Dr. Dries Verstraete

Photo of Dr. Dries Verstraete

BSc (Eng) MSc (Mech Eng) M Sc (Aero Eng) PhD Cranfield

Lecturer in Aerospace Design

Phone:    +61 (0)2 9351 2393
Fax:         +61 (0)2 9351 7060
E-mail:     [email protected]
Address: Room N316
                 Aeronautical Engineering Building J11
                 The University of Sydney
                 NSW 2006


  • PhD, Aeronautical Engineering, Cranfield University, 2009
  • MSc (Hons), Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2001
  • MSc, Mechanical Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 2000
  • BSc, Engineering, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1997

Employment history

  • Research Engineer, Royal Military Academy of Belgium, 2001-2006
  • Teaching Assistant / Research Engineer, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2006-2010
  • Visiting Professor, Erasmus University College Brussels, 2008-2010
  • Lecturer in Aerospace Design, The University of Sydney, 2010-present

Research interests

  • Aircraft Design
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Micro Gas Turbines
  • Green and Renewable Propulsion
  • Unconventional Aircraft Configurations
  • Hydrogen in Aviation
  • Propulsion and Structures of Hypersonic Aircraft

Research projects

  • Fuel cell propulsion for unmanned aerial vehicles
    Increasing the endurance of unmanned aerial vehicles opens up a variety of missions that can be accomplished faster, cheaper and more flexibly than with space-based satellites. Fuel cells may be a significant driver in achieving these longer endurance missions efficiently. In comparison to conventional technologies a fuel cell based propulsion system can exhibit significantly higher specific energies (Wh/kg). Despite this theoretical advantage, little practical knowledge exists about the challenges associated with integrating fuel cells into aircraft. A primary challenge of fuel cell propulsion for aircraft is that the fuel cell is generally characterized by low specific power (W/kg), whereas high specific power is needed to maximize aircraft performance. Most publicly available studies on fuel cell propulsion are "high-level" conceptual design studies where the practical "low-level" compromises between aircraft and propulsion train are neglected. This research project therefore focuses on the practical compromises between aircraft and propulsion system and on the matching of the different elements in the propulsion system.
  • Micro Gas Turbines
    Micro or ultra micro gas turbines with dimensions in the order of centimeters offer distinct advantages for both propulsion of small unmanned aerial vehicles as well as decentralized power generation. Miniaturization of gas turbines to this size however entails several challenges. The small dimensions namely lead to an increased importance of heat transfer between the different engine components, very high rotational speeds and very low Reynolds numbers limiting the achievable efficiency of the turbomachinery components. A wide range of projects addressing these specific issues are available, from analysis of compressors and turbines over high speed bearing technologies to integration of heat exchangers in the engine cycle to increase the efficiency of the engine.
  • Propulsion of Hypersonic Aircraft
    Several organizations world-wide are studying the technical and commercial feasibility of both hypersonic aircraft and reusable spaceplanes and several engine types have been investigated to cope with the demanding requirements of air-breathing flight up to roughly Mach 5. Only two categories of air-breathing engines that allow propulsion up to these high Mach numbers have been developed: turbojets and ramjets. Both cycles however impose major operational limitations and thermal aspects limit the flight Mach number and duration for both types. Pre-cooled engines have the potential to overcome these limitations. Due to a cooling system downstream of the intake, pre-cooled cycles allow an efficient compression up to high pressures even at high Mach numbers. Some discrepancies however exist between publicly available engine models and performance data. The current projects aim to gain insight into the performance of pre-cooled engines for hypersonic flight so that the origin of these discrepancies can be identified.
  • Structures of Hypersonic Aircraft and Spaceplanes
    The high temperatures associated with either hypersonic flight (Mach number > 5) or atmospheric reentry result in severe thermal stresses for the structure of the aircraft. Both the yield stress and rigidity of most materials furthermore strongly reduces at those high temperatures. Innovative structural designs are required. Research into high speed aircraft structures is undertaken in collaboration with the European Space Agency and Université Libre de Bruxelles, partner in the LAPCAT II project (Long-term Advanced Propulsion Concepts And Technologies) of Framework VII of the European Commission. The current project forms part of this collaboration and aims to design and optimize the structure of the LAPCAT A2 vehicle, a Mach 5 transport aircraft with antipodal range.

Research groups

  • Australian UAV Special Interest Group
  • Micro Propulsion Group

Selected publications

Dr Verstraete has published over 50 conference publications on a wide range of subjects. A representative sample of his publications is given below:

  • Hendrick P, Verstraete D., Bizzarri D., Ngendakumana P., Breugelmans F. and Stregnart M, “Technology Development for In-Flight Oxygen Collection TSTOs”, European Journal of Mechanical and Environmental Engineering, Vol 48, No 2, 2003, pp 87-92.
  • Hendrick P, Verstraete D, and Muzzalupo D, “Preliminary Design of a mini-UAV using a Fuel Cell Propulsion System”, Novel and Emerging Vehicle and Vehicle Technology Concepts, RTO-MP-104,2003. (Classified)
  • Decuypere R, and Verstraete D., “Microturbines from the Standpoint of Potential Users”, RTO-AVT VKI Lecture Series on Micro Gas Turbines, 2005. (Classified)
  • Peirs J, Verplaetsen F, Driesen J, Belmans R, Puers R, Verstraete D., Hendrick P, Baelmans M, Van den Braembussche R and Reynaerts D, “Micro Power Generation based on Micro Gas Turbines: A Challenge”, mstnews, No 4, 2005, pp 37-39.
  • Peirs J, Waumans T, Vleugels P, Al-Bender F, Stevens T, Verstraete T, Stevens S, D'hulst R, Verstraete D, Fiorini P, Van den Braembussche R, Driesen J, Puers R, Hendrick P, Baelmans M and Reynaerts D., ”Micro Power Generation with Micro Gas Turbines: A Challenge”, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C, Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science , Vol 221, No 4, 2006, pp. 489-500.
  • Verstraete D, Bizzarri D. and Hendrick P., ”In-flight Oxygen Collection for a Two-Stage Air-Launch Vehicle: Integration of Vehicle and Separation Cycle Design” in Progress in propulsion physics Volume 1, eds De Luca L, Bonnal C, Haidn O and Frolov S, Toruss Press and EDP Sciences, Chapter 6, pp 551-568, 2009 . ISBN 978-2-7598-0411-5.
  • Verstraete D et al., ”Hydrogen fuel tanks for subsonic transport aircraft”, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy , 2010, doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2010.06.060, Comments on the proof read version submitted.