Hydrogen and ammonia combustion technologies for a decarbonized energy future

with Ramanarayanan Balachandran,
Professor of Energy Technologies, Department of Mechanical Engineering
University College London
April 15th, 2:30, 440 Goodwin Hall

Effective transition to a decarbonised energy future relies on utilising the most suitable alternative fuels that can meet the needs of various energy sectors. Hydrogen and ammonia are emerging as two leading energy carriers for the next generation of zero-carbon combustion systems. While these two fuels offer significant benefits over hydrocarbon fuels, their utilisation in modern gas turbines is challenging due to the significant differences in physical properties and burning characteristics that sit on either side of that of natural gas. Current combustion systems, particularly dry low emission systems, are suitable for operation with neither 100% hydrogen nor 100% ammonia, and therefore new architectures and operating protocols need to be developed to enable their utilisation.

Combustion and fuels research at UCL Mechanical Engineering aims to develop disruptive and innovative approaches that will de-risk utilisation of alternative vectors (including hydrogen, ammonia, e-fuels etc) in energy systems. This seminar will highlight important outcomes from various decarbonisation projects, including HYFLEXPOWER (world's first industrial-scale power-to-X-to-power demonstrator with an advanced 100% hydrogen gas turbine). It will also showcase how multi-scalar approach combined with conventional diagnostics enabled new understanding of key processes that underpins combustion behaviour (mixing, flame stabilisation, flame dynamics) relevant to gas turbine engines. The translational impacts of this research, and how it advances scientific knowledge and innovation will also be covered.

Ramanarayanan Balachandran is a Professor of Energy Technologies and Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University College London, UK. Professor Balachandran’s research interests include the following focus areas: energy systems for power and propulsion (automotive, marine, aero); green energy technologies and future fuels including hydrogen/ammonia/biofuels/e-fuels; multiphase flow and transport phenomena for health and energy applications; development and application of advanced sensors and methods. His research covers a wide range of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). To date, Professor Balachandran’s research has attracted more than $23 million from industries and other funding agencies such as UKRI (EPSRC, Innovate UK), Royal Society, European Union and British Council. He has published over 75 papers in international conferences and journals. He has received various national and international awards, including i) the inaugural Research Excellence Award (2020) of The Combustion Institute, ii) Distinguished Paper on Turbulent Flames (2015) from The Combustion Institute, iii) Sugden Prize (2012) from the Combustion Institute British Section, iv) Most Cited Author Award (2008) from Elsevier, and v) Instrumentation Award (2004) from Scientific Instrument Makers Company UK.

Professor Balachandran is passionate about promoting social mobility through education in underserved social groups and communities. For more than two decades, he has been actively participating in various projects that promote sustainable development, diversity, multi-culturalism and equality, through leadership and volunteering roles. He has keen interest in developing strategies that address structural inequalities at all education settings including schools, further and higher educational institutions.