Research Projects

1. Project title: CIDER – Chemical Imaging and Diagnostics for Energy Research

(Formally, “In-situ Chemical Measurement and Imaging Diagnostics for Energy Process Engineering”)

Joint PIs:  Prof. Hugh McCann (Edinburgh) & Prof. Walter Johnstone (Strathclyde)

EPSRC Platform Grant EP/P001661;

£1,279,395 (100% fEC), augmented by £555,000 from universities & industry 


The primary focus of CIDER is to build across two universities (Edinburgh and Strathclyde) a world-leading UK-based research, development and applications capability in the field of in-situ chemical and particulate measurement and imaging diagnostics for energy process engineering.

Independently, the two universities have previously developed globally leading capabilities in laser-based chemical and particulate measurement and imaging technologies, and in energy process engineering. This Platform Grant enables strategic cooperation to enhance the above capabilities, thus underpinning the research and development of industrial products, technology and applications.

Prior to CIDER, Edinburgh and Strathclyde have worked on a highly complex engineering project (EPSRC FLITES) to realise a chemical species measurement and diagnostic imaging system (7m diameter) that can be used on the exhaust plume of the largest gas turbine (aero) engines for engine health monitoring and fuels evaluation. CIDER sustains the FLITES team and enables a broad exploration of new ideas in diagnostics for energy process engineering.

The research programme encompasses four themes:

  • Absorption Spectroscopy
    Exploiting the continual advancement of optoelectronic technology;

  • Tomography
    Deepening the UK capability in this nowmainstream engineering method;

  • Laser Induced Fluorescence & Coherent antiStokes Raman Spectroscopy
    Enhancing these proven methods;

  • MultiWavelength Particulate Diagnostics 
    Exploring new and emerging techniques.

The above programme will result in a suite of new (probably hybrid) validated, diagnostic techniques for high-temperature energy processes (e.g. fuel cells, gas turbine engines, ammonia-burning engines, flame systems, etc.). The industry partners enjoy wide technology gate-keeping activities, early introduction to novel techniques, and the opportunity to participate in short exploratory projects and in dedicated shared-cost PhD student projects.

2. Project title: A Small Research Facility for Multi-phase Flows at High Pressure and Temperature

PI: Professor Mark Linne

EPRSC (EP/P020593/1), £1,414,903


The University of Edinburgh is purchasing a steady flow, high pressure (P < 120 bar) and temperature (T < 1000 K) optically accessible jet and spray research chamber. This chamber is unique within the UK. In addition, the university is also buying a single-cylinder optically accessible research engine. The chamber can be used to study sprays of all kinds; how they develop and react. The engine can be used to study transient fuel sprays as they interact with realistic in-cylinder flows. With this grant, the University of Edinburgh will acquire highly advanced laser diagnostics for multi-parameter measurements in the new chamber and engine, and in other related experimental devices, as a means to leverage the university's substantial equipment investment (£1.4 million) into a UK-wide Small Research Facility (SRF).

The measurements to be acquired by this SRF include:

a) A femtosecond laser system and ancillary devices (e.g. a second harmonic bandwidth compression system (SHBC), frequency resolved optical gating (FROG) to characterize the pulses etc.). The system will be used for hybrid picosecond/femtosecond rotational CARS (coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy), for line-image temperature and species (e.g. O2, N2, H2etc.) in the jet/spray equipment, and ballistic imaging for investigation of primary breakup in highly atomizing sprays.

b) High-speed (HS) 2-pulse, 532 nm wavelength laser and HS imaging systems for HS stereoscopic PIV, SLIPI imaging, and LII for particulate. A HS 1-pulse, 355/266 nm wavelength laser and HS intensifier system for HS PLIF, phosphors, and LITA.

c) A phase Doppler instrument for droplet/particle size distribution and velocity in reactive jets and sprays

The combined equipment and diagnostics will enable new studies on:

a) Fuel sprays (including alternative fuels), and

b) Supercritical materials synthesis (biofuels, pharmaceuticals, nano-catalysts, polymers etc.).

