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US researchers have designed a combustion chamber whose emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide are close to zero. The researchers also say their design is so simple it would be cheaper to manufacture and maintain than current combustors.

The combustor, which burns both gas and liquid fuels, produces nitrogen oxide emissions of less than 1 part per million (ppm) and CO emissions lower than 10ppm.

The Georgia Tech project, funded by NASA, began with the aim of designing a low emissions combustor for aircraft and power-generating gas turbines. However, the research team says the design can be scaled right down to something as small as a home water heater.

The more efficiently a fuel is burned, the lower the emissions of pollutants like CO. The usual way to ensure a clean, low temperature burn is to pre-mix the fuel with plenty of air and keep the two mixed when they are injected into the combustor: a very complex process.

The new design from Georgia Tech injects fuel and air separately into the combustor, and instead relies on the combustion chamber's shape to keep them mixed.

As a result, the combustor burns fuel in low temperature reactions that occur over a large portion of the combustor

Dr. Ben Zinn, Regents' professor at Georgia Tech's Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering said in a statement: "We wanted to have all the clean-burning advantages of a low temperature combustion process while burning a large amount of fuel in a small volume." ®

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