A new study published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy shows that the addition of alumina nanoparticles can improve the performance and combustion of biofuel. These nano-enhanced biofuels also come with the added benefit of producing fewer emissions.
Lead author R.B Anand, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli, India, says nanoparticles and their high surface-to-volume ratio have more reactive surfaces, enabling them to act as more efficient chemical catalysts, increasing fuel combustion.
The nanoparticle presence increases fuel-air mixing, which leads to a more complete burn. The study was conducted using a mechanical agitator to create an emulsion of jatropha biodiesel (derived from the crushed seeds of the jatropha plant), water, and a surfactant, and then blended in different proportions of alumina nanoparticles.
The nanoparticle enhanced biofuel significantly outperforms standard biofuel, and produces significantly lower quantities of nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and smoke.
The nanoparticle biofuel is undergoing rigorous testing, and faces a challenge often associated with nanoparticle technology – cost.
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