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Robert Wagner

Energy and Transportation Science Division, ORNL


Dr. Robert Wagner is the Director of the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; a faculty member of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). His responsibilities include vision and strategic leadership of NTRC, coordination of researchers and resources, and management of the NTRC as a DOE-designated National User Facility. He also supports external strategic outreach which includes the development of strategic collaborations with industry, universities, and other national laboratories; and the development of strategic internal collaborations to leverage ORNL leadership science resources. He coordinates closely with the ORNL Sustainable Transportation Program and line organizations to ensure the success and continued growth of the ORNL transportation portfolio. In addition, he is the lead of Sustainable Mobility Theme for the ORNL Urban Dynamics Institute.

Dr. Wagner is on the editorial board of three international journals, on executive committees for ASME and SAE, has organized more than 20 international symposiums, has authored more than 100 technical publications, and has more than 50 invited presentations in 10 countries. He is also the recipient of the ASME Internal Combustion Engine Award (2014), SAE International Leadership Citation (2014), SAE McFarland Award (2010), and multiple ORNL awards including research leadership (2014), early career accomplishment (2003), and significant events (2002, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2016). 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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