The research in Engineering at Salford is diverse and covers a wide range of engineering subjects. We excel in a number of strategic areas of leading edge research in mechanical, electrical, civil and aeronautical engineering. Core members of the group are well known experts in their areas of research both nationally and internationally. Many of the academic members were returned in the REF2014 (research excellence framework) and their research output and impact on society were ranked highly in the assessment.
The Control and Systems Engineering (CASE) brings together a wealth of expertise that covers broad areas of advanced control and system engineering, and the core academic members of staff are internationally recognized researchers. Our philosophy for research is to seek not only theoretical advances in the related subjects, but also to explore innovative concepts and novel ideas for practical applications. Research is well funded, with support from EPSRC, TSB, DoH, MoD, Royal Society, European Commission, as well as excellent links with and direct funding from industry.
Our research excellence means that we have not only the highest calibre academics but also the first class facilities to support the leading edge research projects for both post-graduate studies and post-doctoral research.
Expertise & Research Areas
Engineering research in the School of Computing, Science & Engineering is performed in four areas:
small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) research projects
The group carries out all forms of research activities to do with civilian fixed wing sUAS performing low altitude long endurance (LALE) missions in non-segregated airspace. The activities are multi-disciplinary in nature, and involve the combination of control, smart material active actuation and aero and thermodynamics. The current projects of interest include, but are not limited to as follows:
- Hybrid air vehicles
The group is looking at the flight dynamics and control of aerofoil shaped, inflatable wing hybrid air vehicles for low altitude ultra-long endurance (LAuLE) civilian unmanned systems. These are not lighter than air vehicles and have only a buoyancy assist capability from the gas enclosed within the structure. Due to the external structure being non-rigid, they may not have an exact aerofoil shape. Using advanced control and smart material actuation, the objective of this research track is to enhance the performance and robustness of such platforms.
- Collision avoidance
The main thrust of our research is collision avoidance of our fixed wing civilian sUAS for non-cooperative flying platforms as part of civilian air traffic management (AMT). We consider all form of hazards to UAVs such as balloons, gliders, parachutists and light aircraft without electronic collision detect and avoid systems. This to address a void left by current collision avoidance algorithms which focus more on multirotors, geofencing, fixed obstacle avoidance and cooperative (formation flight) collision avoidance, which has less stringent constraints in terms of eventual embedded applications.
- Optimisation of dynamic soaring
We intend to combine morphing wing technology for dynamic soaring flight profiles for LALE operations. This track involves simulation, wind tunnel and open air investigative test for active control morphing wings which can optimise dynamic soaring flight profiles.
- Fuel sloshing in sUAS
Most LALE fixed wing sUAS would carry a very high fuel load fraction which can result in sloshing of fuel in the fuel tanks. This in turn can result in a number of dynamic disturbances. Data from larger civilian aircraft are very often not applicable for sUAS due to a differing performance envelope. This track requires the investigator to be multi-disciplinary in areas of solid-fluid interaction and embedded control theory.
- Small IC engine efficiency
In collaboration with our gas and petroleum department, we are investigating the efficiency and environmental impact of sUAS engines. The objective is to carry out complete parametric study of commercial-off-the –shelf COTS engines currently designed for large hobby aeromodels and tune them for efficient and environmentally friendly LALE operations. Areas include combustion efficiency of propulsion systems, after market fuel injection control and alternative fuel utilisation.
- Quasi-3D aerodynamic modelling
The aerodynamic performance of fixed wing sUAS can be determined using either Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) or low-fidelity models such as the Lifting-Line Theory (LLT) or the Vortex Lattice Method (VLM). The CFD approach gives accurate results at the cost of very high computational time, while the low-fidelity models provide immediate results at the cost of reduced accuracy. This research track aims to bridge the gap between the two approaches, by combining the low-fidelity models with 2D aerofoil results (experimental or CFD) into quasi-3D aerodynamic models.
- sUAS design optimisation
We intend to maximize the performance of LALE designs by aerodynamically optimising the lifting surfaces to achieve the highest possible lift-to-drag ratios at a given sUAS mass. This research track involves aerofoil modification and/or design, iterative wing design using optimisation algorithms, the use of morphing wing technology to actively modify the wing shape as function of the flight conditions.
