Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


Caterpillar Innovation and Research Centre (IRC)

The Caterpillar Innovation and Research Centre is a partnership between academia and industry with the aim of meeting business needs and academic goals.

The core aim of the Centre is the discovery and development of new engineering processes and components based on recent scientific advances that give a compelling business benefit. The Loughborough academic team works in the fundamental aspects of engine technology, the application of new design methods and materials and brings advances in electronics and control methods. Academic staff work closely with Caterpillar colleagues to formulate projects which ultimately lead to new technologies applied both at Caterpillar and its suppliers.

Activities we address include but are not limited to:

  • Boost and Energy Recovery
  • Thermal management
  • Control and Modelling
  • After-treatment
  • Mechanical Design

Boost and Energy Recovery:

The trend to downsized engines places the emphasis on air system performance. Research topics include managing high levels and boost and rapid changes. High dynamics requirements require innovation on control systems technology and attention to abnormal conditions such as surge. Air systems provide a natural home for development in energy recovery, and component design allied with control system technology offers substantial benefits.

Thermal management:

Improved thermal management is made necessary by high thermal load coming from downsized combustion systems. Reducing the mass and complexity of cooling systems is an essential step towards fuel economy. Fundamental issues typified by pulsating flow heat transfer provide a focus for fundamental research that can bring immediate benefits to product development.

Control and Modelling:

The increasing number of degrees of freedom in a modern engine places demands on the control system to manage optimal conditions under the transient loads expected in machinery. The need to maintain low emissions and high fuel economy leads to unique control solutions which need both implementation and test.


An after-treatment system represents a significant cost and complexity in a modern engine system. Research into fluid flow, thermal phenomena, spray generation and control methods will lead to reduced complexity and cost, with improvements in reliability.

Mechanical Design:

While engine design methods are well established, the increasing thermal loads and downsizing are increasing the mechanical stresses in components. Bearings, cylinder heads, valves and boost devices are all vulnerable and to increase performance while maintaining manufacturing costs innovative design and deployment of materials is vital.

Associated research capabilities, centres and groups

More about us

Caterpillar IRC contacts:

Technical enquiries:

Dr Adrian Spencer


t: +44 (0)1509 227254

Administrative enquiries:

Rawindra Nottra


t: +44(0)1509 227213