September 25, 2008

Nanoparticle-Filled Liquid Fuels for Efficient Energy Conversion

Nanofuels exhibit great potential for increasing the combustion efficiency of liquid-fueled engines, because of their enhanced thermal and mass transport properties, their higher volumetric heating value relative to pure liquid fuels, and the extremely high surface-area-to-volume ratio of the energetic nanoparticles. Nanofuels, or nanoparticle-filled liquid fuels, are one type of nanofluid, i.e., a nanoscale colloidal suspension whose properties can be controlled by varying the type, size, and volume fraction of the suspended nanoparticles. Dr. Phelan of the NCE is leading a team of researchers and students in an initial investigation of the combustion performance of nanofuels, consisting of energetic nanoparticles like aluminum suspended in either gasoline or diesel liquid fuels. The nanofuel spray droplet distribution, heating rate, flame temperature & appearance, and emissions will be measured, as well as their thermal and mass diffusivities, and thermal radiative properties. If this research is successful in improving combustion efficiency, the impact would be extremely significant, as their introduction would reduce gasoline and diesel consumption, and the resulting harmful emissions.