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Fundamentals of ammonia combustion towards a zero-carbon propulsion

   Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

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  Dr Lu Tian  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The development of alternative fuels is critical for future transportation. Ammonia (NH3) is a promising zero-carbon fuel for future transportation. Whilst decarbonisation is possible via batteries, heavier transport (e.g., marine or freight) is less likely to rely on batteries due to their cost and energy density. By contrast, ammonia has one of the highest energy densities among non-hydrocarbon fuels.

Furthermore, green ammonia is particularly attractive because it can be made using the well-established Haber-Bosch process and can be 100% renewable when powered by solar and wind. However, the direct combustion of ammonia is impeded by its low laminar flame speed, extinction strain, narrow flammability limits, and high NOx emissions.

The project aims to explore the fundamental combustion characteristics of ammonia and an approach towards the reduction of NOx emission reduction. Hydrogen enrichment is a promising route to enhance fundamental burning properties and realisable enhanced fuel consumption speeds and combustor power densities.

The project involves simulations of auto-ignition stabilized NH3 / H2 / N2 / air jet flame using a hybrid Unsteady RANS/Joint-Scalar Transported Probability Density Function Method. The impact on the reduction of NOx emissions under different flame conditions, for example, variations of coflow temperature and/or coflow concentrations, will be explored.

This is an exciting and groundbreaking project for Tian’s research group in the Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. As a team, you will work alongside excellent researchers within Caterpillar Research & Innovation Centre at Loughborough University. You will also have opportunities to collaborate with world-leading academics from Imperial College London and the University of Stuttgart.

We are a community based on mutual support and collaboration. Through our Doctoral College, there are continual opportunities for building important research skills and networks among your peers and research academics.


Primary supervisor: Dr Lu Tian

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

  • A first-class or upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in engineering or a related discipline relevant to the proposed area of research, such as physics, computer science, applied mathematics or chemistry.
  • Ability to undertake scientific programming (e.g. in Matlab, Python, Fortran or C/C++)
  • Excellent English (written and spoken communication skills)

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

  • Interest in or experience with Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations
  • Interest in net-zero carbon propulsion

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

All applications should be made online and must include a research proposal. Under the programme name, select 'Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering'. Please quote the advertised reference number AACME-23-015 in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK fee
£4,596 full-time degree per annum
International fee
£25,100 full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
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