Department of Mechanical Engineering

Alternative fuel research


Dr Chris Bannister
tel: +44 (0)1225 384970

Research areas

Biodiesel and other diesel replacement fuels

Performance and emissions

  • molecular structure effects
    • soot-to-oil transfer rates
    • variations in combustion characteristics
  • impact of blending ratios
    • combustion and emissions characterisation
    • fuel consumption penalties
    • effects on blowby
    • EGR requirements
    • engine control optimisation
  • ambient temperature interactions
    • particulate production at low temperatures.

Oxidation stability

  • lubricating oil dilution
    • dilution rates
    • factors affecting fuel oxidation within the lubrication system
    • antioxidant & fuel-borne pro-oxidant effects
  • compatibility with metals and alloys
    • effects on oxidation rates
    • interactions between metals on oxidation
  • decomposition products and pathways
    • accelerated Rancimat evaluations
    • in-vitro NMR rig for continuous oxidation monitoring
  • oxidation products impact on fuel properties and combustion characteristics
    • engine/vehicle evaluation of oxidised fuels
    • fuel dosing with specific oxidation products.

After treatment Systems

  • Diesel Particulate Filter
    • fuel composition on DPF loading rates
    • soot reactivity and structure
    • DPF regeneration requirements, characteristics and efficiency
  • oxidation catalyst
    • impacts on warm-up and light-off times
    • catalyst brick temperature distributions
    • CO, THC and passive NOx conversion efficiencies.

Alcohols and other gasoline replacement fuels

  • influence of Methanol/Ethanol blends
    • knock resistance for high performance engines
    • charge cooling effects of alcohol fuels
  • RON/MON relationships and their influence on engine octane appetite
  • PM generation under high BMEP and GDI operating pressures.

Interdisciplinary ‘designer fuels’ research

  • Ethanol production from municipal waste
    • systems approach to cellulosic ethanol production
  • metabolic engineering of microbes for sustainable biofuel production
    • lipids and Hydrocarbons from Algae
    • lipids and Hydrocarbons from Yeasts
    • novel fermentation products
  • potential of industrial waste products as transport fuels.


Engine and vehicle capabilities

  • three transient engine dynamometer test facilities (200kW, 215kW & 400kW) with industry standard fuel consumption and emissions measurement functionality
  • climatically controlled (-10°C to +50°C) chassis dynamometer with two independent 126kW DC machines driving 48” diameter rollers. Industry standard instantaneous and bag emissions measurement

Fuel analysis capabilities

  • physical properties (flash point, pour point, viscosity, calorific value, density and oxidation stability)
  • composition analysis via Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS), High Pressure Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (HPLC-MS) and NMR (250-500)
  • contaminant analysis via Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), ESI-MS, GC-MS and HPLC-MS
  • scanning electron microscope with X-Ray analysis for structure and composition of soot particles and other deposits
  • miscibility studies
  • Thermogravimetric Analysis for reactivity (TGA).



Jaguar LandRover, Ford Motor Company, Lotus, BP/Castrol, Ricardo, Shell, Industrial Technology Research Institute, Technology Research Centre, TMO Renewables


Imperial College, University of Nottingham, Leeds University