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The thermodynamic limits to IC engine efficiency

The internal combustion engine (ICE) has been the dominant technology used in road transport for almost a century. Despite the increasing use of all-electric powertrains, the ICE will be used widely across the world for a variety of motive power applications for decades to come. Environmental legislation drives the development of EVs (in developed nations), but the take-up rate is driven by the economics of the relative cost of the ICE and alternative powertrains. The key question for the ICE is how efficient can it get, and how quickly is it reaching the limit. This limit is the 2nd law efficiency and remains an unsolved problem. From first principles, the aim is to determine how much ICE technology may improve in the conversion of chemical energy into work, and to determine the maximum potential for energy availability, heat transfer, and the ability to do work. Vehicle manufacturers continue to invest significant sums into ICE development and globally the demand for cars continues to rise; there is a strong case for a more fundamental understanding, even for those investing in alternative powertrains.

Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper‐second class honours degree in an Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics or a similar discipline. A Postgraduate Masters degree is not required but may be an advantage. Good mathematical skills are essential. In addition, applicants should be highly motivated, able to work in a team and independently, collaborate with others and have good communication skills.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.