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Matthew Kapp

Masters Student at University of Stellenbosch



Masters's in Mechanical Engineering

University of Stellenbosch

Reason for project:
Most quadcopters are currently powered by LiPo batteries. In many applications this results in limited flight time. Fuel cells have been proven to increase the flight time two- to threefold. This hasn’t been done yet in the southern hemisphere. There is, therefore, a desire to develop fuel cell powered propulsion systems for quadcopters.

Deliverable of project:
A fuel cell has a higher energy density than a LiPo battery. However, it has a lower power density and more complex characteristics. The design process of a fuel cell propulsion system, is therefore more complex. Also, propulsion systems are generally custom designed for specific missions/applications. There is, therefore, a need to develop a computer simulation design tool that could simplify the design process of fuel cell propulsion systems. The aim of this project is to develop, validate and demonstrate the usefulness of such a design tool.

Competencies developed during this project:

  • Theoretically modelling a fuel cell, LiPo battery, ESC, BLDC, propeller and other components using Matlab/Simulink/Simscape
  • Liaising with manufacture to procure a custom-designed multirotor
  • Designing experiments, procuring test equipment, doing experiments and analysing data

[Refer to references 1 & 2.]

Solar Thermal Energy Systems: learnt how to simulate and design Concentrated Solar Powered (CSP) systems.
Advanced Design: Learnt how to program optimization algorithms and how to solve optimization problems.
Industrial Heat exchangers: Learnt how to analyze and design heat exchanger systems, focusing on cooling towers for power stations.
Advanced Control Systems: learnt about implementing multi-input-multi-output control.
Numerical Methods: Learnt how to efficiently solve large matrix problems.

Head tutor:
At our university, for each subject, a handful of postgraduate students help the undergraduate students with their tutorials and practicals. I was the head tutor, which meant I coordinated the efforts of the tutors. This subject comprises of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and heat transfer. I gained a more in-depth understanding of these fields by teaching it.


Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering

University of Stellenbosch

Final year project:

Reason for project:
My supervisor developed a furnace to heat water. The way this furnace was set-up, it required an induced-draught fan that could deliver a high pressure and handle high temperatures. Such a fan couldn’t be found as a COTS product. It, therefore, needed to be developed.

Deliverables of project:
The object of this project was to design, build, test and install a fan to meet the above-mentioned characteristics (high pressure and temperature).

Competencies developed during this project:

  • Theoretical modelling of a fluid dynamics system, and theoretical turbomachinery design
  • Detailed CAD design using Inventor Professional
  • Managing manufacturing process:
    • Outsourcing laser-cutting of parts (approximately 20 unique parts)
    • Communicating and supervising welding of subsystems
    • Assembling of subsystems, myself
  • Designing and building test setup, doing experiments and analysing data

[Refer to reference 3.]


Matric certificate

Edgemead High School

Vacation Work History

Nov 2015Dec 2015

Vacation work

Thermodynamics and Fluids Design (TFD)
Jun 2015Jul 2015

Vacation work

Metric Engineering
Jul 2014Jul 2014

Vacation work

Volkswagen Group South Africa
Jun 2014Jun 2014

Vacation work

Grey Green Sustainable Energy Engineering