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  1. Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering
  2. Research
  3. Thermo-Fluids
About City

Thermo-Fluids Research Centre

The TFRC is an internationally leading centre in fundamental and applied research in fluid flow, heat and mass transfer and fluid-structure interactions

About the Centre

The TFRC is committed to interdisciplinary research methods needed for understanding the intrinsic physical phenomena in thermo- and fluid flow processes, as realised from molecular/nano- to macro-scales and their wide range of engineering applications addressing global challenges such as energy efficiency, emissions reduction and bio-engineering applications aiming towards improving well-being.

The centre computational and analytical tools and experimental facilities are devoted to conducting research in a range of applications from micro-scale devices to waste heat recovery, renewable energy systems, compressors, turbines, fuels and additives technology for a wide range of combustion engines, electrification technologies and various hydraulic/lubrication fluids and systems. Application areas included power generation, transport, oil and gas, marine, food and health.

Advanced optical, laser and X-ray diagnostic techniques are assisting in the development of computational mechanics software for turbulent compressible and incompressible flows incorporating real-fluid thermodynamics. Heat and mass transfer, phase-change, fluid-structure interactions and complex chemical processes are addressed. Research is conducted in collaboration with global centres of excellence and relevant industry.

Research Areas

The TFRC research areas are conducted experimentally and numerically and can be categorised under the following themes:

Experiments for for quantifying physical phenomena from nano- to meso- & macro-scales and their wide range of application:

  • Advanced optical, laser and X-ray diagnostic techniques
  • Gas turbines, compressors and expanders, fuel and hydraulic systems, fuel sprays for IC engines, propellers
  • Organic Rankine Cycles and supercritical carbon dioxide cycles
  • Microfluidics and nanofluidics

Development of in-house computational mechanics multi-phase & multi-physics and design and analysis codes:

  • Turbulent, compressible/incompressible flows
  • Real-fluid thermodynamics, elastic, plastic and soft materials
  • Heat and sass transfer & phase-change
  • Fluid-structure interactions
  • Chemical processes
  • Turbomachinery analysis and design tools for ideal and non-ideal fluids


A number of well-equipped test cells operate in the centre. Expertise exists in flow optical and laser diagnostics, instrumentation and design. Equipment/techniques available include: RIM, LDV, PDA, SPIV, PLIF, LIEF, LE and LSD, Yag and Excimer lasers, numerous high speed cameras for shadowgraphy/Schlieren imaging, LIF-based lubricant film diagnostic system, fourier transform infrared analyser, fast-response FID Hydrocarbon, CO, CO2, and NOx analysers, transparent fuel nozzles, dynamic balancing machine for high speed shafts, high speed air motor drive (100,000 rpm), high speed motor drives (20 kW, 50,000 rpm), instrumented marine propellers and ultrasound system for erosion studies. Moreover, the Centre has exclusive use to PC clusters with more 1000cores, utilised for parallel CFD simulations.

Screw Compressor test laboratory

The screw compressor laboratory has three test rigs:

  1. Oil-injected air Screw Compressor test rig with variable frequency motor of 75kW, maximum air flow of 15 m3/min and maximum pressure up to 14 bar. The test rig meets CAGI and PNEUROP test standards where the testing procedures are carried out according to ISO 1706. The rig is certified by Lloyd’s register.
  2. Oil-free test rig for screw compressors up to 4 bar discharge pressure and discharge temperatures up to 225 deg C. The test rig allows classic performance testing and LDV testing of flows in the suction of oil free compressors.
  3. The Optical Roots blower test rig is used for study of leakage flows in narrow gaps in rotating machinery using LDV, PIV and high speed camera.Screw Co

Refrigeration and ORC test laboratory for compressors, expanders and turbines

The expander test facility is a modified vapour-compression system with partial cooling/condensation using modern refrigerants. This test facility can replicate typical operating conditions within an ORC system, and will be used to conduct experiments on two-phase expansion using twin-screw expanders.

Micro Gas Turbine Test rig

City has developed a state-of-the-art test facility for micro gas turbines and compressor and turbine characterisation. The test facility includes a high-pressure air supply, shop air, cooling water, combustion system, programmable electrical loading and an array of instrumentation with data acquisition and processing tools.

High Speed Linear Cascade Rig

A new high speed linear cascade test rig is available and can be utilised in the City Transonic Wind Tunnel. The rig is instrumented with PIV system, Infrared Camera and multi-hole probes. With modular design of the test section, various aerofoil profiles could be tested over a wide range of Mach and Reynolds numbers.

Research Projects

Ongoing Projects

PICo-IFunder Project TtileDescriptionStart/End

Prof. Abdulnaser Sayma

Prof. Ahmed Kovacevic, Dr Matthew Read


NextORC – Fundamental studies on organic Rankine cycle expanders


The over-arching aim of this project is to improve the understanding of ORC expander design and off-design performance through developing, and validating, suitable tools to accurately predict design point and off-design performance of ORC systems. This will be achieved by targeting research towards five objectives:

*improve the fundamental understanding of design point scaling and off-design performance of supersonic turbines operating with non-ideal gases, and develop improved performance models;

*improve the fundamental understanding of the performance of screw expanders during two-phase expansion and to develop improved screw expander performance models;

*to upgrade an existing experimental test facility to enable the characterisation of loss mechanisms present within ORC expanders and provide validation of performance models and CFD codes;

*to understand how single and cascaded systems, comprising of both turbine and screw expanders, operate under different heat source conditions and with different working fluids;

to identify system configurations that can operate over a range of operating conditions and provide the best compromise between design and off-design performance, and system cost.

