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Experimental study of combustion characteristics of nanoscale metal and metal oxide additives in biofuel (ethanol)

Matthew Jones1, Calvin H Li12*, Abdollah Afjeh1 and GP Peterson3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606, USA

2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA

3 The G. W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:246  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-246

Published: 22 March 2011


An experimental investigation of the combustion behavior of nano-aluminum (n-Al) and nano-aluminum oxide (n-Al2O3) particles stably suspended in biofuel (ethanol) as a secondary energy carrier was conducted. The heat of combustion (HoC) was studied using a modified static bomb calorimeter system. Combustion element composition and surface morphology were evaluated using a SEM/EDS system. N-Al and n-Al2O3 particles of 50- and 36-nm diameters, respectively, were utilized in this investigation. Combustion experiments were performed with volume fractions of 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10% for n-Al, and 0.5, 1, 3, and 5% for n-Al2O3. The results indicate that the amount of heat released from ethanol combustion increases almost linearly with n-Al concentration. N-Al volume fractions of 1 and 3% did not show enhancement in the average volumetric HoC, but higher volume fractions of 5, 7, and 10% increased the volumetric HoC by 5.82, 8.65, and 15.31%, respectively. N-Al2O3 and heavily passivated n-Al additives did not participate in combustion reactively, and there was no contribution from Al2O3 to the HoC in the tests. A combustion model that utilized Chemical Equilibrium with Applications was conducted as well and was shown to be in good agreement with the experimental results.