Ms. Hanna Torrens-Spence










PhD Student

School of School of Natural and Built Environment

David Keir Building, Stranmillis Rd., BT9 5AG

Room LG.305

Tel (+44) (0) 28 9097 4751




MEng (First Class Honours) Environmental and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast, 2009-2013

Down High School, Downpatrick, 2002-2009



Marine Radio Short Range Certificate, Royal Yachting Association, 2015

RYA Basic Sea Survival, Royal Yachting Association, 2014



Young Investigator Workshop Grant, IEE OES, 2015

Queen’s University Degree Plus Award, Queen’s University Belfast Careers, Employability and Skills, 2013


PhD Title  

Tidal Flow Characterisation    


PhD Description

My PhD, started in February 2014, investigates the temporal and spatial variability of tidally driven currents. A key focus of the work is the characterisation of the high frequency fluctuations of flow velocity. Inflow velocity fluctuations cause the angle of attack on the blades of a turbine to also fluctuate. As a result, ‘turbulence’ impacts a turbine’s power performance and load conditions. The potential impact of turbulence on turbine performance has been demonstrated by the INI funded Tandem Tidal Turbine project. This project has involved a series of tests on 1.5m diameter rotors operating in both steady conditions in a towing tank and in turbulent conditions in a tidal channel. In this case the turbines operated significantly less efficiently in the tidal channel. Tidal flow field data of sufficient detail to allow turbulence characterisation is relatively scarce. Traditional three or four beam ADCPs, which are commonly used for tidal flow resource characterisation, are typically limited by their spatial and temporal resolution. More modern five beam ADCPs tend to offer improved spatial and temporal resolution and ADVs enable relatively high frequency, high resolution measurements of small scale turbulence, although only at a single point. Combinations of measurements from the different instrument types enables improved turbulence characterisation.

This work involves the acquisition of field data in Strangford Narrows, a highly turbulent, high velocity tidal channel. A variety of methodologies using a range of instrument platforms are employed to enable detailed characterisation of the flow conditions.



Dr. P. Mackinnon, Dr. B. Elsaesser.



Comparison of Four Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers in a High Flow Tidal Environment, B. Elsaesser, H. Torrens-Spence, P. Schmitt and L. Kregting, Asian Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, Singapore, 2016.

Current and Turbulence Measurement with Collocated ADP and Turbulence Profiler Data, H. Torrens-Spence, P. Schmitt, P. Mackinnon and B. Elsaesser, in Proceedings of the IEEE/OES Eleventh Current, Waves and Turbulence Measurement Workshop (CWTM), St Petersburg, USA, 2015.


Posters / Presentations




Energy and environment, travel, music