PhD Studentship: Future biofuels for clean and sustainable internal combustion engines

University College London - Mechanical Engineering

This studentship provides an opportunity for a UK/EU candidate to join a 4-year study program in UCL's Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCL has an outstanding international reputation in research on energy and the environment, marine engineering and naval architecture and engineering for medical applications, with strong research collaborations with industry and universities in the UK, North America, Asia and the Far East and has excellent research and teaching facilities.

Studentship Description

Future biofuels for internal combustion engines (diesel and spark ignition) are required to sustainably address both greenhouse gas emissions and those of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter that have significant and adverse effects on air quality and human health. The fuels will come from a variety of sources, including ligno-cellulosic biomass, genetically modified micro-organisms, and wastes and residues from industrial processes. Therefore, there is an opportunity to design and improve these alternative fuels so that during combustion in modern IC engines energy is released efficiently and the emissions of toxic pollutants are minimised. The aim of this project is to gain scientific understanding of how best to achieve improved biofuels through experiments using single and multi-cylinder research engines and a variety of prototype fuels and low emission combustion strategies.

UCL Mechanical Energy has a long history of undertaking cutting edge research in fuels and internal combustion engines, working with multi-national companies in the fuels and automotive industries. The recently refurbished and bespoke laboratories of the vibrant Engines and Fuels research group (comprised of PhD and post-doctoral researchers) features six single and multi-cylinder research engines and comprehensive emissions analysis equipment, including a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GC-MS) for speciation of fuel combustion and pollutant intermediates.

During this PhD project, the student will experimentally investigate the engine performance of potential biofuels, focusing on fuel composition effects on exhaust emissions and thermal efficiency. The student will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of new research facilities, and will gain significant expertise and skills in undertaking combustion experiments with research engines, analysing and interpreting emissions data, and performing chemical speciation with GC-MS.

Furthermore, the student will have the opportunity to participate in unique cross-disciplinary collaborations, and will be encouraged to publish their work in leading peer-reviewed journals and present their findings at high-profile UK and international conferences.

Person Specification

Applicants should have a background in a relevant engineering discipline (Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Automotive Engineering), or a related science subject such as Chemistry, and should have a strong interest in devising engineering solutions to the global challenge of providing clean sustainable energy.


Funding requirements dictate ONLY UK and EU passport holders need apply.

Please DO NOT make enquiry about this project if you are ineligible.

For further information please contact Dr Paul Hellier ( )

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