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Running combustion engines on non-carbon fuels

Part of Today in the Lab - Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.


What is the aim of the project?

The “H2-rich fuels” project aims to test various non-carbon fuels, including hydrogen and ammonia, in combustion systems.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

Combustion engines (piston engine, gas turbines) have historically been fueled by fossil fuels. However, with production from renewable energy, non-carbon fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia offer new opportunities. This project aims to develop combustion engines (for transport and power generation) to use some of these fuels.

What is the value for society?

  • use non-carbon fuels in combustion engines efficiently
  • maximise the use of renewable energy-derived fuels in various end-use sectors (transport, industry)
  • reduce emissions (greenhouse gases, fine particulates)
  • make best use of existing industrial infrastructure and foster the energy system transition towards hydrogen

At what stage of development is this project?

Fundamental combustion properties have been derived for various hydrogen-rich fuel mixtures (e.g. natural gas with hydrogen). Combustion characteristics have been derived for ammonia as a fuel (including the identification of combustion technologies for low emission systems). Proof-of-concept tests have been carried out for small-scale engines.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • RD&D support (pilot applications)
  • standards for fuel mixtures in transport and distribution networks
  • transition scenarios (including incentives) to support new hydrogen and ammonia supply chains
Laser-generated image showing different gas flames in a model combustor, with hydrogen producing a much more intensive reaction zone (i.e. shorter, compact flame) than methane. Source: Peter Jansohn, Paul Scherrer Institute.

Laser-generated image showing different gas flames in a model combustor, with hydrogen producing a much more intensive reaction zone (i.e. shorter, compact flame) than methane. Source: Peter Jansohn, Paul Scherrer Institute.


Partners

  • AIST, Japan
  • SINTEF, Norway
  • Cardiff University, Wales
  • University of Orleans, France
  • Lund University, Sweden
  • Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland

Funders

National agencies from France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom


About the Combustion TCP

Established in 1984, the Technology Collaboration Programme on Clean and Efficient Combustion (Combustion TCP) provides a forum for exchange and collaborative research to advance the understanding of combustion processes, and to generate independent information, expertise and knowledge to the wider research community, industry, policy makers and society. Contact: dlsiebers1@gmail.com