PhD position Experimental analysis and modelling of the rain erosion of offshore wind turbine blade leading edge

Research / Academic


Offshore wind energy has a huge potential for producing more energy collected from very large wind turbines made of fiber reinforced polymer composites. Currently, the offshore wind energy faces a pressing challenge: rain erosion of the leading edge due to the harsh environment of the offshore conditions. This causes a significant loss of annual energy production (AEP). The blades are considered as the engine of turbines and at present, there is no predictable, reliable and durable leading edge protection (LEP) system integrated to an offshore wind turbine blade with ultra-high tip speeds (>100 m/s). The current LEP systems suffer from a high repair frequency which hampers minimizing the offshore levelized costs of energy. How to develop a durable LEP bonded to a fiber reinforced polymer composite blade is still not known because the bonding quality and performance of the interface between the LEP and the main blade shell after the composite manufacturing and its influence on the rain erosion mechanisms are currently not well understood and described. In addition, it is unclear how to modify the properties of LEP material with respect to blade location and weather conditions.


The main aim of this project is to develop a durable and optimized hybrid LEP concept integrated in the blade structure by a proper understanding of bonding process and resulting rain erosion performance in offshore conditions. In order to evaluate the rain erosion performance of the integrated LEP, an instrumented rain erosion test (RET) setup based on pulsating water jet principle will be developed. The RET setup will provide various in-situ measurements, e.g. force and strain, which will be more advanced and comprehensive than the current state-of-the-art RET setups. A fast and accurate numerical simulation tool will be developed to interpret the RET measurements and provide in-depth information on the erosion mechanisms in the LEP material as well as in the blade shell which is made of a fiber reinforced polymer composite. Multiple co-incident impact simulations for water droplets hitting the composite blade will be performed. The deformation and damage mechanisms specific to the LEP material and base composite will be modelled. Here, the key is the numerical computational method to study the evolution of material erosion, damage and mass loss as a function of the number of repetitive liquid particle impact events. The predictions will be validated by the RET setup. The developed new knowledge will be applied to a demonstrator at sub-component level which will be validated in a high-fidelity RET setup.


  • You hold a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Polymer Engineering or equivalent;
  • You have experimental and/or theoretical skills in polymers or fiber reinforced polymer composites in the field of e.g. material characterization, analysis, manufacturing or mechanical performance.
  • You have an affinity with numerical modelling of the mechanical performance and experience with programming languages like Fortran or C++, scripting languages like Python or numerical computing environments like Matlab, ABAQUS and ANSYS.
  • You have a strong interest in experimental mechanics of polymers or fiber reinforced composites;
  • You have an affinity with writing scientific papers and technical reports;
  • You have excellent analytical skills and critical mindset;
  • You are a team player with good communication skills;
  • You are fluent in English, both spoken and written. (We require a TOEFL > 90 or IELTS > 6.5 score). 

Information and application

More information about this position can be obtained from Dr. Ismet Baran (

Please send your application, with a detailed CV and a specific motivation letter, through the link below before October 5th, 2018.

Salary Benefits:

We offer a very challenging position in an inspiring multidisciplinary environment. The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in which internationalization is an important part of the strategic agenda.

  • A starting salary of € 2.266,- in the first year and a salary of € 2.897,- in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • A solid pension scheme;
  • Minimum of 29 leave days in case of full-time employment;
  • Professional and personal development programs.

Your main responsibility will be to carry out research, but you may be given the opportunity to acquire some teaching experience. We offer our PhD candidates and postdocs the opportunity to broaden their knowledge by joining international exchange programs, by participating in national and international conferences and workshops, and by visiting other research institutes and universities worldwide.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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