Faculty: Engineering
The UNSW Engine Research Laboratory

Engine Research Lab


Our expertise

At the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory, we experimentally investigate internal combustion engine technologies, fuel injection and sprays, combustion regimes and alternative fuels. We are specialists in optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics that are used to show the inner workings of engines and to clarify flow fields, turbulence, mixing, reaction and pollutant formation processes occurring inside the cylinder of the engine. We also conduct systematic performance and emissions testing to optimise multiple operating parameters for efficiency improvement and emission reduction.

The UNSW Engine Research Lab members


To potential industry partners and anyone interested in working with us:

Many of our research innovations have impacted the real world through various direct and indirect engagement with industry partners. Since the lab was established in Jul 2009, we have provided scientific and technical solutions to various global industry partners, which include Haltech and Amberpower (Australia), USONRG and US Army (USA), Imagineering (Japan), Hyundai Motor Company (Korea), Sapotech (Finland), and MAN Energy Solutions (Germany).

When you find expertise or information that you need in this website, please contact Professor Shawn Kook via email (s.kook@unsw.edu.au). He will get back to you shortly with detailed information about the work that can be delivered to you and the formation of a project with timeframe, cost, and workforce involved.

  Research students of the Engine Research Lab


To PhD and MPhil student position seekers:

PhD and MPhil research students are the key manpower who execute the engine research in our laboratory. We are always keen to take capable and self-motivated candidates for PhD/MPhil studies. For available positions and scholarships, contact Professor Shawn Kook (s.kook@unsw.edu.au) with your CV or resume attached.


Professor Shawn Kook

Prof S Kook 

Prof Sanghoon (Shawn) Kook is a member of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and directs the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory. His expertise lies in optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics in car engines, advanced engine combustion, pollutants formation and alternative fuels. Before UNSW, Prof Kook was a post-doctoral researcher at U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories (2007-2009). Prof Kook earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering (2000), M.S. degree in Nuclear and Quantum Engineering (2002), and Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering (2006) from KAIST.

Prof Kook has authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers, which have been cited over 4100 times. Please find a list of his publications here.

He has received multiple fellowships and awards including SAE International Horning Memorial Award (2005), JSPS Invitational Fellowship (2011), Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award - Sydney Division R&D Finalist (2012), SAE International Teetor Educational Award (2013), JSPS Research Visit Fellowship (2014), SAE Outstanding Oral Presentation Award (2016 and 2018), and JSPS Bridge Fellowship (2019).

He currently serves Postgraduate Research Coordinator for the School, managing the progress and completion of MPhil/PhD candidates. He is a former Director of Research for the School (2013 - 2017). On this role, he established a new research committee and led it, and performed strategic planning, research data collection and analysis, strategic hiring of academic staff, redeveloping the School research groups, formulating promotional materials, and presentation of research highlights to VIP visitors.

Contact Prof Shawn Kook at s.kook@unsw.edu.au


Research Associates

Lingzhe Rao Dr Lingzhe Rao, Research Associate (Oct 2019 - present)

Research Expertise:
Endoscopic HS-PIV, In-cylinder flow of petrol engines, Planar laser-based imaging diagnostics (OH and soot), Diesel soot particle morphology, Flame Image Velocimetry (FIV)


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2020
Thesis Title: "In-cylinder soot oxidation in an optically accessible automotive diesel engine"
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2016
Contact: lingzhe.rao@unsw.edu.au


Postgraduate Research Students


Rongying Tian, MPhil Candidate Rongying Tian, MPhil Candidate (Jun 2020 - present)

Thesis Topic:
Effect of fuel aromatics on combustion and soot in an optical compression ignition engine

MSc, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, Sep 2019 - May 2020 
B.E. Mechanical Design, Manufacturing and Automation, Northeast Forestry University, 2019
Contact: rongying.tian@student.unsw.edu.au

Xinyu Liu Xinyu Liu, PhD Candidate (Apr 2020 - present)


Thesis Topic:
Direct injection of hydrogen and diesel in a compression ignition engine

