Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Research Topics

Fluid Mechanics


Research Topics : Fluid Mechanics

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

The research group is since more than 35 year active in the field of CFD. This has also led to the creation of a spin-off company NUMECA Int.

Current CFD research focuses on algorithmic developments for schemes and solvers as well as Large Eddy Simulation and its application in different fields such as computational aeroacoustics, combustion, biological flows, sedimentation problems, etc. In the framework of RANS the focus is on non-deterministic methodologies based on polynomial chaos and on robust optimization.

Some recent Projects
  • Non-deterministic methods and robust optimization:
    • EUFORIA (Efficient Uncertainty Quantification For Optimization in Robust Design of Industrial Applications)
      Period: 1/3/2015 - 28/2/2019
      Financing: IWT Strategic Basic Research (SBO) project
    • UMRIDA (Uncertainty Management for Robust Industrial Design in Aeronautics)
      Period: 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2016
      Financing: EC FP7 Collaborative Project

  • Wind Energy:
    • Non-Deterministic Advanced CFD Modeling of Wind Turbine Wakes and their Interaction with Applications to Wind Farms Including Complex Terrain Effects
      Period: 1/1/2014 - 31/12/2017
      Financing: INNOVIRIS Doctiris PhD fellowship

  • Biological Flows:
  • Computational Aeroacoustics:
    • Uncertainty Quantification in Aeroacoustic Robust Design Applications
      Period: 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019
      Financing: FWO
    • CAPRICORN - Simulation and design tools towards the reduction of aerodynamic noise in confined flows.
      Period: 01/06/2006 - 31/12/2010
      Financing: IWT SBO project

  • Turbulent Combustion:
    • Simulation of non-premixed turbulent combustion with CMC models in combination with LES
      Period:01/01/07 - 31/12/2010. Financing: FWO (Flemish Science Foundation).

Wind Energy

The Department has been active in wind energy for many years and has developed and designed vertical and horizontal wind turbines. Also, we have been instrumenting and measuring many large scale industrial wind turbines ranging from 50 kW up to 2000 kW. In addition various computer programmes for the static and dynamic behaviour of Wind Turbines have been developed.

Recent research focuses on the simulation of wind conditions on rough terrains and on the optimization of wind parks.

Experimental Wind Engineering studies

The department has 2 windtunnels and both a LDA and a PIV non-intrusive measurement system. This infrastructure is, apart for educational purposes, used for wind engineering studies which are mostly upon request of industry.

Recent studies were done for Northern Manuport NV, Renson, Atlas Copco.


Low speed tunnel for industrial aerodynamics
(length 12m, test section 2m x 1m)

Experimental tunnel for turbulence research
with a deformable upper wall
(length 8m, test section 1.4m x 0.4m)

Laser Doppler System with Test Bench and Axial Test Pump in Test Bench with LDS probe

Research Topics : Thermodynamics

Energy technology assesment

The group has been involved in technology assessment studies since 1991, with different studies regarding future energy production in Belgium (federal government), and renewable energy more in particular (Electrabel, Flemish government, federal AMPERE end ENERGY 2030 commissions). Recently, assessment of liquid biofuels is initiated through a federal project in cooperation with UCL and 3E engineering.

Second law analysis

An original two step design procedure for power cycles has been developed and succesfully applied to evaporative gas turbine cycles (REVAP®), CO2 semi-closed cycles, cycles with chemical recovery, and more recently on the inclusion of biomass in natural gas combined cycles through indirect steam reforming (patent pending). Inclusion of chemical reactors in pinch analysis has been developed and applied in the chemical looping gas turbine cycles.

Energy from biomass

With support from the EC, the Flemish Government (VLIET) and the region of Brussels, a 500 kWe biomass power plant has been built on the VUB University campus. The plant aimed at demonstrating the external firing of a product gas from biomass gasification in a gas turbine. It has been operated successfully till 1996.
A small scale cyclone type biomass combustor is currently under development, aiming at combustion of small granulometries and low emissions (twister).
As a result from external combustion activity, a new cycle layout has been proposed to replace 5% of natural gas in combined cycles power plants, without major loss in efficiency (patent pending). A proof of concept is under development on a 100kWe scale in the lab.


Fundamental work in the field of combustion consists in the modeling of emissions with emphasis on nitrogen oxides. Starting from detailed kinetic modeling improved engineering correlations are searched which should predict tendencies in emissions, in function of major combustion parameters. This work occurs in parallel with detailed experiments a flat adiabatic flame burner where flame speed, temperature and composition are measured. Up

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