Advanced automotive engineering

Our specialists in advanced materials help companies discover new ways to improve their products and processes, enabling them to compete globally. We work with the aerospace, space and automotive industries to develop innovative new materials, products and techniques.

Advances in materials have had a significant impact in the technology of transport such as fuel cells and batteries, superconductors and hydrogen storage, lightweight structures, smart coatings and insulation.

Testing of materials

When developing new materials it is necessary to be able to test and prove their efficiency, analysing their durability, weaknesses and performance.

Expertise

Our academics have access to facilities for the testing of new and old materials and the modelling expertise to predict their characteristics. We have a number of specially developed testing rigs to predict in-service performance by recreating the operating conditions of engines. This enables us to test new materials such as diamond-like carbon coatings or assess the performance of lubricants. We have a complete range of tools for characterising coating performance in the laboratory.

Our lead academic in automotive tribology Professor Sarah Hainsworth has conducted a successful project funded by Jaguar that investigated the mechanical properties and failure mechanisms of coated components for use in the automotive valve-train.

We offer manufacturing companies research, support and consultancy services in:

  • Laser 3D vibrometry and structural resonance analysis
  • Casting defects and their avoidance - experimental, analytical and modelling
  • Aerodynamics/aerodynamic noise
  • Multifunctional composite materials and sandwich structures
  • Finite element modelling methods for impact and penetration failure of materials and structures
  • In-situ oil analysis
  • Modelling of casting and welding processes
  • Emission testing

Facilities

The ASDEC research centre (Advanced Structural Dynamics Evaluation Collaborative), directed by Professor Sarah Hainsworth, offers commercially available 3D robot scanning laser vibrometry and modal analysis services.

Robot scanning laser vibrometry boasts many benefits:

  • Fully automated and non-contact vibration measurement
  • New tests such as higher point densities, material testing
  • Very fast and easy visualisation of results

The services offered by ASDEC include:

  • 3D laser vibration testing
  • Modal analyses
  • Technical facilities hire
  • Laser testing and modal analyses master classes
  • Research and development

Analytical services

A wealth of analytical services is on offer at the University of Leicester:

  • Mechanical and physical properties
  • Chemical and elemental analysis
  • Surface analysis and imaging
  • Mineral analysis
  • Archaeological analysis
  • Particle sizing
  • Powder analysis
  • Thermal analysis

Our equipment and methodologies include:

  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Field emission gun scanning electron microscopy
  • Electron probe microanalysis
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
  • Gas chromatography mass spectroscopy
  • Mass spectrometry

We continually invest in new equipment, so please contact us to find out about our newest services or to request a quote.

Analysis of materials

Facilities

The facilities include four instruments and the associated preparation equipment:

  • Omicron ultra-high vacuum scanning tunnelling microscope
  • Scanning probe microscope
  • Sirion 200 field emission gun scanning electron microscope with electron back-scattered diffraction and energy dispersive X-ray analysis
  • JEOL 2100 transmission electron microscope with EDX

Aerodynamics

The study of aerodynamics investigates the behaviour of gases when they interact with solid surfaces. It is vital to many industries, such as aerospace, automotive, military and power generation. In terms of transport design, improving aerodynamics reduces the fuel consumption and increases efficiency, speed and safety of vehicles.

Expertise

At Leicester, we investigate new designs and conduct tests and modelling to ensure efficiency and safety. The Thermofluids Research Group specialises in the fundamental understanding of fluid flows, and how this can apply to industry.

The group is particularly interested in:

  • Turbulence
  • Acoustically-active flows
  • Unsteady aerodynamics
  • Reacting flows
  • Thermo-acoustic technologies

One of our key academics in this field is Dr Aldo Rona, who leads research into unsteady aerodynamics and flows; development of computational fluid dynamics software; and modelling noisy flows past aircraft pressure relief valves and car door seals.

Facilities

The group has an extensive range of equipment available to businesses looking to improve their products:

  • Wind tunnel
  • Lab for gas dynamics
  • Hydraulics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Thermoacoustics

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionise design and manufacturing.

In the Department of Physics and Astronomy, our experts are designing components that increase energy efficiency in transport through additive manufacturing.

We are looking for companies and research groups to collaborate with on current and future activities. For information on this project please contact Piyal Samara-Ratna on psr8@le.ac.uk.