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It is thought that the lubricant, or its degraded products, residing in the upper reaches of the piston in a gasoline engine under certain conditions react with the fuel and air in the combustion chamber to cause unwanted and uncontrollable pre-ignition before the spark. This has become a growing problem with the development of high efficiency turbocharged gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines operating at low speed, so-called LSPI. Combustion events occurring before they are desired lead to large and rapid transients of pressure known as knock which can damage the mechanical components of gasoline engines, this is especially crucial for pistons and connecting rods which are rising when this downward combustion transient event occurs. In the most severe cases, LSPI can lead to broken piston rings, damaged pistons and bent connecting rods.
This project aims to adapt existing in-line lubricant sampling techniques developed in engine tribology research to an engine operating at/or close to LSPI conditions and then use a comprehensive suite of analytical techniques to identify chemical precursors to LSPI. The combined use of a closely controlled laboratory gasoline engine plus tribology and combustion laboratory simulators will provide novel insight into the actual mechanisms leading to this phenomenon. This could then be validated using production engines in engine test cells of the industrial sponsor.
The student will be supervised by Professor Martin Priest and Dr Malcolm Lawes of the School of Mechanical Engineering and an industrial supervisor based in the UK.
Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), or equivalent, in Mechanical Engineering. Must also have a strong background and interest in chemistry.
Value: The studentship, which is open to UK/EU students in the first instance, will pay the full tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (£3,975), as well as providing an annual maintenance of £13,863. Plus, an industrial top up of £3,000.