Researchers and vehicle manufacturers are working to reduce the levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and stop the advance of greenhouse gases by developing cleaner and more efficient technologies. Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines, which are capable of reducing fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions, are being researched to support such ambitions.

GDI engines have the drawback, however, of an increased level in Particulate Matter (PM) emissions. In 2013, the International Agency of Research on Cancer classified PM as carcinogenic to humans. PM has also been linked to exacerbation of allergies, asthma and other respiratory system illnesses.

The European Environmental Agency stated that in 2013, 87% of Europeans were exposed to unhealthy levels of PM. Small particulates in particular have an enormous impact in human health as they are able to penetrate deep in the respiratory system.

Current legislation is becoming stricter in engine pollution. For instance, the Euro 6c, which will come into force in September 2017, imposes a limit of 6x1011 particulates per kilometre.

GDI engine under test in the lab


Maria Bogarra Macias, a PhD student within the Future Power Systems Group, is working in the area of Particulate Matter (PM) characterisation in order to investigate ways to either reduce PM formation during the fuel combustion process, or to efficiently remove them from the engine exhaust with the use of environmental catalysts. She is also researching a technology that utilises the engine exhaust heat and CO2 to produce hydrogen that can then be used for combustion to simultaneously improve vehicle fuel consumption, and reduce CO2 and PM emissions.

Maria has been awarded the prestigious TI scholarship for her research. The TI scholarship is a competitive award for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is allocated based on the academic excellence.

Maria said:  "I truly appreciate the invaluable support received by the School of Engineering and particularly by my academic, Dr. A. Tsolakis and industrial supervisors. I am honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious scholarship."

This work is part of the Future Power Systems Group which investigates efficient combustion modes, alternative fuels and the use of hydrogen in order to reduce pollutant emissions from modern engines.