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Find me a PhD: Offshore Structures

Fri, 27 November, 2020

Coventry University PhD opportunity at TWI

The industrial doctorate programme at the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC) in Cambridge is recruiting a PhD studentship with Coventry University and Lloyd's Register Foundation.

All NSIRC PhD students are supervised by an Industrial PhD Supervisor, provided by TWI Ltd, and an Academic Supervisor assigned by the university. Industrial guidance and support for this PhD will be provided by Dr Xing Sun, Principal Project Leader in Fatigue at TWI.

Successful candidate will be based at TWI in Cambridge, home to NSIRC and over 70 active industrial phD students, and over 600 personnel and research experts at TWI.

Enquire here


PhD studentship 2020: Mechanistic Understanding of Life Extension of Ageing Offshore Structures

Key words:

  • Spectral fatigue analysis
  • Offshore structure reliabilities
  • Probabilistic fracture mechanics

Here why industry is calling for this research degree...

Many fixed offshore structures that are currently in use will either be decommissioned or face life extension. Most were constructed within 1960 to 85 before fatigue design codes had been fully developed to present high standards. Modern fatigue design codes are followed by offshore operators to form the basis for life extension developments of existing structures. But after analysis, many platforms show they have already surpassed their original fatigue lives. This leads to owners facing a high maintenance cost to continue their operation. Under another circumstance, if inspection results were to show that after a long service life, that a particular platform was still in excellent service condition, the question would be raised as to why fatigue analysis predicts such low fatigue lives. The main argument for this could be that more conservative parameters and solutions were used for fatigue analysis.

Doctoral degree project outline

For this PhD topic, the key intention for this industrial research is to conduct a thorough study targeting the reliability of the offshore structures and find answers to methods of improving the safety of the offshore structures and reducing their threat to life. Industry needs less conservative fatigue assessment procedures for the ageing fixed offshore structures, that can reduce time-intensive and costly inspections for platform owners/operators.

The proposed work scope and approaches are:

  • Investigation/study of the assumptions used in the current fatigue design/assessment calculation methods specified in the standards, in terms of:

- Dynamic loading conditions

- Stress concentration factors

- Fatigue assessment parameters using the fracture mechanics method

  • Studies on offshore structure reliabilities and methods to reduce the level of conservatism for the fatigue assessment, where the reliability analysis will be studied in depth in terms of both S-N curve method (Limit state function) and fracture mechanics method (probabilistic fracture mechanics according to the existing CRP 32878)
  • Carry out a detailed benchmark analysis for a decommissioned jacket structure using the proposed approach as below:

- Spectral fatigue analysis to calculate the fatigue stress spectra, considering different level of conservatism (eg. whether to take the local joint flexibility (LJF) into account; the methods for SCF calculations; marine growth assumptions; etc.)

- Fatigue crack growth rate testing for the decommissioned structure specimens to generate Paris Law parameters and compare the results with the value recommended in BS 7910 and discuss the level of conservatism 

- The effects of other fracture mechanics parameters to the fatigue assessment results (eg. initial crack size/assumption; fracture toughness, etc.)

  • Recommendations for the improved reliability analysis method and less conservative parameters/methods to be used for fracture mechanics based fatigue assessment of existing jacket structures (built in between 60s to 80s).
After analysis, some platforms are still found in very good service condition, so why did a fatigue analysis predict such low fatigue lives?. Photo: iStock
After analysis, some platforms are still found in very good service condition, so why did a fatigue analysis predict such low fatigue lives?. Photo: iStock

Coventry University academic teaching...

Coventry University research in Materials Engineering and Structural Integrity builds on their historical research strengths at Coventry and adds new research teams through investment and growth. The University is part of the newly established University Research Institute for Future Transport and Cities. Their aim is to be the research partner of choice for key industry sectors including manufacturing, aerospace, and energy.

Coventry brings value to their partners by adding value, effecting knowledge transfer, generating intellectual property and fostering new technologies. This is underpinned by their expertise in Metrology, Advanced Experimentation, Residual Stress Analysis, Structural Integrity, and proven models of effective collaboration with academic peers and industrial partners from all over the world.

What are the expertise of Coventry University?

Coventry specialises in the successful delivery of research into materials and structural integrity for enhanced product performance.

Key research themes at Coventry Uni include:

  • advanced analytical, modelling, and experimentation methods
  • materials, mechanics and measurement
  • non-destructive evaluation, material anomaly detection using evolutionary computing techniques
  • residual stress measurement and stress engineering
  • structural integrity methods for new materials made by advanced manufacturing processes

Postgraduate research at NSIRC and TWI

NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with lead academic partner Brunel University, the Universities of Cambridge, Coventry, Loughborough, Birmingham, Leicester and a number of leading industrial partners. NSIRC aims to deliver cutting edge research and highly qualified personnel to its key industrial partners.

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Tell me about TWI

TWI is a world leading research and technology organisation. Bases in the UK, North America, South East Asia, China, Australia, Central Asia, India and the Middle East see 800 staff provide technical support in joining and technologies such as material science, structural integrity, NDT, surfacing, electronic packaging and cutting. Services include industrial research, contract R&D, technical information, consultancy, standards drafting, training and qualification.

The organisation is internationally renowned for its multidisciplinary teams that implement established or advanced joining technology solving problems at any stage – from initial design, materials selection, production and quality assurance, through service performance and repair.

Entry requirements

Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in (naval architecture and ocean engineering or structural engineering or mechanical engineering). Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable. Be able to perform the global and local ultimate strength analysis & spectral fatigue analysis for ship/offshore structures (can use SESAM, ANSYS or ABAQUS) will be an advantage.

Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

This project is funded by Coventry University, Lloyd's Register Foundation and TWI. The funding covers the cost of Home/EU tuition fees and a standard tax-free RCUK stipend for three years. Non-EU students are welcome to apply, but the funding will only cover the cost of overseas tuition fees and the applicant need to self-fund their living cost for three years. For more information email


Other links you may find useful:

Find a PhD UK with NSIRC and TWI

Brunel Scholarships and All higher education courses at NSIRC

Masters degree for Offshore Engineers