Development of a Coupled Cargo-Ship Model for Better Understanding of Solid Bulk Cargo Liquefaction

University of Southampton

Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering

Project Description

The successful applicant will apply geotechnical and hydro-mechanical knowledge to a real-world challenge of solid bulk cargo liquefaction, and to work in a multi-disciplinary team within the University of Southampton and engage with a range of external partners.

Solid bulk cargoes are granular materials including products like metal ores, which 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 during the maritime transportation.

In this PhD research project, you will develop of a hydro-mechanical model to capture the granular material response of the cargo during cyclic loading, a complex, partially saturated geomechanics challenge. Current models consider only the static stability of the vessel and do not couple the response of the cargo with the vessel behaviour. Therefore, you will integrate cargo (granular material) response with fluid-structure interaction models to couple the motions and loads from the cargo with a ship model to capture the interactions of cargo response on ship response and vice versa.

You will test the model through numerical modelling and experimental testing, taking advantage of the geomechanics laboratory, geotechnical centrifuge and towing tank on Boldrewood Campus. You will use the data to develop operational envelopes for solid bulk cargo carriers.

This is an inter-disciplinary project, including 4 co-supervisors with expertise in geomaterials, ship science and external GIS data integration. The project forms part of an international, cross-sector, multi-disciplinary project funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation ‘Solid Bulk Cargo Liquefaction: Strategies for Effective Control’. The project has 3 key work streams across engineering, data & communication, and law. You will interface with the other academic teams on the project and the various partners to the project, including international industry across the sector, government agencies, NGOs and seafarers’ associations.

You will have a remarkable opportunity to develop your engineering skills in geomaterials and hydrodynamics, while working at the interface with 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.

Supervisory Team: Katherine Kwa, Dominic Taunton, Susan Gourvenec, Fraser Sturt

Funding Information

For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

Eligibility Requirements

You will need a First Class or high 2:1 Degree in Civil Engineering or related discipline with specialism in soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering or granular material behaviour.

Application Process

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2021/22, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Engineering & Environment (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Katherine Kwa

Applications should include:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online here.

Closing date: 31 August 2021

For further information please contact: [email protected]

To apply for this PhD, please use the following application link: