Taught component over, now onto the research

Nearly six months ago, I finished the taught component of my EngD, and moved on to the research phase. My project is looking at physical scale modelling of offshore renewable energy devices in the new FloWave facility at the University of Edinburgh. This is claimed to be the world’s most advanced ocean simulator, a 25m diameter circular wave tank that can also create currents to simulate the tides, and can produce waves and current in any direction.


The title I was given for my research is the somewhat arbitrary: “Characterisation and scale effects of current in combination with waves”. It has taken me a while to comprehend what this actually means, and I will probably change the title (at least once) during the course of the next three years, but it can be split into two broad themes:

  • Firstly, characterising the performance of the FloWave facility, focusing on the current, turbulence and wave-current interactions.
  • Secondly, developing methods/protocols for testing models in the combined wave and current environment.

I have spent a lot of my time over the past months working on my literature review, although have also been able to conduct a number of experiments in the tank—working towards the characterisation side of my project.

I enjoy reading, and it is especially nice to have the freedom to dig more deeply into a topic that interests me. Having the time, and access to a vast corpus of historical published material, means that I can read some really interesting original works published over the past hundred years or so. The main problem with this is that, as soon as you discover something new and interesting, you also uncover a whole host of other avenues to explore. The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.

Over time, I will decide what is most interesting to focus on. No doubt that will also be dictated by the outcome of my experiments, which will undoubtedly turn up a few unexpected results. But right now, I am enjoying the freedom to explore a new topic.