Our research goals are multi-faceted. The research will enale more efficient combustion engines, reducing their impact on the climate. It will also make it possible to understand and then improve supercritical processing for materials synthesis, helping bring such products to market more effectively. In so doing we will address critical needs for both established industries and for key emerging industries across the UK.

3. Project title: Cerebral Blood Flow Imaging based on 3D Electrical Impedance Tomography

PI: Dr Jiabin Jia

EPSRC (EP/P006833/1), £100,894


Cerebral Blood Flow (CBF) is an importance marker to indicate the status of blood perfusion in the brain. The change of CBF is always associated with brain disease and disorder, for instance, stroke. Imaging is critical for human brain research. Various clinical neuroimaging equipment allows measurement of regional CBF, however, their temporal resolution can only reach the scale of seconds, which is not fast enough to monitor the rapid change of CBF. In addition, expensive operation cost of these equipment limits the availability of continuous bedside online monitoring.

This project aims to develop a novel approach of imaging CBF using 3D Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT). Since the electrical conductivity of blood has the distinctive difference with that of other brain tissue, EIT is able to noninvasively produce the 3D images of the electrical conductivity distribution in the brain with 2-millisecond temporal resolution. Pioneering research has been carried out and the results demonstrated EIT was a promising technique for brain imaging. Following three objectives are proposed to improve EIT's performance: (1) To explore the rich spectroscopic information of brain tissue and select optimal working frequency for EIT; (2) To develop advanced image reconstruction algorithm to improve image resolution; (3) To compute 3D velocity field of CBF from series EIT images. These objectives will be implemented in four work packages: (1) Wideband multifrequency EIT based on Chirp signal and wavelet transform; (2) 3D brain image reconstructions using sparsity constraint as prior information; (3) 3D Velocity field of CBF using voxel-to-voxels cross-correlation algorithm; (4) Validation of system performance on realistic head-shaped phantom.

The proposed method could potentially be used to diagnose brain diseases (e.g. stroke, epilepsy, brain tumours), monitor cerebral activities (e.g. Non-invasive measurement of cerebral perfusion in traumatic brain injury), and learn more about the human cognitive process (e.g. increased understanding and early identification of dementia). Ultimately this research will lead to new insights into brain diseases and brain function.

4. Project title: Energy transfer Processes at gas/wall Interfaces under extreme Conditions

EU project (Project ID: 759546), EUR 1,499,351.00

PI: Dr Brian Peterson


In the future, high-efficiency (low CO2) vehicles will be powered in part by reinvented internal combustion (IC) engines that are “downsized” and operate with new combustion modes. These engine concepts are subject to problems such as increased transient heat transfer and flame quenching in small passages. Near-wall transient heat transfer is not well-understood in engine environments; the gas is not constant in pressure, temperature, or velocity such that physical processes quickly digress from established theory. EPIC is uniquely placed to address these problems. A novel constant-volume chamber, offering realistic engine passages but with optical access, and which emulates the pressure/temperature time curve of a real engine, will be developed. This chamber will make it possible to measure the highly transient and highly variable processes at the gas/wall interface (including a highly dynamic flame front) for single- and two-wall passages. Measurements will be made using a suite of advanced laser diagnostics; a novel aspect of the proposed work as they have not been used in combination to study such a problem before. Hybrid fs/ps rotational coherent Raman (i.e. CARS) in a line format will provide transient gas temperature and species profiles normal to the wall surface in high-risk/high-gain packages. PIV/PTV measurements will further elucidate flow dynamics at the surface. Planar OH-LIF will help interpret CARS measurements and provide necessary details of flame transport and quenching. As the flame approaches the surface, phosphor thermometry will measure wall temperature and heat flux to elucidate the highly dynamic inter-coupling between flame and wall. EPIC will provide substantial breakthroughs in knowledge by measuring unsteady boundary layer development and understanding its influence on flame quenching for single- and two-wall surfaces. As such, EPIC will provide the fundamental knowledge that supports cleaner combustion technology for the future.

