Superior Nano-Fuels by Ultrasonic Dispersion

  • Ultrasonic dispersion is used to produce nanofuels or diesohol, a fuel blend of ethanol and diesel, which is improved by the addition of CNTs or nanoparticles.
  • Power ultrasonics produces super-fine, nano-fuel emulsions and dispersions.
  • Ultrasonically dispersed nanoparticles in fuels improve fuel performance and emission characteristics.
  • Ultrasonic inline dispersers are available on industrial scale for the production of nano-fuels.


Nanofuels consist in a mixture of a base fuel (e.g. diesel, biodiesel, fuel blends) and nano-particles. Those nanoparticles act as hybrid nanocatalysts, which offer a large reactive surface area. The ultrasonic dispersion of the nano-additive results in substantially improves fuel performance such as reduced ignition delay, longer flame sustenance and agglomerate ignition as well as significant overall reductions in the emission.
Nano-sized fuel-particle blends excel pure liquid fuel regarding fuel performance by higher energy density, faster and easier ignition, enhanced catalytic effect, reduced emission, faster evaporation and burning rate and improved combustion efficiency.

Ultrasonic Dispersion of Nanoparticles in Fuel

To avoid the settling of nanoparticles in the fuel tank, the particles must be dispersed sophistically. Ultrasonic processors are powerful and reliable dispersers, which are well-known for their capacity to mix, deagglomerate and even mill nanoparticles so that a stable dispersion with the desired particle size is obtained.
Hielscher’s ultrasonic dispersers are proven tools to disperse nanotubes and particles into fuels.
The list below gives you an overview over already tested nano-materials dispersed in fuels:

  • CNTscarbon nanotubes
  • Ag – silver
  • Alaluminium
  • Al2O3aluminum oxide
  • AlCuOxaluminum copper oxides
  • Bboron
  • Cacalcium
  • CaCO3calcium carbonate
  • Feiron
  • Cucopper
  • CuOcopper oxide
  • Cecerium
  • CeO2cerium oxide
  • (CeO2)·(ZrO2)cerium zirconium oxide
  • Cocobalt
  • Mgmagnesium
  • Mnmanganese
  • TiO2titanium dioxide
  • ZnOzinc oxide
Inline processing with 7kW power ultrasonic processors (Click to enlarge!)

7kW ultrasonic flow system

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Ultrasonic Dispersion of Carbon Nanotubes: The Hielscher ultrasonicator UP400S (400W) disperses and detangles CNTs fast and efficiently into single nanotubes.

Dispersing of Carbon Nanotubes in Water using the UP400S

Furthermore, doped nano-additives, e.g. as cerium oxide on MWNTs, have been successfully tested, too.
Nano-scaled, ultrasonically mono-dispersed cerium oxide offers high catalytic activity due to its high surface-to-volume ratio leading to improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Ultrasonic Nanoemulsions

Ultrasonic emulsification technology is used to produce stable ethanol-in-decane, ethanol-in-diesel, or diesel–biodiesel–ethanol/bioethanol blends. Such blends are an ideal base fuel, which can be in a second step improved by dispersing nano-particles into the fuel.
Ultrasonic nano-emulsification is also successfully used to produce aqua-fuels.
Click here to learn more about ultrasonically prepared aqua-fuels!

Hielscher Ultrasonics supplies powerful homogenizers for the production of emulsion fuels (Click to enlarge!)

Ultrasonic production of emulsion fuels

Industrial Ultrasonic Systems

The generation of stable emulsions and dispersions requires power ultrasound and high amplitudes. Hielscher Ultrasonics’ industrial ultrasonic processors can deliver very high amplitudes, which is important to produce nano-sized emulsions and dispersions. Therefore, our industrial ultrasonicators can be easily run at amplitudes of up to 200µm in 24/7 operation under heavy-duty conditions. For even higher amplitudes, customized ultrasonic sonotrodes are available.
Hielscher offers cost-effective, highly robust ultrasonic processors with a small footprint for the installation in plants with limited space and demanding environments.
The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch Volume Flow Rate Recommended Devices
10 to 2000mL 20 to 400mL/min UP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L 0.2 to 4L/min UIP2000hdT
10 to 100L 2 to 10L/min UIP4000
n.a. 10 to 100L/min UIP16000
n.a. larger cluster of UIP16000

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InsertMPC48 with 48 fine cannulas, which inject the second phase of the emulsion directly into the ultrasonic cavitation zone

InsertMPC48 – Hielscher’s solution for superior nano-emulsions

Literature / References

Facts Worth Knowing


Nano-fuels refer to a mixture of fuel and nano-particles. By the dispersing nano-energetic particles into the fuel, the physical-chemical properties of the fuel are changed by their functionlity, their dispersive structure, and the complex interplay of heat transfer, fluid flow, and particle interactions. Due to the heterogeneous composition, nanofuel characteristics are determined by the type of base fuel as well as the composition, size, shape, concentration, and physical and chemical properties of the nanoparticles. The nanofuel characteristics can differ significantly from the characteristics of the base fuel.


Diesel is liquid fuel that is burnt in diesel engines. In diesel engines, the fuel is ignited without any spark, but by compressing the inlet air mixture and then injecting the diesel fuel.
Conventional diesel fuel is a specific fractional distillate of petroleum fuel oil. In a wider sense, the term diesel refers to fuels not derived from petroleum, e.g. biodiesel, biomass-to-iquid (BTL), gas-to-liquid (GTL), or coal-to-liquid (CTL) diesel. BTL, GTL, and CTL, are so-called synthetic diesel fuels, which can be derived from any carbonaceous material (e.g. biomass, biogas, natural gas, coal, etc.). After gasification of the raw material into synthesis gas followed by purification, it is converted via Fischer–Tropsch reaction into synthetic diesel. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) is a standard for diesel fuel that contains a significantly lowered sulfur content.


Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used to run in diesel vehicles and generators. Its physical properties are similar to those of petroleum diesel, although it burns cleaner. Biodiesel reduces the emissions of unburned hydrocarbons (UHC), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides, and soot particles – when compared to emissions produced by burning conventional diesel. The emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx) can be higher for biodiesel (in comparison to diesel). However, this can be reduced by optimizing the timing of fuel injection.
Biodiesel production is greatly improved by ultrasonic transesterification. Click here to learn more about ultrasonic biodiesel production!


Ethanol fuel is ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) used as fuel. Ethanol fuels are mostly used as a motor fuels – mainly as a biofuel additive in gasoline. Today, automobils can be run using 100% ethanol fuel or using so called flex-fuels, which are a blend of ethanol and gasoline. It is commonly produced by a fermentation process of biomass e.g. corn or sugarcane. Since ethanol fuel is derived from renewable, sustainable biomass, it is often called bioethanol. Power ultrasound can improve the production of bioethanol substantially. Click here to learn more about ultrasonic bioethanol production!
Ethanol is the oxygenate in E-diesel. The major drawback of E-diesel is the immiscibility of ethanol in diesel over a wide range of temperatures. However, biodiesel can be used successfully as an amphiphile surfactant to stabilize ethanol and diesel. Ethanol−biodiesel−diesel (EB-diesel) fuel can be blended ultrasonically to a micro- or nano-emulsion so that the EB-diesel is stable – even at below sub-zero temperatures and offers superior fuel properties to regular diesel fuel.