Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)


Chemical Engineering

Document Type



Metallic fuels are of interest as additives in bio-fuel combustion because of their high heating values, and this thesis deals with the experimental investigation of boron nanoparticles and their effect on ethanol combustion. Two grades of boron nanoparticles were commercially purchased and modified to obtain different physical characteristics, by ball milling and sintering. Also, a mixture of rare-earth oxide (CeO2, La2O3, and Gd2O3) nanoparticles was synthesized and added to the boron nanoparticles in varying amounts to form composite mixtures. The effects of rare-earth oxides on boron combustion were investigated using these composites. Particle characterizations were carried out by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, porosimetry, and thermogravimetric analysis. Nanoparticles were characterized by crystallinity, primary particle size, agglomerate size, and the elemental (zero valent) boron content, both pre- and post-combustion. Exhaust gas chromatographic analysis and temperature measurements in the post-flame region of the combustion unit were carried out in order to determine the particles’ effects on combustion. Commercial boron nanoparticles of different grades differ in agglomerate size, but the primary nanoparticle sizes are similar, ~70 nm. The agglomerate size can be modified by ball milling, while the primary nanoparticle size can be increased by high-temperature calcination. The combustion data suggest that the addition of boron nanoparticles to an ethanol fuel increases both the overall temperature of the system and the production of CO2, and adding rare-earth oxides to boron nanoparticles can also enhance these measures of performance. The data also suggest that as the boron primary particle size and agglomeration decrease, boron nanoparticles have a greater positive impact on ethanol combustion.



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Committee Chair

Dooley, Kerry