This collaborative doctoral training programme provides a model for the development of technology leaders, enabling them to apply scientific methods from academia to interdisciplinary industrial design. The project is driven by the need for more efficient & lower emission engine systems. Heat exchangers in engines has been identified as a key enabling technology for low-emission power systems that is vital to the EU economy and is of great societal concern. Development of high-performance heat exchangers is a complex engineering challenge requiring academic contributions at the forefront of engineering science. Having identified charge air cooling as a key enabling technology for low-emission power systems, here we propose an integrated approach to doctoral training in the area of engineering design leading to four doctorates covering diverse aspects of their mechanical engineering: structural vibration, stress & thermal analysis, additive manufacturing (AM), multifunctional metamaterials, fatigue & materials development. The programme provides mobility, industrial experience and academic foundations in an integrated manner that will uniquely equip our future technology leaders to contribute to high-value innovation within EU industry.


  • Doctoral training of 4 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) leading to the degree of PhD from the University of Southampton.
  • 18 months at the University of Southampton campus (including secondments in the UK) 18 months at Vestas aircoil (Vestas) industrial facilities, (which also includes industrial secondments).
  • Joint industrial & academic supervision of ESRs with a multidisciplinary & inter-sectoral supervisory board.
  • A training program built upon the central theme of Engineering Design, providing a coherent structure for integration/ application of distinct engineering approaches, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of industrial research & development.
  • Science-based taught modules laying a broad and rigorous scientific foundation.
  • Transferable skills training focussed on business innovation, project management, dissemination, intellectual property through workshops, specific courses and participation modellied on the lines of Southampton’s unique nationally-funded Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).
  • Individual research projects for each ESR addressing questions with technical depth & scope for originality at the forefront of engineering research that, taken together, form a fundamental basis for integrated design of advanced heat transfer systems.


ESR 1: Development of a system for automatically varying geometry & performing an aerothermal analysis; Optimisation of novel additively manufactured cellular/periodic structures for aerothermal performance.

Academic supervisors: Dr. David Toal within the Computational Engineering research group and Dr. Edward Richardson within the Aerodynamics & Flight Mechanics research group at the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton.

ESR 2: Develop predictive capability to assess the performance of materials & structures for vibration response. Address the inverse problem of designing internal architecture of metamaterials & external shapes of structural components for the industrial case study of charge air coolers.

Academic supervisors: Professor Atul Bhaskar within the Computational Engineering research group and Dr Maryam Ghandchi-Tehrani at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton.

ESR 3: Techniques especially suited to response measurement for materials with mesoscopic structure will be employed. The results will inform modelling activities of ESR2. To understand damping in built up structures & additively manufactured materials.

Academic supervisors: Dr Neil Ferguson and Professor Atul Bhaskar in the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment are the academic supervisors, from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) and the Computational Engineering research group respectively, University of Southampton.

ESR 4: The goal of this PhD project is to characterise & understand (and so predict) the fatigue behaviour of AM & typical joint microstructures, this will: 1. Establish the effect of complex loading & thermal cycles on fatigue lifetimes. 2. Evaluate the evolution of AM microstructures experiencing these thermal (service) cycles. 3. Confirm the appropriate materials constitutive models & fatigue laws to be used in lifing. 4. Assess how fouling & the service environment together with AM defect distributions affect fatigue initiation & crack growth behavior & the concomitant effects on fatigue lifing .

Academic supervisor: Professor Philippa Reed and Dr Andrew Hamilton, both within the Engineering Materials research group at the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, are the academic supervisors, University of Southampton.

Additive manufacturing & evaluation of multifunctional materials & structures for heat exchanger applications: Identifying a major area of design improvements enabled by advances in AM, the strength of the new manufacturing process will be suitably exploited in creating macroscopic structures & architectured materials for multifunctional use. In particular, novel lattice topologies for heat & fluid flow paths will be used by ESR3 for vibration suppression. Assessment of the performance of a class of multifunctional materials & structures will be carried out computationally & experimentally, thus informing the design process.

The four researchers will collaboratively work on a host of engineering problems covering design & optimisation, structural & vibration analysis, Additive manufacturing & elastic/acoustic meta-materials, thermal analysis and materials characterisation. The activities are outlined below.

Computational modelling of heat exchanger components/assemblies for stress analysis/vibration prediction: A hierarchy of modelling techniques will be used ranging from highly simplified descriptions of the heat exchanger structures, that capture the underlying structural dynamics in an approximate but computationally efficient manner, to computationally intensive high-fidelity methods. ESR2 will do stress analysis & vibration prediction as both involve FEM of the heat exchanger structure.

Vibration measurement/damping characterisation in charge heat exchanger components/structures: To complement studying vibration of the heat exchanger structure, ESR3 will carry out experimental vibration characterisation of components, their variability, uncertainty, and subsequent behaviour of the built-up structures. ESR3 will work closely with ESR2 (modelling). Damping in material, supports, joints & fastenings in the built-up structure will be characterised to enable accurate modelling.

Material characterisation under fatigue environments for heat exchangers: ESR4 will evaluate the fatigue performance of relevant materials under the typical loading & thermal cycles produced by the service environment.  This will include the development of appropriate constitutive materials models & fatigue lifing approaches to work with ESR2 on fatigue lifing of the structures in the design optimisation process. The effects of additive manufacturing processes on subsequent materials properties in the metamaterials structures will be a particular focus with ESR3.

Aerothermal & thermomechanical analysis: Aerothermal (ESR1) & thermo-mechanical analyses (ESR2) are critical in assessing the performance, in terms of pressure losses, cooling & life of any heat exchanger system. An automated aerothermal & thermo-mechanical analysis process will be developed from which the above performance metrics can be assessed with relative ease for novel cellular heat exchanger topologies and to develop new optimisation approaches, e.g. multi-fidelity analysis which will reduce the cost of any subsequent design process. The cellular nature of the novel AM heat exchangers proposed here with high curvature and secondary flow effects also offers considerable scope for ESR1 to explore the fundamental fluid & heat transfer aspects of such systems.