Department of Mechanical Engineering

Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre

Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) conducts internationally prize-winning research, focusing on improving the efficiency and emissions of both diesel and petrol engines.

We conduct research that is systems-based on all aspects of automotive powertrain engineering.

Our research represents four decades of achievement and extensive engagement with the automotive industry.

Contact us

Director: Professor Gary Hawley
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 386855

Deputy Director: Professor Chris Brace
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 386731
Fax: +44(0) 1225 386928

 We have made a significant contribution to the continued development of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles, reducing their CO2 signature and thereby enhancing fuel economy. We have played an important role in the vital task of making a cleaner environment.

Research areas



Further details

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre's research is developed and embedded into business as highlighted in our case studies below.

Our success has come from a real exchange of staff, industry personnel based at Bath, and colleagues here seconded to companies.

PVRC research at the University of Bath: second generation hybrid system to reduce CO2 emissions

Second generation hybrid system design for reduced carbon dioxide



PVRC research at the University of Bath: Energy improvements in generating sets

Efficiency improvements in generating sets



PVRC research at the University of Bath: CO2 measurement accuracy and precision

Reducing CO2 in cars through precision measurements



PVRC Research at the University of Bath: air charge management

Air charge management - Turbo centre



The industry-standard research facilities operated within the Powertrain Vehicle Research Centre have been designed with flexibility in mind to meet the needs of the automotive industry.

We work to ensure the highest confidence in our results, enabling us to deliver excellent value to our clients.

Facility Overview
Centre for Low Emission Vehicle Research (CLEVeR) Our recently upgraded, state-of-the-art chassis dynamometer forms the hub of our vehicle research activities
Dynamic engine research cell (1) Flexible AC dynamometer facility for engine testing over realistic cycles.
Dynamic engine research cell (2) Data acquisition and control using CP Engineering Cadet V14 software allowing complex test scheduling.
Dynamic engine research cell (3) 16 high speed (crank synchronous) channels for fast emissions or combustion analysis.
InterSyn advanced transmission research facility A flexible transmission test facility built to match customer requirements.
Emissions measurement facility A centralised emission measurement facility houses a Horiba MEXA-7000 Series and the gas conditioning unit.
Control, simulation and rapid prototyping Developed for dynamic simulation of fluid power systems and extended to include many automotive features.

Work with us

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre is available for work ranging from short one-day test programmes to custom-designed research programmes lasting many months.

The facility has been designed with flexibility in mind and is suitable for transmission testing and research across all industries and sectors.

Quality-centred approach

Our emphasis is on quality. From the initial experimental design to the execution of tests and the analysis of results, we work to ensure the highest confidence in our results, enabling us to deliver excellent value to our clients.

We have extensive experience of work with industry and we are well-aware of customer’s needs as well as confidentiality and timeliness of delivery. An example of our long-standing partnership with industry is Ford, who have sponsored contract research with us for the last 24 years.

There are numerous ways in which we can work with you. From knowledge of your needs and potential outcomes we can ensure that our capability and your expectations are in harmony from the outset.

Research and Development

  • Contract-funded research
  • Provision of technical advice
  • Design and construction of experimental apparatus
  • Development of mathematical models and simulations
  • Preparation of expert critical literature reviews
  • Writing technical reports
  • Technical and environmental assessment of alternative technologies

We are also interested in ‘working in partnership’ to exploit Government, Research Council and European funding and we would be glad to discuss such requirements with you.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)  and consultancy

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) bring together the PVRC and industry, working together on a development project that is strategically important to the company's future. The Centre engages in KTP projects such as:

  • Ashwoods Automotive - Second generation hybrid ystem design for reduced carbon dioxide
  • Cummins Power Generation - Efficiency improvements in generating sets
  • Ford Motor Company - Carbon dioxide measurement accuracy and precision
  • Turbo Centre, Ford, JLR, Cummings Turbo Technlogies Ltd. - Air change management.

Our staff are also able to offer consultancy services.

For more information, please contact the University of Bath's Research and Innovation Services.

