The University of Central England is to invest £1 million in a new heavy diesel automotive test centre in Shanghai.

The investment, which will be unveiled at the Automotive Testing Expo China 2007 show, will see the university's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) install and commission a research facility for heavy diesel powertrain development and emissions analysis.

This new investment, which is being driven out of TIC's Millennium Point HQ in Birmingham, has benefited from the injection of a £600,000 Advantage West Midlands capital grant.

TIC announced the installation of its new heavy diesel automotive test centre in China because the country is the world's largest and fastest expanding market for automotive test equipment.

Attended by the world's leading test equip-ment manufacturers and service providers, the event focuses primarily on China's fast-developing automotive industry.

Dr Tim Burden, TIC's head of design and process innovation, said: "The announcement at Shanghai is particularly relevant as TIC has strong working links with three Chinese universities and one of our leading test centre partners, JCB, is expanding in China.

"It is also of interest that Longbridge owners' parent company, Nanjing Automobile, with whom we have many links, are also commercial vehicle producers."

Among TIC's invited guests to the Expo announcement were representatives from Changzhou's wide-ranging industries which strongly feature diesel-powered agricultural, construction and rail vehicle production.

Changzhou university town, Changzhou Municipal Government and TIC are already collaboratively exploring commercial and academic technological areas of mutual interest.

Other invitees were TIC's contacts in Chogqing who have particular interests in engine test and development technologies for powertrain and marine applications.

Dr Burden added: "We've also been in touch with other Chinese contacts in the diesel field such as the Shengui company which recently established a base in Leamington Spa.

"Diesel engine development is an area where we fully expect opportunities to increase."

The new 'Centre of Excellence' will carry out specific development work on heavy duty diesel engines.

A high-power 340 KW transient dynamometer will be supplied by CP Engineering Systems, based in Malvern, Worcestershire and will incorporate an additional particulates emissions analysis facility.

This will be augmented by gas-emissions analysis equipment supplied by the Surrey-based instruments division of UK's Signal Group.

Dr Burden said: "We have identified the need for such research resources to be offered to vehicle manufacturers in support of heavy diesel engine development across a variety of engine and vehicle applications.

"These may include on or off-road vehicles, as well as electrical power generation and marine applications.

"TIC's Centre of Excellence will offer the full spectrum of testing required for such wide-ranging demands.

"We will become a unique and independent European source of development expertise at reasonable cost."

A major feature of TIC's test centre will be the wide spectrum of the new dynamometer's transience, accommodating an extensive engine performance range, whilst also monitoring all exhaust emissions.

TIC's five-year commitment to engine development has grown out of close liaison with members of an industry steering panel who have also guided the course requirements for its pioneering automotive calibration and control postgraduate programme.

TIC's collaborators include familiar names such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Ford and Visteon as well as German vehicle developers IAV, test equipment specialists A&D and software and leading engine calibration company, ATI Vision.

T IC's heavy diesel engine cell development-partners are Nuneaton-based MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) and Rocester-based JCB, with software support from leading US-based product-development company, PTC.

Dr Burden added: "TIC already has some 17 prospective research projects being developed at doctoral and masters' levels which will use the new heavy diesel Centre of Excellence.

"These postgraduates can be expected to play a significant part in the future development of efficient use of diesel power."