4 PhD positions in Aerodynamic Performance Assesment and Enhancement of Flettner Rotors for Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion – Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) – Delft

  • Delft

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

In response to this challenge, TU Delft recently launched a multi-disciplinary, interfaculty research program on Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion (WASP) focusing on three research themes: 1) Fluid dynamics, 2) Design and operation, and 3) Sustainable and societal impact. In the fluid dynamics theme, 4 PhD projects are open to study rotor-sails fundamental flow physics (project 1 and 2), flow control performance enhancement (project 3), and multi-rotor/ship-rotor interactions (project 4). We are a young, international and diverse team within the Faculties of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. We approach problems in a horizontal “team spirit” and continuously traverse boundaries between theory, simulations, and experiments towards understanding and controlling fluid flows. We strive for a co-creative and stimulating environment where you can develop further skills as a scientist, team member and teacher. We place great emphasis on a collegial working environment where everyone is welcome and encouraged to shape a stimulating and impactful PhD track. In addition, given the multi-disciplinary nature of wind-assisted technologies, your research will contribute to other projects on different themes within the WASP program. An overview of the PhD projects is given below.

PhD project 1: Rotor sail flow under quasi-static and dynamic conditions

This project focuses on both the quasi-static and dynamic flow behaviour. A central facet is identifying numerically and experimentally how the various flow and rotor parameters relevant to full-scale operation are affected by the Reynolds number range from lab- to full-scale conditions, atmospheric turbulence, and inflow angle. Findings of what fundamental flow physics drive the loads and performance of the rotors are informative for Project 3 and Project 4.

PhD project 2: Experimental research of scaled rotor sail flow under static conditions

This project is a physical twin to Project 1, strongly emphasising the experimental study of representative, scaled rotor flow under static conditions. A central facet is identifying the critical scaling parameters, their effect on studying the fundamental flow physics, and how full-scale operating conditions can be simulated experimentally. Findings of the boundary layer and separation characteristics of the flow over the rotor’s cylindrical surface are informative for Project 3. Results are also essential for Project 1 to validate numerical modelling frameworks. Finally, the findings on the unsteady flow phenomena, separation and 3D rotor-tip effects are fed into Project 4 to further address to what degree the single rotor flow physics will interact in multi-rotor/rotor-ship configurations.

PhD project 3: Modified rotor sail design and flow control for performance enhancement

This project explores a range of local and global methods to enhance the aerodynamic performance of rotor sails using flow control techniques. The project will take a combination of fundamental and applied directions. Findings of improvements in aerodynamic performance resulting from flow control will feed back to Project 2 for low-fidelity modelling of rotor performance and Project 4 for multi-rotor interactions.

PhD project 4 : Aerodynamics of multi-rotor sails and ship interactions

This project focuses on the flow physics of multiple rotors. The focus is on studying rotor and wake interactions of the ship, rotors, and its environment. The project combines numerical and experimental techniques to understand their flow field. The results will guide the development of a low-fidelity wake model to predict their performance.


  • 32—38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • Delft
  • Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • An M.Sc. degree with a focus in fluid mechanics (e.g., aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, or applied physics).
  • An aptitude for working in a team and excellent communication skills in spoken and written English.
  • Fundamental knowledge of fluid mechanics, viscous fluid flows.
  • Strong mathematical and analytical skills; knowledge of physics and mechanical design is an asset.
  • For projects 1 and 4 strong affinity with (and background in) numerical techniques (e.g. RANS, LES).
  • For project 2, 3 and 4 strong affinity with (and background in) experimental techniques (e.g. PIV, HWA) and wind tunnel testing.
  • Affinity with data processing techniques and programming.
  • Hands on with lab-work, skilled in experimental design and hardware construction (projects 2, 3 and 4)
  • Creativity, assertive attitude, and perseverance.
  • The selection process will start immediately; the intended start date is in the fall of 2024 but is subject to discussion.

    Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the .

    Conditions of employment

    Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

    Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

    Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

    The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

    For international applicants, TU Delft has the . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


    Delft University of Technology

    Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

    At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core and we actively to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

    Challenge. Change. Impact!


    Faculty Aerospace Engineering

    The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology is one of the world’s most highly ranked (and most comprehensive) research, education and innovation communities devoted entirely to aerospace engineering. More than 200 science staff, around 270 PhD candidates and close to 3000 BSc and MSc students apply aerospace engineering disciplines to address the global societal challenges that threaten us today, climate change without doubt being the most important. Our focal subjects: sustainable aerospace, big data and artificial intelligence, bio-inspired engineering and smart instruments and systems. Working at the faculty means working together. With partners in other faculties, knowledge institutes, governments and industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

    Click to go to the website of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering.

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