Scope of Flame less Combustion Technology for NOx Reductions

What is Flameless combustion?

  • Flameless combustion, also known as low-NOx (nitrogen oxide) combustion or colorless combustion, is a combustion process in which fuel is burned in the absence of a visible flame.
  • This technique is primarily developed to reduce the formation of nitrogen oxides, which are a group of air pollutants that contribute to smog and acid rain.
  • In a conventional combustion process, such as in a flame-based burner or furnace, high temperatures and oxygen concentrations can lead to the formation of nitrogen oxides.
  • These pollutants are harmful to the environment and human health.
  • Flameless combustion seeks to minimize the production of nitrogen oxides by controlling the combustion process.

flameless combustion techniques

Features of Flameless combustion

Key characteristics of blameless combustion include:

  1. Uniform Mixing: The fuel and air are thoroughly and uniformly mixed before combustion to ensure a more controlled and evenly distributed combustion process.
  2. Lower Peak Temperatures: Flameless combustion aims to reduce the peak temperatures within the combustion zone, as higher temperatures can lead to increased nitrogen oxide formation.
  3. Extended Combustion Time: The combustion process is extended to allow for more complete and efficient fuel oxidation, minimizing the conditions that favor nitrogen oxide formation.
  4. Staged Combustion: In some flame-less combustion systems, the combustion process is staged, meaning that fuel and air are introduced in separate stages to control the combustion reactions.
  5. Advanced Burner Designs: Specialized burners and combustion chambers are designed to facilitate flame-less combustion. These designs often include features such as porous media burners or modified flame shapes.

CFD Results of flame profiles

What are  Techniques of Cold Combustion?

  • flameless combustion, also known as cold combustion or cool flame combustion, refers to a combustion process that occurs at temperatures lower than those associated with a visible flame.
  • This phenomenon is of interest in various applications due to its potential for reduced emissions and improved efficiency.
  • Here are some techniques and factors associated with flameless combustion:
  1. High Dilution:
    • Flameless combustion often involves high dilution of the fuel-air mixture with inert gases such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide.
    • This helps in reducing the peak temperatures associated with traditional combustion.
    • low NOX burner FGR

        low NOX burner FGR
  2. Preheating:
    • Preheating the reactants before combustion can lead to flameless combustion. This reduces the ignition delay and promotes a more uniform combustion process.
  3. Catalysis:
    • The use of catalysts can facilitate flameless combustion by lowering the activation energy required for the reaction. This allows combustion to occur at lower temperatures.
  4. Micro-Mixing:
    • Enhancing the mixing of fuel and oxidizer at a small scale can promote uniform combustion and reduce temperature peaks. This can be achieved through advanced burner designs or by using additives that improve mixing.
  5. Inhibition of Free Radicals:
    • Controlling the formation of free radicals, which contribute to high-temperature combustion reactions, can be achieved through the use of inhibitors. This helps in maintaining a flameless or cool flame regime.
  6. Fuel Design:
    • Modifying the molecular structure of the fuel itself can influence combustion characteristics. Certain fuels are more prone to flameless combustion due to their chemical properties.
  7. Pulsed Combustion:
    • Intermittent or pulsed combustion can be employed to achieve flameless conditions. This involves cycling between combustion and non-combustion phases, allowing for heat dissipation during the non-combustion phase.
  8. Pressure Effects:
    • Controlling the pressure of the combustion environment can influence the combustion characteristics. Lower pressures can sometimes lead to flameless combustion.
  9. Controlled Inlet Air Temperature:
    • Adjusting the temperature of the incoming air can impact the combustion process. Lowering the inlet air temperature can help maintain flameless conditions.
  10. Advanced Burner Designs:
    • Using specially designed burners that promote better mixing and controlled combustion can contribute to flameless combustion.
  • Flameless combustion is an area of ongoing research, and different applications may require tailored approaches based on specific requirements. The goal is often to achieve combustion with reduced emissions, lower peak temperatures, and improved overall efficiency.

Applications of Flameless combustion 

  • Flameless combustion, also known as cool flame combustion or low-temperature combustion, refers to the process of burning fuel without a visible flame
  • These techniques can be applied in various combustion systems such as internal combustion engines, gas turbines, boilers, and industrial furnaces to achieve flameless combustion and improve combustion efficiency while reducing emissions.


