PhD Studentship: Highly Efficient Powertrains for Automotive and High Performance Motorsport Industries

Loughborough University

Supervisors: Dr. Nicholas Morris and Dr. Ramin Rahmani

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

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Project Detail:

Global warming and climate change are critical global challenges. To reduce the contribution of automotive emissions significant changes to engine technology such as engine downsizing and the proliferation of boosted engines have been introduced. While successful these new technologies have caused harsher conditions at the interfaces between the engines moving components. The focus of this research is to develop advanced lubricant and surface technologies capable of exceling in current and future powertrain systems.

The friction generated at the interfaces of automotive components significantly contributes to vehicle inefficiency. Technologically advanced components such as the piston ring, cylinder liner and bearings are often only separated by adsorbed lubricant additive layers. The purpose of these lubricating films is to produce low friction and low wear. The film formation is controlled by the operating conditions and complex interaction between the lubricant molecular species and physio-mechanical properties of the surface.

The current research aims to optimise the adsorbed/bonded additives through devolving understanding of their formation and maintenance. The multiscale approach employs precision tribometry, atomic force microscopy, mass spectroscopy and engine testing. Through these methods the fundamental understanding of friction and vehicle efficiency can be improved.

This project is part funded by Capricorn Automotive, producers of advance engine technology for motorsport applications and BP Castrol world leading manufacturer of lubricants.

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Applicants should have:

  • First class or good upper second class degree in mechanical /automotive engineering and physical Sciences.
  • The applicant will join a large, well established research group and will require good inter-personal and networking skills for interactions with industrial partners.
  • Aptitude for experimentation.

Funding information:

This is an open call for candidates who are sponsored or who have their own funding. This project is funded partly by Industrial Partners BP Castrol and Capricorn Automotive. They will fund 50% of the tuition fees at the EU/UK rate (£2,097 p.a) and contribute £7,276 p.a towards a tax-free stipend.

If you do not have funding you may still apply, however Institutional funding is not guaranteed. Please note that up to 4 studentships will be awarded on a competitive basis to applicants to this project and/or the following projects that have been prioritised for funding; job advert ref: NM180717, LZ190717, CL270717, PK200717, RM280717, TB281707 & SM280717.

If awarded, this studentship will cover the remaining 50% of the tuition fees at the EU/UK rate (£2,097 p.a) and contribute £7,276 towards the tax-free stipend. For International fee status candidates: Please note, should institutional funding be awarded, the total value of the studentship will used towards tuition fees only (£20,500) there will be no stipend available.

Contact details:

Informal enquires should be made to Dr. Nicholas Morris: or Dr. Ramin Rahmani,

How to apply:

All applications should be made online at Please quote the reference NM180717 on all correspondence and especially on the application form. Please ensure that you select ‘Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering’ under ‘Programme Name’ on the application form.

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Midlands of England