Electrical Thermal Characterisation Tools for Integrated Power and Thermal Management Modelling

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science


This project is a collaboration with Rolls-Royce UK supporting the development of more-electric engines and aircraft. The aviation industry is striving towards a unified power architecture where all secondary power demands are met by a common electrical supply, eliminating hydraulic and pneumatic power off-takes from engines and allowing them to run at their most efficient conditions. A natural extension of this paradigm leads to the electrification of the propulsion system itself, enabling hybrid- and all-electric aircraft concepts that may change the future face of the industry. Through associated developments in powerplant integration, distributed propulsion and novel aerodynamic concepts this transition has the potential to enable a much broader aircraft design space and provide a step change in overall vehicle efficiency. This could have a major positive impact on both greenhouse gas emissions and the noise generated by the transportation industry in the context of increasing environmental and socio-economic concerns.
There are many research questions and challenges that need to be addressed to realise this technological transition; further, the electrification concept represents a disruptive change to an industry that is used to conservative, incremental improvements to drive technology and business. This project focusses on the thermal characterisation of electrical power systems that may facilitate such a transition. Initially the focus is to quantify the benefits from a holistic perspective through a comparison of existing and future electrical aircraft in line with their flight envelopes. This will be examined for a range of potential aircraft sizes and flight profiles, examining the resulting benefits in terms of efficiency, weight and emissions.
The project then builds upon these analyses to identify the critical elements that underpin electro-thermal characterisation of future designs and seeks to develop appropriate models with a view to optimisation and to provide system-level thermal performance projections, supported through experiments. The end-goal is to define the limitations of existing approaches and provide optimisation methodologies for novel electrical machine designs and their power conversion systems which will be required to realise the electrical aircraft as the primary air transportation method of the future.
Aims and objectives
1. To evaluate the benefits in terms of mass/emissions/fuel consumption of multiple potential missions undertaken by existing and future electrical aircraft. 2. To evaluate the transient nature of electrical aircraft in terms of their thermal response.
3. To identify the critical elements that have the largest impact on aircraft and machine designs. 4. To evaluate multiple electrical architectures, currently focussed on electrical machine and associated transmission systems, in terms of:
a. power density b. mass c. coil designs d. cooling methodologies 5. To develop theoretical and numerical models, and to validate such models empirically, in order to be able to optimise electrical designs.
Novelty of the research methodology
1. Through working with Rolls-Royce, this project will have access to industrial expertise that will ensure comparisons and calculations relevant to the industrial environments. 2. Evaluation of novel coil geometries and configurations, heat transfer characteristics and cooling methodologies are to be undertaken, combined with the development of novel analytical solutions to this problem. 3. Novel methods will be developed to address the transient nature of electrical aircraft in terms of thermal response, across a range of electrical machine sizes and power densities.
This project falls within the EPSRC Energy, Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences research themes, encompassing the below research areas, listed on the website www.epsrc.ac.uk/research/ourportfolio/themes/
This project is part-sponsored by Rolls-Royce


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2104147 Studentship EP/N509711/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Oliver Thomas Kay