Burner tiles for FGR low NOx burners

    Burner tiles for FGR low NOx burners


  • This type of combustion often occurs at lower temperatures compared to traditional combustion processes and can offer certain advantages, such as reduced emissions and improved safety in some applications. Here are some techniques used to achieve flameless combustion:

Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI):

    • HCCI engines operate by compressing a homogeneous mixture of air and fuel to the point of autoignition, similar to how a diesel engine operates.
    • .HCCI engines can achieve combustion with very little or no flame propagation.
    • This technique allows for efficient and clean combustion with lower emissions of pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.
      HCCI engine combustion
      HCCI engine – Flame less combustion

Internal Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR):

    • Internal Exhaust Gas Recirculation involves recirculating a portion of exhaust gases back into the combustion chamber.
    • This technique reduces the oxygen concentration in the combustion chamber, which lowers the combustion temperature and reduces the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
      ECU EGR for Diesel Engine for low NOX
      ECU EGR for Diesel Engine for low NOX
  1. Lean Burn Combustion:
    • Lean burn combustion involves burning fuel with an excess of air compared to stoichiometric conditions.
    • This excess of air helps reduce the peak flame temperature and decreases the formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
    • Lean burn combustion is commonly used in gas turbines and some internal combustion engines.
      Combustion stability curves
      Combustion stability curves for Gas Turbine
  2. Catalytic Combustion:
    • Catalytic combustion involves using catalysts to facilitate the combustion process at lower temperatures compared to traditional combustion.
    • Catalysts accelerate the reaction rates of combustion, allowing for efficient combustion at reduced temperatures.
      Working principle of Catalytic Thermal Oxidizer
  3. Microflame Combustion:
    • Flameless combustion involves creating small, controlled flames or plasma discharges to initiate combustion.
    • These microflares can help ignite fuel at lower temperatures and can be used in applications such as waste incineration and fuel cells.
  4. Pulsed Combustion:
    • Pulsed combustion involves periodically igniting fuel-air mixtures in a combustion chamber.
    • This technique can help achieve efficient combustion with lower peak temperatures and reduced emissions.
  5. Oxycel Combustion:
    • Oxy-fuel combustion involves using oxygen instead of air as the oxidizer in combustion processes.
    • By using oxygen, the combustion temperature can be controlled more precisely, leading to more efficient and cleaner combustion.

Flam less burners for Low NOX

CFD Modeling of Flameless combustion

  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling of flameless combustion plays a significant role in understanding, optimizing, and designing combustion systems with reduced emissions.
  • Combustion is a vast topic. You can refer the post of combustion modeling in detail for CFD modeling of turbulent combustion.
  • Here’s how CFD is used in modeling flameless combustion:
  1. Fluid Dynamics Simulation:
    • CFD software simulates the fluid flow and heat transfer within the combustion chamber.
    • It predicts variables such as velocity, pressure, temperature, and species concentration throughout the combustion process.
  2. Chemical Kinetics Modeling:
    • CFD models incorporate chemical kinetics to simulate the combustion reactions accurately.
    • Chemical kinetics models describe the rates of chemical reactions occurring during combustion, including fuel oxidation and pollutant formation.
  3. Turbulence Modeling:
    • Turbulence modeling is essential for capturing the turbulent flow characteristics within the combustion chamber.
    • Different turbulence models, such as Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) or Large Eddy Simulation (LES), may be employed based on the complexity of the flow.
  4. Fuel Injection Modeling:
    • CFD simulations model the fuel injection process, including fuel atomization, spray formation, and fuel-air mixing.
    • Understanding the behavior of the fuel spray helps optimize combustion efficiency and reduce emissions.
  5. Species Transport and Reaction:
    • CFD models track the transport of various chemical species, including fuel, oxygen, nitrogen, and combustion intermediates.
    • Species transport and reaction models predict the formation and distribution of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.
  6. Radiation Modeling:
    • Radiation modeling accounts for the transfer of thermal radiation within the combustion chamber.
    • It helps predict temperature distributions and radiative heat transfer, particularly in high-temperature combustion environments.
  7. Validation and Verification:
    • CFD results are validated against experimental data to ensure accuracy and reliability.
    • Validation involves comparing CFD predictions with measurements from laboratory experiments or real-world combustion systems.
  8. Parametric Studies and Optimization:
    • CFD simulations allow for parametric studies to explore the effects of different operating conditions, geometry designs, and fuel compositions on combustion performance and emissions.
    • Optimization techniques can be employed to identify the optimal configuration that maximizes combustion efficiency while minimizing emissions.
  9. Combustion Stability Analysis:
    • CFD models help analyze combustion stability, including the onset of flame extinction, flashback, or combustion instability.
    • Understanding combustion stability is crucial for ensuring safe and reliable operation of combustion systems.
CFD results : Temperature contours during combustion
CFD results: Temperature contours during combustion


  • Flame-less combustion can be implemented in various combustion systems, including industrial boilers, furnaces, and gas turbines.
  • It is especially relevant in industries where NOx emissions are a significant environmental concern, and regulatory standards for emissions reduction are stringent.
  • The benefits of flame-less combustion include reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, improved combustion efficiency, and potentially lower pollutant concentrations in the exhaust.
  • However, implementing flame-less combustion can also pose engineering and design challenges, and the technology may require careful optimization for specific applications.
  • Overall, flame-less combustion is part of ongoing efforts to develop cleaner and more environmentally friendly combustion processes.
  • By leveraging CFD modeling, engineers and researchers can gain insights into the complex phenomena occurring during flameless combustion. This knowledge enables the development of more efficient, cleaner, and environmentally sustainable combustion technologies.


  1.  Low NOx burners with FCT by ESA
  2. Lantec Combustion Technology FC Burners
  3. Review on Biomass Flame less combustion

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