This is a full funded PhD (fees and bursary) in propulsion system aerodynamics in collaboration with Rolls-Royce and EPSRC. Fundamental understanding of aerodynamic flows is at the heart of aero-engine design and a key research area is the ability to measure complex flow fields. Within that context, the overall aim of this PhD is to further develop non-intrusive laser-based flow measurement systems with new event-based cameras for stereo PIV measurements. This will be used to characterise the dynamic flow distortion within confined regions such as convoluted aero-engine intakes. This is expected to yield significant benefits in aerodynamic measurement quality where there is a keen interest in obtaining measurements close to surfaces.

For future aircraft concepts there is an expectation that new architectures feature closer integration of the propulsion system with the airframe. A key challenge for such configurations will be the more complex aerodynamic characteristics associated with the propulsion system integration. Within that context there is an on-going interest is developing new flow measurement capabilities that for new aero-engine configurations. Previous work within the group at Cranfield has demonstrated the use of stereo PIV methods for a range of aero-engine related topics such as intake ground vortex, distortion ingestion as well as the characterisation of unsteady for complex intake configurations. These have demonstrated the considerable benefits of PIV to provide rich measurements which are unobtainable using conventional methods. For example, the previous research enabled the quantification of the unsteady swirl characteristics of a complex intake along with statistical analysis of the distortion metrics in the temporal and frequency domain. In addition, a new taxonomy of unsteady distortion events was developed whereby the distortions were evaluated and classified according to their extent, duration, magnitude and likelihood of occurrence. This approach enables the identification of peak instantaneous events and links them with their likelihood to impact the operation of the fan, hence provides guidance on the significance of each distortion class to the fan system.

The overall aim of this PhD project is to determine the feasibility and potential benefits of using event based cameras for stereo PIV measurements and to characterise the dynamic flow distortion for internal domains such as convoluted intakes. The experiments will initially focus on relatively simple configurations to explore the measurement system capabilities and then develop to more complex configurations where the focus will be on flow distortion.

The main impact of the work will be through Rolls-Royce where it will enable improvements to the measurement capability for intake flow distortion. During the course of the studies, it is also expected that the student will undertake a placement with Rolls-Royce.

The research is funded through an EPSRC industrial CASE award in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. The work will be conducted through the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre based at Cranfield which has a strong collaborative history with Rolls-Royce in the area of aero-engine aerodynamics. This programme provides the PhD candidate with an outstanding opportunity to work closely with Rolls-Royce engineers across a range of disciplines for the development of future aerospace technologies and capabilities. During the PhD programme there will be regular reviews and presentation opportunities with Rolls-Royce as well as the chance to attend specialist MSc modules if needed.

At a glance

  • Application deadline14 Aug 2024
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date30 Sep 2024
  • Duration of award4 years (iCASE Award)
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSATM500

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit students with an aerospace or mechanical engineering background. Experience of experimental fluid dynamics and particle image velocity would be an advantage. As part of this role you may be required to obtain UK Security Clearance.


This studentship is open to UK applicants only.

About the sponsor

Sponsored by EPSRC, Rolls-Royce and Cranfield University, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,622 (tax free) plus fees per annum for four years.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Professor David MacManus

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.