Clean Growth UK is a national business-innovation network hosted by three universities with applied research expertise across clean growth sectors. The Universities of Brighton and Liverpool John Moores have come together to establish a twin PhD programme to address the urgent issue of decarbonisation of shipping with a first cohort of one PhD being carried out simultaneously at each institution. The two PhDs will focus on different technical topics but will have the overarching theme of greening the shipping industry. The PhD student will have the opportunity to interface with the PhD subject undertaken at the other university thus widening the scope of the research and increasing knowledge transfer opportunities via a facilitated Green Shipping Knowledge Exchange programme. It is expected that industry partners will also be involved in the twin PhD research programme, also providing the opportunity for interaction with businesses leading this agenda.
The University of Brighton’s PhD will examine the implications of the use of ammonia as a marine propulsion fuel, with a particular emphasis on system efficiency and reduction of harmful emissions such as NOx and ammonia. Ammonia has been proposed as a green fuel for long distance marine transportation due to its zero carbon content, potential for manufacture using renewable energy and higher energy density than electrochemical battery storage or hydrogen. Early work on ammonia as a fuel for internal combustion engines and gas turbines has been carried, with MAN developing a dual fuelled Ammonia and LPG two‑stroke engine. Dual fuelling ammonia engines with hydrogen is considered particularly promising since the hydrogen improves ammonia combustion properties and can be produced on board by decomposition of ammonia, removing the requirement to carry an additional fuel. However, research is at an early stage with key questions remaining on the reduction of NOx and ammonia emissions and the potential for ammonia fuelling of advanced combustion concepts like Brighton’s high efficiency, low emissions, split cycle engine. Therefore, University of Brighton’s PhD project will work to:
- review the literature on ammonia and ammonia/hydrogen combustion and emissions to define the fundamental combustion characteristics of the fuel
- define the propulsion and energy system requirements for a range of future shipping concepts, working with academic and industrial partners
- research the best approach for a high efficiency ammonia fuel engine using suitable modelling tools (chemical kinetics and CFD simulation) and informed by our state of the art research in combustion. This work is expected to consider conventional and novel engine cycles and integrated heat recovery to produce hydrogen through on board fuel processing
- validate the proposed combustion concept using existing advanced internal combustion engine research facilities based at Brighton
- research the integration of an advanced ammonia engine into a long distance marine vessel, based on the results of the experimental and modelling studies and in collaboration with the academic and industrial partners.