Department of Mechanical Engineering
Patrick Kirchen’s research group focusses on reducing the negative impacts of energy conversion systems on the environment and on society. These impacts can be related the extraction, production, or use of energy resources and can include climate change, air and water contamination, resource depletion, habitat destruction, and health effects. His research aims to address these through several paths. For example, his group is developing strategies and engineering tools for the optimization of internal combustion engines. A particular goal of this work is increasing the engine efficiency, reducing the harmful emissions that they produce, and allowing engines to operate effectively with alternative and renewable fuels. Such fuels are attractive as they can lessen the climate change and environmental impacts of energy systems typically using conventional fossil fuels. To assess the conversion of these fuels in engines, his group uses research oriented engines and develops optical techniques that allow them to visualize the combustion process within the engine. Ultimately, this information is culminated into mathematical models that can be used to evaluate, develop, and control engines. Beyond internal combustion engines, his group is also exploring technologies using advanced ceramic materials for the processing and conversion of fuels. These materials hold the potential for more cost-effective and efficient application of renewable fuels to energy systems, and facilitate the combination of renewable and conventional energy sources.
Prior to UBC:
Prior to coming to UBC, Patrick was a research scientist and postdoctoral scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working in the area of ion transport membranes. He received his PhD from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland in 2009 for research related to engines and emissions. His BSc and MSc are both from the University of Alberta.
Patrick received the biennial Kamm-Jante medal from the WKM (Scientific Society of Automotive and Engine Technology) for his PhD dissertation. His research has been published in journals such as Combustion and Flame, SAE International Journal of Engines, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, and Journal of Membrane Science.
In his free time, Patrick enjoys cycling, working on (old) vehicles, and camping/fishing/road trips with his family. Thanks to his kids, he is now also a dedicated follower of CBC’s Heartland.