Simulation, development, and evaluation of next generation hybrid rocket systems

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Dr Ingo Jahni.jahn@uq.edu.au

Space launches for small satellites are expected to exceed 1000 per year by 2025. Australia has a growing Space and Space Launch Industry. To service the demand for small satellite launches, in collaboration with Australian industry, we are developing next generation launcher technologies.

PhD topic 1: Modelling of hybrid rocket motors Hybrid rockets utilise a solid fuel grain in conjunction with gaseous oxidiser, and are thus simpler than a liquid fuelled rocket, and offer control and safety advantages over solid fuelled rockets. Their performance is intrinsically limited by regression characteristics of the fuel grain. Numerous methods have been proposed to modify flow and combustion characteristics by enhancing heat transfer to the fuel grain and mass transfer in the opposite direction. The aim of this PhD is to develop a numerical models for the combustion process in hybrid rocket motors. The developed model may be used to investigate novel injection arrangements and fuel grain modifications. This PhD may include experimental tests to validate the numerical model. Once validation data is available, a further aim of the PhD is to elucidate additional knowledge from the sparse experimental data set.

PhD topic 2: Co-design / optimisation of hybrid rocket fuel system, cycle, and trajectory For all launch systems it is critical for launch vehicles to maximise payload fraction. A key means to achieve this is through efficient system design. This means simultaneous optimisation of system architecture; structural design; propulsion system (cycle & engine thrust profile); and trajectory for a given orbit, whilst respecting limits of technology and materials. The aim of this PhD is to develop a detailed and easily reconfigurable transient cycle models for rocket propulsion systems; parameterised structural designs; etc; and to couple this with trajectory optimisation tools. The resulting tool will then be used to analyse different system architectures and to make recommendations for system architectures, propulsion systems, structures, aerodynamics, and control strategies.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

The PhD topics suit candidates with interest in:

  • software (CFD solver) development, verification, and validation techniques
  • developing an in depth understanding of heat and mass transfer processes in a rocket motor
  • multi-physics simulation, particularly developing capabilities in the simulation of internal combustion ballistics
  • code development, verification and validation techniques
  • system design of launchers
  • development of co-design tools
  • rockets and space launch systems

Experience with simulation and analysis of fluid-dynamics, combustions, and compressible flow will be an advantage. Industry experience is desirable. Please contact Chief Investigator to check Project Availability.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now