PhD Student

Last application date
Sep 15, 2022 00:00
TW08 - Department of Electromechanical, Systems and Metal Engineering
Limited duration
You hold a Master degree in Mechanical Engineering, Tribology, Computational Materials Modelling or equivalent.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Context – Today, the Belgian installed offshore wind capacity is about 2.26 GW, representing about 10% of the total yearly electricity demand in Belgium. The announced increase in offshore wind capacity with another 3.5 GW will almost be tripling this capacity by 2030 with an estimated 250 new high-power (and larger) turbines. It is crucial that the stability of the offshore energy supply by existing and future wind parks is maximal, imposing new challenges concerning the design, operation, and maintenance of the structures, drivetrain, and last but not least the blades. Offshore wind parks benefit from the high wind power density at sea, but on the downside, the turbines are fully exposed to extreme weather conditions, e.g., wind gusts, hail, rain, and seawater spray/aerosols.

Leading Edge Erosion (LEE) is a severe erosive wear mechanism that involves progressive material removal from the blade-tip leading edges, due to (sub-)surface fatigue. The repeated high-speed impact of water droplets induces severe pressure shock waves in the blade material leading to initiation, propagation, and coalescence of cracks and eventually material loss, pit formation, delamination, and disintegration of the structural integrity. Although wind turbines are designed and built for an operational lifespan of 25 years at maximum energy capacity, the current generation of turbines require often extensive maintenance after 5-10 years due to severe LEE and reduced energy production. LEE in modern turbines can even be triggered in less than 2 years in service (due to the larger blades and speeds), especially in offshore or coastal locations with high-rated wind conditions and precipitation, e.g. the North Sea.

With the support of the Belgian Energy Transition Fund (ETF), Soete Laboratory of Ghent University – in collaboration with Sirris and ENGIE Laborelec –has 3 vacancies for full-time doctoral researchers on the BLEEPID project on “Improved reliability and reduced costs of offshore wind by Blade-Leading-Edge Erosion Prediction and Drone-based Inspection”.

The global aim of the project is to improve the maintenance planning and operation control of offshore wind farms, by using camera-equipped drones to remotely inspect the status of blades and make accurate, quantitative measurements of the erosive wear using accurate images combined with fundamental wear characterization using both experiments and modeling.

Positions & Tasks
1. Ph.D. #1 Experimental Blade Leading Edge Erosion - Development of novel experimental infrastructure for performing Liquid-Droplet Impingement Erosion tests under realistic conditions relevant to Wind Turbines.
2. Ph.D. #2 Liquid Droplet Impingement by Computational Fluid Dynamics – Fluid-Structure Interaction - Development of a full-scale CFD-FSI model to simulate and investigate Liquid Droplet Impact on materials used in wind turbine blades, and co-develop with Ph.D. #3 a wear progression model for Leading Edge Erosion.
3. Ph.D. #3 Computational Blade Leading Edge Erosion using Peridynamics - Development of a Peridynamics simulations-based framework for impact fatigue wear modeling in blade protection materials used in wind turbine blades and co-develop with Ph.D. #2 a wear progression model for Leading Edge Erosion.

Job profile

1. You hold a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering, Tribology, Computational Materials Modelling, or equivalent.
2. You have a strong motivation for conducting scientific research at a high level.
3. You possess good analytical and technical skills
4. You are interested in Tribology and/or Fatigue
5. Experience with programming (C++, Python,…) is mandatory for Ph.D.’s #2 and #3
6. Experience with mechanical testing of components (C++, Python,…) is an asset for Ph.D.’s #1
7. You take responsibility for the development of your project in a well-structured, thorough way, and you’re able to solve problems independently. You display creativity in solving problems, generating ideas, or finding new ways of working.
8. You have an open personality and are willing to contribute to the team and participate in didactic projects.
9. You have excellent communication skills in English, both orally and written. Knowledge of Dutch is certainly an asset.

How to apply

To apply for one of these positions, please complete the corresponding application form before September 15th, 2022

1. Ph.D. Experimental Blade Leading Edge Erosion -
2. Ph.D. Liquid Droplet Impingement by CFD-FSI -
3. Ph.D. Computational Blade Leading Edge Erosion using Peridynamics -

Your application will be taken into consideration on the condition that all fields in the application form are completed properly.