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PhD Studentship: Massively parallel adaptive lattice Boltzmann simulation for wind turbine applications.

Engineering & the Environment

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Saturday 24 February 2018
Reference:  838617F2

Project Reference: NGCM-0059

This project is concerned with the development of modern parallel adaptive lattice Boltzmann methods and their application for simulating the turbulent flow fields created by full-scale wind turbines and related open rotor laboratory experiments. An understanding of the large-scale wake structures generated by operating horizontal axis wind turbines is vital for optimizing wind farm layouts. However, the flow over turbine blades is generally not Reynolds number independent in the velocity ranges of interest for wind turbines, which makes it difficult to draw reliable conclusions from small-scale model experiments.

Numerical simulation of full-scale turbines is a promising avenue, but the difficulties in solving the incompressible or weakly-compressible Navier-Stokes equations on moving three-dimensional meshes are enormous. As an alternative to conventional CFD solvers for this problem class, a novel parallel and dynamically adaptive lattice Boltzmann method for large eddy simulation of turbulent weakly compressible flows with embedded moving structures is currently under development based on the AMROC framework. Using a Smagorinsky-type large eddy turbulence model, our present implementation is already able to predict dynamic loads on a full-scale wind turbine rotor including rotor-tower interaction phenomena within a few percent of manufacturer’s specification, while downstream wake structures are exceptionally well preserved.

The advertised position will work on some parallelization aspects of the software and use the improved code to investigate the fundamental fluid dynamics of rotating machinery, especially wind turbines. At present, our C++ adaptive mesh refinement system uses a rigorous domain decomposition strategy for dynamic load balancing, and some generalization of this methodology and the hierarchical mesh data structures will be required. An extension of the algorithms to hybrid MPI-OpenMP or MPI-CUDA/MPI-OpenACC communication is planned to allow scaling to several thousand cores and/or GPU-based computing clusters. Especially the development of a GPU-based code version could be an enabler for predictive wind turbine simulation at real time and would have substantial impact on the wind energy field.

This project is suitable for a student with Computational Engineering background with demonstrated skills in computer programming using C/C++ (essential). Some knowledge of fluid dynamics and engineering mathematics from undergraduate coursework is expected. Familiarity with the lattice Boltzmann method as well as extensive parallel programming experience are not necessary but will be provided as part of the first-year curriculum. Good communication skills are indispensable as you will become part of a team working with the same code base applying modern software development principles. Large-scale computations will be carried out on the Iridis compute cluster of the University of Southampton and national supercomputing facilities.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr. Ralf Deiterding, Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Research Group, Email: , Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3384.

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

This project is a competition funded PhD project for EU and UK nationals only.

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The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

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