MPhil. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2020
Thesis title: "Influence of triple injection strategy, exhaust gas recirculation and e-boosting on performance and emissions in a gasoline compression ignition (GCI) engine"
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2017
Contact: xinyu.liu2@unsw.edu.au

Yuwei Lu, MPhil Candidate Yuwei Lu, MPhil Candidate (Feb 2020 - present)

Thesis Topic:
Dual port injection (DPI) and port and direct injection (P&DI) in an optical spark ignition engine

MSc, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2018-2019 
B.E. Mechanical Design, Manufacturing and Automation, Henan Polytechnic University, 2018
Contact: yuwei.lu@student.unsw.edu.au


Jinxin Yang, a MPhil candidate Jinxin Yang, MPhil Candidate (Feb 2019 - present)

Thesis Topic:
High-speed flame/particle image velocimetry for flow field analysis in an optical diesel engine

B.E. Energy and Power Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, 2017
Contact: jinxin.yang@unsw.edu.au

Dongchan Kim Dongchan Kim, PhD Candidate (Mar 2018 - present),

Thesis Topic: 
In-flame soot particles and in-cylinder flow analysis in direct-injection petrol engines

Research Assistant, UNSW Engine Research Lab, Jul 2016 - Feb 2018
MSc, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2015-2016
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Pusan National University, 2013
Contact: h.d.kim@unsw.edu.au


Research Areas

  • Fundamentals of engine combustion and pollutants formation

We clarify physical mechanism responsible for mixing and combustion processes in internal combustion engines. Advanced optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics are performed to obtain a detailed understanding of complex reaction and pollutants formation processes occuring inside the engine room. This scientific approach leads to the development of new combustion regimes such as gasoline compression ignition (GCI) and low-temperature-combustion (LTC) diesel that can achieve dramatic emissions reduction and efficiency gain.

  • Alternative fuels combustion

Through the laser-based diagnostics and parametric engine performance tests, we can assess how differently alternative fuels burn in an engine. More importantly, various fuel compositions enable us to study the molecular structure effect on emissions formation process. As there are an increasing number of fuel options available, increasing demands on combustion research are expected.

  • Fuel injection and spray

The fuel injection system is a key factor to optimise the engine-out emissions as well as the efficiency. Indeed, all of recent innovations made in internal combustion engines involved a new kind of fuel injection systems. We image the spray development and its interaction with the combustion chamber so that scientific background for the best performance of a particular design (or operating condition) can be provided.

  • Fluid mechanics in an engine

The internal combustion engine offers very challenging fluid mechanics problems due to its highly turbulent and transient nature. Accordingly, limited data is available especially for the interactions between in-cylinder flow structures and flames. We are experts in measuring flow fields and providing the physical interpretation of the observed emissions trends.


Research Projects


  • Robust ignition of low reactivity fuels using pilot injection and ignition assistance plug technology in compress-ignition engines (funded by US Army Research Lab and ITC-PAC, 2020-22) 

  • Design optimisation of combustion chamber through flow/flame imaging diagnostics (funded by Hyundai Motor Company, 2019-20)

  • Enabling efficient, affordable and robust use of renewable hydrogen in transport and power generation (funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency 2018-21)

  • Combustion fundamentals of multi-fuel capable compression ignition engines (funded by US Army Research Lab and ITC-PAC, 2018-20)

  • Understanding combustion in gasoline compression ignition conditions (funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2018-20)

  • Novel diagnostics capabilities in reacting, particle-laden flows (funded by the ARC Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities 2018)

  • Microwave-generated plasma combustion (funded by the ARC Linkage Project partnered with Imagineering, Kobe, Japan, 2016-19)



  • Flow/combustion evaluation of high tumble GDI engines (funded by Hyundai Motor Company, 2018)

  • Innovative generation of low cost, zero-emission, reliable electricity (funded by Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Cooperative Research Centres Projects 2018-20)

  • Spatial distributions and particle structure of in-bowl soot in a diesel engine (funded by US Army Research Lab and ITC-PAC, 20-17-18)

  • Flame-wall interactions in diesel engine environments (funded by the ARC Discovery Project 2015-17)

  • Fuel spray development and flame propagation in an optical gasoline engine (funded by the ARC Linkage Project partnered with Haltech 2014-17)

