In this 13-part series of articles, The Combustion Institute recognizes the 2023 Distinguished Papers selected from among the scientific papers presented during the 39th International Symposium on Combustion. Congratulations to Guillaume Vignat, Bassem Akoush, Edna Rebeca Toro Garza, Emeric Boigné, and Matthias Ihme for winning the DPA in the Low Emission Combustion Technologies colloquium.

In their paper, “Combustion of lean ammonia-hydrogen fuel blends in a porous media burner,” the group began with the premise that ammonia fuel is a promising way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, before consideration can be given to converting our current natural gas infrastructure to this zero-carbon fuel, there are several technical challenges to overcome, such as poor flame stabilization due to the unique combustion properties of ammonia, lower heating value, and emissions of nitric oxides and nitrous oxide. The team hypothesized that combustion in porous ceramic foams offers promising opportunities to address these challenges by taking advantage of the internal heat recirculation and super-adiabatic combustion that occur within this type of burner. Previously experiments have demonstrated significant reduction in emissions and enhanced combustion properties using this type of burner with conventional fuels. This research has now demonstrated that this observed behavior also extends to ammonia.

Dr. Vignat explained that the results of this study show that porous media burners could be used for transitioning combustion systems to ammonia and hydrogen (as well as other carbon-free and low-calorific fuels) and enabling fuel-flexible combustion. He believes this is promising technology. Furthermore, Prof. Ihme added that recent advances in additive manufacturing and computational model offer further opportuntities to improve this burner technology.

After further research and development, Vignat, Akoush, Toro Garza, Boigné and Ihme imagine that this technology will offer a scalable and cost-effective solution towards Gt reduction in CO2 emissions. This technology would provide an alternative for cost-effective, compact, and low emission combustor design that can be deployed and retrofitted at large scale to employ fuel-flexible operation with ammonia and blends with hydrogen and natural gas for electric power generation, combined heating and power, and industrial/household heating.  They especially hope that this type of burner can be retrofitted to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the electrical generation and industrial sectors.

The research for this distinguished paper began in the summer of 2021 at Stanford University, and data was collected until 31 December 2021. However, the research continues and is advancing further by exploring new materials and developing more advanced simulation methods. Dr. Vignat stated, “We are particularly excited about involvement of undergraduate students working on this topic and calloborations with industry, laboratories and university partners.”

Over 1,500 papers were submitted to the 39th International Symposium on Combustion. All papers were categorized into one of 13 colloquia, and then distributed to Colloquium Coordinators and Co-Chairs. Each paper received at least three reviews from qualified individuals through the peer-review process. Less than 50 percent of the papers submitted were accepted for presentation.

Following the symposium, one paper presented in each colloquium is awarded the distinction of Distinguished Paper. Visit here to view the presentation. The 13 Distinguished Papers undergo committee review for consideration for the Silver Combustion Medal. A paper selected for this honor exemplifies quality, achievement, and significance to advance a field of combustion science, and will be awarded during the 40th International Symposium in Milan, Italy.