Project Objectives:

Establishing an International Research Center for Ammonia Combustion and Materials Research with integrated research on ammonia combustion and ammonia-resistant materials, as well as conducting an international exchange and nurturing young researchers in the process of socially implementing the outcomes of the Center.

Elements of combustion science and materials science, which are the subjects of this project, and in physical property science, which complements the two;

[Combustion Science Area]
Basic combustion research aimed at establishing the technology for direct ammonia combustion
[Materials Science Area]
Development of a lightweight, high strength, and high temperature oxidization- and nitriding-resistant material to be used in ammonia combustion apparatuses.
[Physical Properties Science Area]
Clarification of gas-liquid interface phenomena related to ammonia combustion

Photo: Pure ammonia spray flame stabilized in high temperature swirling airflow

Ammonia combustion research will be advanced further through collaboration among Tohoku University’s Institute for Fluid Science (Japan’s central institution), the Fukushima Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Alongside these research on ammonia-resistant materials will be performed by the Advanced Materials Science Center, which Institute of Fluid Science established in the past Research Center Establishment Project, comprising of the Institute of Fluid Science, the Universities of Lyon in France (metallic material science), the University of Washington in the U.S.A. (high polymeric material science), and the National Yangming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. These two groups will work together in a creative collaboration.

By moving this joint research forward, our ultimate goal is to create a new integrated scientific field and socially implementing its outcome. For this purpose, an international academic consortium consisting of researchers from Japan, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States, and Taiwan will first be established. The Institute of Fluid Science will act as the hub for ammonia combustion and materials research for this consortium. In addition to hosting yearly seminars during the exchange period, summer schools will be held for spotting and nurturing young researchers. These summer schools will also foster exchange among researchers through migratory research activities for young researchers, an international joint post-graduate school for students in doctoral courses, and the WISE program.

Through these activities, young researchers who can link basic scientific principles of ammonia combustion and materials technology with their social implementation will be trained and mentored. Furthermore, an International Committee for an Industry-Academia-Government Expansion Strategy will be established within the consortium. This committee will consist of representatives from universities, businesses, and government officials from the above five countries. Through industry-academia-government joint research and collaborative activities with the objective of social implementation, an independent and continuous international research exchange center will be formed.

Research Exchange Outline

【ELyT School 2019 in Lyon】The ELyT School 2019 was held at INSA Lyon and Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France from August 26 to September 3, 2019. A total of 31 students (18 from Tohoku University and 13 from the Universities of Lyon) participated. During these 9 days, they attended lectures together and participated in discussions and the exchange of various ideas.

1) Joint Research

In this project, academic research and exchange will be conducted for the establishment of the “Ammonia Combustion and Materials Research Center.” With King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Joining the already firmly established collaboration between Tohoku University and AIST Fukushima through the Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP), these three parties will conduct research into ammonia combustion. Research on ammonia-resistant materials will be conducted by the already established Materials Research Center (Tohoku University, Universities of Lyon, University of Washington, and National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University). Thus, the five countries of Japan, Saudi Arabia, France, and the United States will promote academic research ranging from combustion through materials to physical properties, bringing together their multifaceted results to establish the Ammonia Combustion and Materials Research Center. The academic consortium is composed of Tohoku University, the world-leading institution investigating ammonia combustion, Saudi Arabia, with its global achievements in combustion reaction analysis, and French and American and Taiwanese institutions with their expertise in materials research and machine learning. Through this collaboration and fusion of academic disciplines, this consortium is expected to bring remarkable synergies and to achieve world-class results in ammonia combustion and materials research.

2) Seminars

In order to develop academic principles and the analysis of ammonia in relation to combustion phenomena and interface phenomena with materials, a seminar in Sendai, Japan, will be held annually through the above-mentioned international academic consortium. Moreover, for fostering young researchers, summer schools will be hosted in Sendai, Tuvalu, Lyon, Seattle, and Hsinchu choosing one element technology and compound challenge in the scope of this project’s research every year. In addition, Core to Core webinars will be held on a regular basis to share these results with the world and facilitate exchange amongst researchers.

3) Research Exchange

Young researchers will stay at each research center for several months a year to conduct joint research on ammonia combustion and ammonia-resistant materials. Summer schools and workshops will be hosted to nurture young researchers and graduate students. In addition, as the young researchers visit each research center and collaborate with researchers from overseas, this program will contribute to nurturing their capabilities and to the creation of a continuous international network among researchers.

Implementation System: Conceptual Diagram

The project’s objective is to research and socially implement the new technology for directly combusting ammonia, which until recently has been viewed as nothing more than an optional hydrogen energy carrier, as fuel (ideally generating only hydrogen and nitrogen and without emiting NOx). To achieve this goal, there will be collaborative efforts to establish the Center for Ammonia Combustion and Materials Research. These efforts will consist of (1) research into direct ammonia combustion by Tohoku University’s Institute of Fluid Science, AIST Fukushima, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and (2) research into ammonia-resistant materials by the already established Material Research Center (Institute of Fluid Science, Universities of Lyon, University of Washington, and National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University).

The Social Environment Surrounding Ammonia Combustion

The technology for directly combusting ammonia has rapidly been drawing attention worldwide as the last resort for alternative fuel and low-carbon technology. A faculty member at the Institute of Fluid Science who led the sub-theme of the SIP (completed in the fiscal year 2019) solved two major obstacles regarding this technology that had long been considered unsolvable since World War II: overcoming the low combustibility of ammonia and developing a Nitrogen Oxide Emission Reduction Combustion Method. This has greatly contributed to a global shift in the perception of ammonia.

The Scheme’s Features

By this core to core program, the most powerful among the world, unique and continuous international academic base for training young researchers which consists of universities researching ammonia combustion and ammonia-resistant material and an alliance of leading companies all over the world which support the universities with both basic and applied researches is expected to construct.