Dr Simon Blakey MEng, PhD, PCHE, AMIMechE

Dr Simon Blakey

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Blakey is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. Much of his research activity has focused on the technical suability of alternative fuels for aviation sector and the development of methods for the “fit for purpose” assessment of potential fuels and fuel compositions including combustion performance, with a particular focus on fuel system and fuel compatibility.

He has been involved in the following European fuels research programmes: AERONET II, ECATS, ALFABIRD, SWAFEA, and JETSCREEN as well as engine development programmes such as TECC-AE, International fuels research programmes on the development of synthetic fuels in particular the QSTP international consortium and the US Federal Aviation Authority led CLEEN and PARTNER programmes, and the UK national alternative fuels programme: OMEGA.

Simon is the on Alternative Fuels Working Group Leader within ECATS, a European Network of Excellence on Aviation and the Environment. He has successfully supervised 4 Doctoral students and currently supervises 4 PhD students He annually supervises around 10 Masters students completing their final year projects in his group. To date he has been involved in research grants from a number of different sources (Industrial funded, EU and Innovate UK), the value of these grants to the research group is £4.8M (£3.8M as principle investigator).


  • PhD (2004)
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (2003)
  • MEng Mechanical Engineering with a Modern Language (German) (2000)


Simon studied at the University of Sheffield and the Technicshe Universität Dresden, Germany before completing his MEng in Mechanical Engineering in 1999. After periods working in the process industry and for Siemens KWU in Germany Simon went on to study for a PhD on Energy Utilisation within the hot dip galvanizing sector.

From 2004 until 2019, Simon worked at the University of Sheffield as a researcher and subsequently as a member of academic staff. He was heavily involved in the set up and running of the Low Carbon Combustion Centre in Sheffield, which includes the Rolls Royce Centre of Excellence in Fuels and Lubricants. Following his move to Birmingham University, Simon continues to work closely with Sheffield as a visiting academic.


Simon maintains a portfolio of research in the areas of Energy Use and Efficiency with a specialisation in the performance of fuels for the Aviation sector. His work has a strong emphasis on the development of experimental methods which can then be used to develop robust empirical and fundamental models of systems, in a way that permits a deeper understanding of the phenomena underlying these processes.

Much of his research activity from 2004 – 2019 has been in the establishment of the Low Carbon Combustion Centre at the University of Sheffield, the Centre is an example of this emphasis in action in the research work across a range of sectors.

Aviation fuels

The relative growth of the aviation sector, coupled with concerns around the environmental impact and future security of fuels supply has caused a rapid development of alternative fuels for the aviation gas turbine community. During the 2000’s the focus was very much on demonstrating the technical suitability of novel fuel compositions, which is now demonstrated, and the discussion has moved on to environmental impact. Simon was fortunate enough to present his work in this area at an ICAO seminar in February 2017.

His strategy is to investigate the compositional effects of fuel on the specification and performance properties of the fuel with a view to building tools to predict the behaviour of any fuel from a knowledge of its chemistry alone. This has meant the development of proposals (H2020 proposals, FlexJET (co-ordinated by Chemical Engineering at Birmingham University), SWAFEA and JETSCREEN) to work in collaboration with other groups around the world on this common theme (SBRI, NJFP, FAA, ECATS). Within the LCCC, their specialisation has been very much on Particulate Matter emissions measurement systems, elastomer compatibility and thermal stability of aviation fuels.

Thermal stability

Much of his work from 2004 until the present has been focused on understanding the complex thermal, flow and chemical processes behind fuel thermal stability. This has required a focus on the development of range of experimental techniques, empirical models and more complete numerical models which has now culminated in the award of the FINCAP ClearSky2 and JETSCREEN H2020 grants.

His strategy is to develop models which can be scaled between the numerous experimental methods for the assessment of fuel behaviour. For this work, they have collaborated with Dr. Meijer in the Computational Chemistry Group and Dr. Mumtaz in the Additive Manufacturing Group at Sheffield University and internationally, IFP and ONERA in France and the USAF and Dayton University in the USA.

Process Industry Energy Efficiency

The process industries are a major emitter of CO2 but lack the investment in understanding and improving their energy efficiency common in larger scale sectors. Simon's research has led him to believe there are large efficiency gains to be made through the analysis of and redesign of heating processes within these plants and permit the development of heat transfer relationships in these more realistic and academically challenging environments. he has already demonstrated an impact in these areas with my PhD and three KTP awards with the Wedge Group Ltd in the West Midlands.

Other activities

Simon is a member of the Executive Board of ECATS, a European network of researchers interested in the environmental impact of aviation.