PhD Position Optimized Composite Material Design for Liquid Hydrogen Tank Under Mechanical and Thermo-mechanical Load

PhD Position Optimized Composite Material Design for Liquid Hydrogen Tank Under Mechanical and Thermo-mechanical Load

Published Deadline Location
2 Feb 19 Mar Delft

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Contribute to sustainable aviation by furthering the understanding of the thermo-mechanical response of composite pressure vessels for hydrogen storage in an international research cluster.

Job description

Composite Pressure Vessels (CPV) are well suited for hydrogen storage of next-generation sustainable aircraft. In this project, we will look at the filament-wound composite shell of the CPV. The project will focus on the tailoring of thermo-mechanical properties of a hydrogen storage tank for cryogenic working conditions using variable stiffness filament winding architectures. The novelty of the research will be the tailoring of thermo-elastic response of filament-wound composite structures to optimize the gravimetric efficiency of CPVs for hydrogen storage. This requires the prediction of the stress state and failure of the laminate factoring in residual stresses of the manufacturing process and thermal stresses under cryogenic (working) conditions, which need specifically developed analysis tools. Thermal stresses and different failure phenomena including failure of the vessel under cryogenic conditions will be considered in the model. Physics-based modelling approaches are being chosen in a finite element analysis framework. After validating the thermal stresses and resulting displacements for a flat plate, the complete composite pressure vessel will be modelled. The developed analysis method will be used to tailor the thermo- mechanical response of the laminate to alleviate the thermal stresses and strains.

Tasks of the project are:

  • Modelling of thermo-elastic effects (a predictive model shall be developed in this phase considering appropriate thermal modelling and analysis. Corresponding failure criteria need to be investigated and selected to evaluate the tank safety)
  • Application of thermal modelling to composite LH2 tank (the models, which are tailored for the cryogenic conditions need to be adapted for the geometry of the LH2 tank)
  • Optimization/Tailoring framework for LH2 tank optimization (the optimisation framework will be set up with the spatial distribution of the fibre angles as design variables. For a set of different aspect ratios, scales and maximum allowable working pressures, a weight optimization will be performed keeping the amount of load cycles fixed.)
  • Publishing research results in scientific journals and at international conferences 


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • You are enthusiastic about composite materials and have in-depth knowledge of their analysis methods
  • You have extensive experience in the field of finite element methods
  • Experience with composite manufacturing is a plus, but not required
  • You have a university degree in engineering with above-average grades
  • You are a team player and independent, solution-oriented and structured
  • You are proficient in the English language and are comfortable working in an international research environment
  • You are confident in discussing your work with colleagues and presenting your work to others.

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 Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

This study will be performed as a joint project at TU Braunschweig and TU Delft. The PhD research will take 48 months in total. The PhD candidate will spend the first one and half years of the project at the Institute of Aircraft Design and Lightweight Structures (IFL) at TU Braunschweig. The final two and half years of the project will be spent at the Aerospace Structures & Materials Department of TU Delft, The Netherlands.

The entry date is as soon as possible. For all doctoral researchers of the cluster, an active participation in SE2A's own qualification programme is mandatory, the time effort for this training measure entails 10% of the working time. International applicants may have to complete a visa process successfully before hiring can take place. Applications from international scientists are welcome. The Cluster SE2A aims to increase the share of women in academic positions. Applications from female candidates are very welcome. Where candidates have equal qualifications, preference will be given to female applicants. Candidates with handicaps will be preferred if equally qualified. 

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 € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 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 sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Adviceto assist you with your relocation.


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 values and we actively engage 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 andclose 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, governmentsand industry, both aerospace and non-aerospace. Working in field labs and innovation hubs on our university campus and beyond. 

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


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03455


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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