The University of Brighton is leading a four-university research project to investigate ways to achieve a 20-33 per cent reduction in fuel consumption using new fuels from sustainable sources. It will collaborate with Oxford University, Brunel University and University College London.
The entire project is being funded to the tune of £4m, with more than £3m coming from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.
The project is one of two which aim to drive forward low carbon vehicles technologies. They are receiving a total of £6m from the EPSRC, as part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme.
The announcement was made today by Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark as the annual Low Carbon Vehicle Event – LCV Cenex 2014 – opened at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford.
Greg Clark said: "Forging strong business and academic relationships is vital to reinforcing the UK's reputation as a global leader in research and innovation. Funding these new projects involving eight universities is a clear example of this in practice, while taking us a step closer to producing low carbon vehicles on a mass scale."
Part of the University of Brighton's £1m share will be used to buy a new single-cylinder combustion engine for the testing of the next generation of combustion systems and fuels.
Dr Robert Morgan, Reader in the university's School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics and the lead researcher, said: "This is really exciting news and moves us closer to development ultra-efficient fuels and engines that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions and make vehicles go much further on less fuel than they do today."
Dr Morgan said a number of recent national and international reports have concluded that the internal combustion engine (ICE) will be the dominant vehicle powerplant for the next few decades.
He said: "Significant improvements in the overall efficiency of the ICE are essential to reduce demand and hence carbon emissions from fossil fuels in the medium term, and also the need for land area for alternative bio fuels or renewable electricity for synthetic sources in the longer term."
Dr Morgan said the research will investigate three novel ICE concepts that have received considerable interest in industry: "Until now there had been a lack of underpinning fundamental research to adopt these ground-breaking concepts, but this new project will address this knowledge gap and answer the question 'how far can you go' with the ICE.
"The answering of this fundamental question will significantly impact the direction of ongoing research in the transportation sector and commercial investment in new low-carbon transportation technologies and fuels."
The project is supported by leading companies working in the sector including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Ricardo, Delphi and BP.
The University of Brighton's research will be carried out at its Centre for Automotive Engineering, one of the largest ICE research laboratories in Europe and where 95 per cent of its research was judged of international standing in the last Research Assessment Exercise.
Joining Dr Morgan on the project from the university is Professor Morgan Heikal, Professor of Thermofluids, and Dr Cyril Crua, Reader in the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics.
Find out more about the university's engine research.