On Thursday 28th November 2019, the European Union (EU) Parliament declared a Climate Emergency and stipulated the ambitious objective of becoming climate neutral by 2050, implying decarbonization of all sectors of the economy. In this regard, hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels emerge as a realistic option to store, over long periods of time, the excess electricity generated using renewable energy technologies. Transport and storage are key to boost the competitiveness of H2-based fuels. But, to enable the transition to a carbon-free energy system, it is crucial to resolve the limitation of current combustion technology, now incapable of efficiently using them to produce power.


The project IDEAL aims to contribute to the global objective of the European Union and of the Spanish Goverment on CO2 emissions reduction and systems efficiency by developing combustion systems based on sustainable hydrogen, hydrogen-derived fuels (ammonia, biofuels, and synthetic fuels, such as methane or DME) and reformate gas. The problems treated here span from the development of accurate simplified combustion schemes to the use of advanced numerical and experimental techniques with the global objective of providing accurate predictive tools of wide industrial use. The diversity of problems to treat and the interconnection between the different aspects of the project requires of a balanced combination of skills that can only be achieved by the collaborative research effort of the Fluid Mechanics Department of Universidad Carlos III (UC3M), the Combustion and Fluid Mechanics Modeling group at Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), the Fluid Mechanics and Combustion Group of the Aeronautical School of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) and the Physics of Fluids Group of Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED). The main lines of innovation put forward by this proposal require a multidisciplinary set of skills that include:

  • The chemical and electrochemical use of hydrogen, hydrogen-derived fuels and reformate gas.
  • The analysis of laminar reacting flow problems including heat and mass transfer and their interaction in real flames.
  • The proven experience to unravel, simplify and represent, in a compact way, the complex chemical kinetics of carbon-free flames.
  • The capacity of developing and employing sophisticated computer-simulation techniques for the investigation of fundamental and industrial problems.
  • The ability to understand and explain the new physical mechanisms that explain combustion at small scale.
  • The capacity to create innovative experimental setups to clarify complex flame phenomena.
  • The skills to improve the reactive capability of electrochemical devices using advanced fabrication techniques.
  • The numerical and theoretical capacity to model the multiscale gas flow manifold in electrochemical fuel cells.


For additional information, you can download the IDEAL presentation in PDF


UC3M (coordinator)

PI 1 : Mario Sánchez Sanz 
PI 2: Eduardo Fernández Tarrazo
TITLE: Experimental and numerical study of hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels combustion and safety.

This subproject addresses fundamental questions related to the use of alternative fuels by means of experimental, numerical and theoretical approaches. On one side, it focuses on the numerical-experimental analysis of the combustion of hydrogen, hydrogen-ammonia and hydrogen-natural gas mixtures in a semi-confined combustion chamber that mimics, in a simplified version, the design of some engines.
In particular, this sub-project will deal with:

  • the particularities associated with the combustion of fuel blends and ultra-lean hydrogen fuels
  • the reforming of energy vectors (ammonia, biofuels, methane and synthetic fuels) to produce hydrogen that will be later oxidated to produce energy.
  • the safety concerns associated with undesired leakage, combustion and explosion of storage facilities containing these hydrogen.

Leaving aside the technical particularities of this study, this project is framed within the social-economic challenges imposed by the necessary energetic transition that is already taking place. The interest of hydrogen and hydrogen-derived fuels as a key player in the energetic future has sparked an international interest that has promoted the initiation of several projects with the same global strategic mission of developing an environmentally sustainable technology capable of fighting global warming

Combustion and Flame, Volume 201, March 2019, Pages 1-11


PI 1 : Vadim Kourdioumov     
PI 2 : M. Carmen Jiménez Sánchez
TITLE: Hydrogen and green fuels in carbon-reduced heat and power sources: analysis of the production by reforming, flame dynamics and ignition safety issues. (HYGREEN)

