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Experimental study of multi-phase expansion in sustainable power systems

   School of Engineering and Informatics

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  Dr Martin T White  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship within the Department of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Sussex. The successful candidate will be based within the Thermo-Fluid Mechanics Research Centre which is a dedicated research laboratory conducting world-leading research with a focus on turbomachinery.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work on the design and commissioning of a lab-scale test facility to explore multi-phase expansion processes with relevance to a range of future net-zero technologies. One of these potential technologies is the organic Rankine cycle (ORC) which is suitable for power generation from low-temperature heat sources including geothermal, solar-thermal, biomass and waste-heat recovery. However, ORC technology is not widely implemented due to high costs. Two-phase expansion has been proposed to improve performance by up to 30%, but to date suitable expander technologies are not available. However, the unique properties of some organic fluids provide the potential to facilitate wet-to-dry expansion processes within the stator of ORC turbines. This is expected to realise the thermodynamic benefits of two-phase expansion, whilst allowing the use of conventional turbomachinery designs without erosion concerns.

The project forms part of on-going research within the group focussing on the design of turbomachinery components for two-phase expansion. Numerical modelling has established the thermodynamic potential of this cycle, but experimental verification is essential. This PhD studentship will involve the design and commissioning of a lab-scale facility to investigate two-phase expansion. These tests aim to provide the necessary proof-of-concept that wet-to-dry expansion can be achieved within a nozzle. The project will initially involve thermodynamic modelling of the test rig to establish the component specifications before proceeding with procurement, construction, and initial commissioning of the rig to ensure functionality. Alongside this, a bespoke test section will be designed and simulated using existing in-house design tools, alongside supporting CFD simulations, before being manufactured and integrated into the test rig. Following this, a testing campaign will be carried out to characterise the performance of the test section for a range of operating conditions.

Throughout the project the candidate will have opportunities to attend international conferences related to ORC power systems and non-ideal compressible fluid dynamics. They will also be able to contribute to on-going collaborations with international partners, with the potential opportunity for a short research stay abroad.

Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be sent to Dr Martin T White: [Email Address Removed]

How to apply:

Apply online for a full time PhD in Engineering using our step-by-step guide ( Here you will also find details of our entry requirements.

Please clearly state on your application form that you are applying for the “Experimental study of multi-phase expansion in sustainable power systems” Scholarship, under the supervision of Dr Martin T White.

Funding Notes

You will receive a tax-free stipend at a standard rate of £17,668 per year for 3.5 years and a research training grant of £2,000 for the 3.5 year duration. In addition, your fees will be waived for 3.5 years (at the UK, EU, or International rate).

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