Opening New Fuels for UK Generation

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Department of Chemical Engineering

Abstract

This project seeks to investigate the potential for using waste materials within combustion systems within the UK in the future, and how the combustion of such wastes might affect the ability of a power station to respond to changes in electricity demand. The purpose is not to look at today's electricity system and systems of governance with respect to combustion of wastes, but to consider how a rational system would be designed that utilised all potential fuel streams (and takes into account that different wastes will contain different levels of trace elements, some of which may be quite minor). An important point is that many wastes are currently landfilled - meaning that both the energy content of the waste is lost and a bulky material ends up in landfill.

Here, we will conduct experiments looking at emissions of trace elements during combustion and co-firing (with coal) of different types of "waste" materials (for example, wood from demolition sites), together with analysis of ashes produced. The results will then be used to generate models of power plants burning wastes, and used to determine whether, for the wastes examined, the most rational use of the waste is combustion in dedicated facilities or co-combustion. It is clear that some of the wastes we will examine currently fall within the remit of the waste incineration directive (though all will be non-halogenated). We will examine whether this is scientifically valid.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries section introduced some key stakeholders that will benefit from this work. This impact summary focuses on how they will benefit.

ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS (OEMs)
This project will provide insights that allow OEMs to understand what adaptations (or more significant changes) to their products may be needed for potentially significant deployment of more challenging fuels. In particular, this work could help to facilitate acceleration of product development by clarifying technical requirements and identifying concepts that could be appropriate to meet these requirements.

FUEL SUPPLIERS
This project will advise on the best use of wastes and aims to extend the range of fuels that can be used in power plant applications. This should allow fuel suppliers to develop their business to include additional revenue streams.

POWER UTILITIES
Being able to draw on state-of-the art understanding of challenging fuels options and data from unique pilot scale trials is valuable to check and possibly extend knowledge and insights that have been developed by in-house analysis.

TECHNICAL CONSULTANCY AND SERVICE COMPANIES
Outputs from this project can inform decisions on potential priority sectors for these companies. Additionally, ideas and data emerging from this work could be applied to particular studies that are already being undertaken by these organisations.

SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)
Benefits for SMEs are similar to other industry stakeholders. The availability of reliable, independent work to inform business priorities and provide insights that inform development and targeting of products and/or services can be of particular value to SMEs since in-house resources will typically be more limited than in larger organisations.

POLICYMAKERS
Timely access to relevant evidence for policy-making could significantly improve the quality of relevant legislation. If effective legislation can be introduced in a timely manner, this makes better use of available resources in policy-making organisations and increases the credibility of policy-makers with the broader community of stakeholders developing and using legislation. Outputs from this project that may be of particular interest are likely to be similar to those used by power utilities.

REGULATORS
Regulators can be expected to benefit from this work in similar ways to policy-makers. Additionally, they often require more detailed in-house technical understanding so that regulations can be implemented effectively and robust best practice guidance can be developed and maintained.

NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations)
NGOs can also be expected to benefit from this work in somewhat similar ways to policymakers. The impact within these organisations is, however, likely to be more significant since the contribution made by this work will be adding to a smaller in-house resource.

GENERAL PUBLIC
Resources developed to communicate key results from this work in an accessible format will be made available online and, hence, to interested members of the general public. Effective communication of key results of this work to other stakeholders will also provide significant benefits to the public by improving the quality of analysis that is used to inform decisions made by key stakeholders.

OTHER ACADEMICS
Pathways to impact activities will improve the visibility and impact of the conventional power research community. Additionally, contributions to science will complement work by other researchers providing insights that can be used to develop an improved overall contribution to state-of-the-art knowledge and understanding.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description There exists a significant potential market in the UK for co-combustion of mildly contaminated fuels. We have also made significant new findings in the area of ash chemistry.
Exploitation Route We are currently putting in a potential bid for funding to extend the work to New South Wales, where this is an area of intense interest. The Electric Power Research Institute is also looking at funding further work.
Sectors Energy

 
Description This project seeks to investigate the potential for using waste materials within combustion systems within the UK in the future, and how the combustion of such wastes might affect the ability of a power station to respond to changes in electricity demand. The purpose is not to look at today's electricity system and systems of governance with respect to combustion of wastes, but to consider how a rational system would be designed that utilised all potential fuel streams (and takes into account that different wastes will contain different levels of trace elements, some of which may be quite minor). An important point is that many wastes are currently landfilled - meaning that both the energy content of the waste is lost and a bulky material ends up in landfill. A sister project to this one has now been set up in New South Wales, Australia, in collaboration with Sydney University. Here, we are conducting experiments looking at emissions of trace elements during combustion and co-firing (with coal) of different types of "waste" materials (for example, wood from demolition sites), together with analysis of ashes produced. The results are then used to generate models of power plants burning wastes, and used to determine whether, for the wastes examined, the most rational use of the waste is combustion in dedicated facilities or co-combustion. It is clear that some of the wastes we will examine currently fall within the remit of the waste incineration directive (though all will be non-halogenated). We will examine whether this is scientifically valid. We have developed simulation models that can predict the fate of trace and minor heavy metals in the waste source during its combustion. This is an accelerated route to determine the potential viability of the waste source for combustion. In addition, this can provide the power plants with in-depth understanding of the major retrofit/revamp designs essential when using these potential wastes. Our model can also present a good understanding of the required environmental and safety regulations with regard to burning fuels with trace/minor amounts of (heavy) metal elements.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Education,Energy,Environment
Impact Types 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 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 09/2011
 
Description Newton Fund Researcher Links Workshop Grant-2
Amount £39,600 (GBP)
Funding ID 216405884 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 10/2016
 
Description Advanced Sulzer Packing for PACT Amine Captuer Plant 
Organisation Sulzer
Country Switzerland 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution To investigate performance of advanced packing during coal/gas/biomass fired
Collaborator Contribution Sulzer supplied and provided advice on advanced packing for the UKCCSRC amine capture plant
Impact Work ongoing
Start Year 2015
 
Description International CCS Test Centre Network 
Organisation E ON
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution UK CCS Research Centre's PACT Facilities joins CCS Test Centre Network chaired by TCM to expand international knowledge sharing capabilities and accelerate commercialisation of crucial CCS technologies. The addition of the PACT Facilities to the Network - which currently spans Norway, Canada, the United States and Italy - will extend its reach and bring UK research in carbon capture onto the international stage. The purpose of PACT is to support and catalyse industrial and academic R&D, by providing open-access testing facilities. This helps accelerate the development and commercialisation of technologies for carbon capture and clean power generation. The PACT facilities bring together a comprehensive range of integrated pilot-scale and accompanying specialist research and analytical facilities, supported by leading academic expertise.
Collaborator Contribution The International Test Centre Network was initiated by TCM in 2012 to enable carbon capture test facilities around the world to progress the technologies that will be a key component of our clean energy future. The network aims to share knowledge that can accelerate technology commercialisation, including, for example, next-generation technologies that can sharply reduce the costs of electricity generation (and industrial products) using CO2 capture. Since its launch, some of the world's leading CCS test centres have been sharing knowledge of construction and operation of large test facilities in order to establish a level playing field for technology vendors to reduce costs, as well as the technical, environmental and financial risks currently associated with CCS.
Impact Joint meetings every 6 months. Cost reduction for CCS technology
Start Year 2015
 
