Welcome to BICEF-NH3

BICEF-NH3 — short for 'Boosting full decarbonization for sustainable cities mobility through internal combustion engines (ICEs) fueled by pure ammonia', is a project introducing a disruptive vision where vehicles fuelled by pure ammonia (NH3) will be able to reach near-zero pollutant emissions in a highly efficient manner. The solution proposed aims to change the paradigms for sustainable cities mobility by enabling:

  1. Full decarbonization system where vehicles rely on ammonia, which is an H2 energy carrier, and a carbon-free fuel.

  2. A clear advantage of an already established and reliable infrastructure for ammonia storage and distribution.

  3. A relatively easy fleet vehicle conversion.


Our team foresees ICEs fuelled with pure NH3 without the help of any combustion promoter as the most cost-effective energy bringer.

To prove our vision's reliability and potential, this project will develop a new strategy using ammonia itself as fuel and without the need for a combustion promotor to ensure high temperature and pressure operating conditions for 100% NH3 combustion.

The project team comprises three main research groups known for their pioneering and leadership within the field of kinetic chemistry (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT), experimental and theoretical combustion (Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon), and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) applied to thermochemical systems with a strong focus on uncertainty quantification (Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre).

Main Objectives

This project's main breakthrough will be the proof-of-concept for a fully decarbonized transport system through an ICE fuelled by pure NH3. The team will develop a first-time high-fidelity CFD model with accurate and detailed kinetic schemes validated under experimental conditions.

To accomplish such high-risk and high-gain breakthrough, this team will explore the following undertakings:

  • Develop detailed NH3 kinetic models.
  • Develop high-fidelity CFD NH3 combustion model coupled with uncertainty quantification including: a) optimal injection design; b) NOx abatement by inner Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) targeting low emissions (<100 ppm).
  • Experimental data over flame characteristics and ICE operation as a proof-of-concept.

Project Structure

WP1. Project Management

WP2. Concept of Operations

WP3. Detailed chemical kinetic model generation

WP4. NH3 combustion: A 3-D CFD model

WP5. Experimental study of Flame characterization

WP6. Results Dissemination & Communication

News & Outputs

The Ammonia Energy Association publishes an issue on BICEF-NH3 recent advancements on pure ammonia combustion in engines (Date of publication: June 1, 2021)

A recent article published by the Ammonia Energy Association mentions the BICEF-NH3 project and its advancements on pure ammonia combustion in internal combustion engines. Great to have our work recognized by the main international organization promoting the sustainable ammonia economy.
Read all about it here: "Ammonia engine development in Portugal"

Review article:
Ammonia as an energy vector: Current and future prospects for low-carbon fuel applications in internal combustion engines (Date of publication: March 8, 2021)

Ammonia and hydrogen carry great potential as carbon-free fuels with promising applications in energy systems. Hydrogen, in particular, has been generating massive expectations as a carbon-free economy enabler, but issues related to storage, distribution, and infrastructure deployment are delaying its full implementation. Ammonia, on the other hand, stands as a highly efficient energy vector delivering high energy density and an established and flexible infrastructure capable of mitigating hydrogen’s key drawbacks. This mature infrastructure together with the possibility of producing ammonia through renewable energy sources triggered an exploring route to the transition of ammonia as the next sustainable fuel solution for power generation. In this regard, the transportation sector as one of the main culprits for carbon emissions can benefit from ammonia-powered internal combustion engines. However, the use of pure ammonia as fuel still presents important constraints leading researchers to develop strategies such as dual-fuel concepts or novel combustion approaches. Therefore, this review covers these issues by delving into the underpinning mechanisms required for developing pure ammonia combustion in internal combustion engines. To do so, fundamentals, technical, environmental, and economic aspects associated with the use of ammonia as a transportation fuel are broadly addressed. While the emphasis is given to pure ammonia and ammonia fuel blends operation, NOx emissions control, current challenges related to the detailed and accurate understanding of the ammonia chemistry, and the lack of high-fidelity numerical models are also deeply discussed on their role into aiding the commercial deployment of this technology.

J.S. Cardoso, V. Silva, R.C. Rocha, M.J. Hall, M. Costa, D. Eusébio. Ammonia as an energy vector: Current and future prospects for low-carbon fuel applications in internal combustion engines, Journal of Cleaner Production 296 (2021) 126562.

Internal Combustion Engine