Combustion processes have been a foundation for human activities and development for thousands of years. To be able to control fire was of fundamental importance for the survival of human beings. Also today, we have a society where combustion is of central importance, nowadays mainly for energy production, industrial processes, and transportation. Actually, more than 85 % of the energy usage in the world can be related to combustion processes, and over 65% to combustion from fossil fuels. Moreover, the energy usage in the world today increases by around 3% per year. Since fossil fuels are not renewable and pollutants from combustion processes contribute to environmental problems such as acid rain, smog, and the greenhouse effect, there are clear motivations to decrease the use of combustion processes.
It is quite clear that although combustion has negative environmental effects, it will be the main source of energy for decades. More efficient combustion technology must be developed resulting in lower emissions driven by stronger regulations. Hand in hand with higher consumption of fossil fuels we can expect that worse qualities of oil and coal must be used, for instance, with higher sulphur content. We can also expect that there will be large differences between industrialized countries using modern technology and developing countries, which will need energy but have limited possibility of thinking of ecological and environmental consequences. These countries being more industrialized will have an increasing energy demand, and will use easy ways of getting such. Often the solution is combustion.
Research and development in combustion is very important to obtain a fundamental understanding of the underlying processes. With this basic knowledge higher efficiency, less fuel consumption, and reduced emissions of pollutants can be reached. More focus should also be put on combustion of renewable fuels.