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Ammonia Combustion for Zero-Carbon Energy

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Global efforts to move away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels have sparked interest in clean, zero-carbon energy carriers.

Ammonia (NH3) is one such carbon-free alternative that may play a key role in the shipping and aviation industries, as it has a similar energy density to many fossil fuels and is easily liquified for storage.  However, the chemistry that governs NH3 combustion is relatively poorly understood, making it difficult to maximize the performance of energy systems that rely on NH3.  In the Hanson Research Group, we apply our expertise in optical diagnostics and shock tube methods to study NH3 combustion with the goal of providing high-quality measurements of global properties (ignition delay time and laminar flame speed), key species time-histories (e.g., NH3, NO, NH2, NH, OH), and reaction rates for the development of improved chemical kinetic models.  Such improved models will be crucial for the design of advanced NH3-based engines and will further the greater goal of a clean energy transition.

Measurements of NO (solid lines), a key emissions species formed during NH3 combustion, conducted in a Hanson Research Group shock tube using a highly sensitive ultraviolet (UV) laser absorption diagnostic [1]. Results are compared against a recent chemical kinetic model (dashed lines), illustrating the need for model improvement.

To learn more, check out some of our publications:

[1] Clees, S., Rault, T.M., Figueroa-Labastida, M., Barnes, S.C., Ferris, A.M., Hanson, R.K., “A shock tube and laser absorption study of NH3 oxidation,” 13th U.S. National Combustion Meeting (2023)

[2] Figueroa-Labastida, M., Zheng, L., Ferris, A.M., Hanson, R.K., “High-temperature ammonia flame speed measurements behind reflected shock waves,” 13th U.S. National Combustion Meeting (2023)