Even if many combustion problems have received recently wide theoretical, numerical and experimental attention, many issues associated with the use of hydrogen and hydrogen-derived mixtures remain open. This is primarily due to the significant changes in the physicochemical properties of mixtures produced by hydrogen addition. Studying the fundamental and practical consequences of these changes in the characteristics of the combustion processes is the main goal of this project.
Because of the expertise of the group of Fluid Mechanics and Combustion Analysis of CIEMAT in the theoretical and numerical analysis of fluid mechanical problems, including reacting flows and combustion systems, our subproject will be devoted to three main aspects:

  1. The analysis of the feasibility of hydrogen production by reforming in small-scale systems.
  2. The study of the dynamics and instabilities in the combustion of hydrogen and hydrogen-derived mixtures.
  3. The analysis of the characteristics of the ignition of hydrogen and its mixtures with other fuels in the context of flowing environment,focusing on safety issues.


PI 1 : Daniel Martínez Ruiz     
TITLE: Strategies and Safety in Carbon-Reduced power generation

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 44, Issue 42, 3 September 2019, Pages 23807-23820

The need for large heat transfer and work generation rates in applications such as transport, heating and industrial production is one of the challenges encountered by sustainable technological development. Using alternative fuels to reduce the greenhouse emissions related to the burning of hydrocarbons might be one of the solutions, given that renewable energy sources might be unable to reach the high energy production rates provided by chemical reactions. In the last decades, devices that extract energy from hydrogen, either by direct combustion or in fuel cells, have been proposed to meet this challenge. However, issues linked to the safety in the storage of hydrogen have restricted the complete implantation of these systems.

In this coordinated project, we propose to study the feasibility of using hydrogen and other green fuels, such as ammonia, in order to reduce or, even, completely eliminate carbon emissions in energy production, and bring our society closer to a decarbonized society. Recent incorporation of ammonia as a possible green fuel opens a new opportunity of studies related to its chemical kinetics and properties. Therefore, a deeper insight on the properties of these fuels and reactive processes is sought, particularly, under complex physical conditions such as confined flows with non negligible heat losses. Specially, one of the most challenging issues is the prediction of undesired ignition and explosion-initiation events related to these technologies in confined vessels. The study on propagation of premixed flames in unfavorable situations and their possible transition to detonation will provide us with the required information to revisit safety protocols and design strategies that deem adequate in these clean energy generators. Various numerical and experimental studies (including techniques to measure the flow and reactive layer such as PIV and PLIF) have been proposed in detail to analyze the propagation regimes and related physical processes.

Furthermore, meso-scale local green fuel production from hidrocarbons of biological source like methane, has been tested and studied through reforming processes. This technique allows the production of certain amounts of hydrogen that may be directly used as a fuel or storaged chemically in ammonia. The design and construction of a reformer prototype will be key to understand and explore the atlas of possible stable operation regimes. Therefore, the present project is paramount in the global study of feasibility and safety of a clean energy carrier and green energy production.


PI 1: Pedro García Ybarra
PI 2: Manuel Arias Zugasti
TITLE: Strategies and Safety in Carbon-Reduced power generation


In this subproject the electrochemical generation of electricity by Low-Temperature and High-Temperature PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cells is considered. Hydrogen and air, as feeding gases, are independently delivered at the two electrodes which are separated by a polymeric acidic membrane used as electrolyte. The half-reaction on each electrode takes place at relatively low temperatures (40 – 70 ºC / 160-180 ºC) promoted by the electrocatalytic layers located on the electrolyte – electrodes interfaces. The efficiency of the conversion lies primarily on the effectiveness of these catalytic layers to ease the chemical adsorption of the reactive gases on the catalytic sites. Furthermore, a successful continuous operation requires the simultaneous transport of protons and electrons to/from these sites through the electrolyte and the electrodes, respectively. The structure of the catalytic layers on the nano-scale is mostly responsible for the effectiveness of these phenomena. In general, a large porosity is enough to assure a suitable active catalytic surface, but, additionally, an adequate pore size distribution is required in order to achieve an optimal management of the produced water and arrival of the reactants. The use of an electrospray to deposit Pt-electrocatalysts on the electrodes by spreading catalytic inks has proven to be an excellent method to achieve nanostructured catalytic layers, allowing to reach reasonable efficiencies even with low and ultra-low platinum loadings. The optimization of this process will be investigated in this project by evaluation of the catalytic properties of inks with different components and concentrations. The experimental matrix will consider a series of Pt/C electrocatalysts, with different concentrations of platinum to carbon, and several platinum loadings on the electrodes from ultra-low to low values. For each of these configurations, the inonomer concentration will be varied to obtain the optimal value.


