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Modelling of advanced aircraft thermal management systems

Academic lead
Dr Jon Summers, School of Mechanical Engineering
Industrial lead
Angus Murray and Steve Smith, BAE Systems
Dr Duncan Borman, School of Civil Engineering
Project themes
Microflows & heat transfer, Reacting flows, mixing and safety

Future advanced military aircraft face an appreciable technical challenge to design thermal management systems of adequate capacity within the available space and respecting special installation constraints (e.g. size, efficiency, thermal signatures, etc.). Various heat exchangers (HE) constitute key components within aircraft thermal management systems, and for certain of these the achieved heat transfer performance for a given size, and flexibility of physical shaping, have a strong determining effect on overall system performance and feasibility. This research will investigate and evaluate novel HE design for future military aircraft thermal management systems. The intention will be to identify and evaluate opportunities to significantly improve thermal management performance through novel HE designs. Numerical modelling and CFD (heat and fluid flow) approaches will be used to develop validated models of existing and conceptual HE designs. Experimental data from existing designs is likely to be available from BAE Systems for validation and verification purposes; along with expertise in novel HE design. The advanced HE design study should address a range of typical military aircraft heat exchangers. It is expected that the study will explore the physical features affecting the performance of HE at both a large design feature level and also down to very small features affecting fluid flows. HE containing one or two air (or refrigerant vapour) paths result in relatively large equipment resulting in potential installation difficulties. As such, these are a higher priority than liquid-liquid HE (which are generally compact enough not to cause problems). The project will involve working alongside BAE Systems and one of their specialist suppliers and will involve presenting research to teams from the company and producing regular reports. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, it is only suitable for UK nationals. Non-Disclosure Agreements will be required with the supplier and BAE Systems recognising the potential IP issues.