Skip to main content

Postgraduate research project

The Internal Condensation Engine for power generation from low temperature waste heat

Competition funded
View fees and funding
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

About 7 terawatt hours per year could be generated in the UK from low temperature waste heat and steam (80° to 15° Celsius), which accounts for 40% of all waste heat production. This energy resource is mostly unused, since there is no cost-effective heat engine for this temperature range. Existing technology, mostly the Organic Rankine Cycle systems, are complex and they use refrigerants as working fluids which can have greenhouse warming potential.

The Newcomen engine is the oldest steam engine. It is an atmospheric engine where the steam is condensed and the arising vacuum, or rather the atmospheric pressure acting from the outside, drives the engine. Its operating temperature is 100° Celsius, which makes it suitable for waste heat recovery. However, its efficiency is very low so that is considered of historic interest only. Recent theoretical work at Southampton University has however shown that a new geometry, combined with the use of plastic as material for cylinder and piston, can increase the efficiency significantly. This opens up the possibility to develop a very simple and cost-effective heat engine for low temperature waste heat.

In this PhD project you will investigate and develop the Internal Condensation Engine as a simple and cost effective heat engine for low temperature waste heat.

As part of this, you will:

  • use theoretical numerical and experimental methods to analyse and improve the cycle
  • help develop new components such as rotary valves to allow for increased efficiency
  • help build and test a bench scale technology demonstrator to assess the actual performance and compare it with theoretical predictions
Back to top