Summary

Hydrogen vehicles are being deployed as a part of the deep decarbonisation strategy nationally and internationally. These vehicles are expected to provide the same or better level of safety compared to fossil fuel vehicles. Use of gaseous hydrogen stored in composite pressure vessels at nominal working pressures 700 bar is the main solution for onboard hydrogen storage for light- and heavy-duty transport applications. Fire resistance rating (FRR) of modern composite tanks is about 4-6 minutes in gasoline fire. This low FRR makes rupture of such tanks a major safety concern in a case of thermally activated pressure relief device (TPRD) failure.  Blast wave and fireball following a high-pressure tank rupture in a fire represent serious pressure and thermal hazards threatening life and property losses.

Analysis of experimental data shows that a car deformation by the blast and its displacement from original location:

(1) expends significant fraction of mechanical energy of compressed hydrogen released instantaneously during tank rupture,

(2) presence of car over the tank intensifies hydrogen combustion and thus affects fireball dynamics due to higher turbulisation and mixing of released hydrogen under the vehicles. Thus, hazards analysis methods developed for the open atmosphere tank rupture, including Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models, are not perfectly applicable to assess hazards of onboard storage in real scenarios.

Accounting for vehicle deformation and displacement is essential to realistically predict pressure and thermal loads on humans and structures. This is typically done by using Finite Element Methods (FEM).

The project aims to develop a coupled CFD-FEM model applicable to analysis of realistic pressure and thermal loads after onboard tank rupture in a fire in a wide range of scenarios for variety of tank volumes, storage pressure, mounting position on a vehicle; vehicle location (open atmosphere, workshop, tunnel, etc.). ANSYS family of Fluid and Structure computational tools will be used as a platform for model development. Experimental data available in the literature and to be obtained in ongoing H2020 (FCH 2 JU) HyTunnel-CS project, coordinated by Ulster University will be used for the model validation. Outcomes of this project will inform regulators, OEMs, health and safety authorities, fire and rescue services about realistic hazards of potential fire accidents with hydrogen vehicles. The research results will feed development of engineering methodology to assess blast wave overpressure and fireball size in the event of catastrophic tank rupture and development of appropriate prevention and mitigation strategies.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,285 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University