Future Transportation Fuels

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Future Transportation Fuels

Synthesis, Recycling and Combustion of Metallic Nanoclusters

Systematic studies on the feasibility to burn metallic nanoparticles in an engine cycle have been undertaken. The idea lies on two main characteristics: some metal fuels contain two and three times more energy content per unit volume than the conventional liquid fuels while under certain conditions the metal particles could burn in solid state. On the basis of these pre-requisites, such a fuel could feed an engine with very high power density, without the formation of the well-known pollutants derived from the combustion process of the conventional liquid fuels. The combustion product is the respective metal oxide, which by employing suitable and environmental-benign techniques, can be recycled to recover the (reusable) metal fuel. Recent progresses of nanotechnology in the manufacturing of metallic nano-powders with specific tailored characteristics, has opened new scenarios in the exploitation of such novel energy carriers. Moreover, the studies indicated that in the nanoscale regime metal powders, such as iron and aluminium, can burn in timescales comparable with engine cycle and in the solid or liquid state.

In the framework of an FP7 European project, in cooperation with other well recognized European scientific Institutions, in Istituto Motori, studies and experiments are addressed to the investigation on various main aspects:

  • Determination of the basic combustion characteristics of metal nanopowders in customized shock-tube system;
  • Studies on the feasibility and characterization of metallic nanopowders combustion under real engine conditions, employing prototype research engines;
  • Definition of “metal-fuelled” ICE combustion models based on experimental evidences.