Safety strategies and engineering solutions for hydrogen heavy-duty vehicles


Strategic political developments towards a low carbon economy enable practical implementation of zero-emission applications including hydrogen-fuelled heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) such as buses and trucks. The use of hydrogen in public transport implies stringent requirements of bus design. Not all knowledge gaps are closed to manufacture inherently safer  HDV transport, including double-deck buses. Industry and regulators have particular concerns about two aspects of HDV design that are considered critical for their successful roll-out: - development of refuelling protocol for heavy-duty vehicles capable to provide refuelling time comparable with modern fossil-fuel vehicles and yet not jeopardising the safety of onboard compressed hydrogen storage system (CHSS), and - fire-resistance rating of current CHSS, which may lead to their rupture in a fire with catastrophic consequences, i.e. blast wave, fireball and projectiles.

The project will critically review “old” and new hazards of HDV of different designs and sectors, i.e. buses and trucks. Existing prevention and mitigation safety strategies and engineering solutions, knowledge gaps and technological bottlenecks in the provision of safety of HDV will be identified and analysed.

The expected research outcomes may be in the form of:

- recommendations for the inherently safer design of HDV;

- fuelling protocol for different CHSS; - optimised safety design of CHSS using TPRD;

- safety design of CHSS based on self-venting TPRD-less containers.

It is envisaged that the research will rely on the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to study and optimise the heat and mass transfer during refuelling, the performance of CHSS in realistic fires of different intensity, including smouldering and impinging jet fires.

The successful candidate is expected to have a strong background in one of the following disciplines: mathematics, physics, chemistry, fluid dynamics, heat and mass transfer, combustion. Any previous experience of theoretical analysis and/or numerical studies is welcome. The research will be conducted at the HySAFER Centre. The candidate will focus on CFD modelling and numerical simulations, ‎use relevant software (ANSYS Fluent, FieldView, etc.) and the state-of-‎the-art computational resources – multi-processor workstations ‎available at HySAFER Centre and HPC facility available within EPSRC ‎KELVIN-2 project. This research will be aligned to HySAFER’s ‎externally funded projects and reported at international conferences. ‎Publication of results in peer-reviewed journals is expected.

Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship is available to UK, EU and overseas applicants.

Recommended reading

1. HM Government, UK Hydrogen strategy, August 2021, (accessed 15 December 2021)

2. HM Government, The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, (accessed 15 December 2021)

3. Molkov, V. Fundamentals of Hydrogen Safety, 2012, (assessed 15 December 2021).

4. Kashkarov S., Makarov D., Molkov V., Performance of hydrogen storage tanks of Type IV in a fire: Effect of the state of charge, Hydrogen, 2021, V.2(4), pp.386-398,

5. Molkov V., Dadashzadeh M., Kashkarov S., Makarov D., Performance of hydrogen storage tank with TPRD in an engulfing fire, Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2021, V.46(73), pp.36581-36597,

6. Kashkarov S., Li Z., Molkov V., Blast wave from a hydrogen tank rupture in a fire in the open: Hazard distance nomogram, Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 2020, V.45(3), pp.2429-2446,

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 28 February 2022

Interview Date
April 2022

Preferred student start date
Mid September 2022


Apply Online  

Contact supervisor

Dr Sergii Kashkarov

Other supervisors

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