heating, and combustion components and design tools. Despite the mature state of technology in this field, there is no shortage of areas deserving funding. As a result, priorities and metrics are critical in identifying and achieving the objectives that will best satisfy the ITP’s mission. Owing to the increased emphasis on environmental effects of emissions during recent decades and to the relationship between combustion, energy efficiency, and emissions, there is an inherent challenge in incorporating environmental priorities into a set of objectives. The ITP recognizes the importance of reducing emissions and has specified the goal of the reduction of environmental impacts within its mission. Consequently, many of the ITP efforts in the combustion area have an emissions focus. However, the only apparent emissions-related metric used in project selection for the ITP involves greenhouse gas reduction. The committee recommends that the ITP develop a process for weighting the value to the program of emissions reductions in each specific pollutant, e.g., nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxide (SOx), mercury, acid gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulates.
The reorganization of the EERE in 2002 and the subsequent ITP reorganizations have led to substantial changes in ITP’s decision-making methodology. Prior to this reorganization, the combustion subprogram had committed to a number of long-term projects. Some of these are not a good fit with the current methodology. Historical inertia may have led to a bias in the application of the focus area-barrier-pathway methodology to the extent that some existing projects appeared to be a good fit under the new approach. The committee supports the new decision-making methodology and recommends that focus areas, barriers, and pathways be identified independently of legacy projects, so that existing projects do not skew the future selection process. In addition, the committee recommends phasing out legacy projects that do not fit within the new decision-making methodology.
In recent years there has been a clear shift toward natural gas as a convenient, cost-effective, and clean source of fuel. However, the danger of developing a fuel-selection strategy that relies solely on one fuel has been demonstrated during the past few years, as the price and regional availability of natural gas have caused significant problems for a number of industries. The project portfolio in the combustion subprogram at the ITP is almost entirely focused on the use of natural gas. The committee therefore recommends that the ITP attempt to incorporate projects with a more diverse range of renewable and non-renewable fuels. For example, coal, wood, waste, oil, hydrogen, and other fuels are now, or could soon become, important to industry.
While the ITP’s emphasis on partnering with and transferring technology to industry is laudable, effective development is limited in a number of combustion-related areas by a lack of fundamental understanding. For example, key aspects of the chemistry of ultralow NOx burners and fundamental weaknesses in the development of techniques for modeling the interactions between chemistry and turbulent fluid mechanics make it difficult to employ sound science in the development of burners. Although there may be other avenues for funding fundamental research and development (R&D), certain fundamental issues that are particularly important to industrial combustion are not attracting the attention of other agencies or programs and will continue to be neglected without ITP support.
With the rapid improvement in computational resources, techniques, and combustion-specific experience, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling tools have shown significant potential. The improvement and evaluation of the capability of these tools to meet the specific needs of industrial burners and furnaces were identified by the industrial combustion roadmap as an important priority.