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PhD Optimal Control of Hydrogen-powered Electrified Aero Engines

PhD Optimal Control of Hydrogen-powered Electrified Aero Engines

Irène Curie Fellowship
Mechanical Engineering
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Reference number

Job description

We are seeking two highly motivated PhD students who are interested in pursuing research at the interface of control systems and optimization for clean aviation technologies. Electrified airplanes promise to enable clean and fast mobility alternatives to current kerosene-powered solutions, but their development is still restricted by technological limitations. In this context, the development and integration of hydrogen-based electrified propulsion systems pose challenges to the aviation industry that require interdisciplinary approaches. This project explores an integrated power plant system where a propeller is powered by a hydrogen-burning gas turbine and an electric motor which, in turn, is powered by a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) and a battery. The steam generated by the SOFC is fed to the burner of the gas turbine to reduce emissions. Within this research context the following two PhD positions are opened with the aim to devise high-level online control strategies to operate such a strongly interconnected system.

PhD 1: The first position aims at identifying computationally tractable optimization models for power and energy distribution via quasi-steady-state (QSS) modeling methods. The goal is to strike a trade-off between model accuracy and computational tractability, identifying appropriate model structures for the individual components, and validating the resulting models via high-fidelity simulations capturing the strong interconnections between the thermal and the chemical-electrical parts. These models will then be integrated within numerical optimal control frameworks and used for numerical optimization purposes by PhD 2. For this position, knowledge and experience in aerospace and aircraft engineering, and (convex) optimization will be preferred.

PhD 2: The second position is aimed at computing global high-level control strategies. To this end, the candidate is expected to use rule-based methods to devise simple, suboptimal energy management algorithms based on efficiency models, and also leverage the optimization models identified by PhD 1 to derive and compute optimal control policies for fixed-operating point and transient scenarios. Such policies are to be implemented online (e.g., similar to ECMS in automotive) and fed to low-level controllers. To this end, Model Predictive Control (MPC) algorithms will also be investigated. For this position, knowledge and demonstrated experience with optimal control, MPC and optimization tools (such as CasADi, IPOPT and Yalmip) will be preferred.

These positions are part of a joint interdisciplinary Horizon Europe project between the Control Systems Technology section in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at TU/e, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Cranfield University, Università degli Studi di Genova, Safran and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. During the project, the candidates will have opportunities to mentor students at many levels and take part in international scientific events.

Job requirements

Talented, enthusiastic, and open-minded candidates with excellent analytical and communication skills are encouraged to apply. An MSc degree in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Cybernetics, or a related discipline is required, as well as a strong background in control engineering, programming, and system modelling and identification. Experience and interest in aerospace propulsion systems, model predictive control, and/or numerical optimization are of advantage.

Conditions of employment

A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we offer you:

  • Full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after nine months. You will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks.
  • Salary and benefits (such as a pension scheme, paid pregnancy and maternity leave, partially paid parental leave) in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2,770 max. €3,539).
  • A year-end bonus of 8.3% and annual vacation pay of 8%.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • An allowance for commuting, working from home and internet costs.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.

Information and application

About us

Eindhoven University of Technology is an internationally top-ranking university in the Netherlands that combines scientific curiosity with a hands-on attitude. Our spirit of collaboration translates into an open culture and a top-five position in collaborating with advanced industries. Fundamental knowledge enables us to design solutions for the highly complex problems of today and tomorrow. 

Curious to hear more about what it’s like as a PhD candidate at TU/e? Please view the video.


Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more?More information on the project can be obtained from Dr. M. Salazar, e-mail: m.r.u.salazar[at]

Visit our website for more information about the application process or the conditions of employment. You can also contact HR Services, e-mail HRServices.Gemini[at]

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We invite you to submit a complete application by using the apply button.
The application should include a:

  • A cover letter (stating personal goal and research interests connecting to one or more of the topics defined above, and an expressed preference for one of the two positions);
  • A complete Curriculum Vitae including a list of publications and contact information of three reference persons.

We do not respond to applications that are sent to us in any other form. Both national and international applications for these positions are appreciated. The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Promising candidates will be contacted by email.

We look forward to receiving your application and will screen it as soon as possible. The vacancy will remain open until the position is filled.