PVRC team 2015

Academic staff

Post Doctorate Research Associates/Fellows

  • Mr Pavlos Dimitriou
  • Dr Kesavan Gopalan
  • Dr Ian Kennedy
  • Dr Andy Lewis
  • Mr Dai Liu
  • Mr Pin Lu
  • Dr Simon Pickering
  • Dr Leon Rodrigues
  • Mr Ramkumar Vijayakumar

Researchers (Experimental Officers, Research Assistants)

Visiting staff

  • Professor Brian Cumming 
  • Mr Dave Ketcher (Senior Research Fellow)
  • Professor Alec Parker (RAE Visiting Professor)

Affiliated staff


  • Mr James Burge
  • Mr Jim Cansell
  • Mr Martin Fullick
  • Mr Bob Gusthart
  • Mr Tom Holley
  • Mr Graham Rattley

Administrative support

  • Dr Sarah Eliot
  • Ms Gillian Elsworth

Research students

  • Amyce Aurora-Smith
  • Zhihang Chen
  • Qiyou Deng
  • Joseph Donnelly
  • Tomasz Duda
  • Wisdom Enang
  • Yuxiang (Felix) Feng
  • Karl Giles
  • Bo Hu
  • Rhodri Jenkins
  • Dian Liu
  • Yang Liu
  • Zheng Liu
  • Pengfei Lu
  • Sahand Malek
  • Dominic Parsons
  • Huayin Tang


Title Author(s)
A brief study into the impact University of Bath has had on CO2 emissions and the cost of ownership of passenger cars [PDF]. A. Scarisbrick, independent consultant
Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform [PDF].
A continuation of a previously funded DTI project now supported by the Technology Strategy Board Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform, this work is aimed at reducing engine fuel consumption. Partners include the Ford Motor Company Ltd, BP and Mahle Powertrain Ltd.
J.G. Hawley, C.J. Brace, S. Akehurst
Energy Efficient Transmissions Research [PDF].
"Transmission performance is fundamental to improving overall vehicle operation, the transmission controls the operating condition of the engine for any given vehicle speed and driver demand."
S. Akehurst
Clean Combustion Engine Research [PDF].
Ongoing work within the PVRC sponsored through both the EPSRC and industry is focused on reducing engine fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and other harmful gaseous emissions. Some of our current research activities are highlighted.
JG Hawley, S Akehurst, CJ Brace, K Robinson, S Kolaczkowski
Low Carbon Powertrain Development [PDF].
A vehicle's powertrain is a complex combination of interacting sub-systems which include the engine, transmission and after-treatment systems. Optimising such a system for ultra low fuel consumption is a highly expensive and time consuming task. An EPSRC funded, the programme Lean Powertrain Development aims to "develop an integrated approach to powertrain design for low fuel consumption performance through a simulation and model based philosophy".
S. Akehurst
Energy Efficient Transmissions Research [PDF].
Milner CVT research, manual transmission improvements, improving the Eeficiency of belt drive CVTs.
S. Akehurst
Low Carbon Powertrain Development [PDF].
The vehicle powertrain is the system that converts raw fuel into tractive motion at the wheels. It is a complex combination of interacting sub-systems under computer control with multiple actuators and sensors. The lean powertrain development project aims to increase the validity and realism of the early stages of the vehicle development process, by increasing the utilisation and accuracy of simulation tools and applying novel experimental techniques and procedures to evaluate prototype hardware before it is readily available. This should deliver future, more efficient vehicles to market in a shorter timeframe and at reduced development costs.
S. Akehurst
PVRC Collaborators [PDF].
PVCR team
State-of-the-art experimental vehicle and powertrain research facilities [PDF]
We have successfully worked with industry for many years and are well aware of customer needs and we always strive to offer advanced capability and an unfettered approach to solving real problems.
PVCR team
Experimental Facilities [PDF].
Chassis dynamometer, Engine cell #3.
PVCR team
Clean Combustion Engine Research [PDF].
The Need to Understand Driver Behaviour. An EPSRC sponsored project On-line and onengine catalyst characterisation - a diagnostic technique to design a better catalyst , Exhaust System Thermal Modelling to Predict Catalyst Light-Off Times.
 J.G. Hawley, S Akehurst, C.J. Brace, K. Robinson, S. Kolaczkowski, C. Bannister
Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre [PDF].
 PVCR team

Dynamic workshop

Download presentations from last month's Dynamic workshop. Please note, this is a password protected file and only available to attendees of the workshop.


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