Tuesday 21 May 2024

DPhil Sam White Wins SAE International Award for Engineering Paper

Sam White (2016 MEng, DPhil Eng Sci), a researcher in the Thermal Propulsion Systems Research Group, has been awarded the SAE International Award for Outstanding Student Paper honouring Phil Myers. This award recognises ‘students who demonstrate outstanding technical expertise through the presentation of a technical paper or engineering project in association with a major SAE meeting, event or student competition’.

The paper’s research into fuels and decarbonisation was compiled under the guidance of Dr Felix Leach, Rolls Royce Fellow and Tutor at Keble and Associate Professor of Engineering Science, who has been an integral part of Sam’s academic journey, and who was also named as recipient of the SAE International Award. Another co-author of the paper who won the award was Abdullah Umair Bajwa (Research Engineer at SouthWest Research Institute).

Sam’s award-winning paper explores the phenomenon of Low Temperature Heat Release (LTHR) in engines — he explains: “a chemical behaviour that certain fuels exhibit under specific conditions that are relevant to modern engines. In a spark ignition (i.e. petrol) engine, if LTHR occurs, the chemical composition of the mixture can change dramatically before it is even ignited — so we might not always be burning what we think we are burning!” Ultimately, if this behaviour is understood better and harnessed, there is potential for improved engine efficiency, a significant step toward more sustainable automotive technologies. The paper by Sam White and Dr Felix Leach presents a new method for isolating this behaviour, opening up many avenues for further study. The work was funded by an EPSRC Prosperity Partnership, in collaboration with the University of Bath, Siemens Digital Industries, and JLR.

Dr Felix Leach said “I am delighted that the work of Sam and the team has been honoured with this prestigious international award. It is a gratifying recognition of the important work contained in the paper and a substantial recognition of the hard work of Sam and collaborators.”

The paper had previously been elevated from conference publication to journal publication – published in the SAE International Journal of Advances and Current Practices in Mobility, a clear indication of its quality and relevance. In 2023, Sam received the SAE International Excellence in Oral Presentation Award for his presentation on the effect of ethanol and iso-octane blends on isolated LTHR in a spark ignition engine. His undergraduate research on roadside NOx emissions won the IMechE Best Project Award.

Upon receiving the award, Sam expressed his gratitude: “It was a huge honour to receive this award. I am grateful for the support from my co-authors, Abdullah and Felix, and to SAE International for their recognition of this work.”

Sam’s immediate focus is on completing his DPhil and continuing to publish research. His advice for students wanting to excel in the field of Engineering Science research is to “find funding and attend as many conferences as possible to build your reputation and network. (I am very lucky that the Keble Association has helped me a lot with conference travel funding). Seek out excellent collaborators—I could not have achieved this on my own!”

Sam White’s achievement is another example of the innovative research by students at Oxford and at Keble. We congratulate him on his success and look forward to his future contributions to the field of engine technology and beyond.

Read the award-winning article here