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Funded PhD Opportunity

Prevention and Mitigation of Accidents with Hydrogen-powered Vehicles in Confined Space

Subject: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning


Hundreds of hydrogen-powered cars and buses are already operating on roads in different countries around the globe. They are parked at garages, maintenance shops, underground parking and pass tunnels and other partially confined spaces. Trucks are delivering hydrogen to refuelling stations. Their routes include tunnels. However, besides some rudimental activities, no dedicated research has been done on the prevention and mitigation of accidents involving hydrogen-powered vehicles in critical infrastructures, e.g. tunnels, garages and maintenance shops, car underground parking, etc. The specific hazards and associated risks of hydrogen vehicles use in tunnels are largely unknown and thus prevention and mitigation strategies are not developed or validated. Previous activities were mainly focussed on the fire scenarios with fossil fuels and did not address the hydrogen specific hazards, like pressure and thermal effects during accidents related with high pressure hydrogen storage.

Therefore, Regulations, Codes and Standards require a scientifically sound basis for the understanding of relevant safety aspects, validated engineering models and tools for reliable prediction of an accident dynamics in confined space, and development of innovative prevention and mitigation strategies and engineering solutions.

The main unresolved safety concerns include but are not limited to: what are requirements to hydrogen-powered vehicles entering confined structures such as tunnels, what are appropriate venting strategies for confined and congested space, what are hydrogen specific prevention and mitigation concepts to efficiently tackle hydrogen dispersion and combustion, would hydrogen pressure and thermal effects impact the integrity of tunnel structures, e.g. concrete spalling, how may an initiating event lead to devastating consequences through the domino effect, and how to prevent catastrophic rupture of a high-pressure hydrogen tank in a fire to eradicate any possibility of devastating blast waves and fireballs in these confined traffic infrastructures, which are generally perceived as hazardous sceneries per se. These knowledge gaps and technological bottlenecks in hydrogen safety hamper the further inherently safer deployment of hydrogen-powered vehicles, and the public acceptance of the technology.

Education in combustion and experience in CFD are welcome. The state-of-the-art software and hardware are available. HySAFER pursues a wide international collaboration strategy through national (EPSRC) and overseas (H2020) research projects.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 19 February 2018

Interview Date
12 March 2018

Contact supervisor

Professor Vladimir Molkov

Other supervisors


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