May 2017

Apr 2021

Prof. Abdulnaser Sayma

Dr Martin White


SCARABEUS - Supercritical carbon dioxide/alternative fluid blends for efficiency upgrade of solar power


City is leading the turbomachinery work package of the SCARABEUS project. The project aims to demonstrate that the application of supercritical CO2 blends to concentrated-solar power plants has the potential to reduce CAPEX by 30% and OPEX by 35% with respect to state-of-the-art steam cycles, thus exceeding the reduction achievable with standard supercritical CO2 technology. This translated into a levelized cost of electricity lower than 96 €/MWh, which is 30% lower than currently possible.

As the leader of work package 3, the team at City is focussing on the design of the turbomachinery components for the SCARABEUS project. The objectives are:

*to develop innovative turbomachinery designs that can operate with high efficiency across the range of anticipated variable operating conditions;

*to provide data to enable accurate calculations of cycle performance and costing of the proposed plant;

*to identify a suitable pump for the system.

Apr 2019

Mar 2023

Dr Martin White


Next generation waste-heat recovery systems based on two-phase expansion

The generation of power from waste heat using organic Rankine cycles (ORC) could be enhanced by up to 30% through two-phase expansion. However, this has not been successfully realised due to a lack of two-phase expanders. Dr White’s RAEng Research Fellowship seeks to explore the design of two-phase turbomachinery for this application through a combination of numerical and experimental investigations of two-phase expansion processes, and system optimisation of thermodynamic systems involving two-phase expansion. The ultimate aim of this research is to develop fundamental understanding, alongside advanced modelling and simulated methods, of the two-phase expansion of unconventional working fluids, and to investigate the concept at a laboratory scale.

Sep 2020

Aug 2024

Prof. AbdulNaser Sayma

Dr Jafar Al Zaili


NextMGT- Next Generation of Micros Gas Turbines for High Efficiency, Low Emissions and Fuel Flexibility


The overarching aim of this multidisciplinary, inter-sectoral project aims to train fifteen outstanding early stage researchers to be ready to meet the challenges in the field of micro gas turbine technology, economics, policy and regulations in addition to industrial and interdisciplinary training to contribute to realising the impact on the society and their career prospects.

Jan 2020

Dec 2023

Prof. Abdulnaser Sayma

Prof. Manolis Gavaises, Dr Mathew Read, Dr Martin White


SCOTWOHR – Industrial waste heat recovery using supercritical carbon dioxide cycles

Increased pressure on reducing the carbon footprint from energy intensive industry with substantial waste heat streams is leading to the need to develop efficient and cost-effective waste heat recovery technologies. Supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) systems have significant potential for these applications, but there remain significant technical challenges that need to be overcome in relation to the key system components. The focus of this project is to improve the fundamental understanding of the performance sCO2 cycles and the design aspects of the key components, through targeting the following objectives:

*to identify the optimal cycle configuration for sCO2 power systems with power outputs of a few hundred kilowatts for WHR applications (~ 400-800 °C) based on multi-objective techno-economic optimisation accounting for design and off-design operation with variable or intermittent heat stream;

*to explore design innovations for small-scale sCO2 turbomachines that can extend beyond current state-of-the-art operating conditions, and improve fundamental understanding of condensation, non- ideal gas effects, and stability of sCO2 compressors operating near the critical point;

*to investigate innovative heat exchanger designs, materials and fabrication methods for different cycle configurations and develop heat exchangers for direct high temperature (up to 800 °C) waste heat to supercritical fluid heat recovery;

*to characterise the transient operation of small-scale sCO2 power systems operating at design and off-design conditions with variable or intermittent heat streams and identify suitable real-time control strategies to maximise system performance across a wide range of operating conditions.

Jan 2021

Dec 2023

News and Events

Latest News



Upcoming Events

Previous Seminars and Events

16-17th September 2020: NextMGT First Workshop

The first workshop for the NextMGT project was hosted by City via Zoom for the 15 Early Stage Researchers on 16 and 17 September 2020. The two-day event included several talks, social activities, and sessions by experts in the field. The ESRs got an overview of the project, were introduced to nicro gas turbines, and received valuable information on integral transferable skills through sessions delivered by internal City staff and external speakers from other institutions.

10th September 2020: TFRC Poster Competition

Given that many PhD students within the Thermo-Fluids Research Centre have missed opportunities to attend conferences and events this year due to the current Coronavirus situation, an online poster competition for all was held during the week 7-11th September 2020 in the aim  of discussig their research with other members of the centre.During the event, the posters were made available online where a voting system was set up. 12 posters were presented, with the winner getting a prize of £150 and the two highly commended posters receiving a prize of £75 each. An online social event followed the prize-giving ceremony.

14-15th December 2017: 1st European Micro Gas Turbine Forum (EMGTF)

The first European Micro Gas Turbine Forum (EMGTF) was held at City, University of London on the 14th and 15th of December 2017. The meeting was co-organised by City, University of London and University of Seville.

The European Micro Gas Turbine Forum is an initiative launched to foster the commercial deployment of micro gas turbines by setting the scenario where all stakeholders have a platform to share knowledge and experience, collaborate and discuss a roadmap to move the technology forward. The main objective is thus to make fast progress that would otherwise not be possible under business as usual scenario.

10-13th September 2017: International Conference on Compressors and their Systems

9-10th September 2017: Short course on CFD in rotary positive displacement machines

Short course on CFD in rotary positive displacement machines

29th June 2017: Short course on cavitation in fuel systems and medical ultrasound

Short course on cavitation in fuel systems and medical ultrasound

27-28th June 2017: The 5th Cavitation Workshop

  • Professor Manolis Gavaises
    (Head of Research Centre for Thermo-Fluids)
    t: +44 (0)20 7040 8115
    Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB