Flexible and Efficient Power Plant: Flex-E-Plant

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

In order to meet UK Government targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, rapid growth in electricity generation from intermittent renewable energy sources, in particular, wind, is required, together with increasing constraints on the operation and environmental performance of conventional coal and gas-fired plant. Unprecedented demands for operational plant flexibility (i.e. varing power output to reflect demand) will pose new challenges to component integrity in ageing conventional plant, which it is widely recognised will play a crucial role in maintaining security of supply. In parallel, demands on fuel flexibility to reduce emissions, i.e. firing gas turbine plant with low-carbon syngas or biogas and firing/cofiring steam plant with biomass, will create new challenges in plant engineering, monitoring and control, and materials performance. Improved plant efficiency is a key requirement to cut emissions and to make decarbonisation economically feasible. The continuous development of novel, stronger high temperature materials may also enable component replacement, rather than complete new build plant, to maintain the essential reserve of conventional generation capacity. Finally, the decarbonisation transition involves new and complex economic and environmental considerations, and it is therefore important that these issues of sustainability are addressed for the development of future conventional power plant.

The research programme will consider the key issues of Plant Efficiency, Plant Flexibility, Fuel Flexibility and Sustainability and how these four intersecting themes impact upon plant operation and design, combustion processes in general and the structural integrity of conventional and advanced materials utilised in conventional power plants.

Outcomes from the proposed Research Programme include:
- Improved understanding of the complex relationship between plant efficiency, fuel flexibility, plant flexibility, component life and economic viability
- Novel approaches for monitoring and control of future conventional power plants
- Improved fuel combustion and monitoring processes to allow use of a wider range of fuels
- Improved understanding of structural materials systems for use in components with higher operating temperatures and more aggressive environments
- Improved coating systems to protect structural materials used in power plant components
- New models for optimisation of operating conditions and strategies for future conventional power plants

The consortium comprises six leading UK Universities with strengths and a proven track record in the area of conventional power generation - led by Loughborough University, working together with Cardiff and Cranfield Universities, Imperial College London and the Universities of Nottingham and Warwick. The Industrial Partners collaborating in this project include several major UK power generation operators, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Government laboratories and Small and Medium Sized (SMEs) companies in the supply chain for the power generation sector. The Energy Generation and Supply Knowledge Transfer Network will be a formal delivery partner of the consortium.

The proposal has been developed following extensive engagement with the industrial partners and as a result they have made very significant commitment, both financial and as integrated partners in the research programme.

Planned Impact

The major impact envisaged will be delivered through our vision to provide industry with viable and deliverable options to address some of the current challenges faced due to the policy led transition to low carbon energy generation, resulting in changeable and variable load operating conditions of conventional power plants. In the most general sense, the UK population and economy will benefit from this research programme in that it will enable the UK combustion power generation sector to maintain a cost-competitive, environmentally-acceptable generation option. The research will also contribute to meeting nationally and internationally agreed targets for CO2 emissions. It will also be of benefit to UK-based companies competing in a global marketplace in the power sector.

The knowledge and know-how acquired in this project will be of direct benefit to academics, the conventional power research community, power generation and energy industries, energy policy makers/regulators, environmental organisations and government departments / organisations (e.g. DECC, Environment Agency). The researchers trained through the project will provide high quality expertise for the UK conventional power research community and energy industry, and strategic lead for further scientific and technology development of conventional power technologies in the UK. The project contributes directly to the advancement of effective technologies to mitigate environmental and energy security concerns. Innovation in conventional power generation will protect significant UK employment, but may also bring about new job opportunities and UK export opportunities based upon the expertise developed and the replication of the methodologies across Europe and beyond.

Wide engagement with the academic research community, the industrial conventional power generation community, e.g. industrial OEMs, generators, operators, regulators, policy makers, the SME supply chain etc. and dissemination of the research results and outputs will directly achieved through the interaction with industrial partners and other key stakeholders outside the consortium, academic presentations at national and international conferences, relevant research network meetings, national and international seminars/conferences and leading journal paper publications.

An important impact for this research consortium will be the active development of a connected academic and industrial community. We have agreed that the Energy Generation & Supply Knowledge Transfer Network will support the consortium in its engagement with industrial partners not involved to date. We will use the _connect portal to establish a dedicated group website where information can be hosted and disseminated to over 1500 members of the EG&S KTN. The consortium will be encouraged to consider the commercial exploitation of the research developed in this proposal in partnership with the industrial partners involved where appropriate. The consortium will aim to catalyse academic-industrial partnerships to maximise the exploitation of the publicly funded research.

