The effect of ammonia addition on soot nanostructure and composition in ethylene laminar flames

Mohammed H. Zaher, Mehran Dadsetan, Carson Noel Chu, Murray J. Thomson

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12 Scopus citations


The formation of soot in ammonia (NH3) combustion with a hydrocarbon such as ethylene (C2H4) is investigated using the analysis of particles’ nanostructure and surface chemical composition to identify the mechanisms by which NH3 suppresses soot growth. Young and mature soot particles were extracted from laminar diffusion co-flow flames of NH3[sbnd]C2H4 blends up to 50% NH3. The soot nanostructure is examined using lattice fringe analysis of high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) images, Raman Spectroscopy, and Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS). The chemical composition of the soot surface is analyzed using X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS). With increasing NH3 addition, reduced planar growth of the soot graphitic layers is observed through the analysis of the soot nanostructure which indicates the suppression of carbon addition at the edge sites of the layer planes. It is also found that the carbon sp2/sp3 bonding ratio increases which shows a nanostructure with less carbon sp3 bonding at defect sites. By exploring the chemical composition, the nitrogen content of the soot surface increases with NH3 addition which is caused by the bonding of nitrogenated species with carbon at defect and edge sites of the carbon layer, reducing the potential for carbon addition, and thus soot growth. The results also show an increased risk of formation of nitrogenated polyaromatic hydrocarbons (N-PAHs) on the soot surface by NH3 addition. The study presents a novel investigation of the impact of NH3 on the soot surface chemistry and particles nanostructure which explains the role of NH3 in suppressing soot growth and reveals the potential for new toxic characteristics for the soot emissions formed in NH3-hydrocarbon cofired systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112687
JournalCombustion and Flame
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-03-21
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Ref: CGSD3 - 559177 – 2021.


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