Editorial Feature

How can Nanotechnology Reduce Emissions and Increase Efficiency in Diesel Engines?

Image Credit: StockLeb/Shutterstock.com

In 2019, Purify Fuel patented a nanotechnology-based nanO2® Combustion Catalyst that has demonstrated the optimization of fuel combustion to save fuel, reduce emissions and protect engines. 

“For every two dollars that you invest in the combustion catalyst, you should actually reap four to five dollars in cost saving from fuel usage.”

CEO John Carroll, Purify Fuel at the 2019 USEA Annual Public Policy Forum

The current gradual increase in the world’s population has increased the demand for transportation fuel. Diesel is a high-demand fuel and is expected to reach around 50 million of oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2040 (ExxonMobil, 2019). However, fuel consumption in the transportation sector comes with the drawback of being one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emission, claiming 28% in the US. This emission has been perpetually affecting the population worldwide, as the WHO records about 4.2 million deaths every year due to air pollution (World Health Organization, 2020). 

Diesel power currently runs more than 400 million engines worldwide (King, 2020). In 2019, the number of diesel-run vehicles in the EU was 51 million, a 74% rise since 2016 (Dornier, 2019), confirming a bigger market than the USA.

The diesel fuel mainly contains aliphatic hydrocarbons of C9–10 with boiling temperatures varying from 163 °C to 357 °C (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1988), while the emissions contain hydrocarbon content (THC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) (Sajeevan, et al., 2013).

To address this challenge, Purify Fuel has demonstrated the optimized fuel combustion catalyst, nanO2®, which has proven to reduce fuel consumption, reduce emission, and increase engine power. The active ingredient in nanO2®, called EOLYS Fuel Additives, was introduced into the market by Solvay in 2001. Since then, the product has been installed in more than 14 million engines worldwide.

Purify Fuel's CEO John Carroll at the 2019 USEA Annual Public Policy Forum

Video Credit: Purify Fuel/YouTube.com

Nanotechnology-Based Combustion Catalyst

In the last 20 years, scientists in the nanotechnology field have explored the fascinating properties of nanoparticles, including its large surface area, high functional density, extraordinary surface effect, and high strain resistance (Chhantyal, 2020).

According to (Yetter, et al., 2009), adding metallic nanoparticles inside the combustion chamber prompts heat transfer to fuel and shortens the ignition delay. This property can provide vehicles with better strength and durability performance over conventional materials (Shafique, et al., 2019). As a result, they significantly alter the power engine oil temperature, subsequently decreasing the unburned carbons.

Several metallic nano additives, including cerium (Dale, et al., 2017) and aluminium, have been investigated as a possibility of using as an additive catalyst (Saraee, et al., 2015). Metals such as aluminum have a high energy density that strengthens the production of energy in engines, reducing the fuel consumption, which, as a result, reduces the CO and NOx emissions. 

How does Purify Fuel's nanO2® Work?

The high-quality fuels have a higher cetane number and short ignition delay (the time between the start of injection and the start of combustion), which represents a better burning of fuels in the engine.

The addition of nanO2® into diesel fuel increases the fuel’s cetane number and decreases the ignition delay.

The catalyst also donates oxygen molecules during the combustion to extend the burn, which chemically alters the timing of a diesel engine to burn a more significant percentage of the fuel during the Powerstroke.

Another advantage of a shorter ignition time keeps the engine temperatures low to prevent the formation of NOx.

Purify Fuel has already tested and validated the results of the nanO2® catalyst as listed in Table 1 in any engine, without any engine modification.

Table 1: Different advantages of nanO2® catalyst when mixed in diesel fuel

Increased Fuel Efficiency

Up to 12%

CO Emission Reduction 

Up to 60%

Soot Reduction 

Up to 57%

Particulate Matter


Up to 37%


NRE Power Systems Tests Purify Fuel’s nanO2 Combustion Catalysts

Video Credit: Purify Fuel/Youtube.com

Diesel Engine Efficiency

Researchers (Shekofteh, et al., 2020) studied the performance and emission characteristics between diesel and biodiesel. Although biodiesel has more oxygen, which leads to better combustion and lower CO emission, they have higher viscosity and density that leads to higher emission of NOx.

