Clean Coal Combustion: Burning Issues of Syngas Burning

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


Coal-fired generation accounts for 82% of China's total power supply. Even in the UK the coal-fired generation still accounts for 35% . Because of this, the efficient and clean burn of coal is of great importance to the energy sector. Coal gasification and the proper treatment of the generated syngas before the combustion can reduce emissions significantly through alternative power generation system such as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC). The syngas usually contains varying amounts of hydrogen. The existence of hydrogen in the syngas may cause undesirable flame flashback phenomenon, in which the flame propagates into the burner. The fast flame propagation speed of hydrogen can travel further upstream and even attached to the wall of the combustor. The strong heat transfer to the wall may damage the combustor components. The consequence can be very costly. Because of this, many existing combustors are not suitable for the burning of syngas. To overcome this bottle neck, in-depth knowledge of the flame dynamics of hydrogen enriched fuel is essential, which is still not available. There is also a need to study the flame-wall interactions, which are important to the life span of a combustor but have not been fully understood.In order to understand the complex combustion process of hydrogen enriched fuels, combined efforts from experimentation and numerical simulations are essential. This joint project will investigate the flame dynamics including the flame flashback phenomenon, combustion instability, and flame-wall interactions. The flame dynamics will be investigated for different types of burners with fuel variability. Due to the limitation of optical access, the flame measurements need to be complimented by high-fidelity numerical simulations. The dynamic behaviour of the flame will be experimentally captured by the innovative combustion diagnostic tools developed at Manchester. To complement the experimental work, advanced numerical simulations based on direct numerical simulation and large eddy simulation will be performed at Brunel. The proposed research activities are based on the existing tools developed by the investigators and preliminary studies that have already been carried out by the applicants. The project will further develop innovative combustion diagnostic and advanced numerical tools. The knowledge to be gained from the project research and the physical models to be developed including improved near-wall flow, heat transfer and combustion models can lead to better combustion control and combustor design. The joint project will enhance the understanding on combustion of hydrogen enriched fuels with scientific advancement in flame measurements and near-wall flow modelling. More importantly, it will enhance the development of technologies for clean combustion of hydrogen enriched fuels, leading to a clean coal industry.Collaboration This project has excellent synergy between the UK and Chinese partners. Both partners are linked to BP. The Manchester group is directly supported by BP AE to work on combustion instability. Tsinghua University is one of the few identified links of BP in China. The involvement of Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd will ensure the maximum input from a gas turbine manufacturer's point of view.Management Both partners have long term informal research connections and the well established communications will ensure the smoothing running of the project. The PIs are well experienced in working with large research consortia. Dr Zhang has close collaboration with the industrial partners.Novelty Valuable physical insight into the potentially damaging combustion phenomena of hydrogen enriched fuels such as syngas burning will be provided; Original combustion diagnostics will be developed; Advanced numerical simulations will be performed; Near-wall flow, heat transfer and combustion models for unsteady reacting flows will be developed.


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Chen L (2015) Experimental observation of the nonlinear coupling of flame flow and acoustic wave in Flow Measurement and Instrumentation

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Chen L (2013) Flow characterisation of diffusion flame under non-resonant acoustic excitation in Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science

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Chen L (2012) Flow characterisation of diffusion flame in a standing wave in Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science

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Gohari Darabkhani H (2011) Impact of co-flow air on buoyant diffusion flames flicker in Energy Conversion and Management

Description It has been demonstrated that the fuel arrangement at the nozzle is critical in avoiding the damaging of the combustor walls because under the same thermal loading very different wall temperature can be created depending on the initial fuel arrangement at the nozzle.

A range of diagnostic techniques for the wall temperature and flame has been developed through the project and some of them are unique and capable of real machine test, which is highly favoured by the industry.

Interesting nonlinear coupling of acoustics and flame instability has been observed using the developed diagnostics.
Exploitation Route This research project rests strongly with the support from the industries and this trend will up because more practical diagnostics suitable for real machine tests are being developed and new physical insights are being gained. The research outcome has been published in a string of journal articles. Very close contacts have been made with Siemens at Lincoln (and also its sister company at Finspong, Sweden), Ansaldo at Italy and Rolls Royce. A new EPSRC research proposal is in preparation together with associated industrial test projects.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Besides the findings on how to have a better combustors burning syngas, which have been communicated to the gas turbine manufacturers and publication through jounals and conferences, the combustion diagnostics developed during the project has attraceted further interests in jet engin industry such as Rolls Royce.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Societal

Description Livemeeting to Siemens at lincoln and Finspong, Sweden: The development of 1-4D real combustor capable diagnostics and methodology 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A one and half hour Livemeeting presentation was given to Siemens at Lincoln and Finspong, Sweden on the 9th of March, 2012.

The presentation is well received. Further research collaboration was discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012