KU Leuven

Performance prediction of open cathode fuel cells in UAS flying under variable weather conditions

2024-06-14 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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M-Group of KU Leuven is a research team performing ground-breaking work in mechatronic systems and energy. It consists of 8 professors from 3 departments and counts more than 70 members. The group is situated in a brand-new KU Leuven campus in Bruges, a vibrant historic city in the North of Belgium. The M-Group focusses, amongst others, on sustainable hybrid propulsion systems for drones, with specific interest in hydrogen fuel cells.
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Unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) progressively become key in modern society. They are used in various domains such as surveillance, logistics, maintenance, and communication, both on- and offshore. For extended missions, UAS cannot rely on batteries alone because of the restricted energy density associated with this technology. Rather, when sustainable flights are desired, hydrogen can be employed combined with fuel cells. Having a dependable fuel cell system in UAS is paramount, especially in critical applications or in populated areas.


The PhD project focusses on the study and analysis of a hybrid propulsion system using a fuel cell in medical drones. The performance of the fuel cell must be assessed in a variety of operation conditions and predicted according to forecasted flight conditions. This involves consulting various online data-sources and decision-making.


You are a dynamic and passionate problem-solver. You can work independently but also in a multidisciplinary team consisting of knowledge institutes and industry.


The candidate:

  • Holds a master’s degree in Engineering Sciences or Engineering Technology, preferably in Aeronautics or Electromechanics.
  • Has adequate communication skills and can present the obtained results competently and comprehensively in research team meetings, conferences, and peer-reviewed journals.  Preferably, you have given presentations at conferences or published articles in high-impact journals.
  • Is flexible and has good time management skills.
  • Can work autonomously and maintains good interactions with the co/supervisors.
  • Has the necessary skills to successfully study aircraft design and performance, electrochemistry, fluid mechanics and data communication.
  • Helps in the organisation of workshops and other events.
  • Frequently reports the progress of the conducted research to the co/supervisors.
  • Is willing to engage in teaching assignments.
  • Wants to travel within Belgium or abroad to assist in meetings, execute tests or conduct measurements if such appears necessary.

Advantages strengthening the candidate’s profile, but not explicitly required:

  • Knowledge of machine learning, Python or MATLAB programming.
  • Having published as (co-)author in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Earlier expertise gained as an academic research assistant or as a research engineer in industry.


  • A competitive remuneration package in line with the industry standards of Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and an excellent health system.
  • A young and dynamic work environment where human contacts and professionalism are very important
  • You will work in the historical city of Bruges, in the heart of Europe. Bruges is at 1h from Brussels by train, with a direct link to the international airport "Brussels National".
  • Become part of a top-ranking university within a multi-disciplinary team made of knowledge institutes and industry.
  • The opportunity to pursue a PhD degree in Engineering Technology, a trajectory that typically takes 4 years, in a young and dynamic research team. You will be given a 1-year contract. Financing for the subsequent 3 years must be obtained through successfully participating in competitive funding.

Other working conditions can be found at https://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/en/phd/phd-information


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Frank Buysschaert, tel.: +32 50 66 49 61, mail: frank.buysschaert@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir. Hans Hallez, tel.: +32 50 66 48 38, mail: hans.hallez@kuleuven.be.

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

Performance prediction of open cathode fuel cells in UAS flying under variable weather conditions
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-06-14 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-06-14 23:59 (CET)
Job type
Save job

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About the employer

KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

Visit the employer page