To counter this challenge, a catalyst is commonly engineered to decrease the density and viscosity of the blend, reducing the NOx.

Normally, about 20 to 25% of the fuel injected into diesel engines are not burnt (Huff, 2020), which demands the production of enough oxygen during the combustion process.

The two fuel additives, n-butanol (10%) and synthesized asymmetric graphene oxide nanoparticles were investigated (Khan, et al., 2020) to improve the fuel properties of Nigella sativa biodiesel (NSME25).

The former additive decreased the viscosity and increased the cetane number of the fuel, whereas the latter increased the micro-explosion phenomenon by acting as a catalyst.

The n-butanol also decreased the brake-specific fuel consumption due to complete combustion. The addition of graphene oxide nanoparticles to the diesel decreased fuel blend smoke, THC and CO emissions by 31.68%, 48.571% and 50.15%, respectively.

Purify Fuel’s performance indicator of nanO2® compared different properties between standard LSD diesel 37 PPM with and without the nanO2® additives (Carroll, 2019).

The result showed an increase of around 3% in horsepower, and a decrease of 86.15% CO emission, 12% fuel consumption and 11.76% NOx emission approximately with nanO2® additives.

Read more: Atomic Emission Spectroscopy

Increased Fuel Efficiency

The increase of the cetane number on the addition of nanoparticles in fuel has been confirmed by many researchers (Norhafana, et al., 2018).

Higher cetane numbers were obtained for nanoparticles, such as nano aluminum (n-Al) and nano silicon (n-Si) in water–diesel emulsion (Mehta, et al., 2014).

Another nanoparticle called zinc, in blends of diesel–pomoplion stearin wax biodiesel, resulted in the reduction of THC emission due to improved ignition characteristics and better combustion (Mohamed, et al., 2018).

Purify Fuel investigated the fuel efficiency of 55 cetane and 45 cetane diesel with nanO2 at the University of Texas in Austin (Carroll, 2019). Its result showed fuel efficiency improvements from five to 14.6% in both fuels at different loads, as shown in Table 2.  

Table 2: Improvement in fuel efficiency due to nanO2®

Engine Load

55 Cetane

45 Cetane

10% Load



25% Load



50% Load



75% Load



The continuous demand for diesel has opened the rewarding opportunities for fuel additive market, which is expected to reach $11.09 Billion by 2023 (Carroll, 2019).

Scientists have already proven incredible advantages of functional nanoparticles in this field, and with a collaborative project between Solvay and Purify Fuel, a simple solution to greener diesel has already become a reality.

Both companies have recently signed a 10-year joint agreement to bring the product to larger consumers, such as railroad, marine, power generation, military and mining.

References and Further Reading

Carroll Johhn Forum2100 [Interview]. - [s.l.] : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zsccMA66r4&t=552s ; Forum2100, 2019.

Chhantyal Parva (2020) The Advantages of using Nanoparticles in Cement Mortar [Online] AZoNano. Available at: https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=5506 (Accessed on 11 July 2020).

Dale James G. et al. (2017) Transformation of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles from a Diesel Fuel Additive during Combustion in a Diesel Engine [Journal]. Environmental Science & Technology. ACS Publications - pp. 1973–1980. - https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b03173

Dornier Pierre (2019) There are now 51 million dirty diesel cars on EU’s roads [Online] Transport & Environment. Available at: https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/there-are-now-51-million-dirty-diesel-cars-eu%E2%80%99s-roads (Accessed on 11 July 2020).

