Current gas turbine engines use hydrocarbon fuels, such as kerosene, diesel and natural gas which inevitably produce CO2 and NOx emissions. To reduce their environmental impact, gas turbine engines may move from burning traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels to hydrogen fuel.

This will eliminate exhaust CO2 emissions. However, gas turbine designers are facing technological challenges in designing low NOx hydrogen-fuelled combustion systems without compromising other performance and operability requirements such as combustion efficiency, pressure loss, durability, stability, resistance to flashback and more.

The objective of this project is to investigate the design, performance and emissions characteristics of a novel hydrogen-fuelled, ultra-low NOx combustion system over an entire range of operating conditions. The analysis will be undertaken using multi-fidelity tools ranging from reduced order models to high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the Centre for Propulsion and Thermal Power Engineering, Cranfield University, in the area of gas turbine combustors.

During the EU Horizon 2020 ENABLEH2 project, Cranfield University conducted detailed numerical and experimental analyses on low-NOx H2 micromix combustion systems. For low NOx H2-micromix combustion systems, Cranfield University has: •

  • Established best practices for numerical simulations 
  • Assessed the impact of injector design parameters on flame interactions and NOx 
  • Demonstrated a hybrid manufacturing approach for intricate designs of fuel injectors 
  • Assessed performance and emissions in a high pressure and temperature combustion rig 
  • Demonstrated that low momentum flux ratio injector designs deliver the lowest NOx 
  • Demonstrated that they have lower risk of low frequency thermoacoustic instabilities than Jet A-1/SAF fuelled low NOx combustion systems, and that higher frequency modes may be relatively easily mitigated 
  • Demonstrated that altitude relight may be easier relative to Jet A-1 fuelled combustion systems 
  • Derived a reduced order NOx emissions prediction correlation for aircraft mission-level assessments including aircraft trajectory and engine cycle optimisation 
  • Estimated that LH2-fuelled aircraft may deliver 40-60% reductions in mission NOx relative to their Jet A-1/SAF counterparts.

The proposed research project will use the lessons learnt as a starting point to conceive, design and evaluate the performance and emissions of a novel ultra-low NOx hydrogen-fuelled combustion system. The analysis will be undertaken using multi-fidelity tools ranging from reduced order models to high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

The Centre for Propulsion and Thermal Power Engineering has a key focus and a proven track record on gas turbine combustors, performance, experimental research, etc., which have been built up over the last half century. This provides a unique capability to assist researchers and engineers in new engine and combustor designs and support both the designers and the users in gas turbine and power generation industry.

The history of gas turbine performance engineering at Cranfield dates back to 1946 and the foundation of the Institution. The Centre for Propulsion and Thermal Power Engineering contributes and focuses on gas turbines for aerospace, marine and power generation applications, the sectors where Europe and Britain are world leaders and major exporters. This high technology global industry is worth more than £30 billion per annum. Current challenges are arising from the need to address environmental issues and the changing economic climate. These challenges have created an environment where a large return can be accrued from an investment in gas turbines and related power system research and education.

It is expected the research will generate new design methods and knowledge for more environmentally friendly gas turbine combustors. The new knowledge will be very useful to guide the designs, operations, and control of future hydrogen gas turbine engines.

The student will be based within the School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing. Cranfield is a wholly postgraduate university and there are a wide range of MSc and Professional Development Short Courses throughout the year. The student may have opportunities to access some of the MSc courses and CPD short courses relevant to the research and attend and publish papers in international conferences.

Cranfield operates a substantial Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (DRCD) for its research students. This programme provides a generic structured training programme which is constructed to support the researcher as the PhD progresses with specific courses aimed at the different phases of a PhD. For example, the programme includes aspects such as research methods, technical report writing, presentation skills, data management, leadership skills, professional development planning, intellectual property, publishing, etc. Such knowledge, skills and capability will enhance the student's employment opportunities in both academic institutions and industry.

This is an exciting opportunity for a suitable candidate where he or she will be exposed to the latest technology, learn from experts working in the area and prepare for an exciting career in either academia or industry.

At a glance

  • Application deadline28 Jun 2023
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, US, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSATM357

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second-class UK honours degree in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering or a relevant area. An MSc degree and/or experience in combustion, heat transfer, gas turbine performance, and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) will be an advantage.


Bursary to cover partial tuition fee for three years is available for both UK and non-UK candidates. The student should be responsible for his/her own living expenses (such as accommodation, travel, food, entertainment, insurance, etc).

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: 

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