Abigail Berhane, Sofia Medina Cassillas (both from cohort 1 of the Future Propulsion and Power CDT) and Manuela Sisti (from cohort 5 of the Gas Turbine in Aerodynamics CDT) are three of the latest recipients of the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International, a $10,000 USD prize awarded annually to 35 women pursuing doctoral degrees in aerospace-related science and engineering.
Abigail is based at the Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge. Her research will investigate the impact of surface topography on the aerodynamic performance of aeroengine turbine blades. An improved understanding of the aerodynamic loss processes which contribute to the inefficiency of turbomachines is an important step in reducing the specific fuel consumption of gas-turbine aeroengines. Approximately one third of the loss generated within an aeroengine turbine is associated with the “aerodynamic friction” or “skin friction”, between the air flow and blade surfaces. The skin friction is strongly dependent on the topography (roughness) of the blade surface. For surfaces present in real turbines, the exact topographical aspect responsible for the rise in skin friction is unknown. A better understanding of how surface topography affects the development of the blade surface boundary layer is not only necessary for current designs but crucial for the successful implementation of novel materials and manufacturing processes.
Sofia is also based at the Whittle Laboratory. Her work will investigate the aerodynamics of the fan stage in a turbofan engine at windmill condition. Windmill occurs when power to the engine is cut off, for example due to damage or loss of the fan blades, leading to a highly unsteady and complex flow field in the fan stage. Investigating the windmill condition is particularly relevant in the context of future turbofan designs, which have lower fan pressure ratios and large fan diameters in order to improve efficiency. To achieve this, Sofia will use a combination of numerical simulations and experimental measurements in an engine-representative rig, with different sets of damaged and undamaged blades.
Manuela is based at the Osney Laboratory in Oxford. Her research focuses on heat transfer measurements in the high-pressure turbine of jet engines. This project will enhance our understanding of the physics behind the complex thermal fluid dynamics field typical of gas turbine engines. Furthermore, the measurement system being developed will provide high fidelity data. This is crucial in the design of novel cooling systems and ultimately more efficient and sustainable engines.
Congratulations to Abigail, Manuela and Sofia on this great achievement!