PhD Studentship: Protection of offshore wind turbines using low-cost, damage tolerant, sacrificial coatings (ProCoat)

General information

Project Description

Mitigating corrosion of offshore structures requires the use of cathodic protection often in conjunction with dielectric coatings. The use of dielectric coatings reduces anode consumption, but they increase the complexity during fabrication and installation that can add cost to the process. In addition, protective coatings that rely entirely on their barrier properties offer little or no protection once breached. As damage is likely in the splash and tidal zone, these coating systems need expensive inspection and maintenance regime to ensure long-term protection of offshore structures. Thus, a damage tolerant, protective coating system is required which can provide a cost-effective engineering solution to corrosion and related problems. Such coatings would ensure damage-tolerant design of a structure to ensure that should some form of degradation occur during the operational life such as accidental damage then the remaining structure can function without corrosion or failure. 

Inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore structures is important for ensuring safe operation. The development of damage tolerant coating system will greatly enhance the life of offshore structures and reduce the requirement of maintenance and repair, thus enhancing safety of life and property. 

Project Outline 

The project will analyse the damage tolerance of sacrificial coating systems, which can be used to replace the combined systems, anodes and dielectric coatings, currently used in the offshore industry. The sacrificial coatings will be sprayed onto carbon steel and controlled damage will be produced before exposing them to seawater. The electrochemical monitoring will be carried out to understand the sacrificial protection offered by such coatings when damaged. The effect of temperature and salinity on the damage tolerance of such coatings will also be explored. Use of numerical models will also be explored to understand the effect of different service conditions on the performance of the selected sacrificial coatings, particularly in the presence of damage. 

In summary, this project will build on ongoing research to enable development of industrial solutions to offshore corrosion. It is envisaged that the coating system would be deployed in offshore oil and gas production and energy production e.g. wind farms with extended design lifetimes. The high damage tolerance of these coatings would be beneficial, as the offshore industry requires extensive inspection procedures to ensure that corrosion and fatigue have not initiated due to failure of protective paint systems. Offshore inspections are costly and are undertaken by highly skilled individuals. The development of damage tolerant system will greatly enhance the life of offshore structures and reduce the requirement of maintenance and repair. This will have a direct impact on safety since it will reduce the likelihood of unexpected failures and risks associated with offshore repair operations. There are several industrial standard that are used for specifying, testing, qualifying and inspecting coatings. The damage tolerance of the coatings are generally not included in most of these standards. The study proposed here would give more information on the damage tolerance and can contribute to the improvement of international standards such as ISO 2063, Norsok M501, NACE No. 12/AWS C2.23M/SSPC CS 23, AWS C2.18 etc. A successful project could produce coating systems that require no or minimal maintenance or inspection. 

About Industrial Sponsor 

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation funds the advancement of engineer-related education and research and supports work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air, because life matters. Lloyd’s Register Foundation is partly funded by the profits of their trading arm Lloyd’s Register Group Limited, a global engineering, technical and business services organisation. 

About NSIRC 

NSIRC is a state-of-the-art postgraduate engineering facility established and managed by structural integrity specialist TWI, working closely with, top UK and International Universities and a number of leading industrial partners. 

About the University 

Leicester is leading the IMPACT CDT programme. The IMPACT CDT aims to train the future technical leaders in metal processing with the required combination of experimental, analytical, computational and professional skills that are needed to lead innovation. This multi-disciplinary training programme provides students from different disciplines with coherent knowledge of a range of metal processing technologies and develop their expertise in solving industrially relevant problems, to enable the UK manufacturing industry to remain the most innovative and greatest value added globally. 

Contact Person: (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0712 - Environmental protection technology", "0713 - Offshore and renewable energy


Venue: University of Leicester
Leicester, United Kingdom



Funding Notes: This project is funded by Lloyds Register Foundation, TWI and academic partners. The studentship will provide successful Home/EU students with a stipend of £16k/year and will cover the cost of tuition fees. Overseas applicants are welcome to apply, with total funding capped at £24k/year. 


Candidates should have a relevant degree at 2.1 minimum, or an equivalent overseas degree in Materials Science, Engineering, Physics or Chemistry. Candidates with suitable work experience and strong capacity in numerical modelling, corrosion and electrochemistry are particularly welcome to apply. Overseas applicants should also submit IELTS results (minimum 6.5) if applicable. 


Academic level: PhD
Occupations (not validated):
Spotted a mistake in this page? Click here to request a change.