A newsletter for alumni, students, and friends of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Professor Reitz Leads Research in Engine Combustion and Cylinder Design

Professor Rolf Reitz

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Professor Rolf Reitz is one of the ME department's leading researchers in internal combustion engines and sprays. As a member of the department's Engine Research Center (ERC) , he currently is focusing on developing advanced computer models for fuel injected engines as well as performing engine experiments with a single-cylinder research diesel engines. The experimental results are used to study the effects of fuel injection characteristics on diesel engine soot and nitrogen oxide emissions in addition to providing validation data for the computer models.

Before joining the ME department in 1989, Reitz spent six years at the General Motors Research Laboratories, three years as a research staff member at Princeton University where he earned his PhD, and two years as a research scientist at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.

In the ERC , Reitz guides 15 graduate students and several post-doctoral and research staff who are doing both computer and experimental lab work. One of the graduate students, Peter Senecal, has received international publicity for his computer model based on the natural selection theory of evolution. In his model, whose purpose is to come up with the most efficient design for a combustion chamber, he uses a genetic algorithm optimization tool to search for the best designs. Beginning with an initial design, the computer checks its performance, then varies the combustion chamber shape and compares the performance of it with the earlier one. Then it repeats the process until the most efficient design is achieved.

Reitz says that his computer and experimental research are closely tied; the students work together. "I'm also excited about our experimental work to verify our computer models. One of our projects works with prototype fuel injection systems to improve engine performance by injecting fuel in multiple pulses at high pressure. We're using both a Caterpillar truck engine and a small Fiat automotive engine." He is pleased that Caterpillar has decided to send two of its employees to work with him for a year to accelerate the pace of developing this technology.

In recognition of his contributions to the ME department and to the university, Professor Reitz was named Wisconsin Distinguished Professor in 1999. He is a consultant to industry and is a member of the Combustion Institute and is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He also serves as chairman of the Institute of Liquid Atomization and Spraying Systems and is editor and co-founder of the International Journal of Engine Research.

ME Newsletter is a periodic publication of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Correspondence should be sent to the address below.

ME Newsletter
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1513 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706-1572

      Editor: Gail Gawenda

Designer: Lynda Litzkow

Last Modified: Thursday, 19-Apr-2001 16:09:45 CDT

SPRING 2001 Contents