Developing Carbon-Neutral Aluminum/Cellulose Fuels for Clean Energy Conversion

PI: Sili Deng, Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT

Aluminum is an attractive fuel for future energy conversion due to its high energy density, abundance, and zero emission of carbon dioxide upon combustion. Therefore, aluminum has been used in solid propellants and as energetic fuel additives. However, the wide application of aluminum as a primary fuel is limited by its high ignition energy and low combustion efficiency. In this work, we propose to develop a novel aluminum/cellulose composite as a high-energy-density carbon-neutral fuel. Cellulose is readily available in plants and serves as an energetic binder, which goes exothermic reactions and supplies oxidizers to aluminum that could facilitate the ignition and combustion of aluminum. We will characterize the ignition and combustion behaviors of the aluminum/cellulose composite and advance the fundamental understanding of using metal fuels for clean energy conversion.

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