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Fully-funded PhD position

Job Type

Full Time

About the Role

Floating PV (FPV) technology is one of the key energy sources in decarbonisation. The FPV market is growing exponentially and it opens enormous market opportunities and advantages for the environment and society. Only few projects are currently installed in sea and only a little data is available for system improvement and components optimisation.

This project aims at adapting the existing floating solar technology to nearshore locations, where wind can reach 30 m/s and wave heights 2 or 3 meters in normal operating conditions. A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model will be developed to enable a better understanding of the dynamic response of the floating system and its components, including the mooring system. A typical floating system has thousands of floating components and covers a large surface area. Efficiently modelling such system is thus not a straightforward task, and one of the technical challenges is to establish an efficient way to develop the computational approach.

Cranfield University is a unique learning environment with world-class programmes, and close links with business, industry, and governments, all combining to attract the best students and teaching staff from around the world. In the last Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, 81% of research at Cranfield was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent. The industrial partner, HelioRec, is an innovative start-up business based in France, focussing on floating solar technologies. They have a series of pilot FPV sites around the world, and are currently involved in the development of the world's first real-site floating solar charging station for electric vessels.

The successful candidate will work within a multi-disciplinary team supported by academics and industrial supervisors. The candidate will develop a simulation methodology for a unit floater and will provide a good practice guide for these types of simulations. A model of the whole floating platform will be designed to predict the fluid-structure interaction. Throughout this research, a better understanding of the physics of the floating solar power plants will be achieved, and design optimisation and recommendations will be provided for the floating and mooring system

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work alongside the industry sponsor and gain significant experience in industrial research and development, including potential site visits and national/international conferences.

Appropriate levels of technical training will be provided when required along with other transferable skills such as presentation, organisational and project management. The combination of academic and industry contacts will be beneficial to the candidate’s learning experience, future employability, and career development.



  • Applicants should have a first- or second-class UK degree or international equivalent degree in a related discipline.

  • This project would suit an applicant with a math or engineering background with excellent numerical and coding skills.

  • Previous experience with Offshore Engineering and/or CFD using OpenFOAM would be an advantage.

About the Company

At HelioRec, we design and install floating solar power plants in nearshore locations (
Our design challenge is delivering reliable floating systems that can withstand rough environmental conditions.

HelioRec's core values are Professionalism. Curiosity. Honesty.

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