Influence of the Pilot Flame on the Morphology and Exhaust Emissions of NH3-CH4-Air Swirl Flames Using a Reduced-Scale Burner at Atmospheric Pressure

Cristian D. Avila Jimenez*, Santiago Cardona, Mohammed A. Juaied, Mourad Younes, Aqil Jamal, Thibault F. Guiberti, William L. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This work presents an experimental study on the influence of the pilot flame characteristics on the flame morphology and exhaust emissions of a turbulent swirling flame. A reduced-scale burner, inspired by that fitted in the AE-T100 micro gas turbine, was employed as the experimental platform to evaluate methane (CH4) and an ammonia-methane fuel blend with an ammonia (NH3) volume fraction of 0.7. The power ratio (PR) between the pilot flame and the main flame and the fuel composition of the pilot flame was investigated. The pilot power ratio was varied from 0 to 20% for both fuel compositions tested. The NH3 volume fraction in the pilot flame ranged from pure CH4 to pure NH3 through various NH3–CH4 blends. Flame images and exhaust emissions, namely CO2, CO, NO, and N2O were recorded. It was found that increasing the pilot power ratio produces more stable flames and influences most of the exhaust emissions measured. The CO2 concentration in the exhaust gases was roughly constant for CH4-air or NH3–CH4–air flames. In addition, a CO2 concentration reduction of about 45% was achieved for XNH3 = 0.70 compared with pure CH4, while still producing stable flames as long as PR ≥ 5%. The pilot power ratio was found to have a higher relative impact on NO emissions for CH4 than for NH3–CH4, with measured exhaust NO percentage increments of about 276% and 11%, respectively. The N2O concentration was constant for all pilot power ratios for CH4 but it decreased when the pilot power ratio increased for NH3–CH4. The pilot fuel composition highly affected the NO and N2O emissions. Pure CH4 pilot flames and higher power ratios produced higher NO emissions. Conversely, the NO concentration was roughly constant for pure NH3 pilot flames, regardless of the pilot power ratio. Qualitative OH-PLIF images were recorded to further investigate these trends. Results showed that the pilot power ratio and the pilot fuel composition modified the flame morphology and the OH concentration, which both influence NO emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number231
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present work is supported by Saudi Aramco Research and Development Center under research agreement number RGC/3/3837-01-01 and by the Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • ammonia
  • exhaust emissions
  • flame morphology
  • methane
  • pilot flame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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