Faculty: Engineering
The UNSW Engine Research Laboratory

Engine Research Lab


Our expertise

At the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory, we experimentally investigate new powertrain technologies and alternative fuels to achieve significantly reduced air polluting emissions. We are specialists in optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics that are used to show the inner workings of engines and to enhance scientific knowledge of flow fields, turbulence, mixing, reaction and pollutant formation processes. We also conduct systematic performance and emissions testing to demonstrate new technologies and alternative fuels at a realistic condition. Our long-term research goal is carbon neutral propulsion and power generation achieved through the development of affordable and reliable powertrain technologies.

UNSW Engine Research Lab members Jun 2022

Career advancement through PhD and MPhil study in engines:

After receiving their advanced degrees in PhD or MPhil, the graduates of the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory find researcher positions in automotive companies (FCA, Jaguar/Land Rover, BMW China etc.) and other research institutions, universities and companies ranging from energy consulting firms to banks - see at the end of this page!

If you are passionate about cars and fascinated by the idea of taking images and high-speed movies of flow and flames inside the cylinder of the engine, there is an excellent opportunity for you to grow as a leading engineer/researcher/academic through PhD and MPhil programs. You will join in an energetic and friendly team of research associates, PhD and MPhil students who share the same interest with you, and be closely guided by a highly experienced professor whose technical expertise and global network could boost your career.

What is the benefit of earning PhD/MPhil degree when Australia has no significant automotive industry and the new internal combustion engine cars will be phased out in some countries? First of all, good research has no border - we work closely with overseas companies and research groups, and some of the lab graduates find overseas jobs. Unlike the growing perception, there are a lot of research that need to be done to further improve engine efficiency and reduce air polluting emissions, and the new engines should adopt alternative fuels and electrification, which you will experience through funded research projects and a direct collaboration with our industry partners. The PhD/MPhil research that you will perform also is not specific to internal combustion engines only, but it involves optical/laser diagnostics, image processing, and data analysis, which are applicable to various research and engineering jobs. The internal combustion engine is a complex system and by completing a project for your PhD/MPhil degree, you will earn excellent project management, documenting and presentation/writing skills too - this will make you ready for any engineering challenges as demonstrated by our lab graduates.

Interested in this capability development opportunity? For available positions and scholarship options, please email Professor Shawn Kook (s.kook@unsw.edu.au). He will be keen to answer any questions that you might have and can give you advice that will work the best for your background and future plan.

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.

Professor Shawn Kook

Prof S Kook 

Professor Sanghoon “Shawn” Kook is a member of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and a director of the UNSW Engine Research Laboratory. His expertise lies in optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics, advanced engine combustion 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 - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Prof. Kook has authored over 230 peer-reviewed papers, which have been cited over 4600 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), JSPS Bridge Fellowship (2019) and ILASS Norman Chigier Reviewer Award (2020).

He serves a member of editorial boards in several prestigious journals including Applied Thermal Engineering (Subject Editor since Apr 2021), SAE International Journal of Engines (Associate Editor since Mar 2018), Atomization and Sprays (Board member since Dec 2013) and International Journal of Automotive Technology (Editor since Jan 2021).

He currently plays an important role of 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


Dr Pedro Marti Dr Pedro Marti Gomez-Aldaravi, Visiting Fellow (Jun - Aug 2022)

Dr Marti is an associate professor at UPV Universitat Politècnica de València and a visiting fellow at UNSW. His expertise lies in CFD calculations of injection systems (nozzle flow and sprays), phase-change, atomization, and mixing. He received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering (2014), MSc in Internal Combustion Engines (2012) and B.S. in Aerospace Engineering (2010) from UPV.

