Graduate students


Pierre Balty joined the iMMC/TFL in 2019 after obtaining his MS. in Mechanical Engineering at UCLouvain. His PhD thesis focuses on the development of new numerical frameworks that interface multi-resolution discretization, immersed interfaced method and efficient elliptic solver. Those methods are implemented in a High Performance Computing context and the impact of hardware accelerators on their performances will be investigated.

Caroline Bernier is working on a project in between Robotics and Fluid Mechanics that aims at the design of robust and efficient biomimetic swimming agents. The approach used to tackle the problem distinguishes itself from a broad body of work by a unique combination of multi-disciplinary tools: (i) high-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics to simulate self-propelled swimmers; (ii) compliant actuators to generate energy-efficient force-controlled patterns; (iii) oscillator-based coordination to distribute the computational load within a biologically inspired controller; and (iv) advanced optimization algorithm to calibrate the control schemes for a large variety of gaits. Different and complementary swimming gaits will be investigated, like energy-efficient or fast. Using compliant actuators will allow the swimmer to sense the fluid reactions being useful for its propulsion and exploit energy storage in the elastic deformations of the actuator.

Philippe Billuart is working on the development of a new numerical solver that will be able to solve accurately and efficiently any low Mach number external flows. His research is focusing on the hybrid Eulerian-Lagrangian solvers for the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. Those approaches are based on the decomposition of the computational domain: an Eulerian grid-based solver is used for the computation of the near-wall region, while a Lagrangian vortex method solves the wake region. Even though the coupling of particle methods with Eulerian solvers is not new, only 3D weak coupling were developed so far. This thesis aims to develop a 3D strong coupling; i.e. a coupling where the Schwarz iterations are not longer required to ensure consistent boundary conditions on each subdomain. As the Schwarz algorithm becomes expensive in 3D, the computational gain in the developed approach should be very significant.

Mathieu Calero obtained his master in Applied mathematics called "Maths en action" at the University of Claude Bernard (Lyon) in 2018. He then spent one year teaching mathematics and science in France. He is working on the mathematical modelling and numerical simulation of turbulent flows involving electrically charged fluids.

Denis-Gabriel Caprace is working on the numerical computation of wake flows applied to helicopter aerodynamics and formation flight for commercial aircraft. He uses Large Eddy Simulation to analyze the decay of wakes over large downstream distances, using statistics and dedicated metrics. Title of research project: Comprehensive Wake Simulation for the Analysis of Vortex Interactions with Flexible Devices: application to Rotorcraft and Formation Flying Aircraft.

Martin Colla Martin Colla graduated in 2018 as a bio-engineer at Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULiège) with a double degree from Cranfield University (UK) in Renewable Energy Technologies. During his master thesis at Cranfield University, Martin has worked on the Key Performance Indicators for energy projects to highlight their strengths, weaknesses and interconnections, in order to build a holistic approach & comparison of projects considering the economic, physical, social & environmental aspects. Then Martin worked as Market Intelligence Officer for Bioenergy Europe, the European association promoting bioenergy. His tasks consisted in elaborating energy analysis reports helping promoting bioenergy within the energy transition and supporting the policy team of the association with technical analyses.
During his PhD thesis, Martin is focusing on the technical and economic analyses of synthetic fuels derived from biomass, considering life cycle assessment and including uncertainty qualifications.

Victor Colognesi is working on the numerical simulation of bird flight. The flight kinematics is obtained via an optimization of the bird’s movement in order to reach an optimal flight regime considering both biomechanical and aerodynamic factors. This study will lead to a deeper understanding of the principles underlying avian flight and might lead to the discovering of flight regimes different from those of actual birds, if we use different mechanical properties for the compliance and actuation of the skeleton. The obtained mechanical and aerodynamic models can then be used to perform simulations of a flock of birds and to investigate the self-organization of such a group in order to reach a global optimum in efficiency.

Marion Coquelet She obtained her Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Faculté Polytechnique of the University of Mons. She joined TFL in September 2018 and is currently doing a joint PhD at UCLouvain and UMONS.

