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Research interests


Nigel Johnston is a Reader in Mechanical Engineering. He specialises in the areas of fluid-borne noise measurement and reduction in hydraulic fluid power systems, active noise control, numerical modelling of hydraulic components, unsteady turbulent flow, pipeline and hose dynamics.

Nigel Johnston studied the measurement and prediction of pressure ripple in hydraulic systems for his PhD. This work has since been used as the basis for an ISO Standard for the measurement of pump pressure ripple characteristics. He was appointed Lecturer in 1990 and Senior Lecturer in 2003.

He has supervised 18 PhD students to completion.

He regularly teaches on industrial fluid power courses in the UK, Europe and USA. He is Organiser and joint Editor for the Bath/ASME International Fluid Power and Motion Control Symposium.


Nigel Johnston has over 30 years’ experience in hydraulic fluid power research and teaching. He obtained his PhD for research into fluid-borne noise characteristics of hydraulic systems. This work has since been used as the basis for an ISO Standard for the measurement of pump pressure ripple characteristics.

He has also been involved in research into: active noise control, cavitation, numerical modelling of fluid power components, unsteady turbulent flow, pipeline and hose dynamics, pump condition monitoring, vehicle steering dynamics and aircraft fuel systems. He has published about 100 refereed journal and conference papers and has collaborated with several companies including Delphi Steering Systems, General Motors, Airbus, John Deere, Sun Hydraulics, Parker Hannifin and BMW.

He recently led a large research project looking into efficient fluid power systems, funded by EPSRC with industrial collaboration. In most hydraulic fluid power systems, valves are used to throttle the flow and reduce the hydraulic pressure. This is a simple but extremely inefficient method as the excess energy is lost as heat, and it is common for more than 50% of the input power to be wasted in this way. Novel methods are being investigated for increasing the efficiency of hydraulic systems whilst maintaining performance, cost-effectiveness, reliability and low noise. The potential for improvement is huge. Reducing power consumption will contribute to the UK Government's commitment to cutting carbon dioxide emissions. However there are significant challenges.

Willing to supervise doctoral students

Interested in supervising students studying;

  • Efficient fluid power systems, including digital switching valves
  • Aircraft and automotive hydraulic systems
  • Fluid-borne noise in hydraulic systems: measurement, analysis, active control
  • Hydraulic component and system dynamic modelling
  • Unsteady laminar and turbulent flow in pipes and hoses

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jan 1988

Bachelor of Science, University of Bath

Award Date: 1 Jan 1984


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