Field of Expertise

Heat Transfer


Peter Ireland holds the Donald Schultz Chair in Turbomachinery and is Head of the Osney Thermofluids Institute. He has dedicated his career to researching the technologies used to cool systems for aircraft propulsion and power generation and now leads a broad portfolio of research programmes ranging from turbine cooling to hypersonic flow. Between 2007 and 2011 he was the UK Corporate Specialist in Heat Transfer at Rolls-Royce where he held the senior heat transfer specialist role for projects involving turbines, fuel cells, nuclear power, fire modelling, manufacture, instrumentation, heat exchangers, power electronic cooling and combustion.

Peter’s career has been characterised by introducing innovative solutions. His research pioneered the use of temperature sensitive
liquid crystals (Ireland and Jones, 2000) in heat transfer experiments. The technique is now used by 80% of the major aero-engine manufacturers in their research and/or evaluation of new turbine blade cooling systems. The transient method of measuring heat transfer using liquid crystals significantly improves the accuracy of the blade cooling designs. The method rapidly delivers high-resolution results which enables engine projects to refine their designs as part of engine development programmes (Ireland et al.,2010). This research has contributed directly to fuel savings. For example, the EC funded programme that he led (ERICKA) targeted a contribution to fuel savings of over 1% for new engines. Five of the ERICKA partners use the liquid crystal method pioneered by Peter at Oxford. Since a conservative estimate of annual aviation fuel consumption is 250 million tonnes (producing about 750M tonnes of CO2), the impact of his research is far-reaching. Peter has presented his work widely to the research community including key note lectures (ICHMT conference in Antalya, 2009, Rolls-Royce Aerothermal Conference, 2016) and at the von Karman Institute. He is co-inventor of two very high-performance turbine cooling systems for Rolls-Royce, specifically Dendritic cooling and Matrix Cooling. He has published more than 169 refereed papers (h-index of 26), supervised 24 D.Phil doctoral graduates and is co-inventor for over 20 patents.

Since returning to Oxford, he has continued his innovative approach by leading the introduction of many new research activities.

The laboratory now houses the leading hypersonic flow facilities in the UK (funded by the National Wind Tunnel Facility grant from
the EPSRC), as well as a major turbine casing research facility (the Step Climb Alleviation Facility, supported by Rolls-Royce and
the TSB). The group’s activities have diversified to include nuclear fusion cooling (Nicholas et al, 2014-16) and power electronic
cooling. He brought pressure sensitive paint technology that he developed whilst at Rolls-Royce (Quinn et al., 2013) to Oxford
which is now being used to research high-performance films for future jet engines (Wong et al 2015). He directly supervises a
group of 11 research students and 4 postdocs. Peter has led the dramatic growth in research activity in the Turbomachinery
Research Group by both reinforcing its strengths and diversifying its activities and collaborators. The size of the group has increased from 50 to 70 people and includes 8 tenured academics. He was recently awarded a prestigious EPSRC Programme Grant (£6.1M). The value of research grants that Peter has been awarded as Principal Investigator (PI), since 2011, exceeds £20M.