SAE Blog Text

Abdelrahman Waleed Mohamed Elmagdoub and Antonio Garcia Martinez weigh in on exciting industry trends and possibilities ahead of SAE’s PF&L Conference

Posted: July 12, 2022

Transportation is about transformation.

As time moves on and technologies progress, so too, must the approaches to how we address the mobility industry’s challenges and the age-old question of how we get from point A to point B.

Thinking about those challenges on a daily basis are Abdelrahman Waleed Mohamed Elmagdoub, Artificial Intelligence Ph.D. Student, AAPS CDT, Cohort 2, and Antonio Garcia Martinez, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Thermal and Reciprocating Engines at the Universitat Politècnica de Valencia.

With industry’s push toward electric vehicles (EVs) and their own work with internal combustion engines (ICEs), Elmagdoub and Martinez talked shop with us at SAE International about their work and how their involvement with SAE factors in to furthering the future of mobility.



SAE INTERNATIONAL: What are your thoughts on the direction of several OEMs are taking going to all electric? With the many issues arising from EV, are you glad to still be working on ICEs?

ABDELRAHMAN WALEED MOHAMED ELMAGDOUB (AWME): I'm extremely glad to still be working on ICEs. With new carbon-neutral methodologies to produce liquid fuels evolving every day as well as new engine and aftertreatment concepts and technologies being developed constantly, it certainly could not have been a better, more exciting, time to be working on ICE development. I sincerely hope that over the next few years legislators realize that BEVs are not the only solution and that as an industry we should work collaboratively to holistically achieve global targets to resolve environmental concerns across a variation of impact categories in an efficient and sustainable manner.

ANTONIO GARCIA MARTINEZ (AGM): I am absolutely delighted to continue working with the problems that transportation has. And of course, those that are related to ICEs (new emissions regulation, CO2, performance improvement, new fuels...).

Regarding the EV as the only powertrain solution, please, let me answer with an anecdote, unleaded gasoline was banned in Japan in the ‘80s. Do people know when it stopped being used in Algeria? In June 2021. By this, I mean that EVs are part of the solution to the global challenge of CO2 in transport, but obviously their implementation will have a different pace throughout the planet for different and obvious reasons.

So, what should we researchers, who have traditionally carried out our activity in the ICEs, do? Give up? or seek how to apply our knowledge to the challenges that ICEs and EVs have and will have? Of course, the answer is to continue. In my case, I work with new research trends in ICEs (H2, NH3, e-fuels…) and I have also adopted the thermal runaway in Lithium-Ion batteries as one of my research topics. In short, it is a combustion process due to a short circuit between cathode and anode. After this there is a venting process (mainly CO, CH4, and H2) and a combustion process that extends between cells to the entire pack, generating the vehicle fire.

In this sense, there is an infinity of concepts and techniques (Schlieren, PIV, in-chamber pressure analysis…) that I have been applying to ICEs that are transferable to solve LIB’s thermal runaway problem. So, in my opinion, mechanical engineers still have a lot to say in the automotive world.


SAE: What conversations in industry are happening right now that you’re most interested in? Or, conversely, what conversations are you interested in starting that AREN’T happening now and should be?  

AWME: As is currently evident, the majority of OEMs have adopted the BEV approach as a solution to arising environmental concerns. It seems as though the consensus amongst different legislative bodies is that the BEV approach is the cleanest. I personally disagree since a majority of lifecycle assessment studies suggest otherwise. I'm primarily interested in carbon-neutral ICE development as I believe the fastest and most efficient way to a clean future is the hybrid route. I would also like to see more legislative organization discussing impact emissions from different powertrains on an LCA basis and dictate to OEMs that such impacts should be highlighted to consumers in a transparent and informative manner.

AGM: In Europe, most of the discussions for new research consortiums focus on the expansion of the use of H2 (both, ICEs and fuel cells) and BEVs. Mainly, the challenges associated with the implementation of technologies (H2 generation and purity, charging infrastructure, clean energy generation for feeding new transportation demands, safety, range extension...) are discussed. This is essentially marked by the guidelines of the European Commission and its refusal to consider CO2 emissions from a global perspective (Life Cycle Assessment). In this sense, I am sure that if the current local vision of the problem were to be dismissed, the solutions to be adopted would be different and probably more effective concerning the main objective that researchers focused on transport have, to achieve the greatest reduction in CO2 now and as quickly as possible.


SAE: How does your involvement with SAE affect the work you do?

AWME: SAE is involved in a broad range of subfields within the subject of automotive development. My work and involvement with SAE helps me meet researchers with similar interests through different conferences. 

AGM: In multiple and favorable ways. The most relevant is generating a discussion forum among peers in which my research is improved due to colleagues’ interactions, suggestions, and advice. In a similar sense, providing visibility to my research and therefore a lobby in which to generate new contacts and strengthen old ones. This brings many opportunities for new consortiums in which to continue growing as a researcher becomes a reality. In addition, considering that I am part of academia, SAE is a relevant part of my students education. It results in a perfect scenario for developing his/her skills and abilities.  


SAE: What can a mobility professional get out of attending SAE events like PF&L and why is it important that SAE continue hosting these events?

AWME: A mobility professional has everything to gain from attending SAE events. Other than getting to meet and converse with likeminded researchers and industry engineers, attendance and engagement could help young researchers in academia align their research goal quicker and as a result substantially improve their work's direct translation and implications to market to achieve real results.

AGM: After the pandemic period that we have experienced, it has become completely clear to me that person-to-person interaction is much more than necessary. Remote meetings are great but very important details are lost that only give human closeness.

The fact that SAE does not centralize all its events in the same place, but instead distributes them to different parts of the world, makes this closeness between people easier. I think it is essential that SAE hold these types of events in different parts of the world.


Want to experience those benefits for yourself? Register for the 2022 Powertrains, Fuels & Lubricants Conference & Exhibition (PF&L), September 6-8 in Krakow, Poland.