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Postgraduate Students


Mr Paul Evans

PhD Title: “Hydrodynamic characteristics of tidal flow regimes with specific reference to the generation of marine renewable energy”

Supervisors: Dr Christopher Wooldridge, Dr Catherine Wilson, Dr Iain McDonald, Dr Eli Lazarus

The aim of the research is:

  • To examine the effect of localised bathymetry on tidal flow, principally island wake development and structure.
  • To demonstrate the importance of hydrographic and hydrodynamic data in informing tidal turbine deployment.

The objectives of the research include:

  • To identify the complex flow patterns in the vicinity of natural bathymetric features in order to identify their influence on the local tidal flow regimes, and the interrelationships between them.
  • To examine the effect naturally-occurring submerged pinnacles have on tidal flow regimes, which could be a useful proxy for assessing the effect of an underwater obstacle (i.e. a tidal stream turbine). This information would be valuable for numerical and physical modellers investigating the hydrodynamics of artificial submerged structures to aid their understanding of the complex flow patterns around these structures. An investigation of the wake effects of natural features would also assist engineers in determining the optimum spacing requirements of tidal turbine arrays.

  • To compare data collected in the field with the results of laboratory experiments to unearth a potential correlation regarding the structure of the wake produced and its extent downstream.

The purpose of the research programme is to investigate the flow characteristics of selected tidal regimes in order to examine the relationships that operate in deterministic, non-linear, and often chaotic systems. Tidal flows constitute major, dynamic phenomena during the semi-diurnal cycle and their effects are far-reaching, effectively powering coastal systems and providing scope for potential renewable energy.

This research will principally be based on data collected for the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) Convergence Energy Programme (http://www.lcri.org.uk/; http://www.lcrimarine.org.uk/; http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth/research/geoenvironmental/projects/lcri/index.html). This data is to primarily help inform suitable tidal turbine sites, however, other selected sites of significance (which are discussed in greater detail in Section 6) will and have already been explored to investigate the complex flow dynamics in the vicinity of key bathymetric and topographic features. LCRI Marine, which is a collaboration of all the leading academic marine institutions in Wales, aims to enable, support and help build a sustainable marine energy sector in Wales. LCRI Marine is a division of the LCRI programme and allows inter- and multi-disciplinary collaboration to help bridge the gap in knowledge regarding the information required for developers to successfully install marine renewable energy devices, and thus helps to enable and build sustainable marine energy sector in Wales.

This research, which capitalises on the work undertaken and data collected in a previous research project, will be significant in not only underpinning the link between pure science and engineering but also help to understand the complex and often chaotic dynamics associated with tidal regimes. This research is also considered pertinent in the current climate, with a major shift towards renewable energy technologies. The results of such research will be of significance to both academics and scientists with an interest in tidal dynamics, and will also allow for the provision of valuable information in the development of the marine renewable energy sector.