Celebrate a PhD – fuel blends to reduce emissions

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With all the fantastically fascinating research going on in Engineering, Design and Mathematics, PhD student successes are a regular occurrence. We want to celebrate with the students as they pass their vivas, so may this post be the first of many!

Adriaan Van Niekerk passed his PhD viva in early February – Congratulations Doctor Van Niekerk! He’s kindly answered a few questions about his PhD project…

  • Can you summarize your research project?

I looked at how we can reduce diesel car emissions such as NOx by using fuel blends between diesel, biodiesel and ethanol and also increase the renewable content of the blend as per the government targets. I found that a fuel blend containing 2% biodiesel and 9% ethanol can reduce NOx by 10% and CO by 34%. 

  • What outcomes have there been from your project?

I managed to publish my results in two high impact journals, Applied Energy and Fuel, which is really great!

  • Were there any particularly tough stages during the PhD? How did you get through that?

The engine I used to do all my experimental testing on decided to break. All four of its fuel injectors got blocked up. It took me really long to figure out what was wrong with it, and it set me back approximately 6 months!

This was really tough as I had to change my planning completely. Luckily I could focus on writing up most of my PhD which helped a lot at the end as most of the writing and reviewing was done. 

  • What are your plans now the PhD has finished?

I have accepted a Lecturer position here at UWE with the Mechanical and Automotive cluster. I hope to build on my PhD research by looking at using renewable fuels together with hybrid technologies to speed up the uptake of more sustainable technologies for propulsion in automotive and aerospace applications.

Good luck in the new role Adriaan!

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