Edited by: Jesse van Leeuwen

In September of 2020, the full scale propulsion team embarked on its journey with three team members: Sakariye, Daniel and Floris. Quickly they noticed that another team member was needed, and in November Sparsh joined to complement the team. Both Sparsh and Sakariye are currently in the progress of obtaining their master’s degree in the Flight Performance track at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering. Daniel and Floris are also very familiar with the aerospace faculty in Delft, with Daniel having finished his bachelor in Aerospace Engineering shortly before joining AeroDelft, and Floris still in the progress of obtaining his degree.

 

Tell us about your department!

Propulsion engineers at AeroDelft are essentially responsible for designing, integrating and testing everything related to hydrogen technology. This includes the H2 tanks where the hydrogen is stored and the fuel cell where hydrogen is converted into electrical current used by the electric motor to propel our aircraft! Because these systems are very complex, they also need a lot of components to support their operation. Therefore propulsion engineers work closely with partners to select and integrate these components that ensure a safe and sustainable flight of our aircraft.

What do you like most about your department?

The most exciting thing about being a propulsion engineer at AeroDelft is that you get to work on cutting edge technology that can have a real impact on the future of aviation. Everyone that joins the team is highly motivated to make aviation a cleaner industry and it is very captivating
to work on technology that we believe will be mainstream in the near future. Additionally, the relatively small team we have ensures that you are responsible for a lot of different systems. One day you might be working on the design of a cryogenic liquid hydrogen tank, while the next you are assessing the aircraft performance in terms of endurance and range. This means that you are able to develop your skills and knowledge in a lot of different areas.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a department?

Using hydrogen in aviation is very challenging as it is a new and cutting edge technology. There are not many standards yet and therefore adhering to certification requirements becomes much more difficult. Another level of complexity is added by the fact that we have to take into account the required modifications for not just GH2 flight but also for LH2 flight beforehand. This is to minimise the major modifications required down the line, when switching the system from former to the later. Furthermore, it often happens that initial ideas turn out to be wrong which requires the team to reiterate the design. However, it is very helpful to discuss your work with fellow propulsion engineers or team members from other departments. Getting another point of view on the problem can be very valuable and may result in finding a better solution. Additionally, we receive a lot of help from experts in the field, be it from professors, from the TU Delft or engineers at some of the leading companies in the hydrogen industry.

What are you as a department most looking forward to?

Whilst we are currently in the design phase of the propulsion system, it is expected that the testing phase for certain components will start soon as they have been outsourced. Seeing months of hard designing work being validated with tests and coming to fruition when we integrate it into the aeroplane is one of the best feelings you can get as an engineer. We can’t wait until we will first see our beautiful aircraft take to the skies and kickstart a new generation in aviation. Whilst there are still several mountains to climb before that happens, keeping the end goal in mind motivated us a lot.

 

What are we most proud of?

Being part of such a groundbreaking project is a matter of pride in itself. Moreover, it is hard not to be proud of being able to work with such an amazing group of people that put in tremendous amounts of work just to make an impact on the future of aviation. We have achieved so much in such a short span of time and are always amazed by the fact that it is us, who are laying down the base of the whole hydrogen propulsion system design for the teams to come.