Module information on this degree can be found below, separated by year of study.

The module information below applies for the current academic year. The academic year runs from August to July; the 'current year' switches over at the end of July.

Students select optional courses subject to rules specified in the Mechanical Engineering Student Handbook,  for example at most three Design and Business courses. Please note that numbers are limited on some optional courses and selection criteria will apply.

Future Clean Transport Technology

Module aims

 To provide:

·      A basic understanding of the design features of reciprocating internal combustion engines and the underlying engineering science, with particular reference to the fluid flow, thermodynamics and combustion processes of spark- and compression-ignition engines.

·      An awareness of the means by which the need for reduced CO2 and pollutant emissions is met.

·      A basic understanding of the design features of hybrid, electric and fuel cell powered vehicles and the underlying engineering science, with particular reference to system design of battery packs and fuel cell systems.

·      A basic understanding of how the technologies compare to each other and how they fit into the bigger picture of the whole transport/energy system.

A practical, industrial context for the above knowledge through talks from visiting industry experts.

Learning outcomes

 On successfully completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Discuss, using appropriate technical terminology, the drivers for development in vehicle propulsion and the extent to which available technologies provide appropriate solutions
  • Construct simple physical and computational models of a selection of processes occurring in conventional and advanced reciprocating IC engines, including combustion
  • Assess the likely future of the internal combustion engine in the land transport sector
  • Demonstrate organisational, information gathering, problem solving and information technology skills within small group projects

Module syllabus

 Module descriptions:

Introduction: Transport in the Current Era (1 x 2hrs = 2hrs)

•         Policy Direction, Consumer Demand, Powertrain Mix Forecasts, Mobility Options (Thermal vs Hybrid-Electric Propulsion), Auto Council Roadmaps

Thermal Propulsion Systems (in 3 Main Sub-Modules) (27 hrs; up to 4 exam questions)

·         IC Engine Fundamentals (4 x 2hrs)

o    Engine Components, Thermodynamic Considerations, Gas Cycles, Overall Performance, Design Considerations, Mechanical Efficiency, Balancing

·         Combustion System (5 x 2hrs)

o    Combustion & Turbulence

o    Abnormal Combustion

o    Heat Transfer

·         Air System (3 x 2 hrs)

o    Volumetric Efficiency, Flow Past the Valve, Z Index, etc.

o    Downsizing, Boosting Systems

·         Projects (2 x 1 hrs)

o    Project 1 (“Design choices to improve engine eff. based on gas cycle analysis”)

o    Project 2 (“Introduction to Turbocharger Matching”)

Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Systems (5 x 2hrs = 10hrs; up to 2 exam questions)

·          Introduction to hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicle technology, advantages/disadvantages, different architectures (series/parallel), electrical machines & power electronics, efficiency, simple models of system components

 ·         Introduction to electrochemistry for mechanical engineers (covering batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells), three questions: How is heat generated, what is the effect temperature, and how do you get rid of the heat? How to measure and model internal resistance i.e. battery modelling. Enthalpy and entropy for batteries.

 ·        Battery pack design, electrical connections and contact resistances, thermal management, unequal current paths, degradation, battery management systems, parameter and state estimation and model based control, diagnosis methods.

 ·        Fuel cell system design, water management, thermal management, electrical connections. The effect of thermal gradients, flooding, start-up/shut-down procedures, and load cycling on degradation. Hybridisation and the effect on efficiency and degradation.

 ·        Transport systems, lifecycle emissions & energy chain (i.e. generation electricity/production hydrogen, embedded emissions in production of batteries/fuel cells/combustion engines), recycling, automated vehicles & new business models, vehicle utilisation and techno-economics, integrated transport systems i.e. hybrid fleets.

 ·           Project 3: New project on hybrid-electric propulsion systems


Guest lectures (3 x 1hr = 3hrs):  2 in Thermal Propulsion, 1 in Hybrid-Electric Propulsion

Teaching methods

42 lectures

6 x 1 hr tutorials in total (2 x 1 hr per each of 3 projects) + 2 x 1 hr one-to-one tutorials. These tutorials are dedicated to address project questions and issues, with 2 separate tutorials timetabled for each project, taking place during the weeks that a particular project runs, and an opportunity for further one-to-one tutorials for each project group.

3 Projects (see Course Syllabus for more details)

Summary of student timetabled hours








 3                               5

Other (design, lab, computing etc.)


 24                              26

Expected private study time

 40                              115


Written examinations:

Date (approx.)

Max. mark

Pass mark

Future Clean Transport Technology (3h)

A Data and Formulæ book is provided.

This is a CLOSED BOOK Examination





Coursework (including progress tests, oral presentations etc.)

Submission date

End of Autumn term

February (tbc)

End of Spring Term (tbc)

Max. mark

Pass mark


Project 1  

Project 2                   

Project 3



Total marks


Reading list



Module leaders

Professor Alex Taylor