Science and technology of ammonia combustion

Hideaki Kobayashi, Akihiro Hayakawa, K. D.Kunkuma A. Somarathne, Ekenechukwu C. Okafor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1036 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the potential use of ammonia as a carbon-free fuel, and covers recent advances in the development of ammonia combustion technology and its underlying chemistry. Fulfilling the COP21 Paris Agreement requires the de-carbonization of energy generation, through utilization of carbon-neutral and overall carbon-free fuels produced from renewable sources. Hydrogen is one of such fuels, which is a potential energy carrier for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. However, its shipment for long distances and storage for long times present challenges. Ammonia on the other hand, comprises 17.8% of hydrogen by mass and can be produced from renewable hydrogen and nitrogen separated from air. Furthermore, thermal properties of ammonia are similar to those of propane in terms of boiling temperature and condensation pressure, making it attractive as a hydrogen and energy carrier. Ammonia has been produced and utilized for the past 100 years as a fertilizer, chemical raw material, and refrigerant. Ammonia can be used as a fuel but there are several challenges in ammonia combustion, such as low flammability, high NOx emission, and low radiation intensity. Overcoming these challenges requires further research into ammonia flame dynamics and chemistry. This paper discusses recent successful applications of ammonia fuel, in gas turbines, co-fired with pulverize coal, and in industrial furnaces. These applications have been implemented under the Japanese 'Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP): Energy Carriers'. In addition, fundamental aspects of ammonia combustion are discussed including characteristics of laminar premixed flames, counterflow twin-flames, and turbulent premixed flames stabilized by a nozzle burner at high pressure. Furthermore, this paper discusses details of the chemistry of ammonia combustion related to NOx production, processes for reducing NOx, and validation of several ammonia oxidation kinetics models. Finally, LES results for a gas-turbine-like swirl-burner are presented, for the purpose of developing low-NOx single-fuelled ammonia gas turbine combustors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-133
Number of pages25
JournalProceedings of the Combustion Institute
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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