Nicolas Coudou focus his research on the meandering phenomenon in wind turbine wakes. The aim of his project is to determine the onset conditions of this phenomenon and its characteristics using a combination of advanced experimental and numerical tools. The numerical study is performed with UCLouvain and UMONS while the experimental part is carried out at the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics. Nicolas’ PhD thesis is supervised by Prof. Laurent Bricteux (UMONS), Prof. Philippe Chatelain (UCLouvain), and Prof. Jeroen van Beeck (VKI) and is funded by the “Fonds pour la Formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture” (FRIA), Belgium.

Romain Debroeyer obtained his Master's Degree in Electromechanical Engineering at UCLouvain in 2019. He then joined iMMC/TFL as a PhD student and teaching assistant. His research focuses on the development and implementation of wall models for Large-Eddy Simulations (LES) with the objective of performing high fidelity LES of supersonic ejectors. This will allow to better understand the flow patterns and unsteady phenomena occurring in those devices.

Ali Diane is working on the optimal management of the gas supply of a dual-fuel engine coupled to a batch biomass gasification plant. In this engine, Diesel is the pilot fuel and syngas the main fuel. An experimental bench will be developed to carry out tests in Burkina Faso on the gas quality requirements. This bench will be used on the one hand with synthesis gas (propane) and on the other hand, under real conditions, with gas produced with a batch reactor. Preliminary simulations with the Open SMOKE software coupled with a model of the dual-fuel combustion will help to prepare the experimental plan by characterising the behaviour of the gas produced by the batch reactor and estimate the fraction of Diesel needed to burn it. The strong experimental component of this study, supported by modeling and simulations, will make a lasting contribution to the development of decentralized low power generation based on the gasification of agricultural residues in rural areas of west Africa.

Bruno Dias

Denis Dumoulin obtained a Master of Aerospace Engineering at Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (Toulouse, France) in 2017 and a Master of Artificial Intelligence at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2018. He then joined iMMC/TFL to work on the WakeOpColl project as a PhD student. His contribution to this enterprise is the development of single flow agents model-free learning techniques (e.g., deep policy gradients) for loads alleviation and sensorless flow characterization.

Elise Dupont is working on the link between energy availability and accessibility and economic growth. To do so, she studies the concept of Energy Return on Investment (EROI), which is the ratio of the energy that is produced by an energy conversion device throughout its lifetime to all the energy inputs that were invested from the extraction of raw materials to the end-of-life treatment of the facility. It is the best indicator to assess the quality and sustainability of an energy project, without any economic distorsion. Easy access to high EROI resources allowed our modern societies to develop their economic activities. However, even taking into account the technological progress, the amount of high EROI resources is decreasing because: (i) EROI of fossil fuels is declining over time, (ii) renewable alternatives have lower EROIs than traditional fossil fuels and (iii) EROI of renewable alternatives is declining with their spatial expansion. She is developing a methodology to estimate the dynamic function for the evolution of the EROI of different renewable energy sources (wind, solar and biomass) with the cumulated annual production, in order to be able to accurately estimate the evolution of the EROI of the future energy system.

Angelos Gaitanis

Victoria Hamtiaux obtained her Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2019 at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain). She is working on the modelling and the numerical computation of 3D turbulent convection in domains with immersed porous structures. The motivation for her study comes from the need for improved understanding of convection and boiling phenomena that occur during a Loss of Cooling Accident (LOCA) in spent fuel pools of nuclear power stations.

