The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Khalifa University is offering a range of exciting research projects linked to the latest developments in aerospace technology. These research projects will be supervised by academics with expertise in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including aircraft structures, materials science, flight dynamics, aircraft design and aerospace propulsion.
The projects are offered at both Master’s and PhD leveland many will involve collaboration with local industry. To underpin this research, the Department is investing in state-of-the-art research equipment, such as advanced testing machines, manufacturing equipment and modeling software.
Why not join us and be a part of shaping the future of aerospace engineering in the UAE?
Contact: Dr. S. Balawi or Dr. Wesley Cantwell
Given that the empty weight of and aircraft is approximately 50% that of its maximum take-off weight, there are growing demands to reduce the mass of critical structural components, such as the fuselage, wings and tailplane. Current research on aerospace structures at KU is investigating new lightweight designs that can out-perform existing components. Here, new types of sandwich structure are being developed that offer similar properties to existing structures, but are much lighter. Examples include all-composite sandwich structures in which both the skins and the core aremanufactured from high-performance composites, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics. These are some of the lightest designs that currently existand they are likely to lead to significant changes in the performance of the next generation of both civil and military aircraft. Attempts are also being made to model the behavior of these structures and to predict their operational lifespan.
Contact: Dr. Rehan Umer
Composite materials are being used in ever greater amounts in the manufacture of aircraft structures. For example, the Boeing 787 is largely produced from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Faced with the challenge of manufacturing large composite components at low cost, engineers are looking for new and novel ways to produce them. Researchers at KU are investigating new routes for manufacturing lightweight structures, such as resin infusion, out of autoclave processing and automated fiber placement. These techniques enable components to be manufactured very quickly and precisely, keeping costs down whilst driving performance up. There remain many hurdles that have to be overcome, such as understanding how the processing parameters affect the properties of the finished component. Work is also underway to predict how the materials within the composite will behave during the processing cycle. Here, finite element techniques are being used to enable engineers to design the next generation of Composite structures with greater confidence.
Contact: Dr. Kin Liao
Recent exciting developments in the area of nanotechnology will soon offer engineers the possibility of building ultrahigh performance aircraft starting at the atomic scale . The resulting structures will be incredibly strongand very light (for example graphene is more than one hundred times stronger than steel). Researchers at Khalifa University are introducing carbon nanotubes into conventional composite materials in order to improve their toughness and to make them more resistant to impact and fatigue loading. Techniques are also being developed to ensure that the carbon nanotubes are evenly dispersed throughout the composite, avoiding the occurrence of unwanted aggregations or grouping of these nanometer-sized tubes. Future research will consider effective ways to manufacture nano-composites and also investigate ways to fully benefit from the enormous potential offered by these amazing materials.
Damage in Structural Aerospace
Contact: Dr. Mohammad Alshudeifat
Heavy duty rotordynamic systems are used extensively in different real life applications. They are the main equipment in aircraft engines and the power generation field. Steam turbines, gas turbines, compressors, pumps and generators are examples of rotor machinery systems. Early phase damage detection in these systems is of considerable interest in the research for protecting human and equipment. Extensive research work is being done to develop efficient techniques for detecting fatigue crack damage in its early phase. Here at KUSTAR, we will be investigating this topic in close collaboration with the aerospace industry. In addition, the application of the nonlinear energy sinks (NESs) in aircraft structures will also be investigated An NES is a lightweight device that passively absorbs and rapidly dissipates a considerable portion of the initial shock energy induced into the aircraft winglets which prevents destructive vibration amplitudes to occur. We also aim here in KUSTAR to investigate more efficient designs of the NESs.
Computational Aerodynamics / Fluid
Contact: Dr. Kursat Kara
The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques has revolutionized the process of aerodynamic design. CFD enables engineers to analyze the aerodynamic performance of complex design concepts and optimize parameters for improved performance. CFD results are then validated against wind tunnel measurements. In the1980s, for example, Boeing designed and tested around 80 wings during the development of a new airplane, without the use of CFD. Since the 1990s, the use of CFD has increased more than 60 fold, reducing the previous figure of 80 to just 10. Researchers at KU are working on problems, such flow separation control and hypersonic boundary layer transition using CFD. Under heavy winds, or at a high angle of attack, airflow cannot follow the surface of wind turbine blade and separates. Flow separation is an unsteady phenomenon and causes alternating aerodynamic forces , which can become destructive. As a result, the turbine has to be stopped. Currently, we are investigating flow control concepts to control flow separation and alleviate load fluctuations. This will increase the efficiency and extend the lifespan of wind turbines.
Miniature Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Contact: Dr. Guowei Cai
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have experienced a rapid development over the last three to four decades. They are now used in a wide range of defense- and civilian-related areas, such as remote surveillance, infrastructure monitoring, and victim rescue. As a result of their unique advantages (e.g., low cost, reduced size, high agility), UAVs are currently attracting significant attention. At KU, we are actively exploring the potential of miniature UAVs. A series of key cutting-edge research projects are underway, including: 1) aerodynamics and flight dynamics modeling, 2) automatic control system design, 3) multi-sensor-based navigation, 4) multi-UAV cooperation in indoor and outdoor environments, 5) unconventional UAV designs. We have established strong collaboration with a number of UAE companies and are aiming to convert our research to a comprehensive solution for various UAV-required missions. This research aligns with the strategic requirements of the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan on key factors including Energy, Aviation, and Defense.
Contact: Dr. Ashraf Alkhateeb
Combustion is a dominant power source around the globe, e.g. the United Arab Emirates generates 99% of its energy through combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Enhancing the Emirate’s energy security to meet future demand via optimizing the Emirate’s oil and gas resources is one the principles of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. There is a need to both improve the energy efficiency of our engines and reduce pollution from fuels. Such improvements critically depend on our ability to understand, predict, and accurately model detailed combustion events. In KU, we are focusing on obtaining a deeper understanding of the chemical dynamics inside engines, We believe that better predictions of reactive flows will help to increase the efficient use of fuels, reduce polluting byproducts, and assist in the development of alternative fuel sources. We are also focusing on the development of an accurate and rational algorithm to reduce the computational cost of simulating combustion processes.
These are an outline some of the research areas that are being investigated at Khalifa University. If you are interested, please contact the relevant member of staff in order to get more information.