Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


Student in a lab

Applied Aerodynamics Research Group

The Group currently consists of around 50 people including academic, research, administrative and technical staff.

The high level aim of the group is to carry out both experimental and computational research that leads to an enhanced understanding of industrially relevant aeronautical and automotive flow problems

Within the group there are several research activity areas:

The Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Combustion System Aerothermal Processes represents a strong strategic partnership between academia and industry. Lead by Professor Jon Carrotte the UTC team consists of approximately 40 people including academic staff members, post- and pre-doctoral researchers, full-time administrative staff and dedicated technicians. The core aim of research conducted within the Loughborough UTC is to use experimental and computational techniques to understand the complex aerodynamic processes occurring within gas turbine combustion systems and other related engine components. Ultimately the research enables Rolls-Royce plc. (and the UK aero engine industry) to develop new and improved gas turbines engines that will meet future economic and environmental targets.

Research in Experimental Aerodynamics is carried within the group to understand many important areas of aerodynamics. These include unsteady automotive aerodynamics, the aerodynamics of aircraft damaged in battle, active flow control and sports ball aerodynamics.

Members of the applied aero group are also working in the Programme for Simulation Innovation (PSi) with Jaguar Land Rover to develop new methods to simulate real-world vehicle aerodynamics (including the unsteady motion of the vehicle as well as the air) and surface contamination by dirt. This work involves development of computer simulation tools and also experimental work needed to ensure the accuracy of these simulations.

High Speed Nozzle and Plume Studies

There is continued interest in the development of jet plumes from non-axisymmetric nozzles (in which increased mixing rates can be achieved), motivated by noise reduction in civil applications and reduced IR signature for military applications. An experimental investigation is undertaken of underexpanded supersonic jet plumes discharged from a rectangular nozzle and interacting with an extended shelf attached to the lower nozzle wall. Schlieren visualisation and LDA measurements are used to capture the plume development. Read more »

Aerodynamics of Battle Damage to Lightweight UAV Structures

This project aims; To develop a technique to predict the effects of multi-hole damage on the lift, drag and pitching moment coefficients of a wing. To provide detailed flow field measurements of single and multi-hole damage. To explain how the flow field around multi-hole damage results in the measured effects on lift, drag and pitching moment coefficients. Read More »

The Application of Active Flow Control to Three Dimensional Automotive Flows

This project aims to apply active flow control techniques to three dimensional automotive flows with the aim of reducing the aerodynamic drag and Carbon emissions. The use of active flow control techniques is being persued as they allow flowfield manipulation without changes to body geometries, effectly enabling the decoupling of a bodies aerodynamic performance from its geometric form. This requires the quantification, experimentally, of the flowfield generated by a simplified scale notchback model in Loughborough University’s quarter scale wind tunnel, enabling the form of the flowfield, its constituant structures and their temporal behaviours to be understood. Read more »

Combustion System Aerodynamics

The continual drive for reduced fuel burn and reduced emissions is a key activity in gas turbine research. The UTC invests significant time and effort into the study of fundamental aero-thermal processes for individual components. It is also essential to understand the whole combustion systems where components and processes interact. Low speed, isothermal, but still system representative test rigs are used to measure the flow development and distribution throughout the combustion system. Importantly this provides total pressure loss data which is invaluable to the design process of gas turbines. Read more »

Compressor-Combustor and Combustor-Turbine Interactions

The aerodynamic interfaces between the combustion system and the adjacent compressor and turbine are important areas of research. For example, the complex flow field issuing from a high pressure compressor can significantly influence the aerodynamic performance of the downstream combustions system. The Loughborough UTC had undertaken significant experimental and computational research aimed at improving the compressor - combustor interface. This research has led to the development of new, novel and integrated designs. Work is also being undertaken to allow specialised CFD codes for the combustor and turbomachinery to be used together in a coupled calculation. Read more »

Fuel Injector and Two-phase Flows

Gas turbine fuel injection is a notoriously challenging problem. The UTC is simultaneously developing numerical and experimental techniques to improve understanding of the aerodynamic and hydrodynamic behaviour. Amongst other activities the recent commissioning of a unique refractive index matched facility now enables PIV measurements to be made within the complex geometry of the fuel injector. With the ability to experimentally measure internal flows previously inaccessible this significantly aids in the validation of numerical simulations and predictions. To simulate the complex breakup of liquid fuel into a spray, a CFD code has been developed for directly simulating the interface of fuel droplets and air using a hybrid of the Volume of Fluid (VoF) and Level-Set approaches. Read more »


The interaction of the unsteady aerodynamic flow field with pressure fluctuations generated by unsteady heat release within the combustion system is important area as it can give rise to damaging instabilities. A range of experimental and numerical projects are being undertaken to investigate the aero-acoustic phenomena that are relevant to current and future gas turbine combustion systems. A high intensity noise generator is used to subject components to oncoming acoustics waves in order to measure their response. CFD based methods are being developed in conjunction with this which incorporate the correct aero acoustic boundary conditions necessary to model complex systems. Read more »

Heat Transfer and Cooling

Current heat transfer research activities within the UTC are focused on the development of novel combustor cooling designs, which exploit manufacturing techniques such as direct laser deposition (DLD). Typical tests involve creating large scale segments of the combustor liner using DLD from specific materials with appropriate thermal properties. This enables accurate scaling of both thermal and aerodynamic conditions in a low temperature lab environment. Read more »

CFD Methods Development and Validation

The complex aerodynamic environment in the combustion system presents CFD with significant challenges. Indeed a single modelling approach is not applicable across the broad range of flow physics. Consequently hybrid techniques are being developed which allow coupling of different turbulence models and flow solvers across different components. Methods are also being developed to simulate combusting and multiphase flows. Read more »

Real world vehicle aerodynamics (PSi)

Traditionally CFD simulations of the flow around road vehicles are performed assuming that the vehicle body does not move. In reality the body will move due to the suspension. The flow and body movement can interact, this is known as ‘flow-structure interaction’ or FSI. This project is aiming to include this phenomenon into computer simulations in order to predict and understand the real world behaviour of vehicles in motion.

Surface Contamination (PSi)

Dirt and water from road spray is a serious problem for vehicle manufacturers. Dirt or water on windscreens or rear facing cameras for example can be a significant safety hazard due to reduced visibility. This project aims to develop new computational techniques to predict where dirt or water will collect on the vehicle and its behaviour once there. Experimental work is also being carried out as part of this project so that any predictive tools are based on solid empirical evidence.

  • Wind tunnels; 1.9 x 1.3m working section tunnel with maximum speed 45m/s and 0.45 x 0.45m working section tunnel with maximum speed 37 m/s. Balance, pressure scanning and laser PIV facilities available in both wind tunnels

  • UTC experimental facilities include; jet nozzle test facility, fully annular combustor aerodynamic test rigs, high and low intensity noise generators for aeroacoustic experimental work, refractive index matching facility (used to study flow within complex geometries by using a transparent material of the same refractive index as the working fluid), heat transfer and cooling test facilities and two-phase test facilities. A range of flow measurement techniques are available for use in these facilities as well as instrument calibration test facilities. Read more»

  • Computing facilities. The group has access to High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities on which large simulations can be run on many processors simultaneously. The university’s 1956 processor ‘Hydra’ machine and the 3008 processor HPC-Midlands facility


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