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Dr Paul Hellier
UCL Mechanical Engineering
Malet Place Engineering Building, Torrington Place
Tel: +44(0)2076792850 (Int: 32850)
Dr Paul Hellier profile picture
  • Associate Professor in Engines
  • Dept of Mechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Dr Paul Hellier is an Associate Professor and an engineer of future fuels and sustainable energy concepts for propulsion and power in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University College London. He held an EPSRC Research Fellowship entitled 'Design of advanced biofuels through optimisation of fuel molecular structure', which he was awarded following completion of his PhD thesis at UCL, a collaboration with BP Global Fuels. Paul graduated from Cardiff University with a 1st class MEng in Environmental Engineering, and has continued to consider holistically the impacts arising from the use of liquid and gaseous fuels as sustainable energy vectors. Paul and his group explore the potential for cleaner burning alternative fuels in the context of both fuel end use (combustion for the release of useful energy) and sustainable upstream production processes. His research interests include establishing links between the composition of renewable fuels and impacts on human health of toxic pollutants emitted in engine exhaust gases (in collaboration with the UK Health Security Agency), combustion of advanced biofuels for heavy-duty transport and zero-carbon fuels for shipping, designer fuels from lignocellulosic biomass and micro-organisms with targeted structural reactivity, novel IC engine fuelling strategies, e.g. combustion of algal slurries, synergies between exhaust after-treatment systems and new renewable fuels, fundamental mechanisms and fuel effects on particulate formation during pyrolysis, and the production of advanced biofuels from waste biomass, for example spent coffee grounds and date pits.

His work includes collaborations with researchers from a range of disciplines and international institutions, and is supported by industry partners, UCL Grand Challenges and Public Engagement, the EPSRC and Innovate UK. He has published over 40 original research and invited review articles in leading fuels and combustion, and multidisciplinary, journals, and was awarded the 2015 Harold V Disney Prize for his paper on ‘The influence of biodiesel composition on compression ignition combustion and emissions' by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and “Outstanding Presentation Award for Young Researchers and Engineers" at the 2011 JSAE/SAE International Powertrains, Fuels & Lubricants Meeting, Kyoto, Japan. Paul is active in, and enjoys, engaging with a wide audience to communicate his research findings and has led schools outreach programmes, spoken at science festivals and invited lectures, and performed in immersive theatre and stand-up comedy.

Paul is currently accepting new PhD students, please write to him at p.hellier@ucl.ac.uk for opportunities in advanced biofuels, zero-carbon combustion and control of toxic emissions.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

Paul's research interests include a range of fundamental science and applied technologies in the utilisation of sustainable feedstocks for renewable energy and materials, mitigating harmful health and environmental impacts:

  • Developing low and net zero carbon fuels for propulsion and energy  systems through interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Fuel chemical and physical property effects on combustion phasing and emissions formation (NOx, PM, PN, CO, UHC) in diesel and spark ignition engines. 
  • Fuel and combustion impacts on air quality and public health.
  • Impacts of fuel molecular structure on low temperature reaction kinetics and ignition quality (ignition delay, knock resistance). 
  • Sustainable production of advanced bio fuels from feedstocks including micro-algae, lignocellulosic biomass and food wastes. 
  • Influence of fuel composition on rates of pollutant formation and toxicity during oxidation and pyrolysis reactions.
  • Particulate and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) formation.
  • Co-combustion of liquid and gaseous fuels. 
  • Effects of synthetic fuel additives on engine performance and emissions. 
  • Novel combustion strategies for prototype fuels in internal combustion engines. 
  • Energy efficient recovery of fuels and chemical precursors from waste materials through solvent extraction and pyrolysis. 
  • Catalytic after-treatment devices for reduction of engine exhaust pollutant emission. 
  • Energy and transport policy.
  • Solvent property and process effects on yield and composition during liquid-liquid extraction from solid materials.

Teaching Summary

Paul teaches advanced and applied thermodynamics at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He developed and coordinates a 2nd year practical lab class investigating biofuels for propulsion, and is Deputy Director of the MSc Mechanical Engineering programme.

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