Contact Dr Marti at pedmar15@mot.upv.es


Research Associates


Dongchan Kim Dr Dongchan Kim, Research Associate (Jun 2021 - present)

Research Expertise:
Endoscopic HS-PIV (eHS-PIV), In-flame soot particles of petrol engines, Optical engine development 

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2021
Thesis Title: "In-flame soot particle structures and in-cylinder flow fields in direct-injection spark-ignition engines."
Research Assistant, The UNSW Engine Research Laboratory, 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


Postgraduate Research Students


Rutger Stob, a practicum research student Rutger Stob, Practicum Research Student (May - Aug 2022)

Research topic:
High-speed imaging in an optical diesel engine

Master, Automotive Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherland, 2019-present
B.E., Hanze University of Applied Science, Netherland, 2015-19
Contact: r.stob@student.tue.nl


Yifan Zhao, MPhil Candidate (Chris) Yifan Zhao, MPhil Candidate (May 2022 - present)

Thesis Topic:
Carbon neutral methanol fuelled large-bore diesel engine

MSc, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, Sep 2020 - Apr 2022 
B.E. Mechanical Design, Manufacturing and Automation, China University of Petroleum (East China), 2020
Contact: chris.zhao@student.unsw.edu.au


Jinxin Yang, a MPhil candidate Jinxin Yang, PhD Candidate (Feb 2022-present)

Thesis topic:
Energy assisted combustion of renewable jet fuels in an optical compression ignition engine

MPhil, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2021
Thesis Title: "Application of flame image velocimetry for flow field and turbulence analysis in an optical diesel engine."
B.E. Energy and Power Engineering, Xi’an Jiaotong University, 2017
Contact: jinxin.yang@unsw.edu.au


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

MPhil, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2022 (in thesis examination)
Thesis title: "Effect of aromatics on in-flame soot in a jet fuelled small-bore optical diesel 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


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

MPhil, Mechanical Engineering, UNSW, 2022 (in thesis examination)
Thesis title: "Application of flame image velocimetry for flame front growth and turbulence analysis in an optical direct-injection 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

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


Current Honours Students

Bennett Frerck, May 2022 - date, System modelling of renewable hydrogen microgrid for green steel production

Jorn Yong Yau Tan, Feb 2022 - date, Pressure data processing and image post processing methods for optical engines

Chenghua Zhang, Feb 2022 - date, Effect of spark timing on lean combustion petrol engines

Lynette Yang, Feb 2022 - date, Large-bore hydrogen direct injection engines for transport and power generation


Research Areas

  • Fundamentals of engine combustion and pollutants formation

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

  • Alternative fuels: hydrogen, ethanol, biodiesel...

Through the laser-based diagnostics and systematic engine performance testing, we can evaluate how differently alternative fuels burn in an engine. Also, 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 (such as hydrogen, electro fuels, bio-ethanol, biodiesel), increasing demands on research are expected.

  • 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 in a practical engine environment. We are experts in measuring flow fields and turbulence intensity and finding their impact on engine efficiency and pollutant formation.


Research Projects


  • Towards enhanced fundamental understanding of energy-assisted compression ignition engines operating with alcohol-to-jet fuels (funded by US Army Research Lab and ITC-IPAC, 2022-2025)

  • Hydrogen low pressure direct injection (H2LPDI) engine development through in-cylinder optical diagnostics (funded by Hyundai Motor Company, 2022-2023)

  • Euro 7 engine design using endoscopic high-speed imaging for enhanced turbulent flow and flames (funded by Hyundai Motor Company, 2021-22)

  • 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) 

  • Enabling efficient, affordable and robust use of renewable hydrogen in transport and power generation (funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency and MAN Energy Solutions, 2018-22)

  • Understanding combustion in gasoline compression ignition conditions (funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2018-22)


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

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

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

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

  • 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)

  • Spatial distributions and particle structure of in-bowl soot in a diesel engine (funded by US Army Research Lab and ITC-PAC, 2017-18)

  • 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

Lingzhe Rao Dr Lingzhe Rao, Research Associate (Oct 2019 - Sep 2021), PhD Candidate (Mar 2016 - Sep 2019)

Postdoctoral research area: Endoscopic HS-PIV, Planar laser-based imaging diagnostics (OH and soot)

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
Career Path: Senior Researcher at Monash University

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: Research Associate at the University of Sydney

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: Researcher at Jaguar/Land Rover, Coventry, UK

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: Engineer at Bridgestone Australia

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

+61 2 9385 4091