The reduction of CO2, through powertrain efficiency, is a key driver in meeting current and future global emissions legislations. The introduction of different fuels, including biofuels, has brought challenges to engineers because of varying combustion performance. Multi-fuelled engines are becoming commonplace and dual-fuel diesel engines are slowly finding applications in the commercial vehicle sector but solving issues with unburnt hydrocarbons remain a challenge.

Current trends in engine downsizing and novel combustion modes such as Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), have thrown up many new challenges. We have worked within the automotive sector to provide solutions to real problems and are always working at the forefront of automotive powertrain technology.

Some areas of research that we are currently engaged in include:

  • Diesel dual-fuelling with LPG, CNG, H2;

  • Differential efficiency;

  • Driver behaviour impact on fuel efficiency;

  • Exhaust particulate characterisation;

  • Fuel combustion;

  • HCCI;

  • Novel EGR concepts.

We have undertaken research, consultancy and training work with research councils, leading vehicle manufacturers, engineering consultancies and tier 1 suppliers to the automotive industry.

Research partners include Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and Innovate UK. 

Business partners include AVL, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, JCB, Mahle and MIRA.

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Our facilities

We have excellent facilities for powertrain research that includes:

• A range of engine dynamometers used to investigate engine performance and emissions
• A Chassis Dynamometer used for the drive cycle analysis of vehicles. This is robotically controlled to ensure repeatable data and can be run over any global drive cycle
• Exhaust transient particulate characterisation using Laser Induced Incandescence (LII)
• Final drive optical differential rig used for the study of lubrication flow and lubricant gear coating to minimise the cyclic losses and maximise efficiency
• High pressure optical bomb for fuel injector imaging analysis and calibration, including high speed imaging and laser diagnostics for droplet measurement using LDA, PDA, PIV and LIF.

Working with us

We can work with industry to help solve complex issues either through collaborative research projects or through direct consultation.

We have expertise in the following areas:

• 1-D engine simulation modelling
• Application of laser diagnostics to combustion and flow
• Dynamometer engine testing
• Engine combustion
• Emissions analysis
• Vehicle powertrain dynamometer drive cycle analysis.

We work either directly with industry or through joint funding applications where appropriate. All research/consultancy work undertaken is subject to Non-Disclosure Agreements in place, in order to protect Intellectual Property (IP) of the company involved.