  • Combustion and soot of biodiesel in an optical diesel engine (funded by the US Naval Office of Research Global 2014-15)

  • In-cylinder soot sampling and particle shape and structure analysis in an automotive-size diesel engine (funded by the ARC Discovery Project 2011-13)

  • Dual-fuelling of ethanol and diesel in an automotive-size compression-ignition engine (funded by the ARC Linkage Project partnered with Haltech 2011-13)

  • Fuel and thermal stratification in a homogenous-charge compression-ignition engine (funded by the ARC Discovery Project 2011-13)

  • Multi-dimensional, high-speed laser imaging facility for fluids and combustion (funded by the ARC Linkage Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities, 2011)


Equipment and Facilities

  • Optically-accessible single-cylinder common-rail diesel engine (83-mm bore)Full Optical CI engine 83 mm bore


  • Optical single-cylinder common-rail diesel engine with additional exhaust valve window (77.2-mm bore)Full Optical CI engine with 77.2 mm bore


  • Optically accessible single-cylinder petrol (gasoline) engine with a spark-ignition direct-injection (SIDI) systemOptical petrol engine


  • Endoscope multi-cylinder optical petrol engine for time-resolved flow field imaging at up to 3000 rpm
    Endoscope SI engine


  • Single-cylinder compression-ignition engine for performance and emissions testing
    equipped with Ecotech NOx analyser, Horiba opacimeter, Horiba CO/HC analyser

single cylinder performance test CI engine



  • Diagnostic tools

Bosch tube-type injection rate meter

Sirah CobraStretch

SpectraPhysics Quanta-Ray PRO-230

Quantronix Hawk-Duo

Litron LDY303HE 

Thorlabs high-power LED

Lavision Nanostar

InvisibleVisible UVi 2550-10-S20

VisionResearch Phantom v7.3

Photron Fastcam SA-X2


Alumni of the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory


Dr Ales Srna Dr Ales Srna, Research Associate (Apr 2019 - Sep 2020)

Postdoctoral research area: hydrogen-diesel dual-fuel combustion engine testing and CVCC diagnostics

Doctor of science, Mechanical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 2018
Thesis Title: "Experimental Characteristics of Pilot-Fuel Ignition, Combustion, and Soot Formation in Dual-Fuel Combustion Systems"
MSc. Mechanical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 2014
Thesis Title: "CMC combustion model applied to marine diesel spray combustion"
BSc. in Physics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2011
Career path: Sandia National Laboratories, CA, USA


YiLong Zhang Dr YiLong Zhang, Research Associate (Sep 2017 - Aug 2020), PhD Candidate (Mar 2014 - Aug 2017)

Postdoctoral research area: Spray, combustion and soot diagnostics of multi-fuel capable compression ignition engines

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2017
Thesis Title: "Nanostructure analysis of in-flame and exhaust soot particles in an optical diesel engine"
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, RMIT, 2013
Career path: TBA

Monica Chi Dr Tzi-Chieh (Monica) Chi, PhD Candidate (Mar 2015 - Mar 2019)

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2019
Thesis Title: "LED-based thermographic phosphorescence imaging in a diesel engine environment"
M.E. Aerospace Engineering, UNSW, 2015
B.E. Aerospace Engineering, UNSW, 2011
Career Path: Change Analyst at Macquarie Bank

 Harsh Goyal Dr Harsh Goyal, PhD Candidate (Aug 2015 - Mar 2019)

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2019
Thesis Title: "Double injection strategy in a small-bore gasoline compression ignition engine"
M.Tech Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, 2014
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, Bhilai Institute of Technology, Durg, 2012
Career Path: Postdoc at the Bengt Johansson group at KAUST

Lewis Clark Dr Lewis G. Clark, Research Associate (Sep 2017 - Mar 2019), PhD Candidate (Mar 2014 - Aug 2017)

Postdoctoral Research Area: Direct-injection petrol engines, High-speed flow diagnostics, Performance analysis of turbo-machines and power generators 

