• Matthew Smith

  • Theme:Chemical Energy Converters
  • Project:Air handling system optimisation for Fuel cell applications
  • Supervisor: Richard Burke
  • Industry Partner: Cummins Turbo Technologies
  • The Gorgon's Head - Bath University Logo


Matthew recently received a Distinction in MSc Automotive Engineering from Coventry University after graduating with a First Class Honours in BEng Aerospace Technology in 2020. He has a devotion to his industrial and academic career, with experience in teaching assistance as a Student Proctor whilst studying at Coventry University, drawing on knowledge gained from a 1-year design internship in the automotive industry. He is particularly enthusiastic about the physical, mechanical, and thermal areas of automotive engineering, such as aerodynamics and propulsion.

In the fourth year of his bachelor's degree, his final project and supporting dissertation titled 'Parameterisation of a Glider Empennage' involved the use of CAD and MATLAB scripting to create a tool which creates aircraft tail designs using a set of input criteria, provided by the user of the tool. The following year, he finalised his master's degree in automotive engineering by revisiting aerodynamics in a project titled 'An Investigation into the Aerodynamic Characteristics of Bluff Bodies in a Vehicle Platoon', which provided numerical and experimental data on the effects of vehicle geometry on the aerodynamic performance of vehicles in close proximity. During his PhD, Matthew will apply his knowledge and experience of fluid dynamics, automotive design, and thermodynamics to the Chemical Energy Converters research theme at AAPS, whilst taking opportunities to revisit his passion for teaching.


  • I have been a sailor all my life, racing small sailboats at various inland and sea venues around the UK.
  • I love cooking and trying different cuisines, with Indian and Italian being my favourites.
  • Music is an essential part of my day (listening, playing, or writing if possible) and I love almost all genres: rock and alternative, funk and soul, electronic, hip-hip, classical. Although I struggle with opera.
  • I love learning the subjects I didn't do at school via YouTube, books, etc., such as psychology, music, and geography.

Air handling system optimisation for Fuel cell applications

Delivering zero emission heavy duty automotive applications is expected to involve the extensive use of fuel cells. Like traditional combustion engines, fuel cells require an air handling system to provide a pressurised flow of oxygen to react with the hydrogen fuel. However, the challenges presented by a fuel cell differ to those presented by traditional Diesel engines. On the one hand, the problem is simplified because there are no longer pulsating flows to deal with. However, there are new challenges caused by the need for oil free air and demanding temperature constraints. The fuel cell has a relatively high inlet pressure requirement combined with a relatively low inlet temperature requirement, which puts a high emphasis on the isentropic efficiency of the compressor. The exhaust from the fuel cell has much lower temperature than a Diesel engine, meaning there is not enough energy to drive the compressor alone, meaning there is a need to electrify the air handling system. These challenges present a number of new design variables which are yet to be fully understood by turbomachinery manufacturers.

Matthew's PhD, will be to establish a deep understanding of the air handling requirements for fuel cells in heavy duty applications. He will undertake a theoretical exercise into the fuel cell itself to fully understand its operating principles and air flow requirements and constraints and then look to match these constraints to air handling solutions, considering the breadth of possible configurations, including proposing his own novel configurations where appropriate.

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