Description International CCS Test Centre Network 
Organisation SaskPower
Country Canada 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution UK CCS Research Centre's PACT Facilities joins CCS Test Centre Network chaired by TCM to expand international knowledge sharing capabilities and accelerate commercialisation of crucial CCS technologies. The addition of the PACT Facilities to the Network - which currently spans Norway, Canada, the United States and Italy - will extend its reach and bring UK research in carbon capture onto the international stage. The purpose of PACT is to support and catalyse industrial and academic R&D, by providing open-access testing facilities. This helps accelerate the development and commercialisation of technologies for carbon capture and clean power generation. The PACT facilities bring together a comprehensive range of integrated pilot-scale and accompanying specialist research and analytical facilities, supported by leading academic expertise.
Collaborator Contribution The International Test Centre Network was initiated by TCM in 2012 to enable carbon capture test facilities around the world to progress the technologies that will be a key component of our clean energy future. The network aims to share knowledge that can accelerate technology commercialisation, including, for example, next-generation technologies that can sharply reduce the costs of electricity generation (and industrial products) using CO2 capture. Since its launch, some of the world's leading CCS test centres have been sharing knowledge of construction and operation of large test facilities in order to establish a level playing field for technology vendors to reduce costs, as well as the technical, environmental and financial risks currently associated with CCS.
Impact Joint meetings every 6 months. Cost reduction for CCS technology
Start Year 2015
 
Description International CCS Test Centre Network 
Organisation Technology Centre Mongstad
Department CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution UK CCS Research Centre's PACT Facilities joins CCS Test Centre Network chaired by TCM to expand international knowledge sharing capabilities and accelerate commercialisation of crucial CCS technologies. The addition of the PACT Facilities to the Network - which currently spans Norway, Canada, the United States and Italy - will extend its reach and bring UK research in carbon capture onto the international stage. The purpose of PACT is to support and catalyse industrial and academic R&D, by providing open-access testing facilities. This helps accelerate the development and commercialisation of technologies for carbon capture and clean power generation. The PACT facilities bring together a comprehensive range of integrated pilot-scale and accompanying specialist research and analytical facilities, supported by leading academic expertise.
Collaborator Contribution The International Test Centre Network was initiated by TCM in 2012 to enable carbon capture test facilities around the world to progress the technologies that will be a key component of our clean energy future. The network aims to share knowledge that can accelerate technology commercialisation, including, for example, next-generation technologies that can sharply reduce the costs of electricity generation (and industrial products) using CO2 capture. Since its launch, some of the world's leading CCS test centres have been sharing knowledge of construction and operation of large test facilities in order to establish a level playing field for technology vendors to reduce costs, as well as the technical, environmental and financial risks currently associated with CCS.
Impact Joint meetings every 6 months. Cost reduction for CCS technology
Start Year 2015
 
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
 
Description PSE Process Simulation 
Organisation Process Systems Enterprise Limited (PSE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research team is working with PSE software to develop virtual reality dynamic simulation of the power plants. In addition we provide data from pilot scale facility to validate the new models.
Collaborator Contribution Providing technical support, seminars and software.
Impact A number of journal publications joint submission of research proposals joint seminars, workshops and CPD courses
Start Year 2015
 
Description Industry Engagement Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Opening New Fuels industry and academia engagement workshop at ECCRIA 12.

A dedicated session at the meeting, to present the results from the current project and to discuss future research funding opportunities and engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.tferf.org/copy-of-past-meetings
 
Description Pacific Energy Innovation Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact My talk in the Fairmont in Vancouver led to being invited to give a talk to the Pacific Energy Innovation Association. Discussion centred on CCS and whether renewables were sufficient replacements for firm generation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.peia.biz/events/energy-breakfasts/2017-2018.html
 
Description Public Talk - Menlo Park in San Francisco 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Ten members of Imperial Alumni Association in San Francisco, I gave a presentation on CCS and my work in particular
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2017
URL http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/alumni/internationalambassadorevents/e...
 
Description Public Talk - Vancouver 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Public Talk on CCS to mainly Imperial College Alumni, but including a surprising number of non IC people. Much discussion after. The talk was at the Fairmont Hotel.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/alumni/internationalambassadorevents/e...