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

Loughborough University


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 project is funded partly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) awarded to Loughborough University, and partly by Capricorn Automotive.

Benefits of this DTP-studentship include:

  • A tax-free stipend of £14,553 per annum for 3.5 years. The stipend will increase in line with EPSRC recommended rates.
  • Tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, for up to 3.5 years.
  • A Research Training Support Grant worth at least £1,750 to assist with training over the course of the studentship.
  • Admission to the University as part of a cohort of EPSRC-DTP funded PhD students

Due to funding restrictions, this is only available to those who are eligible to pay UK/EU fees. In order to qualify for a full award, all applicants must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria including the minimum residency requirement

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