Kelowna Capital News: Cleaning combustion with hydrogen: UBC Okanagan researchers

UBC Okanagan researchers are looking into the benefits of injecting hydrogen into natural gas distribution networks in the search for cleaner and more efficient energy.

Assistant professor and researcher Sina Kheirkhah said the goal of the research, funded in part by FortisBC and Mitacs, is to see how hydrogen can improve combustion of natural gas—making it a cleaner and a more efficient fuel.

But that work is not free of its challenges.

“Turbulent combustion is a complex field of science and engineering,” Kheirkhah said. “Many basic principles related to turbulent premixed combustion are not firmly established. After several decades of combustion research, we are still trying to understand how fast premixed flames burn.”

By taking measurements using laser-based diagnostics, the research team is aiming to have better and more accurate tools for estimating the burning rate in combustion equipment. As a result of their findings, they found some conventionally accepted approaches determining premixed burning rates need to be rethought.

“This is important since future development of gas turbine engine combustors requires a clear and accurate understanding of how quickly things burn,” he said.

The research, which is targeted to combustion scientists and engineers, also examines if hydrogen-enriched natural gas will improve energy generation from turbine engines.

“We are developing knowledge regarding combustion of cleaner fuels, such as hydrogen-enriched natural gas. Combustion of the cleaner fuels will reduce emission of carbon-based material, helping with the deceleration of global warming and climate change,” he said.