Matt Currie


I am currently a Mechanical Engineering student completing a PhD analysing the life cycle of brake disc rotors. I graduated from University of Leeds with first class honours in Masters and Bachelors of Engineering, with a speciality in Mechanical Engineering. My repeated merit grades gained recognition with the award of a Dean of Engineering Excellence scholarship throughout my undergraduate degree. In my third-year dissertation, I used Computational Fluid Dynamics software to model and optimise the performance of a Hydrogen fuel cell, a relevant topic in the expanding electric car industry.

I have a particular interest and aptitude in the automotive field. For my Masters dissertation team project I helped develop a virtual testing environment to evaluate and optimise the autonomous vehicle algorithms for the formula student autonomous vehicle, whilst also externally helping redesign the brake system for the Drivetrain subteam of the original formula student car.

Currently, I am partaking in a PhD at the University of Leeds, researching Life Cycle Assessment of brake rotors to compare trade-offs of potential new materials in order to reduce pollution and release of particulate matter that can be damaging to human health.

I have developed my knowledge of these interests over several years. While at school I worked in a karting centre and was quickly given additional maintenance responsibilities reflecting my interest and aptitude. Between 3rd and 4th year of my undergraduate degree, I had to use my initiative in response to COVID-19 restrictions which limited my placement opportunities. I developed my own project by buying a 2007 Corsa that was due to be scrapped, due to a dented chassis, to take apart and get a deeper hands on understanding of how different components work, especially the disk brakes.

Research interests

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a holistic approachable to study the many impacts of using alternative brake discs. It is expected that LCA modelling of brake rotors, in accordance with ISO14040 and potentially with the use of a commercial computer tool such as SimaPro, will be carried out. This will be followed by case studies to test and calibrate the model. The lifecycle will include the entire supply chain from raw materials extraction, transport, manufacturing, vehicle use, repairing service, to recycling or disposal scenarios. The results can be used for improving the non-exhaust emission estimates in vehicle emissions inventory generated by LCA studies of vehicles, which includes key environmental impacts such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and PM. Experimental data from the characterisation of airborne brake wear debris and accelerated corrosion will make important inputs to establishing the lifecycle emission profile of brake discs. Additional measurements may be performed under different temperatures and disc speeds, and over sufficiently long periods to ensure the results can represent the braking system’s behaviour within its design life. The strength and durability of the brake discs will be considered in defining the comparative products. The project will receive inputs from ongoing or recent projects at Leeds and elsewhere. The system boundary of LCA will be set to represent industry practice and will be transparent such that different types of brake discs can be compared on a level playing field. Methodological choices and the quality of data are known to affect the LCA results substantially. Sensitivity analysis will be carried out, for the ‘hot-spot’ areas, to make the evaluation robust. Multi-objective optimisation approach, such as cost and environment, can follow the LCA results. A computer model with a calculating tool might be an output of the project, with the possibility for data update and methodology amendment, to make it forward compatible. The accountability and legislation regarding non-exhaust emissions will be higher in future, but currently, there is no policy in place to regulate them. Project findings will help automobile manufacturers to make informed decisions about which braking system to choose. Reference will be made to the current industry practice, with an aim to improve key performance (e.g. cost, emissions) of the braking system. The results shall be relevant to climate change and air quality research also.


  • First Class Honours in Masters and Bachelors of Engineering