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PhD Case studentship in Numerical Simulation and Advanced Modelling of Hydrogen-Fuelled Propulsion Systems for Reusable Launch Vehicles

Project Description

Number of awards:


Start date and duration:

October 2019 for 4 years


Reaction Engines Ltd (REL) is a UK-based company formed in 1989 to design and develop technologies for a new class of hypersonic propulsion system – the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE). SABRE class engines will enable aircraft to fly over five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere, and allow space launch vehicles to be built that will radically improve the affordability and access to space. Key to the success of the SABRE engine is using hydrogen as fuel, which will be burned under unconventional conditions, which are far from well-understood and pose significant challenges to combustor design.

This project will use Direct Numerical Simulations (DNS) to study direct injection of hydrogen fuel and subsequent downstream lean combustion at conditions relevant for SABRE, improving fundamental physical understanding and developing low-cost turbulent-flame modelling approaches to aid combustor development.

The student will receive training in turbulence and combustion theory and modelling, detailed chemistry, analysis, mathematics, advanced computational techniques, programming, supercomputing, and presentation skills. The student will be encouraged to attend and present at (inter)national conferences to disseminate their work and gain exposure to the field.


Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) ( and Reaction Engines (

Name of supervisor(s):

Dr Andrew Aspden(
Professor Nilanjan Chakraborty(

Eligibility Criteria:

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the EPSRC’s eligibility criteria (, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

How to apply:

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system by creating an account. To do this please select ‘How to Apply’ ( and choose the ‘Apply now’ button.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:
•click on programme of study
•insert 8090F in the programme code section and click search
•select Programme name ‘PhD Mechanical Engineering (full time) – Mechanical and Systems Engineering’
•insert CASE03 in the studentship/partnership reference field
•attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code CASE03 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
•attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU fees (eligibility criteria applies to EU students) and annual living allowance of at least £16,000 (at the 2018/19 UKRI rate plus top up). There is significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel, plus industrial visits totalling 3 months at Reaction Engines (near Oxford).

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