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  3. 2 PhD's researcher in power systems for aircraft

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2 PhD's researcher in power systems for aircraft

The aviation sector is under increasing pressure to improve aircraft fuel efficiency for economic, environmental and societal reasons. The environmental …

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Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The aviation sector is under increasing pressure to improve aircraft fuel efficiency for economic, environmental and societal reasons. The environmental control system (ECS) is the largest auxiliary power consumer (up to 1.5% of engine power), and as such it has been the target of aggressive R&D activities leading to new more electric system configurations for the most modern airliners (i.e. Boeing 787). However, we believe that much larger performance gains can be achieved if the conventional air cycle of the ECS is exchanged for a more efficient vapour cycle.

The goal of this project is to demonstrate that a novel disruptive ECS based on an inverse organic Rankine vapour-compression cycle (VC) can increase the efficiency of the thermodynamic cycle and save fuel. At the core of this system is an innovative high-speed radial compressor technology under development at Aeronamic. Although this compressor has demonstrated very promising characteristics, the entire system has not been studied yet. The newly conceived system can lead to an improvement in thermodynamic efficiency of one order of magnitude compared to current air-cycle machines, increasing the coefficient of performance from ~0.5 to ~4 at peak efficiency conditions. However, several key challenges still need to be overcome in order to advance to the next phase of product development, namely 1) what is the optimal configuration of an actual vapour compression system in terms of efficiency-to-weight ratio and efficiency-to-volume ratio? 2) what is the optimal working fluid? 3) what is the performance advantage over typical aircraft missions compared to current air-cycle technology?

An available cutting-edge, validated, in-house software environment will be further developed in order to perform VC system configuration and design studies. Improvements, additions and modifications will be carried out in collaboration with Asimptote and under directives of Aeronamic. New working fluids produced by 3M will be considered in the simulations, and new mixtures will be modelled in order to obtain the desired thermophysical properties. A new experimental apparatus implementing relevant thermodynamic cycle configurations with high-compact heat exchangers and ultra-high-speed compressors will be designed and realized. The main objectives of this test rig will be the validation of the models, the study of how the system can be controlled, and the performance characterization of the system components at both on- and off-design conditions. The models of the best VC systems will be incorporated into an in-house aircraft design and simulation program to evaluate the performance gains for aircraft ranging in size from small to very large. The major deliverables of the project will be a) a system design method based on a set of validated VC system models; b) a test rig enabling the study of different cycle configurations (multiple-pressure levels, multiple compressors); c) optimal system configurations for first-generation products targeting small to medium-sized aircraft, evaluated in terms of performance over representative missions.

Project Partners: Aeronamic, Asimptote, 3M, VITO.


University Graduate. Applicants should have a Master degree from a renowned institution in mechanical, aerospace, chemical or control engineering, or another technical area deemed relevant for the proposed research program.

Strong motivation, creativity, and proactivity are required. One position is more focused on experimental work, while the other is more centred on numerical and theoretical aspects. Both positions require capacity for complex theoretical interpretation of results. Good interpersonal communication skills are required in order to properly integrate into the fairly large, diverse and international team.

Applicants must be fluent in English (English supervision). Unfortunately, we cannot accept applicants from citizens of countries that are not signatories of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.


TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. You will have 232 hours of paid leave each year and in addition to your salary, at TU Delft you will receive an annual holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of your salary.

As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit http://www.tudelft.nl/phd for more information.

Additional information

For more information, please contact Dr.ir. M. Pini, phone:+31 (0)15-2784794, e-mail: m.pini@tudelft.nl.

To apply, please send a detailed CV, along with a short letter of motivation, contact information of two persons who can provide references, a publication list, an abstract of your MSc or PhD thesis and two selected publications. Please send your application by 8 March 2019 to Dr.ir. M. Pini (K.Graauw@tudelft.nl). When applying, please refer to vacancy number LR19.07.