a WEC.

This research proposal is to seed-corn the development of an optimised shape of a floating offshore platform to reduce mooring loads. The use of hydrofoil will be explored. Promising numerical study has been done through a sponsored design and recent MSc project. In order to explore this concept further, experimental study is proposed. The objectives of this project are 1. Investigate the hydrodynamic performance of various shape of hydrofoil at high Reynolds numbers under different wave conditions; 2. Analysis of the configuration of the hydrofoil influences the thrust/drag generation. 3. Compare the result with numerical simulation and conduct the feasibility study.


This project aims to test the feasibility, both experimentally and numerically, of a novel concept for a robust wave energy converter (WEC) operating in the near-shore region. The converter uses a series of non-return valves, constrained by a tapered pipe, where the incoming wave builds up pressure in each compartment and finally drives a turbine onshore with the pressurised water. The device is ideal for remote communities in order to gain energy security and reduce dependence on imports. The device facilitates local engagement, and it is intended that local people are trained to perform the majority of maintenance tasks using low cost, readily available, parts. The objective of this work is to assess the feasibility of the WEC through physical testing which will provide base information to validate some of the initial numerical models.


Offshore management is a future challenge for the development of sustainable growth for aquaculture and offshore renewable energy industries. The worldwide increase of demand for both industries requires developing efficient tools to optimize the use of the offshore space. The synergetic development of marine renewable energy infrastructure with mariculture has been hypothesized as a way to share services and reduce costs. Reducing barriers to the development of Multi-use platforms at sea (MUPS) would provide a pathway for a high-tech low carbon energy industry that aligns with UN sustainability goals. The first part of the project will create a tool taking into account several criteria essential for both industries, which will define the best area for MUPS: 1) waves, wind and tidal energy production potential; 2) biological and physical requirements needed for different species (seaweed, bivalves, fish and crustaceans); and 3) infrastructure requirements for aquaculture and energy devices. The second part will quantify and qualify the potential benefits and risks of co-location, which will improve investor confidence and shape the pathway to this new industry. The application of Lagrangian drifters is one of the methods of this project proposal, which will allow us to concurrently study larvae dispersal and oceanographic parameters to: 1) define larvae pathways; 2) provide information on the possibility to collect larvae using offshore renewable energy (ORE) infrastructure; 3) study the impact of ORE on larval recruitment; and 4) improve accuracy of hydrodynamic models for future ORE projects.



This project aims to extend ongoing research assessing the role of Abrupt Depth Transitions (ADTs) on the formation of rogue waves, with particular relevance to Offshore Wind Turbines (OWTs) installed near continental shelves. The proposed project builds on a recent collaboration primarily between the University of Oxford (Yan Li, ECR) and the University of Manchester (Sam Draycott, applicant) through a UK-China flexible fund; where theoretical and experimental analysis delivered an answer, for the first time, as to why rogue waves occur atop ADTs in long-crested (i.e. two dimensional) sea states. The results are important to the analysis of extreme loads on offshore structures and, hence, the design and installation of offshore renewable devices. Through new experiments at the University of Manchester, this project will extend this understanding to directionally spread waves (i.e. from 2D to 3D) typically observed in real ocean environments, whilst significantly strengthening the aforementioned collaboration. This will also provide me with the opportunity to lead my first experimental campaign using University facilities since I joined (2019), experience I will build on for future research projects.



Supergen ORE Hub - First ECR Research Fund Call, October 2019 - Funded Research Projects

We are pleased to announce that the Supergen ORE Hub awarded almost £47,000 to eight Early Career Researchers from our ECR network in our first round of ECR Research Fund allocations. Congratulations to all who were successful in this first funding round. A summary list of the first round of ECR research projects can be found below. Full reports, blogs and slide packs will be published here once they are available. 

This industrially-supported (by EA Technology®) research case describes the key role of dynamic braking systems (DBS) in protection of offshore windfarms. It highlights the revolutionary breakthrough in development of high voltage wide-bandgap (WBG) power quantum devices and proposes design of DBS switches with WBG devices to reduce the size, weight and cost of the DBS systems and pave the way for more cost-effective implementation of offshore wind farms. The case aims to build an entry-level lab-scale 5 kV DBS switch with WBG devices and report to ORE Hub the effectiveness of DBS protection units with WBG devices under grid-scale stress levels.


