Numerical investigation of the flow and structural deflections in advanced adaptable seals that operate in harsh environments within rotating machinery

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship in the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences at the University of Surrey. The candidate will conduct numerical investigations into the effect of highly swirling inlet flow and fluid structure interaction in adaptable shaft seals for rotating machinery including gas and steam turbines. Given the broad requirement for effective seals in industry, this technology has an important role to play in the journey to net-zero.

Start date

1 April 2022


4 years

Application deadline

Funding source

University of Surrey

Funding information

Annual stipend (£15,609 per annum in 2021-22) and UK fees covered.


The aim of this project is to investigate the flow and dynamic effects in advanced compliant seals and to propose improvements in the design which result in more robust sealing technologies and lower fuel burn. The project builds on previous work at Surrey that has developed computational models of the fluid flow and structural deflections, including the Surrey University Brush Seal Iterative Simulator (SUBSIS) mechanical model. You will use Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and SUBSIS to capture the coupled aerodynamic and structural behaviour of these seal types, and to be able to provide design insights that can inform future applications. The project will initially focus on inlet swirl and fluid-structure interaction, and means by which the inlet flow can be conditioned to mitigate the risk of flow-induced instability. The project will later consider the dynamic behaviour of adaptable seals under conditions of aerodynamic and transient shaft loading for two promising variants of seal.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work closely with supervisors Dr Michael Pekris and Professor John Chew, and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and within the Centre for Aerodynamics and Environmental Flow. There will also be opportunity to interact with collaborating partners at the University of Bath, Cross Manufacturing Ltd, and Rolls-Royce plc. The PhD studentship is offered as part of a wider EPSRC funded project entitled ‘Brush seal Resistance to Inlet Swirl and Transient Loading Effects (BRISTLE)’. This will deliver insight and understanding of important physical mechanisms that can lead to improvements in the state of the art, hence contributing a positive step towards achieving clean aviation and to meeting ambitious environmental targets by 2050.

To find out more about the supervisors for this project, please visit their pages online: Dr Michael PekrisProfessor John Chew.

Related links

View the School of Mechanical Engineering website View the Centre for Aerodynamics and Environmental Flow website

Eligibility criteria

  • Applicants should have a first class or a good upper second degree in engineering or a related subject. Experience in programming, or willingness to develop this skill, would be desirable
  • Have a IELTS test score (6.5 or above overall and at least 6 in writing) if English is not your first language
  • Available for UK students. 

How to apply

For informal enquiries prior to or following application submission please contact: Dr Michael Pekris.

For Enquiries on the application procedure please contact:

Formal applications should be submitted through our programme page:

Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application, and provide details of two referees.

The University of Surrey is committed to equality of opportunity in employment and offers many opportunities to help researchers develop as independent researchers.

Studentship FAQs

Read our studentship FAQs to find out more about applying and funding.

Application deadline

Contact details

Michael J Pekris
07 AB 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 689293

Studentships at Surrey

We have a wide range of studentship opportunities available.