The University of Brighton has teamed up with industry and with academics in Russia, Italy and France in a £1.3m project to help design more efficient fuels.

The research will focus on the microscopic fuel droplets as they reach combustion chambers. Current thinking is based on the premise that droplets are spherical but the new research shows there are different shapes. Scientists believe that understanding the processes involved will lead towards cleaner and more efficient fuels.

The research ‘Investigation of Non-Spherical Droplets in High-Pressure Fuel Sprays’ is due to begin in October and funding has come mainly from the government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with a financial and technical contribution from BP.

Dr Cyril Crua, principal research fellow in the university’s Centre for Automotive Engineering, and the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, said: “This is an exciting project which has the potential of reaping great benefits in reducing fuel consumption and improving the efficiency of engines.

“The project will underpin research in many other areas that rely on the efficient delivery of liquid fuel, pharmaceutical drugs, cryogens, lubricants and selective catalytic reducing agents.”

A spokesman for BP said: “We are delighted to be working on this research project. We look forward to seeing the results which will help us to develop fuels for our customers in the future.”

The university will be collaborating with City University London, as well as Italy’s University of Bergamo, Moscow State University, and CNRS, France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.