A study performed at the National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli, India has revealed that aluminum nanoparticles inserted in biofuels could enhance their burning properties. That would drastically reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, also creating less smoke.
R.B. Anand, the lead author, says that aluminum nanoparticles are useful for mixing with biodiesel because of their high porosity, hence high surface-to-volume ratio, giving the fuel more contact places and acting as a more efficient chemical catalyst.
Tests performed by Anand and his colleague J. Sadhik Basha revealed that an emulsion of jatropha biodiesel blended in different proportions with aluminum nanoparticles, water and a surfactant, gave excellent results in terms of gas emissions and clean burning.
Despite their promising results, aluminum is not the only material these two scientists are planning to use. They are also in an active research of hollow carbon nanotubes, and how these would affect existing engines.
There’s a drawback to this technology, though. Besides the fact that it reduces pollution, producing nanoparticles is expensive for the moment and there’s one more thing: the nanoparticles are harmful to humans and animals, because they can enter the body undetected, just like diesel soot enters our lungs and is able to provoke cancers.