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PhD Studentship - Development of a coupled cargo-ship model for bulk carriers

School of Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Monday 31 August 2020
Reference:  1246820DA

Supervisor:                 Dominic Taunton

Co-supervisor             Ivan Haigh, Susan Gourvenec

Project description

Solid bulk cargoes are granular materials including products like metal ores, that are carried within the hold of a bulk carrier (ship) without other containment. If the moisture content of these cargoes is above a particular threshold the cargo may be at risk of liquefaction due to build up of excess pore water pressure from the motions of the vessel due to weather and engines during the sea voyage. 

Solid bulk cargo liquefaction has been responsible for the loss of over 100 seafarers’ lives and 9 bulk carriers in the last decade. This corresponds to 18% of recorded bulk carrier losses but 54% of fatalities, indicating the speed of vessel loss due to cargo liquefaction. 

This project will develop a coupled ship-cargo model to improve understanding of the mechanism of vessel instability. Current models consider only the static stability of the vessel and do not couple the response of the cargo on the vessel and the vessel on the cargo. The ship-cargo model will be integrated with metocean data to define operational envelopes for solid bulk cargo carriers. 

The project will include development of the coupled ship-cargo model through numerical modelling and experimental testing in the towing tank. The student will work with oceanographers to integrate the ship-cargo model with metocean data to define operational envelopes for bulk cargo carriers. The student will also work with geotechnical engineers to understand the variables affecting the granular cargo during liquefaction. 

This PhD project forms part of a grant funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation ‘Solid Bulk Cargo Liquefaction: Strategies for Effective Controls’. The project has 3 key work streams across engineering, data mining and law. The student will have the opportunity to interface with the other academic teams on the project and the various partners to the project, which include international industry across the sector, government agencies, NGOs and seafarers’ associations. 

This project provides the successful candidate with a remarkable opportunity to develop their naval architecture/ship science skills including access to the UoS Towing Tank, while working at the interface with granular material specialists, oceanographers, GIS analysts and experts in law and regulation at the University along with a host of external partners. The outcomes of this project are expected to be taken up by the sector and therefore have direct impact on the industry by improving the safety of seafarers and reducing loss of life at sea. 

For further details, please contact Dominic Taunton, FSI Research Group, Email:

Entry Requirements

Applicants should hold a First Class Degree in Maritime or Ocean Engineering.

Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2020 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition fees for EU/UK students plus for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online, please select the academic session 2020-21 “PhD Eng & Env (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Dominic Taunton under the proposed supervisor.

Applications should include

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

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