PhD Studentship in Cybernetics Delivering Sustainable Energy Solutions in Ports: Energy storage and flow in cranes

Supervisors:  William Holderbaum & Victor Becerra

Project Overview:  Ports are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions as they have to move up to 10,000 containers a day from ship to road or rail transport and correspondingly in the reverse direction from land transport onto ships. The aim of the project is to identify sustainable energy solutions which enable ports to manage transient power flows and maintain power quality in a way that will substantially reduce primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. 

The project involves measuring and modelling of energy flows inside two large container ports, Felixstowe and Valencia and quantifying the transient power flows associated with raising and lowering containers. The project will then explore the potential of local energy storage to manage transient power flows inside the port and to identify and trial power management solutions to minimise demand from the grid or diesel generating sets. 

The PhD studentship is one of two offered through the Climate KIC: “SUSPORT’ project (delivering sustainable energy solutions to ports) which involves multiple industrial partners (CRESS, Port of Felixstowe, Port of Valencia, and RHDHV). 

The PhD research will develop dynamic models of relevant cranes and use them to identify opportunities for energy storage, and to provide initial estimates of energy/fuel/emissions savings and how crane resilience improves with the use of storage. You will also develop control structures and strategies to optimise energy flows and minimise energy demand from the prime source, determine the optimal amount of energy storage for each crane, and perform a cost/benefit analysis of fitting energy storage on the cranes.

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  • Bachelors (at least 2.1 or equivalent) or Masters Degree with Electrical Power Engineering, Electronics, Embedded Systems, Control Systems, Computing and Mathematics as major subjects.
  • Experience in power systems, modelling, control and programming in Matlab/Simulink environment is highly desirable.
  • Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU. 

Funding Details:   

  • Maintenance allowance of £15,600 per year
  • UK/EU tuition fees covered
  • Three year programme
  • Starts January 2014

How to apply:  1) To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Cybernetics  at the apply button below.

*Important note* Please quote the reference ‘GS13-132’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

2) After submitting your application you will receive an email to confirm receipt; email should be forwarded along with a covering letter and full CV to Dr William Holderbaum ( by the application deadline.

Application Deadline:  20 October 2013

Further Enquiries:  Dr William Holderbaum, tel: +44-(0)-118-378-6086, email, or Professor Victor Becerra, tel: +44-(0)-118-378-6703, email

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

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