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Research project

Boyd S - EPSRC Taylored Composites

Project overview

The main motivator for the proposed research is performance improvement of energy capture or hydrodynamic efficiency of propulsion systems. In particular, the application requirements of passively adaptive underwater tidal turbine blades and marine propellers. However, the investigators believe that application of passively adaptive composites structures could extend to include passively adaptive race car aerodynamics, aircraft control surfaces, surface ship and underwater vehicle control surfaces, and wind turbines. In order to achieve this goal it is proposed to employ composite materials with their inherent ability to create a coupled response to in-service loads. Design of such a structure which is tuned to a dynamic load environment will result in improved efficiency of the two main applications of this research, energy capture devices and marine propulsors.The aim of the proposed research is to challenge the existing design philosophy from one whereby a tailored passively adaptive composites is designed to mimic a conventional isotropic structure into a paradigm that allows the ability to tune a geometry and it's internal architecture to deform in a known and controlled manner as the load regime changes. Such an approach requires fundamental research into the modelling of interwoven, 3D fibre structures and novel approaches to design of the internal architecture that can identify fibre stacking/weaving strategies that give tuned deformations across multiple loading/operational conditions. To develop this paradigm shift in structural performance we will explore how lifting surfaces, be they control surfaces, propulsors or turbines are designed using such smart materials. The main focus will be the maritime sector where there has been a much slower take-up in such technology but where the potential benefits are large (see impact plan). To the authors knowledge this has not been conducted anywhere before and is therefore a challenging and exciting programme.


Lead researcher

Professor Stephen Boyd BEng, MSc, PhD


Research interests

  • Maritime Composites
  • Experimental and Numerical mechanics
  • Non-contact full-field techniques for validation of numerical models
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Other researchers

Professor Stephen Turnock

Head of School

Research interests

  • His fluid dynamics expertise lies in the synthesis of analytical, experimental and computational methods for a diverse range of applications. Examples of such work are in the development of a patented integrated tidal energy generator (winner of The Engineers’ Energy Sector Innovation award 2008), supervision of the students who designed Amy Williams’ Gold medal winning bob skeleton sled (winner of The Engineer’s Sport Technology Innovation award in 2010) and with continued support for Gold medal success in 2014 and 2018, academic supervisor for the Delphin Autonomous underwater vehicle (winner of the SAUC-E competition in 2007).
  • He has acted as a consultant to diverse organisations including NOC, Speedo, Shell Shipping, BAEsystems, Rolls Royce, dstl, QinetiQ, and WS Atkins.
  • Expertise: Future Fuels for Shipping; Maritime Robotics and Autonomy; Rudder, hydrofoil, and control surface design; Unsteady race simulation for kayak, rowing and sailing; Hull-propeller-rudder interaction; Ship added resistance and manoeuvring in waves; Underwater noise prediction using CFD; Experimental techniques for use of wave/tow tank testing; Tidal turbines, wave energy and offshore wind turbine design; Wind turbine array power prediction; Hydrogen fuel cells for hybrid ship propulsion; Hydrodynamics of swimming assessment by pool based test techniques and using CFD.
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Dr Sandy Wright

Principal Research Fellow
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