Fuel for the future for the Arctic is developed at TPU

The research team of TPU is working on gel-like fuel, which can be used in extreme cold. The main components of the fuel will include used oils from power plants and combustible liquid waste of petroleum industry. This fuel can withstand temperatures of up to minus 95 °C! At the same time, it is more environmentally friendly in a matter of storage and transportation than traditional ones. TPU is developing its own compositions of frost-resistant gel-like fuel and studies the fundamental issues of its combustion mechanisms. In the future, it will allow developing devices for its practical application, i.e. energy production in extremely cold conditions.

Photo: the fuel samples

It is worth mentioning that this project is carried out at the Research School of High-Energy Physics by young researchers from a team of Professor Pavel Stryzhak.

“Traditional fuels, including gasoline and diesel, can be used at temperatures of up to minus 50 °C. At lower temperatures, such fuel can simply freeze in fuel tanks and systems. Therefore, researchers are modifying the existing fuels and are looking for new ones for use, for example, in the Arctic. Moreover, the Arctic is a completely unique natural area and fuel used in this condition should meet the requirements of environmental friendliness and safety, - says Pavel Stryzhak, Professor of the Research School of High-Energy Physics. —

We turned our attention to gel-like fuel. It has a number of fundamental advantages, but so far, there are no devices for its wide application in the energy sector. However, it is a promising class of fuels capable to solve certain practical tasks not typical for known liquid and solid fuels. We are certain that such promising energy devices will be created. It is only a matter of time. That is why we look into the future and hope that our work will bring closer the moment of implementation of the gel-like fuel into the energy sector".

The gel state is intermediate between liquid and solid. Fuel in this condition has a number of significant advantages: it is safe and convenient for transportation and storage. Depending on composition, it is possible to obtain samples with relatively high environmental or energy characteristics of combustion process, including through addition of fine metal particles.

Currently, we use petroleum oils, including used turbine, transformer and automotive oils, as a combustible basis for producing samples of gel-like fuels. An approach of their solidification is based on a method for producing cryogels. We obtain liquid oil emulsions through mixing under certain conditions. After a cycle of freezing and thawing, these emulsions become gel-like”, - says Dmitry Glushkov, Associate Professor the Research School of High-Energy Physics.

The researchers have conducted experiments with 20 different compositions of gel-like fuels. In the laboratory, they cooled them to minus 95 °C and initiated combustion under various conditions.

“An issue, related to a method of effective fuel ignition, is relevant for all condensed substances. Gel-fuel is not an exception. To resolve this matter and create a theoretical basis for the development of devices initiating its combustion, you need to consider two fundamental principles: how much energy and its intensity is needed to affect fuel to ensure stability of subsequent exothermic reaction.

This fundamental problem is currently being solved within experiments conducted under a project of the Russian Science Foundation (18-13-00031)”, - underlines Dmitry Glushkov.

In the near future, the researchers plan to add fine particles to the gel fuel, for example metal, to expand the application possibilities of these fuels.

It is worth noting that the results of the study are published in a number of journals, inparticular, in Acta Astronautica, Journal of the Energy Institute.