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A feasibility study of hybrid power system, hydrogen fuel and on-board renewable energy mechanisms, for a jetliner


   School of Mechanical and Design Engineering


About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3-year full-time or 6-year part time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering and will be supervised by Dr Burhan Saeed, Dr James Buick and Dr Jason Knight.

The work on this project could involve:

  • Aircraft Design – several conceptual designs may be generated to understand the proposed hybrid power system.
  • CFD Analysis – the aerodynamic performance of different aircraft designs will be conducted using one of the software available such as ANSYS and Star CCM+
  • Wind Tunnel Testing – The rapid prototyping facility will be used to build the models of the most promising designs and tested in the wind tunnel.

Project description

The aviation industry is being revolutionised by the national/international goal to achieve ‘fly-zero’ or zero carbon emission flight by next decade. Although, much of the research is focused on hydrogen based fuel solutions, very few are looking into alternatives. The hydrogen fuel demands bulkier tanks and, hence, the whole aircraft design needs to change where one trade-off would be the excessive drag. A self-sufficient and sustainable aircraft may be the ideal future for aviation. This project sets out to perform a feasibility study of on-board energy generation mechanisms along with hydrogen fuel. This could possibly allow a more efficient, sustainable and higher performance aircraft particularly with regards to cruise flight speed and range. Two modes, solar and wind, of on board energy generation are of particular interest. A commercial jetliner, typically, flies at altitudes where there is continuous solar energy available for ~90 percent of the flight time. So far on board solar energy mechanism have been explored for mostly unmanned aerial vehicles. A jetliner may only adapt solar energy in conjunction with other energy sources as it requires large surface area. Upon descent an aircraft possesses immense amount of energy which can be extracted using the propellers connected to electric generators. Other renewable propulsion mechanisms may also be explored in the feasibility study to comprehend aircraft design with the zero carbon flight goal over ruling other constraints.

At the University of Portsmouth, we have the right expertise in the field to lead and guide this project to its fruitful completion. We also have excellent lab facilities including state of the art 3-D metal printer, multiple fully licensed CFD software and wind tunnels.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to Apply

We encourage you to contact Dr Burhan Saeed () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code below.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Mechanical and Design Engineering PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code:SMDE6141023


Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK students only).

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