An Unexpected New Direction
Nian wasn’t looking for a career in renewables, it found her. During the COVID pandemic she had been reflecting on her options with the careers service at her university who suggested an EngD as a good compromise between pursuing a research post and seeking a role in industry. It was in looking for an EngD in a suitable location that suited her skill set that she discovered IDCORE.
Nian came straight into IDCORE after graduating from the integrated Master’s in Aero-Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in 2021. It was the only EngD programme that she applied for, and it was a good decision. Because she didn’t have a background in renewables, the first year of the programme provided her with an excellent overview of how the industry works and assisted with understanding key issues like the levelized cost of energy when comparing different renewable energy technologies.
Mocean Energy is a wave energy device developer based in Scotland, and Nian chose to work with them because they were offering a technical project which would draw on the training she received in her first degree. There has not yet been any technology convergence in the wave energy sector and this attracted Nian because it offers greater opportunity to be creative.
The work that Nian is doing is core to the way in which the company is seeking to develop their wave energy converter which is centred around the development of novel geometries to maximise energy capture by the device. The breadth of this challenge meant that this has taken time to find a specific focus for the project, but Nian is now concentrating on how to change the shape of the device’s wave channel to improve resonance in the system. Her approach is using numerical modelling to run a series of optimisation cases and select designs that can be validated with higher fidelity CFD models. This is introducing a new capability to Mocean who haven’t previously had in-house CFD capabilities, which has been greatly helped by the access Nian has to computing facilities at the University of Edinburgh.
Benefits to Mocean
The relationship with IDCORE with is clearly working for Mocean. Nian is the third IDCORE Research Engineer they have taken on and they are looking to sponsor more projects in the future. Developing effective relationships with academia can take a long time, but initiatives like IDCORE help to accelerate that process which is really important for an organisation like Mocean who are working at the cutting edge of technology.