In-depth Studies of OxyCoal Combustion Processes through Numerical Modelling and 3D Flame Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Computational Fluid Dynamics


Coal will likely remain in an important position in the world energy mix in the foreseeable future because of its stability in supply and low cost in production. However, coal fired power generation industry has to substantially reduce its pollutant emission to survive in the future carbon constrained energy market. Oxycoal combustion with CO2 capture from flue gas is an emerging technology that can be adapted to both new and existing coal-fired power stations leading to a substantial reduction in carbon emission. Various assessments suggest that oxycoal technology is feasible and more favourable than other CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technologies, such as post-carbon capture. Currently, oxycoal combustion technology is still in its laboratory and technology demonstration stages and there is a significant knowledge gap in this new technology. A number of uncertainties exist in the combustion process where the changes in the heat transfer and combustion characteristics are, among others, the major concerns. Issues with system designs such as the optimum oxygen concentrations and its impact need to be investigated. Other complications include such as high concentrations of sulphur and mercury and changes in deposition and corrosion in the boiler and the downstream elements. If the technology is to be widely adopted in power generation industry for CCS then it is imperative that the impacts of these changes in the combustion processes are well understood, and that economic solutions to mitigating the problems encountered are identified.The proposed research aims to achieve an in-depth understanding of the oxycoal combustion processes, to develop key modelling capabilities for process prediction, and to provide guidelines to the power generation industry on design new and/or retrofitting existing power plant with oxycoal combustion technology. Because of the high costs of performing large scale tests, process modelling is commonly used as an alternative in technology development. In this project, advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques will be employed to perform detailed simulations on the oxycoal combustion processes. Because the oxycoal combustion is very different from the conventional air-coal combustion, new oxycoal specific CFD sub-programmes will be developed in order to achieve accurate modelling results. In parallel to the CFD modelling, well controlled practical measurements will be carried out to setup a comprehensive database on the oxycoal combustion and to provide validation to the CFD model development. In addition, a unique 3D flame monitoring system will be developed to monitor the oxycoal combustion flames. This integrated approach of advanced computational modelling, detailed experimental testing, and 3D flame imaging forms a mutual validating and complementary system to ensure a credible research output so that an in-depth understanding of the impact of oxycoal on flame characteristics, critical reaction kinetics, and devolatilsation and char reaction in the combustion processes may be achieved.The project consortium comprises of three academic centres of expertise from Leeds, Kent and the Imperial College. Three leading energy research institutes in China are joint force on the research. Collaborative research programmes have been arranged to carryout experimental testing and theoretical simulation in both UK and China. The project has also gained strong supported from leading power generation companies and commercial CFD developer providing practical advice on oxycoal combustion tests and combustion model development. The project provides a platform for the leading UK groups and leading Chinese partners to work together in tackling the significant issues related to the oxycoal combustion technology, which is expected to contribute significantly in cutting the CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions in the power industry in both countries.


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Description Validation of 3-D Flame Imaging developed by one of the consortium universities. The Flame imagining technology has become commercially available.
The proposed achieved an in-depth understanding of the oxycoal combustion processes, with extensive data for validation of novel radiation sub-model which provides guidelines to the power generation industry on design new and/or retrofitting existing power plant with oxycoal combustion technology.
Exploitation Route 1. Commercialization of Radiation sub-model via commercial CFD software developers.
2. Commercialization of 3-D Flame Imaging as a valuable tool for burner performance monitoring.
3. Availability of extensive data base from pilot scale experimental work to modelling communities for new sub model validation
Sectors Energy

Description This integrated approach of advanced computational modelling, detailed experimental testing, and 3D flame imaging forms a mutual validating and complementary system has been used extensively for CFD sub model validation. The paper based on this project presented at International Combustion Symposium and achieved highest number of "downloads" for 2 years.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Additives to Mitigate against Slagging and Fouling in Biomass Combustion--addition of Coal PFA
Amount £35,000 (GBP)
Funding ID URMS number: 147605 
Organisation Biomass and Fossil Fuel Research Alliance 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2018
Description CE Generation
Amount £62,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 149966 
Organisation Clean Electricity Generation UK LTD 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 08/2017
Description EPSRC
Amount £490,610 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/G06315X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2010 
End 02/2014
Description Energy Technologies Institute
Amount £72,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ET/I000038/1 
Organisation Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 05/2013
Description Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop Grant
Amount £39,600 (GBP)
Funding ID 215833160 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 11/2016
Description Clean Energy Partership Institute for Thermal Power Engineeing, Zhejiang University, China 
Organisation Zhejiang University
Country China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The partnership was initiated via EPSRC-China clean Energy project.
Collaborator Contribution Joint research and innovation, Visits to UK and China, Joint workshop in China and UK, Joint applications for funding
Impact 2-3 journal publication
Start Year 2010
Description International Flame Research Foundation (IFRF)-PACT National Facilities 
Organisation International Flame Research Foundation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaboration agreement between IFRF-UK and PACT national facilities: we will provide technical support to IFRF experimental projects. The partnership will include, our combustion/emission control expertise, intellectual input or the training of staff from industry. It also includes access to data, equipment or facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The members of International Flame Research Foundation will use the PACT national facilities to test their energy systems, fuels and new and novel low carbon devices.
Impact New collaboration
Start Year 2017
Title FSCK Radiation SubModel for CFD codes V1 
Description New radiation sub model to predict the combustion of Oxy-coal more accurately. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The performance of Commercial CFD codes to predict the combustion of oxy-fuels has been enhanced significantly. The radiation prediction in power plant boilers is crucial for accurate and realistic calculations of the overall performance and it is of great importance to utility industry and OEMs. 
Description Training for Bioenergy CDT PhD Students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 15 Bioenergy CDT PhD students attended one week workshop in PACT to learn the pilot scale research and development activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015