Foundation Design of Tidal Turbines

Improving Design Methods for the Foundations of Tidal Current Turbines in Clayey Marine Sediments

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Tidal current turbine technologies have yet to converge on a single design concept, in contrast to wind turbine technologies. As a result, numerous moored and rigid turbine technologies exist for various water depths and tidal currents. Regardless of the technology, turbines must be supported on a foundation in a reliable and practical way. The construction, installation and maintenance of foundation systems form a significant part of the overall life-cycle cost of the tidal energy project. The success of the project depends on accurately predicting and designing the response of the foundation and the interaction with seabed geomaterials. Despite the ongoing growth of geotechnical engineering in foundation system design for residential, transportation, mining and wind energy infrastructures, design methods for tidal current turbine foundations are relatively undeveloped, using the most basic of geotechnical parameters, derived from qualitative geological investigations. Such methods are overly conservative, leading to unnecessarily expensive designs. This project addresses the need for improved design methods in clayey marine sediments, through state-of-the-art numerical approaches, employing advanced large deformation simulation methods coupled with realistic constitutive soil models.

Advanced numerical simulation techniques will model offshore structure-seafloor interactions through appropriate constitutive models of marine sediment response. The project aims to discover the underlying mechanical soil characteristics and processes controlling the bearing capacity of tidal current turbine foundations, and the effect of disturbance in the vicinity of the foundation developed during installation on the bearing capacity.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Ali Tolooiyan


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must be commencing a new course of study with the University of Tasmania in the 2022 academic year

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A solid knowledge of soil-structure and fluid-structure interaction
  • A solid knowledge of numerical modelling methods such as (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics, Finite Element and
    Computational Fluid Dynamics)
  • A solid knowledge of marine hydrodynamics
  • Knowledge of a programming language (e.g. Python and MATLAB)
  • Strong academic background in engineering and capability to work independently
  • Motivated to learn and have a scientific mindset and team spirit

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Ali Tolooiyan, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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