Self-propulsion of Cryogenics inside a Pipe

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The working title of the thesis is the Self-propulsion of Cryogenics inside a Pipe. Throughout this study, liquid nitrogen and liquid hydrogen will be utilised as working fluids.
Cryogenics have been widely employed as a part of multiple industries such as but not limited to: Aviation, Automotive, Medical and Storage industries. Examples of utilisation cases can be listed as: Rocket fuel and pre-conditioner, Fuel cell propulsion systems, cryosurgery and refrigeration units for cold cargo.
Due to the increasing consciousness around global warming and the request of reducing transportation emissions, propulsion systems are required to be more efficient and less polluting then ever. In support of this, commercial aviation and automotive companies have been seeking alternative propulsion solutions one of which is fuel cells which are powered by cryogenics resulting in clean propulsion without harmful emissions. Because cryogenic systems so far have been used in specialised and limited life cycle applications in propulsion such as rocket fuels, long term effects and systems level applications in long term must be explored in order to commercialise such systems. Examples of such propulsion systems have been brought to market by multiple OEMs with the price being the largest penalty as well as the storage and weight challenges surrounding fuel cell systems.
The study will aim to explore the capability of utilising Self-propulsion of Cryogenics inside a Pipe mostly aimed at fuel delivery systems in order to understand the boiling characteristics and physical interactions with the pipe surface. The Self-propulsion inside the pipe is aimed to be achieved by the introduction of in-pipe structures to manipulate the flow during the Leidenfrost regime.
The study is planned to be conducted both in practical experimentation and simulation in order to verify and test varying conditions and flow regimes. Initially, the testing will begin with liquid nitrogen as a working fluid which will then be changed to liquid hydrogen. The reason for the liquid nitrogen utilisation at the start of the study is to understand the cryogenic working environment and the challenges attached to it. Simulation studies will be employed in order to understand flow regimes that are not possible to replicate using practical means and to verify the results of the practical experimentation.

Planned Impact

Impact Summary

This proposal has been developed from the ground up to guarantee the highest level of impact. The two principal routes towards impact are via the graduates that we train and by the embedding of the research that is undertaken into commercial activity. The impact will have a significant commercial value through addressing skills requirements and providing technical solutions for the automotive industry - a key sector for the UK economy.

The graduates that emerge from our CDT (at least 84 people) will be transformative in two distinct ways. The first is a technical route and the second is cultural.

In a technical role, their deep subject matter expertise across all of the key topics needed as the industry transitions to a more sustainable future. This expertise is made much more accessible and applicable by their broad understanding of the engineering and commercial context in which they work. They will have all of the right competencies to ensure that they can achieve a very significant contribution to technologies and processes within the sector from the start of their careers, an impact that will grow over time. Importantly, this CDT is producing graduates in a highly skilled sector of the economy, leading to jobs that are £50,000 more productive per employee than average (i.e. more GVA). These graduates are in demand, as there are a lack of highly skilled engineers to undertake specialist automotive propulsion research and fill the estimated 5,000 job vacancies in the UK due to these skills shortages. Ultimately, the CDT will create a highly specialised and productive talent pipeline for the UK economy.

The route to impact through cultural change is perhaps of even more significance in the long term. Our cohort will be highly diverse, an outcome driven by our wide catchment in terms of academic background, giving them a 'diversity edge'. The cultural change that is enabled by this powerful cohort will have a profound impact, facilitating a move away from 'business as usual'.

The research outputs of the CDT will have impact in two important fields - the products produced and processes used within the indsutry. The academic team leading and operating this CDT have a long track record of generating impact through the application of their research outputs to industrially relevant problems. This understanding is embodied in the design of our CDT and has already begun in the definition of the training programmes and research themes that will meet the future needs of our industry and international partners. Exchange of people is the surest way to achieve lasting and deep exchange of expertise and ideas. The students will undertake placements at the collaborating companies and will lead to employment of the graduates in partner companies.

The CDT is an integral part of the IAAPS initiative. The IAAPS Business Case highlights the need to develop and train suitably skilled and qualified engineers in order to achieve, over the first five years of IAAPS' operations, an additional £70 million research and innovation expenditure, creating an additional turnover of £800 million for the automotive sector, £221 million in GVA and 1,900 new highly productive jobs.

The CDT is designed to deliver transformational impact for our industrial partners and the automotive sector in general. The impact is wider than this, since the products and services that our partners produce have a fundamental part to play in the way we organise our lives in a modern society. The impact on the developing world is even more profound. The rush to mobility across the developing world, the increasing spending power of a growing global middle class, the move to more urban living and the increasingly urgent threat of climate change combine to make the impact of the work we do directly relevant to more people than ever before. This CDT can help change the world by effecting the change that needs to happen in our industry.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023364/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2441008 Studentship EP/S023364/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Onur TOKKAN