Engine Combustion & Efficiency

ORNL currently and historically supports the U.S. DOE on multi-cylinder and vehicle applications of diesel combustion, lean burn gasoline combustion, and low temperature combustion processes, and performs principal research on efficiency enabling technologies including emission controls, thermal energy recovery, and bio-renewable fuels.  Research areas span from fundamental concepts to engine/vehicle integration and demonstration with a particular emphasis on the following areas:

  • Thermodynamics for identifying and characterizing efficiency opportunities for engine-systems as well as the development of non-conventional combustion concepts for reducing fundamental combustion losses.
  • Nonlinear sciences for improving the physical understanding and control of combustion instabilities to enable the next generation of robust high efficiency clean vehicles.
  • Thermal energy recovery technologies to maximize fuel efficiency and minimize thermal energy discarded to the environment.
  • Advanced engine technologies such as gasoline direction injection, variable compression ratio, and variable valve timing for maximizing engine efficiency with lowest possible emissions and enabling more widespread use of bio-renewable fuels.


Capabilities in these areas include extensive modeling and experimental research as well as strategic alliances with industry, universities, and other national laboratories to maximize the overall benefit of DOE funded research.


Technical Highlights October 2015Oct 2015 highlights

Journal Paper to Report the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNLs) Recent Discovery of Incompatibility between Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) and Zinc Dithiophosphate (ZDDP)...