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NOx Emissions

The undesirable emissions of oxides of nitrogen, such as nitric acid
and nitrogen dioxide, is a side effect of operating a combustion
These gases are toxic, smog-inducing, and contribute to climate
change through greenhouse effects
Three mechanisms for NOx formation
o Thermal (Zeldovitch)
o Prompt
o Fuel
Zeldovitch mechanism predominant at high temperatures (above
1100-1300 degrees), of note when preheating incoming air as this
increases flame temperature, occurs when inert nitrogen in air
dissociates into N-radicals at high energies
Prompt mechanism is very fast compared to other mechanisms, but
generally occurs in lower temperature combustion, and is therefore
not as notable in industrial combustion processes. It is most
prevalent in fuel-rich processes
Fuel NOx is released by the direct oxidation/decomposition of
organic nitrogen in fuels, and is an issue with low-quality fuels such
as oil or coal. Higher-quality fuels such as methane do not typically
exhibit the Fuel NOx mechanism
Various governmental bodies have established permissible
standards for NOx production, for example, ADR79/04 (Australian
Design Rule) for light vehicles fuelled by petrol or gas limits NOx
production to 0.06-0.08 g/km
Controls on NOx production relevant to gas turbines are:
o Reduction of peak combustion temperature by injecting
water/steam, reducing the air preheat, or leaning out the
o Minimising residence time in the combustion chamber by “air
staging”, or having a rich initial combustion stage at lower
temperature/high equiv. ratio, then adding air in quick-mix
and dilution stages to ensure complete combustion and lower
the temperature (RQL combustor)
o Chemical reduction by selecting appropriate fuels or reburning
The most prevalent factors are clearly the combustor temperature
and the residence time, for managing NOx emissions