This subproject will also deal theoretically with some combustion problems related to the diffusive properties of flame fronts in different configurations. The ignition problem of a hydrogen – air mixture inside a vortex by H-radical diffusion from a far flame will be analyzed in the simplified framework of a two-step kinetic model. A high activation energy chain-branching step and an exothermic termination step will be considered to study the thermal run-away observed experimentally to arise in the core of a ring-vortex approaching a hydrogen premixed flame. The deep implications of this phenomenon on the key subject of turbulent flame propagation justifies the election of this singular configuration to be theoretically investigated by joining analytical and computational efforts. Furthermore, the structure and stability of hydrogen flame balls will be also considered by using a full description of the diffusive transport of mass and energy that include both Soret and Dufour effects.

Previous Projects

Combustión eficiente de biocombustibles con aplicación a la generación portátil de potencia.

ParticipantsUC3M, CIEMAT
ReferenceENE2015-65852-C2-1-R (e-biocomb)
Principal InvestigatorM. Sánchez Sanz, E. Fernández Tarrazo (UC3M)
Funding AgencyMinisterio de Economía y Competitividad
Start-end date01/01/2016 - 31/12/2019
Total amount funded323.780€
Related to present proposalRelated
Current stateFunded, on-going

Sustainable Combustion Research (SCORE)

ParticipantsUC3M, CIEMAT, UPM, UNED, Universidad de Zaragoza (UNIZAR)
Principal InvestigatorCoordinador Cesar Dopazo (UNIZAR)
Funding AgencyMINECO (programa CONSOLIDER)
Start-end date01/01/2011-31/12/2015
Total amount funded3.400.000€
Related to present proposalRelated
Current stateFunded, finished

Desarrollo de herramientas predictivas para la combustión de hidrógeno en turbinas de gas (HYSYCOMB)

ParticipantsUC3M, CIEMAT, UPM, UNED
Principal InvestigatorFrancisco José Higuera Antón (UPM)
Funding AgencyPrograma de I+D grupos de la Comunidad de Madrid
Start-end date01/01/2010 - 31/12/2013
Total amount funded834.325€
Related to present proposalRelated
Current stateFunded, finished

Fluidodinámica de la combustión del hidrógeno (HYCOMB)

ParticipantsUC3M, CIEMAT, UPM, UNED
Principal InvestigatorAntonio Sánchez (UC3M)
Funding AgencyMinisterio de Ciencia y Tecnología
Start-end date01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011
Total amount funded300.000€
Related to present proposalRelated
Current stateFunded, finished

Combustión Limpia: Análisis, Modelado y Simulación (COMLIMAMS)

ParticipantsUC3M, CIEMAT, UPM, UNED
Principal InvestigatorAmable Liñán (UPM)
Funding AgencyPrograma de I+D grupos de la Comunidad de Madrid
Start-end date01/01/2006 - 31/12/2009
Total amount funded969.727,50€
Related to present proposalRelated
Current stateFunded, finished


IDEAL aims at closing knowledge gaps regarding Hydrogen and Hydrogen-Derived fuels (ammonia, biofuels, biogas) to develop or adapt existing appliances to carbon-free fuels. You can write us an email or contact us through our contact form.

Project funded by  Agencia Estatal de Investigación (PID2019-108592RB-C41-C42-C43-C44 / AEI / 10.13039/501100011033)


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