School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering

The centre has a well-deserved international reputation in the area of power conversion. Highlights of the research outcomes include the following:

  • Better tools to identify Queensland's geothermal heat source
  • CO2 geothermal siphon concept to power future development in Queensland
  • Better power generators for low-temperature geothermal and other renewables
  • Advanced condenser technologies for thermal power plants
  • Metal-foam heat exchangers

Find out past grants and contract research

Turbomachinery and Cycle Modelling

Research Team

Program Leader

  • Ingo Jahn

Research Team

  • Michael Kearney
  • Hugh Russell
  • Juan Llobet

  • Kan Qin
  • Jianhui Qi
  • Joshua Keep
  • Viv Bone
  • Phil Swann
  • Mohsen Modirshanechi

Research Foci

Turbomachinery and Cycle Modelling

Ingo Jahn

Bio: Ingo Jahn joined UQ in 2012 as a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering within the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. He obtained a Master of Engineering Degree from the University of Oxford, UK in 2003, which was followed by a DPhil at the Turbomachinery laboratory at the University of Oxford. Between 2007 and 2012 Dr. Jahn was working for Rolls-Royce plc in the United Kingdom as a Specialist in Advanced Seals and as Research Technology Leader for Oil Systems.

Since 2014 Ingo has been leading turbomachinery research at UQ with the aim of advancing supercritical CO2 turbine technology and supercritical CO2 cycle configurations. His research is the development of simulation and design tools that allows the design of more efficient fluid-dynamic devices and to establish how to best integrate power cycles with electricity demand.

Projects: In addition to leading the turbomachinery and cycle design research group, Dr. Jahn is also active in the development of design software for cycle analysis, cycle components design, turbomachinery geometry generation and meshing, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). See for these software.

Michael Kearney

Bio: Michael Kearney joined UQ in 2012 as a lecturer in Mechatronic Engineering. He obtained a BE(Hons) and BSc from UQ in 2005, and a PhD in 2010 on Collision avoidance for mining excavators. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Melbourne from 2010-2012, working on the control of large-scale irrigation networks. His research is focused on the application of optimisation-based control techniques, primarily model predictive control, to industry application problems in mining and energy.

Project: Closed-loop control of power cycles. System level control of CST plants.

Juan Llobet

Bio: Juan R. Llobet obtained a master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Universidad Politecnica de Valencia in 2011, and a Research Master from Von Karman Institute in the department of Turbomachinery and Propulsion in 2012. Subsequently, he became a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland within the Centre for hypersonics, performing research in the field of air-breathing propulsion for access to space. After his PhD completion in 2017 (revisions pending) he started collaborating with the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence.

Project: Juan R. Llobet is participating in the design and commissioning of a new high pressure and high temperature wind tunnel for supercritical CO2 Turbine testing. This tunnel will extend UQ’s capabilities to test and advance turbines for supercritical CO2 cycles. These are expected to significantly improve efficiency and environmental sustainability of energy production, specially used in solar thermal power plants.

Kan Qin (PhD candidate)

Supervisors: Ingo Jahn, Peter Jacobs, Rowan Gollan

Bio: Kan Qin received his Bachelor and Master degree in Thermal Engineering from Northwestern Polytechnical University (Xi'an, China). He then started his PhD research in October, 2013 at The University of Queensland under the supervision of Dr. Ingo Jahn and Dr. Peter Jacobs. His research focuses on Multiphysics modelling of foil bearing operating with high pressure CO2.

Project: Foil bearings can enable different turbomachinery architecture. The use of the cycle’s working fluid within the bearings results in an oil-free and compact turbomachinery system. Using CO2 as the operating fluid for a foil bearing creates new operating and new modelling challenges. These include turbulent flow within the film, non-negligible inertia forces, high windage losses, non-ideal gas behaviour and reduced rotordynamic damping. Since the flow phenomena within foil bearings are complex, involving fluid flow, structural deformation and heat transfer, use of the conventional Reynolds equation to predict the performance of foil bearings might not be adequate.

Kan Qin PhD Project

To address these modelling issues, a multi-physics multi-timescale simulation tool including fluid, structure and thermal solvers was developed to predict the performance of foil bearings and to create insight on their operations with CO2. New flow physics and operation challenges for foil thrust bearings with CO2 were described.

Jianhui Qi (PhD candidate):

Supervisors: Ingo Jahn, Kamel Hooman

Bio: In October 2014, Jianhui joined the group as a research higher degree student (Ph.D. candidate). He obtained his Bachelor of Engineering in 2012 and Master of Engineering in 2015 from Shandong University, China. He has a background in energy and power engineering (specifically power plant engineering) and chemical engineering (clean combustion of biomass fuels). Now he researches the performance and characteristics of supercritical CO2 radial inflow turbines, which enable a more environmentally friendly power conversion.

Project: To better understand the performance of supercritical CO2 radial inflow turbines both low order 1-D and high fidelity 3-D CFD simulations are required. Using 1-D methods to generate candidate turbine geometries, using well-developed loss models new insight on the turbine design space has been generated. More recently I have developed a non-ideal gas, compressible flow Riemann solver in OpenFOAM, suitable for radial turbines. This solver is now being employed to perform detailed analysis of turbines operating with sCO2 and to develop advanced loss correlations to support preliminary design.

Jianhui Qi PhD Project
Joshua Keep (PhD candidate)

Supervisors: Ingo Jahn, Kamel Hooman

Bio: Joshua is a Chartered Engineer, and received his Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical and Space Engineering from UQ in 2010 graduating with first class honours. Following over 3 years in the Automotive Industry specialising in Turbocharger design, he returned to UQ in 2015.