Baptiste Hardy obtained is MS. in Chemical Engineering from UCLouvain in 2017, with main interests in transport phenomena, fluid mechanics, multiphase and reactive flows modeling. He started his PhD. in October 2017 under the supervision of Pr. J. De Wilde and Pr. G. Winckelmans, funded by an FNRS research grant.
The goal of this project is to perform Particle-Resolved Direct Numerical Simulations (PR-DNS) of reacting gas-solid flows to gain insight about the interfacial and intra-particle mass, heat and momentum transfer mechanisms.
Gas-solid flows are encountered in numerous natural and industrial phenomena, among which fluidized bed reactors are the most well-known application.
The simulation of such equipment at a large scale is traditionally performed using Two Fluid or Discrete Elements models.
Yet, those models rely on closure relations, often derived from empirical procedures. Lately, the increase of computational capabilities has made PR-DNS a powerful tool to extract physics-based closure models from dilute to dense regime. In this thesis, a Brinkman Penalization method to model the solid phase is coupled to the weakly compressible form of the Navier-Stokes equations in order to assess the impact of density fluctuations on the predicted transfer laws. Various scenarios classically encountered in reaction engineering are investigated (surface or volume reaction, catalytic or solid phase reaction… ).

William Andrew Hay obtained his masters in Chemical Engineering at the University of Sheffield in 2011. He then spent 5 years working in the UK and France for Electricite de France (EDF) in the field of nuclear thermal-hydraulics where he carried out Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) studies in natural convection flows and Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS). He joined iMMC/TFL in January 2017 to develop mathematical models for natural convection phenomena in Spent Fuel Pools in the event of Loss-of-Cooling Accidents.

David Henneaux obtained a Master of Mechanical Engineering in 2017 at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) and a Post-Graduate Master in Fluid Dynamics at the von Karman Institute (VKI) in 2018. He started a joint PhD at UCL and VKI in September 2018 on the development of high-fidelity numerical methods for the ablation of space debris during atmospheric entry. The many space debris mitigation projects currently under study require an accurate prediction of the degradation of these objects when they re-enter the atmosphere in order to comply with the severe safety requirements. The models used so far to tackle this problem rely on simplified correlations which do not allow to gain insight into the complex flow phenomena taking place near the surface of the debris. The objective of the project is to simulate in an unified and accurate way the degradation process which involves the presence of three phases: the hot gas surrounding the object, its solid surface and a liquid molten layer in between the two. The methods to study this multiphase situation with phase transformations will be developed in the Cenaero’s multi-physics Argo platform based on a discontinuous Galerkin discretization.

Maxime Lejeune joined the iMMC/TFL in 2018 after obtaining a master degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Université Catholique de Louvain. His PhD thesis is part of the broader WakeOpColl project: Learning and collective intelligence for optimized operations in wake flow. His work focuses on the development of smarter wind farms using Multi Agent Systems to enhance the collaborative behavior of wind-turbines. In term, this aims at achieving higher efficiency together with extended lifespan of the wind-turbines.

Gauthier Limpens is working on the devlopment of a model about electricity energy demand and supply for different future country scenarios with high penetration of Renewable Energy. The aim of the study is to analyse for a country or continent how to implement storage and compute Renewable Energy potential. The model will be able to optimise production & storage location in a model where transmissions lines and electrical consumption are hourly taken into account. This model will implement Gaz networks and Heat networks in order to modelise the whole country energy consumption. Before starting his PhD, he worked in aeronautic industries on Fluid mechanics topics (Rockets & lubrification engines). He decided to come back to Energy because he is convinced that a Europe will face a lot of challenges.

Jimmy Martin

Pietro Pagani

Maxime Pochet is pursuing a PhD thesis on the combustion of the simple fuels that are hydrogen, ammonia, methane and methanol, or mixing thereof. His work focuses on HCCI engines operated in CHP mode and able to switch from one fuel to another while ensuring maximum efficiency and very low pollution. The methodology used is a combination of 0-Dimensional simulations and experiments. This project takes place in the framework of the FREE project (Flexible eneRgy vEctors of the futurE) : renewable-electricity storage into clean-fuels made from water, air and carbon dioxide capture. Maxime is a FRIA fellow and he is doing a joint PhD between UCL and VUB.

Ignace Ransquin I started my PhD at the iMMC/TFL in September 2018 after obtaining a master in electro mechanics at the Université Catholique de Louvain, and a master in Aerospace Engineering at the Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace (Toulouse, France). In the frame of the WakeOpColl project, my research focuses on the development of collaborative controllers using Multi Agent Systems algorithms, allowing flow agents (e.g. aircraft) to manoeuvre in a flow, and pilot their behavior with the purpose of optimizing predefined global objectives (e.g. range, energy saving).

