ERC Starting Grant

Gaetan Kerschen receives an ERC grant for his project NOVIB

Gaëtan KERSCHEN, a researcher in the Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering Research Unit of the School of Engineering, has just been selected to receive an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council. With his project NOVIB - The Nonlinear Tuned Vibration Absorber - Gaëtan Kerschen wishes to design and test a prototype of aircraft wing vibration dampers based on a new concept.


o reduce aeroplanes’ consumption levels, and thus their emissions, it is necessary to reduce their mass. But reducing their mass leads to exposing them even more to structure instabilities and vibrations. These vibration problems remain a major challenge for both civil and military aviation. They limit the performances of these aircraft, when they do not quite simply threaten their integrity.

Today, few aeroplanes are equipped with vibration absorbers because the absorbers currently used are designed on the basis of linear calculation whilst the phenomenon of aeroelastic flutter which they need to overcome is intrinsically a non-linear phenomenon. Contemporary absorbers are thus largely ineffective in dealing with aeroelastic flutter.

Professor Gaëten Kerschen’s project offers to reverse the paradigm: as aeroelastic flutter is fundamentally a non-linear phenomenon, why not try to design an absorbing system which is itself non-linear? ‘It’s a little like inventing a very complicated method to counter an even more complicated phenomenon,’ points out Gaëten Kerschen. But at the outcome of this research, beyond the new fundamental knowledge reaped in the field of engineering, a solution might have been discovered to what currently forms one of the major obstacles to the development of less heavy, and thus more economical, aeroplanes. Moreover, the results could of course be applied to many other areas of aviation.

With a total of 1,320,000 Euros over five years, NOVIB is pursuing three successive objectives:

  1. Studying the theoretical aspects of this new concept of non-linear absorbers and suggesting a mathematical model.
  2. Carrying out numerical simulations which validate this model.
  3. Designing and testing in the ULg’s wind tunnel, together with Professor Grigorios Dimitriadis, a vibration absorber prototype based on this new concept.

Four doctoral researchers and two post-doctoral will be recruited by Pr Gaëtan Kerschen to carry through this project over the next five tears.

ERC Starting Grant

ERC Grants are major instruments deployed by the European Research Council to fund research projects in Europe. The procedure, extremely selective, selects only the best researchers and research projects of the highest level, combining audacity and competence to tackle new research avenues likely, in the event of success, to substantially enrich knowledge.

There are 5 types of grants: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants, Advanced Grants, Synergy Grants and Proof of Concept

Sarting ERC grants are designed to help young researchers (2-7 years of experience since completing their PhD) with a very promising scientific record and excellent research proposal.

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