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Application of non-linear boat-tail configurations to the drag reduction of commercial road vehicles


   Mechanical and Automotive Engineering

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  Dr A Gatto  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The optimisation of the aerodynamic drag of road vehicles is a very important research area both economically and ecologically. Within the UK, these vehicles continue to be the largest contributor within the transport sector to greenhouse gas emissions, constituting 28% of all emissions in 2018. Despite accounting for only 5% of total vehicle miles, Heavy Goods Vehicles produce a disproportionate 18% of the CO2 emitted.

Many passive drag reduction techniques such as full boat-tails tend to be rarely used in practical applications due their significant impact on payload carrying capacity and limitations with unloading and loading payload. Initial preliminary work has developed a new and novel variation of this traditional boat-tail technology which uses a unique combination of non-linear faceted surfaces to produce significant benefits without the deficiencies. Testing conduced to date on small-scale models have shown an overall drag reduction of up to 10%, which if transferable to full scale vehicles, would represent an approximate 5% fuel consumption saving at highway speeds.

This project will aim to develop the concept further with the aim to produce a full-scale test prototype.

The successful applicant will have a practical background within the field of experimental aerodynamics. Effective communication skills are needed with detailed prior knowledge of experimental flow measurement techniques and wind tunnel testing is essential. Skills in experimental test model design and integration are also particularly desired.

Research activities within the aerospace and aviation engineering degree programmes at Brunel cover a wide ranging and diverse field of topics. Academic staff involved within these programmes investigate fundamental and complex problems relating to aerodynamics and aeroacoustics, flight physics and performance, helicopter rotor dynamics and structural mechanics together with Computational Fluid Dynamics and Finite Elements Analysis code development and application.

Research journey

Doctoral research programmes (PhDs) take a proud place in the world-class research environment and community at Brunel. PhD students are recognised and valued by their supervisors as an essential part of their departments and a key component of the university's overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research.

A PhD programme is expected to take 3 years full-time or 6 years part-time, with intakes starting in January, April or October.

The general University entrance requirement for registration for a research degree is normally a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (1st or 2:1) or an international equivalent. A Masters degree is a welcome, but not required, qualification for entry.

Find out how to apply for a PhD at Brunel

Research support

Excellent research support and training

The Graduate School provides a range of personal, professional and career development opportunities. This includes workshops, online training, coaching and events, to enable you to enhance your professional profile, refine your skills, and plan your next career steps as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The researcher development programme (RDP) offers workshops and seminars in a range of areas including progression, research management, research dissemination, and careers and personal development. You will also be offered a number of online, self-study courses on BBL, including Research Integrity, Research Skills Toolkit, Research Methods in Literature Review and Principles of Research Methods.

Library services

Brunel's Library is open 24 hours a day, has 400,000 books and 250,000 ebooks, and an annual budget of almost £2m. Subject information Specialists train students in the latest technology, digital literacy, and digital dissemination of scholarly outputs. As well as the physical resources available in the Library, we also provide access to a wealth of electronic resources. These include databases, journals and e-books. Access to these resources has been bought by the Library through subscription and is limited to current staff and students. 

Dedicated research support staff provide guidance and training on open access, research data management, copyright and other research integrity issues.

Find out more: Brunel Library

Careers support

You will receive tailored careers support during your PhD and for up to three years after you complete your research at Brunel. We encourage you to actively engage in career planning and managing your personal development right from the start of your research, even (or perhaps especially) if you don't yet have a career path in mind. Our careers provision includes online information and advice, one-to-one consultations and a range of events and workshops. The Professional Development Centre runs a varied programme of careers events throughout the academic year. These include industry insight sessions, recruitment fairs, employer pop-ups and skills workshops.


Funding Notes

This is a self funded topic
Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.
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