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2018
Thesis Title: "Flame propagation, flow field, and turbulence analysis in an optical spark-ignition direct-injection engine"
B.E. Aerospace Engineering, UNSW, 2013
Career Path: Technical Accountant Manager at LEAP Australia

Dr Minh Khoi Le  Dr Minh Khoi Le, Research Consultant (Nov 2017- Nov 2018), PhD Candidate (Mar 2012 - Aug 2015)

Postdoctoral Research Area: Endoscopic PIV diagnostics

PhD Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2015
Thesis Title: "Understanding the development of a reacting fuel jet inside an automotive-size diesel engine using optical and laser-based diagnostics" 
B.E. Mechatronics Engineering, UNSW, 2011
Career path: Research Analyst at Rystad Energy

Yi Gao Yi Gao, Visiting Researcher, CSC Fellow (Mar 2017 - Feb 2018)

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineer, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2014-present
M.E. Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2013
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 2011

Hu Chien Su Hu C. (Hugh) Su, ME Candidate (Jul 2015 - Dec 2017)

M.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2019
Thesis Title: "The effects of microwave generated plasma on in-cylinder hydroxyl and soot development in an optical diesel engine"
B.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2015
Career path: TBA

Dr Renlin Zhang Dr Renlin Zhang, Research Associate (Sep 2014 - Aug 2016), PhD Candidate (Jul 2011 - Aug 2014)

Postdoctoral Research Area: Soot particle morphology, Laser diagnostics in optical engines, Biodiesel combustion 

Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2014
Thesis Title: "Soot Particle Sampling and Morphology Analysis in an Optically Accessible Diesel Engine"
M.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2011 

B.E. Mechanical Engineering, University of Shanghai, China, 2007
Career path: Diesel Calibration Engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Michigan, USA 

Dr Bryan Woo Dr Changhwan (Bryan) Woo, Research Associate (Sep-Dec 2015), PhD Candidate (Dec 2011 - Aug 2015)

Postdoctoral Research Area: Biofuels, Engine Combustion, Gasoline Compression Ignition

Experience / Education:
PhD Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2015
Thesis Title: "Combustion strategies for the increased use of biofuels in a small-bore diesel engine" 
Engineer-ECU, GM-Korea, 1.0-litre Chevy Spark engine and 2.0 litre Chevy Orlando engine, 2008-2011
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Hongik University, Korea, 2008
Career path: Research Engineer at DSI Holdings Pty. Ltd.

Yongming BaoYongming Bao, ME Candidate (Jul 2011 - Sep 2013)
M.E. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2013
Thesis Title: "Effect of Injection Pressure on Ethanol and Gasoline Sprays in a Spark-Ignition Direct-Injection Engine"
B.E. Civil and Environmental Engineering, Qingdao Technology University, China, 2010
Career path: Assistant Manager at BMW Group Powertrain R&D, Beijing, China

Dr Shaun ChanDr Qing Nian (Shaun) Chan, Research Associate (May 2012 - Jun 2013)
Postdoctoral Research Area: Spray development of gasoline, ethanol, and iso-octane in an optical SIDI engine
Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, The University of Adelaide, 2011
B.E. Chemical Engineering, The University of Adelaide, 2006
Career path: Lecturer at UNSW Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

 Dr Alvin RuslyDr Alvin Rusly, PhD Candidate (Mar 2010 - Mar 2013)
PhD. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2013
Thesis Title: "The Transiency of In-Cylinder Flame Development in an Automotive-Size Diesel Engine"
B.E. Manufacturing and Management Engineering, UNSW, 2010
Career path: Data and Analytics Consultant at Empirics


Dr Srinivas PadalaDr Srinivas Padala, Research Associate (Apr - July 2013), PhD Candidate (Aug 2009 - Feb 2013)
Postdoctoral Research Area: Fuels effect on compression-ignition engine combustion and emissions
Education / Experience:
Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2013
Thesis Title: "Ethanol port injection and dual-fuel combustion in a common-rail diesel engine"
Senior Engineer-CAE, GM Technical Centre-India, 2008-09
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, India, 2007
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Andhra University, India, 2005

Career path: Researcher at Indian Institute of Petroleum

Key contact

Faculty of Engineering
+61 2 9385 4091