Keele University undertakes research on hydrogen combustion

A €4 million study led by Keele University to support emerging technology for combustion engines has made “significant progress”.

Professor Maria Heckl, Professor of Engineering Mathematics at Keele, is leading a team of researchers who are addressing the technical challenges of hydrogen combustion.

The Pollution Know-how and Abatement project – POLKA – is looking at how to support emerging technologies that will replace fossil fuels in combustion engines and at low-carbon energy solutions for the engines.

The research is funded by a €4 million grant from Horizon 2020 – the largest European funding programme for research and innovation.

Some 17 education and industry partners are involved in the research from as far afield as Italy, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium and India, as well as the UK.


Combustion of hydrogen from renewable sources is an emerging technology. Traditional combustion engines rely on fossil fuels which release carbon-dioxide when burnt, contributing to rising carbon emissions and climate change. However, when burnt with oxygen, hydrogen is a ‘zero-emissions’ fuel – meaning it only produces heat and water, providing a ‘clean’ energy alternative.

The researchers are 15 months into the 48-month study and have already met to report on their research activities.


The goal of POLKA is to create new physical insights and advanced simulation tools to underpin the development of hydrogen-fuelled combustion systems such as gas turbines, aero-engines, boilers and furnaces.

In particular, the project will develop solutions to the technical challenges which are unique to hydrogen combustion: thermoacoustic instabilities and flashback.

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