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NanoIgnite – Nanomaterial Photo Ignition of Carbon Free Fuels in Marine Engines

The marine sector is facing a large transition in the coming years, where large ship engines must be replaced with zero emitting technologies.

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Currently, ships are mainly powered by marine diesel fuel or bunker oil which emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. One of the most promising alternatives for deep sea shipping is to switch to a zero carbon fuel, such as hydrogen or ammonia, and use these in an internal combustion engine. Ammonia has been identified as the likely best candidate and several manufacturers are now working on making this possible. However, the combustion properties of ammonia are known to be very poor, making it difficult to burn in a standard engine. Hence, it is challenging to use ammonia in large marine engines, requiring it to be used alongside a second fuel such as diesel fuel or hydrogen for obtaining stable and efficient operation.

This project aims to explore a novel and radical technology for igniting ammonia in marine engines, removing the need for a second fuel. The proposed technology uses a photosensitive nanomaterial as the source of ignition instead of the conventional spark plug or diesel pilot injection. By injecting the nanomaterial into the engine and subjecting it to a high intensity flash of light, the nanomaterial almost instantaneously ignites and burns. The biggest benefit of the technique is that the nanomaterial ignites the fuel in many places in the engine's combustion chamber, resulting in faster and more complete combustion. This will have a very positive effect on reducing emissions of unburnt ammonia from the engine.

The project will develop methods for injecting the nanomaterial into a research engine and develop a new high power and high intensity LED light source for achieving photo ignition. The first phase of project aims to prove the concept experimentally, while the second phase will thoroughly investigate the technology experimentally and numerically.

This is a Radical frontier Researcher Project financed by the Research Council of Norway.


Key Factors

Project duration

2021 - 2022