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Improving fuel efficiency

Fuel efficiency

Energy demand and the need for highlyqualified oil and gas engineers meansthat Brunel maintains a strong focus onfuel and engine innovation.The University's research into internalcombustion engines goes back to thelate 1960s, and continues meetthe challenges of today. Brunel hascollaborated with internationalcompanies such as Ford, Jaguar and BP,and worked on industry-led initiativeswith organisations with expertise inthe oil and gas sector, such as TWI.

EU funding forenvironmental impact

Professor Paul Sermon has investigated microemulsions to improve oil recovery and generate new green vehicle fuels and exhaust catalysts for pollution control. Given that more than a third of oil is lost during the production process, Prof Sermon's research looked for practical applications that would have environmental benefits. In 1985, along with Professors Bond and Singh, Prof Sermon received further funding from both The Wolfson Foundation and the Ministry of Defence for work on oil recovery.

Costs can be saved with a hiss

Energy recovery systems for vehicles are a familiar theme in green technology, from Formula One cars to family saloons, but there are significant cost issues with storing that energy. Professor Hua Zhao and his team from the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences looked at potential storage solutions that would be less expensive and easily retrofitted.Their solution was to use compressed air for energy storage, which meant that the technology could be fitted to new and existing engines. This has cut fuel consumption drastically in the UK and China.

Queen's award

Brunel's Chemistry Department helped water engineering company BEWT win the 1993 Queen's Award for Environmental Achievement. Professor John Donaldson and Dr Sue Grimes worked with the company from the early 1980s, developing metal recovery systems for the control of industrial pollution.

For future fuels, it's no idle matter

As diesel engines power more and more cars, the search to reduce one of the fuel's least desirable characteristics - noise and vibration when idling - has comeunder sharp focus. Brunel's Professor Joseph Giacomin developed a way to measure the relationship between the physical characteristics of an idle diesel engine and driver response. Using the idea to accurately measure steering wheel vibration, the test was rapidly adopted by petrochemical giant Shell.

Warming up

The Brunel Engines Group identified a number of techniques demonstrating how cold engines are more adversely affected by problems of petrol and air mixture, rather than combustion. This paved the way for an exploration into the reduction of emission exhaust as an engine warms up, helping improve the fuel economy and reducing Britain's petrol use by 10 per cent.