Ocean Power

Harnessing the power of the ocean for inspiration

With the help of a state-of-the-art centrifuge facility, Professor Christophe Gaudin’s research is changing the world of industry and renewable energy.

When Professor Christophe Gaudin completed his studies, the chance to work with a 26-tonne centrifuge capable of spinning 2400kg of soil at a G-level of 100 was not within reach. But today, in his role of Deputy Director of the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at The University of Western Australia, he is using this incredible facility to design anchors, pipelines and other offshore infrastructures, in a way that is safer, more efficient and cost effective than ever before.

In pursuit of the best
Professor Gaudin began his career by completing a Masters in Civil Engineering and a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at Ecole Centrale de Nantes. His plan was to focus on onshore soil mechanics, but the promise of working with the best in the world steered him to accept a post doctorate at UWA. “I chose UWA because of Professor Mark Randolph. He and his team have a fantastic reputation in offshore geotechnical engineering.” From here Professor Gaudin was able to develop his own research and build strong links within international industry, including major oil companies ExxonMobil, BP and Total. 

Strength in unity
Professor Gaudin describes the opportunity to connect with industry as essential to putting his research into practice. “Building industry relationships creates a sort of virtuous circle. The information you get from them provides insight into what research is needed within the field. This helps you to develop applied research and practical solutions”. The development of practical solutions is something Professor Christophe Gaudin takes pride in, as his team’s research, along with their cutting-edge centrifuge facility, has assisted in the design of almost every major pipelines in the North West Shelf of Australia. But the impact of their research does not end there.  

His current major project is to build capabilities in marine renewable energy. In collaboration with the Perth-based company Carnegie Clean Energy and colleagues in wave modelling and fluid mechanics, his team are working on ways to develop commercially-viable wave farms by optimising the location and minimising foundation costs of wave energy convertors. This innovative work not only has the potential to reduce the costs of wave energy, it has earnt his centre $1 million in research funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Future momentum
The motivation behind Professor Gaudin’s research has always been the desire to learn new things. At this stage in his career, with a number of achievements under his belt, he is now directing his focus on the future “I think legacy is important. I see success as training a new generation, so they too can enjoy their own satisfying and fulfilling career.”

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