This project aims at reducing the cost of energy from Offshore Wind Turbines through novel design and innovation. As wind turbines grow larger to reduce the levelized cost of energy, their blades grow more slender and require significantly thicker airfoils (>30%), specifically towards the root region. Such airfoils however, have reduced maximum lift and are very prone to flow separation. In addition to reduced performance, this also reduces turbine life span, as fatigue loads become crucial. One solution to the challenges caused by the use of very thick traditional airfoils is the use of flatback airfoils. Flatback profiles have blunt trailing edge (TE) and provide higher lift and reduced sensitivity to tripping. There is still limited research on them however, especially with regards (a) to how blunt the TE can be before it is actually detrimental and (b) the possibility for dynamic flow control. The objectives of this project are: 1. To investigate the aerodynamic performance of an airfoil with very thick TE (20% chord) at high Reynolds number (Re ≈ 2M) 2. To investigate the unsteady wake characteristics of the same airfoil with the use of combined unsteady pressure and velocity measurements using microphones and hot wires 3. To examine the possibility of dynamic control of airfoil performance


A commitment to a green energy future requires new engineering systems that reduce the cost of environmentally-friendly power generation. Larger wind turbine sizes is one of the most straightforward and effective ways to reducing the wind power generation costs. However large turbines are subject to significant aeroelastic effects from turbulence and gusts. Novel modelling techniques are needed to both accurately simulate such effects and serve as a basis for smart rotor concepts, where low-power and low-maintenance blade-mounted flaps are controlled to reduce fluctuating loads on the blade structure. This will enable savings in blade stiffness and weight, and more importantly huge savings in other components such as drive-train and tower. The ultimate goal is to develop technologies that will facilitate the introduction of larger and lighter wind turbines, along with a substantial reduction in the unit cost for energy production. Areas of focus include aeroservoelastic modelling of smart rotor including control surfaces, model reduction, control design and simulations.


This research project aims to develop a graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) self-sensing structural health monitoring (SHM) system for adhesively bonded joints of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP). Upon addition of GNPs, the epoxy adhesive becomes electrically conductive. Damage of the GNPs reinforced adhesive layer can be detected by measuring the change of electric signal using Arduino microcontroller. A low power Bluetooth wireless communication system will transmit the structural health signal to a computer. This system can monitor blades at the joints, which can dramatically reduce operational costs, increase reliability and sustainability of turbines.

In Europe, 80% of offshore wind resource is located in places with water depth greater than 60m. This amounts to a potential European capacity of 4000GW, at water depths that are greater than fixed foundation devices can exploit. Floating offshore wind turbines therefore have great potential, both as a source of renewable energy for the UK and as an export market. This project aims to investigate floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) foundation designs that have the potential to achieve significant cost reductions. This project targets the use of carbon-fibre textile reinforced concrete (CTRC) for floating platforms, where use of a concrete floating foundation allows the majority of supply and logistical activities to be local. A novel self-sensing technique that utilises the contact resistance at the connections of the carbon fibre tows in the mesh was proposed. The main impact of the project will be demonstration of the technical feasibility of self-sensory concrete foundations for floating offshore wind farms, and their potential to reduce construction, deployment, and inspection costs


Assessing the likelihood of collisions between deep-diving seabirds and tidal stream turbines is a main component of environmental impact assessments (EIA). Existing models rely on existing measurements of diving behaviour in non-energetic environments, even though diving behaviour in tidal stream environments is probably different. They also do not consider variations in feeding strategies among sites, even though foraging strategies depend on physical conditions and prey communities. These shortcomings are linked to the challenges of recording animal behaviour in tidal stream environments. The resultant uncertainty in EIA can delay or prevent installations, hindering commercial development. Most attempts to overcome these challenges focus on developing technological approaches such as biologging and hydroacoustics, even though these methods are fundamentally unsuitable and/or impractical. The proposed project uses existing knowledge of vulnerable species (black guillemot, European shag) to adapt conventional approaches (shore-based surveys and fish traps) and provide information relevant for the assessment of collision risk in Shetland, UK. Specifically, this information is used to understand whether and why diving behaviour of vulnerable species differs among locations, improving existing models of collision risk and reducing uncertainty in EIA


Computational models are generally used for the strategic planning of the O&M activities of offshore renewable farms. However, these models rely on information retrieved a priori, based on existing literature or previous experiences, with little consideration for the data obtained through sensors installed on the devices. The proposed activity aims at exploring the combined use of strategic tools and operational data, highlighting the benefits of including the information obtained from condition monitoring instrumentation at an early stage in the computer-aided definition of the O&M strategy. Despite the approach is valid for most offshore renewable technologies, this activity will put major emphasis on specific solutions for floating offshore wind turbines.



The research stay at Johns Hopkins University (USA), with Professor Charles Meneveau, will aim to (i) analyse the impact of relative submergence and device separation in tidal arrays’ hydrodynamics and (ii) develop the necessary knowledge and computing skills to start in the field of wind turbine farm simulation. For this research, Large-Eddy Simulations (LES) will be performed using the state-of-the-art Digital Offshore FArm Simulator (DOFAS), being its current version mostly tailored to tidal turbines. DOFAS allows to investigate with great level of detail the complex turbulent flow developed in offshore farm by means of LES and the fluid-structure interaction using an actuator line method to represent the turbines’ rotor, capable of calculating the structural loads.