Project to 'Clean Up' the Use of Coal

Mar 13, 2012, 09:03 ET from University of Glamorgan

CARDIFF, Wales, March 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

The University of Glamorgan in South Wales, UK, as coordinator of a collaborative consortium of 13 EU partners, has secured over €9 million from the European Commission for a research project which will investigate how coal can be burnt so as to facilitate Carbon Capture and Storage, thereby minimising CO2 emissions to the environment.

The Reliable and Efficient Combustion of Oxygen/Coal/Recycled Flue Gas Mixtures project, known as RELCOM, is designed to undertake a series of applied research, development and demonstration activities involving both experimental studies and modelling work to enable full-scale early demonstration oxyfuel plant to be designed and specified with greater confidence as well as providing improved assessment of the commercial risks and opportunities.

Currently around 28% of electricity in the UK is produced by burning coal so the need to find cleaner methods of burning the fuel is much needed.

The University of Glamorgan's Professor Steve Wilcox of the Faculty of Advanced Technology who is leading the project said, "Coal will remain a major fuel for electricity generation worldwide for at least several decades. To reduce the impact of climate change, the power generation industry will be increasingly required to reduce its CO2 emissions.

"Improvement of cycle efficiency and increased use of biomass help to reduce CO2 emissions in the near term, but the longer term need to move to near-zero emission power generation will require the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for the fossil fuel generation of electricity."

Oxyfuel combustion is a CCS technology where fossil fuel is fired with oxygen instead of air, the flue gases then largely consist of CO2 and water vapour so that CO2 purification is more easily achieved.

A major challenge exists to lower the resulting flame temperatures which can be achieved through recycle of the flue gases. This mitigates the flame temperature making oxyfuel combustion suitable for retrofit or new-build coal power plant. Other advantages include virtually zero emissions of the oxides of nitrogen and a significantly smaller carbon capture plant.

Oxyfuel combustion has been demonstrated at approximately 40MWt but commercial-scale demonstration is the next necessary step and there are significant barriers to this happening.

Led by the University of Glamorgan, the project will be undertaken by a consortium of higher education institutions, research centres and industrial partners, from across Europe, bringing together the best in research facilities and technology development expertise.

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SOURCE University of Glamorgan