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Robert Wagner

Energy and Transportation Science Division, ORNL


Dr. Robert Wagner is the Director of the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center and a Distinguished Member of the technical staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International. His responsibilities include coordination and development of strategic internal and external collaborations at ORNL to better support the mission of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office. Dr. Wagner has been principal investigator on many research activities spanning low temperature combustion, unstable combustion fundamentals, nonlinear controls, thermodynamics, renewable fuels, and emissions characterization. This includes the integration of ORNL expertise in high performance computing, neutron sciences, material sciences, and advanced manufacturing to accelerate the development of advanced transportation technologies. Dr. Wagner is the ORNL lead for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center on Clean Vehicles and coordinates research spanning energy storage, renewable fuel technologies, advanced materials, and vehicle systems. He also holds leadership positions with SAE and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. This includes the organization of more than ten international symposiums including three in China. Dr. Wagner is an Associate Editor of the SAE International Journal of Engines and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Engine Research. He has authored more than 100 technical publications, a book chapter, and two patents. He has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

Dr. Wagner has received several awards including the 2014 SAE International Leadership Citation for “"outstanding accomplishments, which have led to the success of SAE global initiatives”, 2010 SAE Forest R. McFarland Award for “outstanding contributions toward the work of the SAE Engineering Meetings Board”, and the 2003 UT-Battelle Science and Technology Award for Early Career Engineering Accomplishment. He earned BS, MS, and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from the Missouri University of Science & Technology and was an EPA Science to Achieve Results Fellow.


Simulation and the use of high performance computing to accelerate the development of high efficiency transportation technologies.

Non-traditional combustion modes to maximize internal combustion engine efficiency with lowest possible emissions.

Thermodynamics and waste energy recovery to maximize the use of fuel energy for transportation of people and products.

Integration of advanced vehicle technologies including an improved understanding of opportunities, challenges, and methods for global system optimization.


R. M. Wagner, “On Path to the Optimal Internal Combustion Engine”, SAE High Efficiency Combustion Systems International Symposium (Shanghai, China; December 2013).

R. M. Wagner, “Accelerating the Development of High Efficiency Engines”, Fifth International Symposium on Clean and High-efficiency Combustion in Engines (Tianjin, China; July 2013).

R. M. Wagner, “Pushing the Limits of Stability of Clean High Efficiency Engines”, Invitation only Present and Future Engines Conference (Delphi, Greece; June 2013).

R. M. Wagner, S. C. Curran, J. B. Green, “A Perspective on the Future of High Efficiency Engines”, Keynote, XIth Conference on Engine Combustion Processes (Ludwigsburg, Germany; March 2013).

R. M. Wagner, S. C. Curran, “Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition Combustion in Multi-Cylinder Engines”, Special Session on Gasoline Compression Ignition Combustion, Society of Automotive Engineers Powertrain Fuels and Lubes Conference (Malmo, Sweden; September 2012).

R. Wagner, T. Briggs, J. Szybist, “'Exhaust Gas Energy Recovery Technology Application”, Encyclopedia of Automotive Engineering, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., accepted for publication.

S. Curran, R. Wagner, R. Graves, M. Keller, J. Green Jr., “Well-to-Wheel Analysis of Direct and Indirect use of Natural Gas in Passenger Vehicles”, submitted to Energy, 2013.

B. Kaul, R. Wagner, and J. Green Jr., "Analysis of Cyclic Variability of Heat Release for High-EGR GDI Engine Operation with Observations on Implications for Effective Control," SAE International Journal of Engines, 6(1), doi: 10.4271/2013-01-0270, May 2013.

R. Wagner, S. Curran, J. B. Green, “A Perspective on the Future of High Efficiency Engines”, Proceedings of the XIth Conference on Engine Combustion Processes (Ludwigsburg, Germany; March 2013).

S. Curran, R. Hanson, R. Wagner, R. Reitz, “Efficiency and Emissions Mapping of Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition in a Light-Duty Diesel Engine”, SAE Technical Paper 2013-01-0289.

S. J. Curran, R. M. Wagner, and R. M. Hanson, “Reactivity Controlled Compression Ignition (RCCI) Combustion on a Multi-Cylinder Light-Duty Diesel Engine”, International Journal of Engine Research (2012).

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