UW University of Wisconsin Fount
  Rolf D. Reitz

Rolf D. Reitz


fields of interest

  • Combustion and Gas Gynamics
  • Sprays--Motion and Formation
  • Hydrocarbon Kinetics
  • Engine Fluid Dynamics
  • Computer Modeling
Engine Research Center

Professor Reitz's major research interest is in the area of internal combustion engines. He oversees several engine laboratories. In addition, he develops advanced computer models for predicting engine performance. His heavy-duty diesel engine laboratory features a Caterpillar 3401E single-cylinder test engine that is equipped with prototype fuel injection systems. His research was the first to demonstrate that the use of multiple injections can give significant emissions reductions in these engines. Multiple injections are now being implemented by all major diesel engine manufacturers. His recent work on diesel/gasoline dual fuel compression ignition has attracted much interest since it has demonstrated significant improvements in fuel economy while meeting stringent emissions mandates, without the need for exhaust after-treatment. His high-speed engine laboratory features an automotive-size diesel engine with advanced electronically controlled fuel injection systems capable of multiple injections. His experimental spray research focuses on fuel drop breakup and atomization phenomena, and has revealed new understandings about the mechanisms of high-speed drop breakup. His research has pioneered the use of computational fluid dynamics to understand basic physical processes and he has developed practical methods for reducing engine pollutant emissions and improving fuel economy.

Professor Reitz's sponsored research funding currently is about $1M/year, with major sponsorship from the DOE/Sandia laboratories, Caterpillar, GM and Ford. He is former Director of the Engine Research Center and is co-director of the ERC's Diesel Engine Research Consortium (DERC), which currently has ~35 industrial members and government labs. His research group currently includes 1 Staff members, 1 post-doctoral student and 1 MS and 5 Ph.D. graduate students. He also supervises international visiting scientists.

Prof. Reitz has received many awards for his research. His Byron Bird award citation from the College of Engineering states: 'Professor Reitz's spray modeling approach has quickly gained a worldwide acceptance as a robust modeling approach for atomization and sprays. A testimony of the quality of his work is demonstrated by the fact that all commercial computational fluid dynamics software, as well as all open-source computational fluid dynamics software used for modeling two-phase, chemically reactive flows have incorporated Professor Reitz's spray modeling approach.' Professor Reitzís engine spray and combustion computer models are now used routinely at virtually all major engine companies, as well at government labs and universities internationally. In addition, he has working relationships with leading code vendors for the use of his models in commercial codes.

Professor Reitz's modeling work includes the pioneering use of genetic algorithms for engine design optimization. This work has been featured in the mainstream press, including: The New York Times, Business Week, The London Times, Dallas Morning News, The Financial Times, National Public Radio, Discovery Headline News, MSNBC, and CNN. His recent dual-fuel (Gasoline-diesel 'Cocktail') experimental work has been featured by USA Today, Times of India, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Radio Network, WKOW Channel 27 TV Madison, WI, CBC Canadian Broadcast Co. News, Hart Energy Publishing, Designfax, Science Daily, Eurekalert, Physics Today Magazine, Chemistry Times, and a host of other online forums and blogs.

In 1998 Professor Reitz was appointed Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, and he was appointed Wisconsin Distinguished Professor in 1999. He was appointed ASME Fellow in 2006. He served as Chairman of the Institute of Liquid Atomization and Spraying Systems (ILASS-Americas) from 1999-2002. In 1999, he co-founded and serves as Editor (American continent) of the International Journal of Engine Research, which is published in association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in cooperation with JASME. He is also the Specialty Editor-in-Chief of the new open access Frontiers Journal of Engine and Automotive Engineering. Professor Reitz has also served on the Editorial Board of the Atomization and Sprays Journal and the Journal FUEL. He served on the SAE Colwell Award Committee and as an SAE Session-Organizer at the annual Congress Diesel Fuel Spray Technology session. He is consultant to many industries, has lectured widely and has won major research awards, including the Soichiro Honda Medal and the University of Wisconsin Byron Bird Award for excellence in research publication (2008).

The SOICHIRO HONDA MEDAL recognizes an individual for an outstanding achievement or a series of significant engineering contributions in developing improvements in the field of personal transportation. This medal was established in 1983 in recognition of Soichiro Honda's exemplary achievements in the field of personal transportation. The citation reads: 'awarded to Prof. R.D. Reitz for seminal contributions to the understanding and modeling of turbulence, sprays and combustion chemistry relative to the performance and emissions from diesel, spark-ignition and HCCI engines; for technological innovations in fuel injection systems; and for computation methods defining future diesel combustion systems and advanced engine controls for low emissions.'

In 2011 Prof. Reitz was awarded the The ASME INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE AWARD, which is given in recognition of eminent achievement or distinguished contribution over a substantial period of time, which may result from research, innovation or education in advancing the art of engineering in the field of internal combustion engines. The citation reads 'awarded to ROLF D. REITZ, Ph.D., Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of mechanical engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, for long-term contributions to the physics of liquid fuel spray atomization, 3-D numerical modeling of combustion, and combustion system optimization; for demonstrating that multiple injectors reduce emissions in diesel engines; and for the discovery of the reactivity controlled compression ignition strategy for high-efficiency, low-emissions engine combustion.'

In 2012 Prof. Reitz received the 2012 DOE VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES R&D AWARD whose citation states: 'In recognition of innovative combustion strategies leading to significant improvements in engine efficiency.'

In 2016 Prof. Reitz was awarded the SAE John H. Johnson award for 'outstanding leadership in research in diesel engines.'

In 2016 Prof. Reitz was named the Aurel Stodola Medal Laureate at ETH Zurich, Switzerland with citation 'His research foundations have led to cleaner, more efficient engines.'