In summary, this consortium aims to deliver a programme of research which will have real impact delivered through the industrial partners who are jointly funding and influencing the direction of the research throughout the lifetime of the programme. This research has been developed in response to the UK Governments policy on climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. The primary objective of this Research Consortium is to collaborate with the conventional power generation sector to reduce carbon emissions, whilst increasing flexibility, efficiency and sustainability of electricity generation from fossil fuels. Therefore, allowing conventional power plants to continue to have a role in the overall UK power generation system, as part of a mixed and balanced portfolio of electricity generation technologies.

Publications

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Benaarbia A (2018) Unified viscoplasticity modelling and its application to fatigue-creep behaviour of gas turbine rotor in International Journal of Mechanical Sciences

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Brooking L (2017) Stress corrosion of Ni-based superalloys in Materials at High Temperatures

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Cacciapuoti B (2017) An evaluation of the capability of data conversion of impression creep test in Materials at High Temperatures

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Cacciapuoti B (2016) A study on the evolution of the contact angle of small punch creep test of ductile materials in International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping

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Shi Z (2018) Laser-induced plasma image velocimetry in Experiments in Fluids

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Stirling R (2018) The impact of hydrothermal carbonisation on the char reactivity of biomass in Fuel Processing Technology

 
Description All deliverables in the three main workpackages in the project have been completed. In total, 23 researchers have worked full time on the project, which included 17 PhD students working on the project funded by the industrial partner and university contributions to the project, Throughout the project, we have had annual 6 monthly meetings at which research progress is reported. The final meeting for the research grant was held in February 2018. There has been a significant increase in the number of publications coming through from the research and there are several currently submitted to journals which we will report on once they have been published. The significant findings from each of the workpackages on: Power plant operation; Combustion; and Advanced Materials and Structural Integrity are currently being developed into case studies. Some of the PhD students continued to work on the project beyond its official end date as they were funded outside the core funding - most of these PhD students have now completed their research. We have held further meetings with industrial partners to support the work of the PhD students.
Exploitation Route In the future, these results will be useful in informing current and next generation power plant operation.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description Our industrial partners are using the outputs from the research as part as their overall life management strategies and decision making on future power plant. It is difficult to quantify how the information is being used at the current time, however, we are aware that the work from the award has been used to inform decision about lifetime extension of plant and the deployment of new components in plant.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Alstom/GE Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Alstom
Department Alstom UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion and materials technology for use in power plant
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials, data, information and financial support
Impact Too early to report outputs. Multidisciplinary - engineering, combustion and materials
Start Year 2013
 
Description Centrica Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Centrica
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials, data and staff time
Impact Too early to report outputs. Multidisciplinary - engineers, combustion, materials
Start Year 2013
 
Description Doosan Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Mitsui Babcock Energy Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, materials and staff time
Impact Too early to describe outputs Multi-disciplinary - engineers, computer modellers, materials and combustion
Start Year 2013
 
Description E.On - Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation E ON
Department E ON UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, materials, expertise and staff time
Impact Too early to report outputs Multidisciplinary - engineers, combustion and materials
Start Year 2013
 
Description EDF - Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation EDF Energy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, materials, access to operating plant as a test bed and staff expertise
Impact Too early to report outputs
Start Year 2013
 
Description Goodwin Steel Castings - Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Goodwin Steel Castings
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials and staff time
Impact Too early to report outputs Materials collaboration
Start Year 2013
 
Description NPL Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation National Physical Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing information about materials performance for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, materials and use of test rigs
Impact Too early to report outputs - joint paper accepted for conference presentation in 2016 Mainly materials scientists interacting
Start Year 2013
 
Description RMC Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation R-MC Power Recovery Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data and project management support
Impact Too early to report outputs Multidisciplinary - engineers and materials scientists
Start Year 2013
 
Description RWE npower Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation RWE AG
Department RWE nPower
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials, data and staff expertise
Impact Too early to report outputs Multidisciplinary - Engineers, Combustion and power plant operations
Start Year 2013
 
Description SSE Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, materials and details of plant operations
Impact Too early to report outputs Materials engineers, combustion and computer modellers
Start Year 2013
 
Description Siemens Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation Siemens AG
Department Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about combustion, materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of data, samples and staff time
Impact Too early to report outputs Materials and Combustion engineers
Start Year 2013
 
Description TWI Flex-E-Plant 
Organisation TWI The Welding Institue
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing information about materials technology for use in power plant and power plant operation options
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials and data and staff expertise
Impact Too early to report outputs Mainly materials engineers collaborating
Start Year 2013