5. Project title: Randomness: a resource for real-time analytics

PI: Dr Nick Polydorides

EPSRC (EP/R041431/1), £229,923


The scope:

Modern engineering relies on data and models to broaden our understanding of complex systems, devices and processes, through predictive and diagnostic analytics. Examples of this include fluid dynamic simulations for energy conversion, electromagnetic models in geophysical and environmental monitoring, mechanics in design of resilient infrastructures, acoustic and X-ray models for non-destructive testing and optical models in biomedical imaging. Traditionally, numerical computing has been at the forefront of engineering, however its embedding within the engineering process is still hindered by the complexity associated with realistic data models. Currently, process analytics, operate either off-line, on high performance computing infrastructure for accurate simulations and sophisticated data processing algorithms, or in real-time

based on oversimplified problem specifications that yield some crude imperative information.

The challenge:

To empower data centric engineering in manufacturing and quality assurance processes with real-time, accurate modelling and data processing we take on the challenge of real-time, large-scale computing, by replacing the conventional way we perform algebraic computations with a more efficient randomised scheme. In the context of basic solution of linear equations for example, this approach randomly selects a small fraction of the elements in the matrices and the vectors involved, radically reducing the computational effort and time. What's more impressive than this, is that when optimally sampled, this computational efficiency is also complemented by a very small solution error, and thus by investigating ways that we can compute these optimal sampling distributions we can achieve massive computational savings, ultimately providing the productive sectors of the economy with an affordable solution for real-time modelling and data processing, without compromising the quality and accuracy of the sought information.

Main objectives:

The main objective of this project is to develop a new form of the popular finite element method by incorporating algorithms for randomised linear algebra. Through theory, analysis and computation we seek to prove a concept of randomised finite element method for simulating diffusion processes and solving the associated inverse data-fitting problems by investigating how the respective optimal sampling distributions can be computed and sampled in an efficient way.

Why does it matter?

The success of this project will make a measurable contribution on making accurate, high-dimensional computing portable and affordable to the broad engineering and manufacturing sector, allowing for real-time process monitoring and control even where high performance computing infrastructure is not available.

What difference will it achieve?

Our novel framework of data analytics aims to provide prompt and accurate insights into complex and dynamic data and models. In a manufacturing process this will lead to a rise in productivity, monitoring quality of services and products, as well as reduction of operational costs and waste. We also foresee that these advances will find application in the broader engineering sector as well as having an impact health informatics to enable simultaneous imaging and therapy for cancer patients and national security in being able to detect and screen in real time against threads.

6. Project title: CIDAR: Combustion species Imaging Diagnostics for Aero-engine Research

EU project (Project ID: 785539), EUR 2,231,770.00


The CIDAR project is the result of a Consortium formed by Academic Parties (Manchester, Strathclyde and Edinburgh Universities), a Research and Development Organization (INTA) and private companies (DAS and OptoSci). Therefore, CIDAR builds upon the expertise of the UK's and Spain’s world-leading groups in fibre-lasers, laser based gas and particulate detection, opto-electronics, and chemical species tomography (CST), allied to its industrial strengths in aero-engine manufacture and aviation fuel technology.

The CIDAR project aims to establish a world-leading capability in the non-intrusive measurement and 2D imaging of nvPM/soot and CO2concentrations in aero-engine exhaust. Non-intrusive planar tomographic measurement of CO2will be based on calibration-free Fibre-Laser Absorption Spectroscopy and soot measurements will be based on laser-induced incandescence (LII).

Validation of both imaging technologies will be carried out at the INTA Turbojet Test Centre using large civil turbofan engines, providing data analysis and measurement uncertainty of the current state of the art measurement systems.

The measurement system will then be developed to a maturity level of TRL6 with a clearly identified route to commercialisation.