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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


PhD in the feasibility of a variety of future diesel fuels

Mechanical Engineering
Duration of Studentship:
Four Years
£17,432 per annum
Contact name:
Dr Paul Hellier
Contact details:
Closing Date:
30 Aug 2020
Studentship Start Date:
5th October 2020

Vacancy Information

UCL’s Department of Mechanical Engineering is offering a PhD Studentship in the area of the feasibility of a variety of future diesel fuels.

This post is funded for four years, and provides an annual stipend and full tuition fees for UK/EU students.

Studentship Description

Over the coming decades the global vehicle fleet will be forced to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions; for most light-duty applications it seems that partial or full electrification is the most likely route to enable this. In the case of heavy-duty applications, particularly long-distance freight which is set to continue its growth in the future, electrification is far more challenging meaning that these operations will continue to rely upon the combustion engine and a liquid or gaseous fuel for far longer. Therefore, a significant opportunity exists to sustainably de-carbonise this growing segment of transportation through the use of low-carbon fuels, either advanced biofuels or synthetic power-to-liquid/gas (i.e. e-fuels utilising renewably generated energy) or combinations of them. To add further complexity, this move to a low-carbon future must be achieved whilst ensuring that local air-quality and public health is not adversely impacted. This project will therefore aim to experimentally investigate a range of sustainable low-carbon fuels for heavy-duty engines, working in partnership with BP International Ltd

UCL Mechanical Energy has a long history of undertaking cutting edge research in fuels and engines, and in recent years has focused on the development of sustainable low emission fuels. The recently refurbished laboratories of the vibrant Engines and Fuels research group feature specialist research engines for the combustion of prototype fuels and comprehensive emissions analysis equipment. During the course of the PhD project, the successful candidate will undertake experimental investigations with a variety of prototype fuels using a heavy-duty diesel research engine, and will gain experience and skills in performing combustion and emissions experiments, analysing and interpreting heat release and emissions data, and potential further chemical characterisation of exhaust particulate matter. The successful candidate will benefit from the input of an industrial supervisor at BP International Ltd, and regular opportunities to discuss results and project direction with expert technologists in the field of fuels and energy. Furthermore, during the course of the project there will be opportunities to participate in unique cross-disciplinary collaborations, publish work in leading peer-reviewed journal papers and present findings at high-profile UK and international conferences.

Person Specification

Applicants should have a background in a relevant engineering or life sciences discipline (Biochemical  Engineering, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering), and should have a strong interest in devising engineering solutions to the provision of sustainable energy in the transport sector.

Applicants will normally be required to hold a first or upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject, or a recognised taught Master’s degree. Overseas qualifications of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution are also accepted. Applicants should also meet the EPSRC student eligibility requirements described at the following link: 

Application Procedure: Eligible applicants should contact Dr. Paul Hellier ( for an informal discussion before applying. Please attach your current CV and a transcript of your degree level exam results (listing all subjects taken and their corresponding grades/marks) and a cover letter stating how the project meets your research interests.

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