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CODE 86665
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The unit deals with the most relevant topics related to advanced reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), alternative fuels for the transport sector, the development of electric powertrain units and the application of fuel cell to mobility systems.



The main objectives of the course are: to provide an adequate and critical knowledge on environmental friendly propulsion systems for different applications, taking into account energy-related and economic issues. To develop skills for the analysis and comparison of advanced systems and technologies for ultra-low emissions Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), the development of hybrid propulsion systems and the application of fuel cells to road vehicles propulsion. To define criteria for the selection of different systems and technologies referring to several application fields. To assess real benefits in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact for the proposed technical solutions compared to conventional systems. To outline characteristics and properties of alternative fuels to guide for their selection and use.


At the end of the unit, the student is expected to be able to:

  • compare technical solutions for emissions control and CO2 reduction in propulsion systems with a quantitative approach;
  • apply theoretical basis and operating principles to enhance performance and environmental impact of propulsion systems;
  • identify feasible options for production and use of alternative fuels and energy vectors;
  • evaluate technical pathways for the development of advanced propulsion systems;
  • communicate effectively in written and oral form, adapting his/her communication to the context, using sources and aids of various kinds;
  • use critical thinking and argumentative skills, processing and evaluating information;
  • identify his/her own abilities, concentrate, and reflect critically on a task, managing complexity, showing resilience and autonomy in decision-making and in carrying out tasks, seeking support if necessary, managing stress;
  • be aware of his/her own learning strategies, organise, and evaluate personal learning according to what has been understood and learnt, understand his/her own needs and ways of developing skills, showing ability to identify and pursue learning objectives.


Basic thermodynamic knowledge (suggested)

Basic knowledge on Internal Combustion Engines (suggested)


54 hours of lectures, including discussions of technical issues. Topics will be proposed and selected by the students to develop detailed analysis on available literature and prepare presentations for seminars in classroom. Presentations will be discussed and peer evaluated.



Advanced systems and technologies for ultra-low emissions ICE – General overview on problems, legislation and possible actions. Advanced fuel injection systems. Advanced combustion processes. Innovative devices and systems for exhaust emissions control. Advanced turbocharging concepts. CO2 emission reduction in thermal engines. Downsizing concept and related technologies.

Alternative fuels – Natural gas. Hydrogen and hydrogen-methane mixtures for thermal engine powertrains. Biofuels. Ammonia and methanol. CO2 emissions overall balance. Well-to-wheel analysis.

Electric and hybrid propulsion – Electric powertrain: advantages/disadvantages, performance, operating range, costs, components, overall energy and emissive balance. Hybrid propulsion: hybrid system configurations, hybrid categories (start-&-stop, micro, mild, full hybrid systems), main features, characteristics and limits of operating configurations, applied examples, overall energy and emissive balance, further developments.

Fuel cell application to propulsion systems – General overview on the electrochemical conversion process, fuel cell types and characteristics. Fuel cell application to powertrain systems: types, operating problems, performance, hydrogen generation and storage systems, energy and emissive balance; applications, technical and economic issues, further developments.

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda: Objectives 7 (Clean and Affordable Energy) and 13 (Fighting climate change).


Detailed notes on the different topics discussed in lectures will be provided by the teacher through the Aulaweb page. Therefore, all registered students will access documents to prepare the exam. It is recommended to attend the lectures.

  • P. J. Dingle and M. D. Lai, Diesel Common Rail and Advanced Fuel Injection Systems, Society of Automotive Engineers, 2005.
  • R. van Basshuysen, Gasoline Engine with Direct Injection, Vieweg+Teubner, 2009.
  • AA. VV., Advanced combustion for low emissions and high efficiency: a literature review of HCCI combustion concepts, CONCAWE Technical Report no.4/08, 2008.
  • B. Kegl, M. Kegl, S. Pehan, Green Diesel Engines – Biodiesel Usage in Diesel Engines, Springer, 2013.
  • B. Morey, Future Automotive Fuels and Energy – Technology Profile, Society of Automotive Engineers, 2013.
  • G. Kalghatgi, Fuel/Engine Interactions, Society of Automotive Engineers, 2014.
  • K. Owen, T. Coley, Automotive Fuels Reference Book, Society of Automotive Engineers, 3rd Edition, 2014.
  • I. Husain, Electric and Hybrid Vehicles – Design Fundamentals, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011.
  • AA. VV., Fuel Cell Handbook, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, 7th Edition, 2004.
  • P. Corbo, F. Migliardini, O. Veneri, Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Road Vehicles, Springer, 2011.
  • R. Edwards, H. Hass, J.F. Larivé, L. Lonza, H. Maas, D. Rickeard, Well-to-Wheels analysis of future automotive fuels and powertrains in the European context – Well-to-Wheels Report, Version 5, European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Institute for Energy and Transport, 2020.
  • K. Senecal, F. Leach, Racing Toward Zero - The Untold Story of Driving Green. SAE International, 2021.



Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



Examination is based on an oral test, proposing two questions, selecting their subject among the unit topics.

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework, and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Professor Federico Scarpa (, the Department's disability liaison. As an example, for students with specific learning disabilities, more time will be available, and the use of concept maps will be allowed.


The following aspects will be evaluated:

  • knowledge and understanding of topics discussed during the lectures;
  • application of a critical approach to compare options and characteristics of propulsion systems;
  • use of proper technical language;
  • skills in reproducing and discussing simple technical schemes.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Affordable and clean energy
Affordable and clean energy
Climate action
Climate action


 PRO3 - Soft skills - Imparare a imparare avanzato 1 - A
PRO3 - Soft skills - Imparare a imparare avanzato 1 - A
 PRO3 - Soft skills - Personale avanzato 1 - A
PRO3 - Soft skills - Personale avanzato 1 - A
 PRO3 - Soft skills - Alfabetica avanzato 1 - A
PRO3 - Soft skills - Alfabetica avanzato 1 - A