EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


A new generation of gas turbine engines is required to meet future environmental and commercial targets. This requirement applies to gas turbines used for a wide range of applications including aircraft propulsion and power generation. To date, many performance improvements have been made through improved understanding of the complex aerodynamic processes occurring within a gas turbine engine. However, meeting future challenges and targets will require the adoption of a multi-disciplinary and integrated design methodology. In such a methodology, the complex aerodynamic processes, and the design of individual components, can not be considered in isolation. Instead, the design process must include (i) the strong links/interaction between the aerodynamics and other aerothermal processes (e.g. heat transfer, acoustics, fuel break up) and (ii) the interaction between the different gas turbine components. To facilitate this approach, an EPSRC Centre of Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics is proposed involving Cambridge, Loughborough and Oxford Universities. These three universities have been specifically chosen because of their track record of research excellence in the aerodynamics of the three major components of a gas turbine (compressor, combustor and turbine). In addition to their aerodynamics expertise these universities also undertake world class research in the fields with which aerodynamics interacts (e.g. heat transfer, acoustics, two phase flows). The proposed CDT is fully aligned with the strategies of all three institutions to promote long term industrial engagement and collaboration, as strongly endorsed in the institutional letters of support.

Students will spend the first year of their training studying for an MRes in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics. The intention is for this course to become the world's premiere gas turbine course, training the next generation of research and industry leaders. All three institutions, and the industry partners of the CDT, will contribute to the teaching of this course to ensure that the students aquire the broad range of knowledge required to meet future technical challenges. This contrasts to the current approach whereby students typically study a narrow range of methods and techniques applicable to a specific component challenge. The approach proposed here will enable the students to be exposed to a wide range of theoretical, experimental and numerical techniques applicable to the design of different components of a gas turbine engine, with emphasis being placed on a more integrated and multi-disciplinary design philosophy. Time spent at the different institutions will also expose the students to the cutting edge research being undertaken in these different areas. In the following three years, the students will undertake high impact and innovative research projects inspired by industrial collaboration.

To successfully innovate and translate innovation into a product requires close engagement between academia and industry. The CDT has assembled a group of companies which span the entire gas turbine products range including Rolls-Royce in gas turbines for aerospace, industrial and marine applications, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in large gas turbines for power generation and Siemens UK for small gas turbines for power and pumping. In addition, technologies developed for use in gas turbines are now being actively developed for a range of other purposes. An example of this is Dyson who has invested significant research funding into the development high efficiency axial compressors for use in domestic products. The CDT will be open to such companies who can benefit directly both from the facilities available, the research undertaken within the individual projects and the design methods developed. In the longer term, these companies will also benefit from the potential employees and industry leaders that the CDT will produce.

Planned Impact

1. UK economy
The primary aim of the CDT in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics is to train the next generation of academic and industrial leaders to ensure that the UK retains and improves its global position in both the gas turbine industry and gas turbine research. At present the UK gas turbine industry is second only in size to that of the US. The UK gas turbine research community is currently world leading, attracting substantial funding from outside the UK. The Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge, in terms of international awards, is the world's leading turbomachinery laboratory. The Osney laboratory in Oxford pioneered many of the most important technologies used in gas turbine heat transfer and cooling and Loughborough pioneered research in combustor aerodynamics and aerothermal processes impact design.

By establishing the MRes as the international gold standard in gas turbine training and education, foreign industries will find the UK a more attractive place to train its future industrial leaders.

The closely integrated industrial and academic community which the CDT facilitates will be ideal for feeding blue skies technologies from academia back into the industry. This proved very successful in the Cambridge-MIT Silent Aircraft project. A similar model will be used in the CDT to promote high impact long term research.

The step improvement in the industrial impact of research, outlined in the objectives, is intended to make the UK the most effective country in the world for companies to fund research in this field.

2. CDT students
The integrated multidisciplinary nature of the MRes education has no parallel anywhere in the world. Its composition is specifically designed to give the students a broad and integrated view of the gas turbine industry as well as training for the following PhD research.. This has three specific aims: to give the students an understanding of the way in which components integrate within a gas turbine; to give the students an understanding of the importance of multidisciplinary design; to give the students a broad understanding of the different sectors of the gas turbine and turbomachinery industry. This will include gas turbines for aerospace, marine, large scale power generation, small scale power generation, pumping and turbomachinery for domestic use.

The small projects will give the cohort practical, in-depth experience in the three main components of a gas turbine and in gas turbine integration. Each project will involve a design challenge aimed at bringing the cohort together to solve problems. This will also provide them with experience of industrial design as well as research challenges.

The students will receive training, mentoring and practical experience in developing research projects through industrial collaboration. It is important that the next generation of research and industry leaders gain experience in developing research projects that can achieve both academic excellence and industrial impact.

3. The wider research community
The CDT plans to reach out to the broader research community. These will involve collaborations with the external aerodynamics community, working on shared design challenges such as engine airframe integration. It will also involve collaboration with other universities working on gas turbine research. Examples include Surrey University on gas turbine secondary air systems, Imperial College on fluid structure interaction and Southampton University on gas turbine noise.

With the formation of the Aerospace Technology Institute, (ATI) this is an ideal time for the UK gas turbine community to engage on a national level in developing the UK's research and graduate education strategy. The CDT will play an active role in working with the ATI.

The increased number of gas turbine PhD students will raise the standard of applicants to post doctoral and academic positions across the UK aerodynamics community.


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