Project: Joshua’s PhD research is focused on the design of radial inflow turbines operating with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) working fluid for concentrating solar thermal power applications. These machines are characterised by high density, high Reynolds flows coupled with small scale, which dictate alternative design requirements for turbomachinery when compared to conventional applications. Specifically, the research focus is on aerodynamic hot gas path design within turbomachinery.

Joshua Keep PhD Project

Viv Bone (PhD candidate)

Supervisors: Michael Kearney, Ingo Jahn

Bio: Viv Bone received his Bachelor of Engineering at The University of Queensland in 2014. He worked as a graduate project engineer at Ausenco before starting his PhD program in mid 2015.

Project: Viv’s work focuses on applying a model predictive control (MPC) to supercritical CO2 closed Brayton cycles (CBCs). This control methodology is expected to permit operation closer to equipment constraints, thereby increasing net cycle efficiency during transient operation and reducing response times to power output changes. To implement MPC, Viv is developing a 1D computationally efficient physics-based sCO2 CBC dynamic model with another PhD student, Tom Reddell. Viv is focused on two aspects of this cycle modelling project: (1) developing accurate real-gas heat exchanger models by incorporating experimental data into first-principles models using optimisation techniques and (2) developing appropriate control-oriented (computationally efficient and moderately accurate) heat exchanger models using model reduction techniques. He intends to use these control-oriented models to investigate the suitability of advanced MPC techniques, such as characteristic MPC, to control sCO2 CBCs. Additionally, Viv has co-authored a paper on short-term solar resource forecasting with a former undergraduate student, John Pidgeon.

Phil Swann (PhD candidate)

Supervisors: Ingo Jahn, Hugh Russell

Bio: Phillip Swann received his Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at The University of Queensland at the end of 2015. During his final year, he was an intern at the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence before starting his MPhil in early 2016 and has since upgraded to a PhD program from mid-2017. He has a keen interest in energy conversion and transportation.

Project: Phillip’s current research is focused on cooling systems with high Taylor number flows for supercritical CO2 turbines. He is currently working towards experimental validation of a heat transfer model for supercritical CO2 cooling systems which he presented at the AIAA conference in July 2017. In the future, he aims to understand the effect of the flow within cooling zones to enhance their performance and better manage heat flows within sCO2 turbine shafts.

Phil Swann PhD Project
Mohsen Modirshanechi (PhD candidate)

Supervisors: Kamel Hooman, Ingo Jahn

Bio: Mohsen has several years of industrial experience mostly in subway train industry. His main role involved investigation of air movement in subway tunnels while train passing through. He holds a Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering, specialised in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Project: As a PhD candidate at UQ turbomachinery research centre, his research area is mainly focused on investigating flow development in radial-inflow turbine at condition where using high-density organic fluid may lead to deviation of loss model from the prediction of conventional correlations.

In addition to CFD analysis of radial-inflow turbine, Mohsen is conducting an investigation leading to a new design space for the development of supercritical CO2 radial-inflow turbines working in Brayton cycle.

Mohsen Modirshanechi PhD Project

System Integration

Anand Veeraragavan

Bio: Dr Anand Veeraragavan joined the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering as a mechanical engineering lecturer in 2012. He is currently a mid-career Advance Queensland Research Fellow (Focusing on Scramjets) and the Program Leader for System Integration within RECCE.

Anand Veeraragavan graduated with a B.Tech in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) in 2002. He obtained his MS (2006) and PhD (2009) degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. His PhD research focused on understanding flame stabilization in microscale combustors.

After his research appointment on solar energy as a postdoctoral associate in the Device Research Lab at MIT on thermophotovoltaics and nanofluid based volumetric solar absorbers, he worked as a combustion technologist for GE Energy in the US. At GE, he worked primarily on designing the next generation, land based, heavy-duty, gas turbine engine combustors focusing on cost, operability, reliability and emissions and also completed his lean Six Sigma Greenbelt certification at GE.

Tom Reddell

Supervisors: Dr Anand Veeraragavan and Dr Simon Smart

Bio: Tom is a recent graduate of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics from The University of Queensland. He was awarded the 2015 Mechanical Engineering Mathematics prize for his honours thesis research on a miniature solar thermal storage device. He has also worked at the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence where he assisted in the technical design of advanced supercritical carbon dioxide power cycles.

Project:Tom commenced his PhD in 2016 in dual partnership with the Energy and Poverty Research Group and the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence. His research focuses on the detailed mathematical modelling and technical design of advanced scalable power cycles for renewable energy applications in off grid or energy poor regions. He is also interested in the technical and economic feasibility of developing nations utilizing locally produced biomass as a renewable energy fuel source in advanced power cycles.

Tom Reddell PhD Project fig 1
Tom Reddell PhD Project fig 2 Tom Reddell PhD Project fig 3
Sam Duniam

Supervisors: Dr Anand Veeraragavan

Bio: Sam completed his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at UQ in 2011. With two years of industry experience Sam returned to UQ and completed his MPhil, the subject of which was power cycle modelling and optimisation of organic Rankine cycles for Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) power plants. Sam commenced his PhD in Jan 2016 and his current work focuses on the off-design modelling of supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycles, and investigating various cycle cooling options.

Project:Off-Design modelling of the supercritical CO2 recompression Brayton cycle for concentrating solar thermal power generation

Sam Duniam PhD Project
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