Department of Engineering / Profiles / Dr Zhi Chen

Department of Engineering

Dr Zhi Chen


Zhi Chen

College Senior Research Fellow

Academic Division: Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery

Research group: Energy



Research interests

Combustion energy still powers more than 80% of the world's electricity grids, transportation, household heating etc. My current research primarily serves for the Energy and Transport sectors seeking reliable, efficient and sustainable engineering solutions for electricity generation and advanced propulsion systems. In particular, I work closely with the gas turbine industries to develop advanced numerical tools for high-fidelity simulation to assist the design of 'greener' and 'quieter' next-generation gas turbines. My research activities form a comprehensive closed-loop modelling strategy, starting from understanding the fundamental physics of turbulent reacting flows via direct numerical simulation (DNS); then progressing to analysis of DNS data to develop robust and accurate models for Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) and large eddy simulation (LES); and finally performing LES or RANS simulations for laboratory and engine relevant conditions. Based on the model performance in the final step, we propose revised conditions or include additional complex physics for new DNS and start the loop over again. During this process, new physical insights can be revealed and my specific interests focus on the critical events such as ignition, blowout and thermoacoustic instabilities. In addition, my research scope extends to novel concepts, for instance, flameless or MILD combustion, to seek alternative clean and sustainable solutions for energy and transport. 

Teaching activity

Undergraduate supervisions

  • 2nd-year course 2P7: Mathematics – vector calculus, linear algebra and probability 
  • 3rd-year course 3A5: Thermodynamics and Power Generation 

Graduate supervisions

  • 2017 MPhil (Energy Technologies) Thesis: Large Eddy Simulation of Elliptic Jets in Cross Flow


Dr Zhi Chen obtained his first degrees from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and Unversity of Birmingham with first-class honours in 2012. He then joined the research group of Professor N. Swaminathan at Cambridge to carry out the Ph.D. work on Simulation of Partially Premixed Turbulent Flames. After that, he was employed as a Research Associate at the Department between 2016 and 2019, with a particular focus on modelling thermoacoustic instabilities in modern gas turbine combustors. Since late 2019, he has been a College (Robinson) Senior Research Fellow and an affiliated member of Division A. He has also been recognised by the Home Office as a Tier-1 Exceptional Talent immigrant of the UK, endorsed by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Dr Zhi Chen also holds several academic awards including the Best Use of ARCHER (2017) of the EPSRC, HPC-Europa3 Transnational Access Scheme (2018) of the EU Horizon 2020 Programme, and the Bernard Lewis Fellowship (2020) of the Combustion Institute.