Department of Mechanical Engineering

Thermofluids laboratory

Our brand new Thermofluids Laboratory located at the Newmarket campus consists of a range of resources that help Thermofluids research and consulting services undertaken by research students and staff.

Facilities include brand new environmental chambers, heat transfer and fluids labs, a well-resourced large open wet lab space, a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system, a thermometry calibration lab, petrol and diesel engine test cells, emissions analysers, engine and chassis dynamometers, an instrumented road vehicle, and a range of rigs, instrumentation, and measurement systems.

The laboratory houses a mechanical workshop, and an electronics and instrumentation workshop, and is supported by a number of technical staff.

Facilities and Labs


The heat transfer and projects labs are located with the Thermofluids Laboratory, across two environmentally controlled spaces and an open project space.

Lab Areas and Equipment

There are three separate areas as follows:

  • Heat Transfer 1 (HT1)
    • Micro fluids and heat transfer rigs
    • Traversing rigs
    • Instrumentation and data acquisition systems
  • Heat Transfer 2 (HT2)
    • PIV system (TSI, Class 4 Laser)
    • Instrumentation and data acquisition systems
  • Project space
    • A large open wet lab space with benches
    • Extractor systems and multiple services
    • A range of experimental test rigs, storage areas, workspaces



  • The heat transfer labs accommodate smaller and micro scale thermodynamics/heat transfer/fluids research work and those that require stable environmental conditions to be maintained.
  • Specialist PIV facility enables mapping of complex flow fields.
  • The open project space allows rigs of all sizes to be set up and is suitable for wet work as well.
  • Thermofluidic systems that can be studied span across the areas of thermodynamics, heat and mass transfer; refrigeration, air conditioning and ventilation; industrial thermal fluid dynamics; energy production and conversion; combustion; turbomachinery; and much more.


Examples of projects

  • Fundamental boiling and condensation heat transfer of CO2 at low temperatures
  • Synthetic jet impingement heat transfer
  • Micro oscillating heat pipes
  • Oscillating reeds for heat transfer enhancement at micro scale
  • An acoustic refrigerator with bent tube resonators
  • The physics of oscillatory flows through orifice type restrictions
  • Interaction of tunnel ventilation performance with fixed fire suppression
  • Regenerative micro combustor for a UMGT
  • Ultra micro turbomachinery for a UMGT
  • Investigation of a novel thermal water pump
  • Unsteady hydrodynamics of tidal turbines arising from seabed and wave generated turbulence




The environmental chamber test facility is located within the Thermofluids Laboratory, and is available for commercial contract research work, in addition to serving student and staff research projects.

Each chamber enables control of ambient temperature and humidity for research, product testing, development and evaluation. MEPS testing for energy labelling is a speciality.


There are two brand new environmental chambers as follows:

  • Environment chamber 1 (A)
    • Max temperature 50 deg C
    • Min temperature -10 deg C
    • Max RH 95%
    • Min RH 35%
    • Max load in space 10 kW (heating or cooling)
  • Environment chamber 2 (B)
    • Max temperature 30 deg C
    • Min temperature -15 deg C
    • Max RH 95%
    • Min RH 35%
    • Max load in space 10 kW (heating or cooling)



  • Energy labelling testing to requirements of MEPS per AS/NZS 4474.2
  • Testing and development of refrigeration products and systems
  • Testing and development of humidity control devices
  • Testing of electronic components
  • Any application where controlled environmental conditions are required


Examples of Projects

  • Refrigerator and freezer efficiency testing to a variety of international test standards.
  • Evaluation of alternative refrigerants and refrigeration components.
  • Efficiency test standards correlation and harmonisation.
  • Effect of ambient conditions, door opening and food load variation on refrigeration power consumption and efficiency.


The engine (and rotating machinery) research facility is located across three fully instrumented and serviced test cells within the Thermofluids Laboratory. It is well equipped to conduct a wide range of engine and fuels research and development. Emissions and performance characterisation, management system mapping, fundamental research and component and engine (and rotating machinery) testing are just some applications.


The key pieces of equipment include:

  • Ricardo E6 Research Engine (Test cell 1)
    • Variable compression ratio.
    • Spark ignition or diesel.
  • Borghi and Saveri FA200/30SPV eddy current dynamometer (Test cell 2)
    • Max power 150 kW, max torque 620 Nm, max speed 10000 rpm.
  • Borghi and Saveri FA100/30SL eddy current dynamometer [with Mazda 1600cc engine] (Test cell 2)
    • Max power 75 kW, max speed 12000 rpm
  • Dyne Systems 100 AC dynamometer (Test cell 3)
    • Max power 75 kW, max torque 240 Nm, max speed 8500 rpm.

Any of the above dynamometers can operate with any of the following equipment:

  • Fuel consumption
    • Liquid fuels (petrol, diesel, alcohols) ± 0.5 % accuracy
    • Gaseous fuels (CNG, LPG) ± 0.5 % accuracy
  • Exhaust Emissions
    • CO, CO2, CH4 NDIR, O2 paramagnetic, THC heated FID
    • NO/NOx heated chemiluminescent
  • Air flow measurement
    • Laminar flow elements (50, 100, 400 & 1000 cfm)
    • Combustion Pressure: Piezo electric transducer system and high speed data acquisition


  • Engine performance and emissions mapping
  • Fuel testing
  • Engine development
  • Rotating machinery performance testing


The University of Auckland’s Vehicle Research Facility (VRF) is also located within the Thermofluids Laboratory and is well equipped to undertake a wide range of vehicle related research. Exhaust emission measurement is a speciality, being the only such laboratory in New Zealand.



The key pieces of equipment include:

  • Schenck chassis dynamometer
    • 200 kph, 230 kW, with fully programmable road load and inertia simulation.
  • Beckman constant volume sample system (CVS)
    • For certification type emission testing.
  • Laboratory grade exhaust gas analysers
    • For carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, total hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen.
  • Two stage particulate dilution tunnel
    • For diesel vehicle particulate emission measurement.
  • Computerised drivers aid
    • For transient cycle testing, and computer based data acquisition.
  • Sealed housing for evaporative determination (SHED)




  • Certification vehicle emission testing to various international standards for petrol and diesel light duty vehicles; eg. US FTP75, Australian ADR37/01, European NEDC, Japanese 10.15 mode.
  • Development of drive cycles representative of “real world” driving conditions.
  • Fuel consumption and exhaust emissions testing for petrol, diesel, alcohol and gaseous fuels.
  • Emissions control device assessment and development.
  • Performance optimisation of gaseous fuelled vehicles.


The Thermometry Calibration Lab situated within the Thermofluids Laboratory specialises in high accuracy calibration of temperature measurement systems (with IANZ Accreditation) for the range –80°C to 450°C using stirred liquid baths, cryogenic and high temperature dry block calibrators.



We have the expertise and capability to undertake research, development, testing, modelling, analysis, and optimisation based projects in the areas outlined above and beyond. Contact details will be found below.

For testing services (energy and appliances, engines, fuels, and vehicles), further details will be found at the Energy and Fuels Testing Services (EFTS) site.