ExxonMobil (2019) Outlook for Energy: A perspective to 2040 [Online] ExxonMobil. Available at: https://corporate.exxonmobil.com/Energy-and-environment/Looking-forward/Outlook-for-Energy/Outlook-for-Energy-A-perspective-to-2040#ExxonMobilsupportstheParisAgreement (Accessed on 11 July 2020)

Huff Aaron (2020) TK7 Products says fuel nanotechnology boosts MPG 15%, extends engine life [Online] ccj digital. Available at: https://www.ccjdigital.com/tk7-fuel-additive-boosts-mpg-extends-engine-life/ (Accessed on 11 July 2020)

International Agency for Research on Cancer Occupational exposures in petroleum refining; crude oil and major petroleum fuels [Book] = IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. - [s.l.] : International Agency for Research on Cancer, 1988. - Vol. 45

Khan Hurmathulla. et al. (2020) Effect of Nano-Graphene Oxide and n-Butanol Fuel Additives Blended with Diesel—Nigella sativa Biodiesel Fuel Emulsion on Diesel Engine Characteristics. Symmetryhttps://doi.org/10.3390/sym12060961

King Llewellyn (2020) Greening Of Diesel: Purify Fuel’s Additive Slashes Pollution, Boosts Fuel Economy [Online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/llewellynking/2020/06/26/greening-of-diesel-purify-fuels-additive-slashes-pollution-boosts-fuel-economy/#7c6bb498733a (Accessed on 11 July 2020)

McAlister Roy E Renewable Solar Hydrogen in Transportation Applications [Book Section].

Mehta R N, Chakraborty M and Parikh P A (2014) Impact of hydrogen generated by splitting water with nano-silicon and nano-aluminum on diesel engine performance. International journal of hydrogen energy. - pp. 8098-8105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2014.03.149

Norhafana M. et al. (2018) A review of the performance and emissions of nano additives in diesel fuelled compression ignition-engines. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering. IOP Publishing. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1757-899X/469/1/012035/pdf

Renato Cataluna and Da Silva Rosangela (2012) Effect of cetane number on specific fuel consumption and particulate matter and unburned hydrocarbon emissions from diesel engines. Journal of Combustion. Hindawi. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/738940

Sajeevan Ajin C and Sajith V (2013) Diesel Engine Emission Reduction Using Catalytic Nanoparticles: An Experimental Investigation. Journal of Engineeringhttps://doi.org/10.1155/2013/589382

Saraee H Soukht. et al. (2015) Reduction of emissions and fuel consumption in a compression ignition engine using nanoparticles. International journal of environmental science and technology. Vol. 12. - pp. 2245–2252. - https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-015-0759-4

Shafique Muhammad and Luo Xiaowei (2019) Nanotechnology in Transportation Vehicles: An Overview of Its Applications, Environmental, Health and Safety Concerns. Materials. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma12152493

Shekofteh Mohammad. et al. (2020) Performance and emission characteristics of a diesel engine fueled with functionalized multi-wall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs-OH) and diesel–biodiesel–bioethanol blends. Energy Reports. pp. 1438-1447. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egyr.2020.05.025

Singh Narinder and Bharj Rabinder Singh (2015) Effect of CNT-Emulsified Fuel on Performance Emission and Combustion Characteristics of Four Stroke Diesel Engine. International Journal of Current Engineering and Technology. pp. 477-485

World Health Organization (2020) Air pollution [Online] World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1 (Accessed on 11 July 2020)

Yetter Richard A, Grant A Risha and Steven F Son (2009) Metal particle combustion and nanotechnology. Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. pp. 1819-1838. - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proci.2008.08.013

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Dr. Parva Chhantyal

Written by

Dr. Parva Chhantyal

After graduating from The University of Manchester with a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering with Energy and Environment in 2013, Parva carried out a PhD in Nanotechnology at the Leibniz University Hannover in Germany. Her work experience and PhD specialized in understanding the optical properties of Nano-materials. Since completing her PhD in 2017, she is working at Steinbeis R-Tech as a Project Manager.


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