PhD researcher in thermal enery systems for aircraft
Delft University of Technology Faculty Aerospace Engineering

PhD researcher in thermal enery systems for aircraft


Department/faculty: Faculty Aerospace Engineering

Level: University Graduate

Working hours: 38.0 hours weekly

Contract: 4 years

Salary: 2325 - 2927 euros monthly (full-time basis)

Closing date

    May 27, 2019


Faculty Aerospace Engineering



The faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world's largest faculties devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. In the Netherlands it is the only research and education institute directly related to the aerospace engineering sector. It covers the whole spectrum of aerospace engineering subjects. In aeronautics, the faculty covers subjects ranging from aerodynamics and flight propulsion to structures and materials and from control and simulation to air transport and operations. In astronautics, topics include astrodynamics, space missions and space systems engineering. The faculty has around 2,700 BSc and MSc students, 225 PhD candidates and 27 professors supported by scientific staff.

The faculty's mission is to be the best Aerospace Engineering faculty in the world, inspiring and educating students through modern education techniques and enabling staff to perform ambitious research of the highest quality for the future of aerospace. The working atmosphere at the faculty is friendly, open-minded and dedicated.


The Department of Aerodynamics, Wind Energy, Flight Performance and Propulsion (AWEP) is one of four departments within the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. The department operates comprehensive laboratories equipped with modern wind tunnels and state-of-the-art measurement systems.


“The Flight Performance and Propulsion (FPP) section is one of three sections within the AWEP Department. The FPP section focuses on aircraft design, flight mechanics, aircraft propulsion systems, and aircraft engine integration. The Propulsion and Power group performs research on innovative systems for sustainable propulsion and energy conversion. This involves exploring new combustion regimes and technologies that will allow to drastically reduce pollutant emissions using the most advanced diagnostic techniques.”


Job description


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.


Conditions of employment


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 for more information.


Information and application


For more information, please contact Dr. Matteo Pini, phone:+31 6 51999423, e-mail: To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV and letter of application by 26st of May 2019 to Kimberley Graauw, email:


When applying, please refer to vacancy number LR19-14. If your MSc diploma and transcript are not in Dutch, English, French or German and you will be the selected candidate, the TU Delft will ask you to deliver a certified translation.



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