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Phd Position Modelling Solid Oxide Fuel Cells - Gas Turbine (SOFC-GT) for Aviation - job post

TU Delft
4.1 out of 5
Vanaf € 2.770 per maand
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Phd Position Modelling Solid Oxide Fuel Cells - Gas Turbine (SOFC-GT) for Aviation
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Would you like to work on a game-changing engine concepts for net-zero aviation? Join our HYLENA team!

Job description

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate to work on the EU-funded project HYLENA (HYdrogen eLectrical Engine Novel Architecture). The project aims to investigate, develop, and optimize a groundbreaking hydrogen-powered electrical aircraft propulsion concept. This role involves advanced simulation and dynamic modelling to enhance the efficiency and reliability of the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell-Gas Turbine (SOFC-GT) concept in aerospace applications.

Project Description:

HYLENA focuses on integrating Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) with turbomachinery to maximize propulsive efficiency by utilizing both electric and thermal energy. This innovative engine concept leverages the synergistic use of:

  • An electrical motor as the main driver for propulsion.
  • Hydrogen-fuelled SOFC stacks optimized for nacelle integration.
  • A gas turbine to thermodynamically integrate with the SOFC.

This technology aims to significantly reduce climate impact by being completely carbon-neutral, while radically increasing overall efficiency for short and medium-range aircraft.

PhD position:

The PhD position focuses on modelling off-design performance and hybridization strategies for the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell-Gas Turbine (SOFC-GT) concept. This research aims to enhance the efficiency and reliability of aircraft systems through advanced simulation and dynamic modelling.

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) offer superior electrical efficiencies compared to their low-temperature counterparts, with the added benefit of utilizing high-temperature heat in the gas turbine. While configurations can be optimized for cruising, engines must efficiently operate across various flight modes and conditions, including take-off, landing, and transient load demands. Key challenges include managing part-load and transient operations, constrained by operating temperature gradients, adequate fuel and airflow adjustments, and the large thermal mass of air-cooled SOFCs. The hybrid SOFC-GT engine provides operational flexibility, requiring the development of strategies for off-design operation and sophisticated control systems to enhance transient behaviour.

The PhD candidate will dynamically model the down-selected SOFC-GT configurations, simulate off-design performance, and develop hybridization strategies for various flight modes. Then, the models will be used to simulate transient behaviour, evaluate failure scenarios, and propose improvements to enhance transient performance.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Develop and optimize hybridization strategies for the SOFC-GT engine concept.
  • Model transient behaviour in different flight modes, including start-up and shut-down.
  • Evaluate aircraft performance during cruising and off-design conditions.
  • Assess failure scenarios and propose solutions to enhance transient performance.

Key Challenges:

  • Managing part-load and transient operations constrained by operating temperature gradients.
  • Adjusting fuel and airflow to control the temperature of air-cooled SOFCs with a large thermal mass.
  • Developing sophisticated control systems to enhance the transient behaviour of the hybrid SOFC-GT engine.


To be considered for the position, you will have:

  • Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or a related field.
  • Strong background in modeling and simulation of aerospace / power and propulsion systems.
  • Proficiency in computational tools and software used for performance evaluation.
  • Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team.

It will be a strong plus if you have:

  • Knowledge of hybridization strategies and transient behavior analysis of SOFCs

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Aerospace Engineering

The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates and close to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr Lindert van Biert or Prof. Arvind Gangoli Rao

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply no later than 6 September 2024 via the application button and upload your motivation and CV.

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Applying for an exemption for specific research and educational areas is an obligatory part of the selection procedure for this vacancy. This exemption must be obtained from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) before an employment contract is agreed upon. Click here for more information.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


Faculty of Aerospace Engineering








€ 2.770,00 - € 3.539,00


University graduate



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