Anouk Riffard obtained a double master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at SeaTech engineering school (University of Toulon, France) and in Subsea Enginnering at Cranfield University (UK). She joined iMMC/TFL in January 2019 as a PhD student and teaching assistant. She is working under the supervision of Pr. M.V. Papalexandris on numerical modeling and simulation of granular materials with application to sediment mobilization and transport. Her research focuses on the submerged granular column collapse and the influence of aspect ratio and initial packing as well as the formation and evolution of mobile dunes.

Xavier Rixhon followed the double degree program TIME. This allowed him to be graduated as electro-mechanical/energy engineer from UCLouvain and aerospace engineer from ISAE Supaero, in Toulouse. After more than two years as design engineer in the lubrication equipment department at Safran Aero Boosters, Xavier decided to shift his career to a more energy-transition oriented topic.

Xavier's thesis consists, on one hand, in integrating electro- & synthetic energy carriers into the Belgian energy system model in order to answer the question “How much liquid and gaseous energy carriers do we need to feed the Belgian energy system during and after the transition?” On the other hand, to take into account the variability of model input and parameters, uncertainties qualification/characterization will help to get a robust optimization of the energy system.

Arnaud Rouanet joined iMMC/TFL in January 2020 to pursue a PhD thesis in the field of biomass gasification. His research work focuses on experimental and numerical investigations of wood gasification using steam as alternative gasifying agent, on a pilot two-stage fixed bed downdraft gasifier, as part of the FEDER project ENERBIO. After graduating from UCL in 2015, he worked for 4 years in various industries before returning to the academic world.

Sara Spano Sara Spanò has obtained her Master's Degree in mechanical engineering at Politecnico di Milano with a numerical thesis concerning the Selective Catalytic Reduction system functioning. In June 2020 she joined the BEST project for a PhD hosted by UCLouvain. The PhD activity research is focused on the use of e-fuels in stationary HCCI engines.

Constantin Sula His researchproject is the modeling and simulation of turbulent reactivemultiphase flows. The project is based upon the application ofbio-based fuels in combustion devices. Focus of the research is thefuel injection and combustion process in engines.

Davide Tonelli After his bachelor formation as mechanical engineer at the University of Genoa, Davide decided to develop an international profile and focus his career in the energy field by joining the Master in Energy Science and Technology at ETH Zurich. During his internship in the R&D Department of a gas turbine manufacturer, he gained full awareness of how the energy transition is shaping the demand of low carbon-intensive technologies for power production. From this experience he decided to commit himself in research to support the definition of the European energy system across the energy transition.

Davide joined the BEST project in June 2020 with a PhD jointly hosted by UCLouvain and ULB. His research will focus on a techno-economic analysis of the electro-fuels penetration in the Belgian and the European energy system.

François Trigaux is working on the fluid structure interaction of large wind turbines. Its PhD is part of the PhairywinD project funded by the energy transition fund in collaboration with all belgian universities. His goal is to capture the unsteady aerodynamics of a deforming turbines by combining large eddy simulation with a finite element structural solver. The interface between the fluid and the solid computation is handled by an advanced actuator line method that quickly but precisely generates loads and wake effects. This work will provide deeper insight into the unsteady loads acting on a rotor and could lead to an improved design and control.

Laetitia Zoungrana performs her Phd at 2iE institute in Burkina Faso in collaboration with the iMMC at UCLouvain. Her work focuses on the thermal design of a gasification reactor adapted to West Africa conditions. Parameters such as thermal stresses, potential heat losses and energy efficiency will be studied in order to set up a reactor with an optimal lifetime. This study will also take into account the thermochemical modeling of rice husk biomass during gasification. This modeling will be done with Aspen plus software to predict the performance of a local fuel in a gasification process. The final aim of the work will be to set up an inexpensive prototype that can easily be manufactured by local craft welders.