Course Title: Vehicle Power Systems

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Vehicle Power Systems

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


115H Aerospace, Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


Bundoora Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017

Course Coordinator: Dr Petros Lappas

Course Coordinator Phone: + 61 3 9925 8084

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course builds on your studies in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics to give you fundamental knowledge and skills required of practicing engineers in the discipline of Vehicle Power Systems. This course provides you with the understanding of the fundamentals of piston engine performance analysis, dynamics of the two and four stoke engine, and elements of its design.

Under these major headings, the course will cover the following general topics:

  • Piston engine classification, Engine indicated work, pressure and indicated power. Mean effective pressure, brake effective power
  • Combustion and efficiencies; knock and its detection, consequences and elimination, effect of fuels, additives and octane ratings Engine performance characteristic and engine operating regimes:-Steady, transient and unsteady; Continuous and intermittent regimes.
  • Engine load and speed characteristics. Fuel air ratios: Lambda/equivalency ratio influence on engine performance
  • Super- and turbo-charging the engine: Impact of super and turbo-charging the engine. Arrangement of supercharger and turbo-chargers. Fuel injection in spark ignition and compression ignition engines.
  • Principles of operation ignition systems: ignition timing
  • Properties of exhaust gases: pollution and emission control treatments
  • Engine dynamics, design analysis, principal dimensional analysis and specific parameters.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following program learning outcomes (PLOs):


1.1. Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.

1.3. In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.

1.4. Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.

1.5. Knowledge of contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.



2.1. Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.

2.2. Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) 

Upon successful completion of the course, you should be able to:

  1. Carry out performance analyses of internal combustion engines, including the derivation of indicated and brake mean effective pressures, and calculating indicated and brake engine power
  2. Analyse mixture preparation processes such as manifold and direct fuel injection
  3. Analyse mixture ignition and choose appropriate ignition methods
  4. Analyse the internal combustion process, including appreciating the phenomenon of engine knock and discussing methods of knock control.
  5. Quantify the need for super-and turbo-charging the internal combustion engine, and carry out forced induction analysis
  6. Explain fuel requirements and combustion attributes of spark ignition and compression ignition engines
  7. Analyse exhaust emissions and explain causes of pollution and methods of control
  8. Carry out dynamic analysis of the engine, including methods of balancing different configurations of an engine
  9. Carry out design analysis of the internal combustion engine
  10. Determine the environmental impact of existing vehicle power systems, and the relative environmental merits of emerging power system technologies.

Overview of Learning Activities

Lectures, class and home exercises, reading assignments, laboratory work.

Overview of Learning Resources

A list of key references and sources will be provided through course Blackboard, available from myRMIT. The course presenter will suggest further works and sources for following up on the topics covered. Wherever possible, lecture presentations will be made available electronically to the students. Some additional written material will also be made available via the myRMIT Blackboard from time to time.

Overview of Assessment

 X This course has no hurdle requirements.

☐ All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

Assessment tasks


Literature review assignment
Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1-10

Engine lab report

Weighting 25%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

Final Exam
Weighting 50%
This assessment task supports CLOs 1 -10