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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MECH3425 Automotive Propulsion Systems

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Junfeng Yang

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23


MECH1215Thermofluids 1
MECH1520Engineering Mathematics
MECH2670Thermofluids 2

This module is mutually exclusive with

MECH3496Thermofluids 3

Module replaces

MECH 3496 Thermofluids 3

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module focuses on both fundamental thermodynamic cycles of engines, and modern propulsion system including all-electric (battery, fuel cell, ultra-capacitor), or hybrid mode for automotive applications. The course provides the students with knowledge about how to design different powertrains, and how they can be controlled. It will consider powertrains with only an IC engine, an electric powertrain, or combinations of these as different hybrid powertrains. Meanwhile, the impact of transportation on the environment, fuel infrastructure issues and the economic and technical issues surrounding it are analysed and evaluated. The module is based on lectures, lab practice, computer exercise, tutorials, simulations and experiments, and these are carried out as real case studies, or using other similar methods, supported by industry standard numerical and analytical tools.


The programme philosophy is one which aims to provide engineers within the automotive sector with a rigorous grounding in: engine, battery, fuel cell, driveline, and vehicle design and control technologies as used by the industry. This module is consistent with this philosophy since it directly includes content and resources that specifically meet these needs. The primary aim of the programme is to prepare the student for an advanced understanding and system perspective of automotive propulsion systems and processes, and their application within industry. This module delivers against this aim through providing a thorough but broad technology grounding in advanced propulsion systems, e.g. advanced combustion engines, hybrid propulsion and electric vehicles.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module candidates should be able to:
1. Explain thermodynamic concepts, and interpret ideal and practical thermodynamic cycles and working principles of engines.
2. Use engineering reasoning to critically access the advantages and disadvantages of the various cycles and engines.
3. Understand all aspects of fuel cell, ultra-capacitor and battery technologies, materials and functionalities.
4. Describe the components and configuration of an arbitrary powertrain: combustion engine, electric motor - battery, fuel cell or hybrid configurations.
5. Model and simulate the performance of hybrid and electric systems under various driving cycles.
6. Evaluate the nature of the impact of transportation on the environment and the economic and technical issues surrounding it.
Upon successful completion of this module the following UK-SPEC learning outcome descriptors are satisfied:
7. A comprehensive understanding of the relevant scientific principles of the specialisation (SM1m, SM7M)
8. Knowledge and understanding of mathematical and statistical methods necessary to underpin their education in their engineering discipline and to enable them to apply a range of mathematical and statistical methods, tools and notations proficiently and critically in the analysis and solution of engineering problems (SM2m)
9. Ability to apply and integrate knowledge and understanding of other engineering disciplines to support study of their own engineering discipline and the ability to evaluate them critically and to apply them effectively (SM3m)
10. Awareness of developing technologies related to mechanical engineering (SM4m)
11. A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of mathematical and computational models relevant to the engineering discipline, and an appreciation of their limitations (SM5m)
12. Understanding of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to undertake critical analysis of key engineering processes (EA1m)
13. Ability to identify, classify and describe the performance of systems and components through the use of analytical methods and modelling techniques (EA2)
14. Ability both to apply appropriate engineering analysis methods for solving complex problems in engineering and to assess their limitations (EA3m, EA6M)
15. Knowledge of characteristics of particular equipment, processes or products, with extensive knowledge and understanding of a wide range of engineering materials and components (P2m)
16. Ability to apply relevant practical and laboratory skills (P3)
17. Apply advanced problem-solving skills, technical knowledge and understanding, to establish rigorous and creative solutions that are fit for purpose for all aspects of the problem including production, operation, maintenance and disposal (D4)
18. Knowledge and comprehensive understanding of design processes and methodologies and the ability to apply and adapt them in unfamiliar situations (D7m, D10M)
19. Apply their skills in problem solving, communication, information retrieval, working with others and the effective use of general IT facilities (G1)

Skills outcomes
The students will have had the opportunity to develop the following skills through this module:-
- theory of fundamental thermodynamic cycles and working principles of engines, fuel cell and battery.
- configuration of various vehicle propulsion systems, e.g. ICEs, HEV and EV,
- ability to apply analytical skills (Matlab Simulink) to practical engineering problems.
- self direction and effective decision making;
- independent learning;
- communication of information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms, whilst demonstrating understanding of levels of ambiguity and uncertainty.


Semester 1: Thermodynamic Engine Cycles

- Analysis of cyclic processes. Carnot cycle.
- Air-standard cycles: Otto, Diesel and Joule cycle. Indicated and brake mean effective parameters.
- Brayton Cycle and Rankine cycle, and practical implementations. Combined gas-vapour cycles.
- Practical engines: reciprocal spark ignition and diesel engines and gas turbines.
- Refrigeration: vapour compression cycle, practical implementations and effects of refrigerant, psychrometry.

Semester 2: Electric and Hybrid Engine Systems

- All-Electric propulsion systems (including fuel cell, battery and ultracapacitor).
- Hybrid propulsion systems – technology overview.
- Battery and charge storage devices.
- Hydrogen distribution infrastructure – issues and solutions.
- Electric Motor/generator.
- System Architecture and Control.
- Sustainability and impact of transport on the environment and global economy.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours154.00
Total Contact hours46.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

The time comprise the preparation of the assessed coursework, approximately 15-20 hours; preparation for the final examination and independent learning : Private reading, assignment, report writing, tackling example sheets.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

An online discussion board will be monitored during specified times each week.
Minerva/TopHat quiz after each topic

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportLab report Maximum 14 pages20.00
Computer ExerciseReport Maximum 14 pages20.00
Tutorial PerformanceTutorial questions Non assessed0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Unseen exam 2 hr 60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 18/11/2022


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