Some of our project examples
Wayne Yu Wang
Tumula Devi Prasad
Wang Jinyan (civil)
Anwar Beg (Fluid and Modelling)
Andy Williams (FE and Composite)
Victoria Myroniuk (System and Maintenance Aircraft)
Aeronautical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering laboratory facilities
This lab is used to understand material behaviour under different loading conditions and contains a tensile test machine and static loading experiments. Typical laboratory sessions would include tensile testing of materials and investigation into the bending and buckling behaviour of beams.
Dynamic vibration experiments can also be carried out as there are a whole range of actuators which are available for dynamic excitation of rigid structures. The lab also houses work carried out for morphing wing experiments related to flight dynamics. Actuators which can be embedded into the skin of aircraft wings include one-way and two-way shaped memory alloys (SMAs) and Macro Fibre Composites (MFC) actuators.
There are available a wide variety of wind tunnels ranging from subsonic to supersonic. Tests are carried out on scale models for items such as wing sections, as well as larger objects such as parts of motor cars. Scale models of buildings built to architects designs can be used to assess wind loading, wind-induced structural vibration, the wind environment around buildings, and pollution dispersion. Full size items can be tested such as roofing materials, vents and wind turbines. The lab contains the following facilities:
*Environmental Tunnel – open ended, working section 2140 mm x 1530 mm x 10000 mm, velocity up to 10 m/sec, Models 1/50 or 1/100 scale.
* Number 1 Wind Tunnel – closed return, working section 850 mm x 1150 mm, velocity up to 36 m/sec. Six component beam balance with electrical read out from load cells.
*Number 2 Wind Tunnel – open ended, working section 850 mm x 1150 mm, velocity up to 30 m/sec. Six component weight beam balance.
*Number 3 Gust Tunnel – open ended, working section 450 mm x 450 mm, velocity up to 36 m/sec.
* Small Supersonic Wind Tunnel – working section 100 mm x 100 mm x 250 mm, Max 1.8 Mach, max pressure up to 10 bar, Schlieren optical system, mirror dia 100 mm.
*Low Speed Tunnel – working section 100 mm x 100 mm, constant speeds fan with tapered or sudden expansion diffusers.
In addition to the force balances within the test section, flow visualisation equipment are also available such as a Dantec Dynamics Particle Image Velocimetry, hot wire anemometry and smoke generators to complement tuft and paint visualisation techniques.
Composite material lab
This lab contains wet lay-up and pre-preg facilities for fabrication of composite material test sections. Fabric available includes glass fibre (all forms from chopped stand mat to fine and coarse weave), carbon fibre and Kevlar based fabric. Autoclave, vacuum bagging and mould making facilities are also available on site.
Rapid Prototyping facilities
The department houses a variety of equipment for rapid prototyping and reverse engineering. There are 3 standard 3D printers, a large 3D printer with 1m X 1m X 1m working space, a coordinate measuring machine with 9 axis measurement for enclosed space measurement of parts and a laser cutter. In addition, a CNC styro hot wire foam cutter to produce foam cores to 5m length also exists to complete our suit of in-house fabrication capability.
Control and dynamics lab
The lab contains embedded control equipment such as Arduino and Pixhawk based autopilot systems, telemetry units for flight dynamics, thermal and infra-red cameras, and LIDAR systems. The laboratory also houses the unmanned aerial systems facilities for fixed wing sUAS platforms such as Bormatech Vamp and Pixlar battery operated platforms.
Together with the Gas and Petroleum section, it carries out studies and analysis for performance upgrades of two and four stroke IC engines using after-market EFI control for sUAS platforms.
In addition, it houses the MP520-T Merlin engineering aircraft simulator.
Merlin MP520-T Engineering Simulator
This simulator is used to support engineering design modules that involve aerodynamics and control systems by giving a more practical experience of aircraft design than a traditional theory and laboratory approach. Students design and input their own aircraft parameters into the simulator before then assessing the flight characteristics.
The simulator is a fully-enclosed single seat capsule mounted on a moving 2-degree of freedom platform which incorporates cockpit controls, integrated main head-up display and two secondary instrumentation display panels.
It is capable of simulating a whole range of aircraft types include jet trainers, piston engine aircraft, hybrid airships, UAVs and commercial airliners.
An external instructor console also accompanies the simulator and is equipped with a comprehensive set of displays, override facilities and a two-way voice link to the pilot.
Head of Research Group (Engineering)
Professor TX Mei
Tel: (0044) 0161 295 3715