17.2 RESEARCH

17.2 RESEARCH

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TECHNOLOGY




Advancing chemical looping combustion technology for
Victorian brown coal

By Dr Seng Lim, Group Leader - Energy Resource Processing, CSIRO Energy Flagship


It is recognised that CO₂ capture contributes about 50 per cent of the overall cost of the carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Chemical looping combustion (CLC) of fossil fuel is considered to be a promising emerging technology for facilitating the capture of CO₂ at a lower cost and energy penalty than the other pre- and post-combustion capture technologies. R&D in this area is being actively pursued in a number of EU countries (such as Sweden, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria), USA, Canada, Japan, Korea and China.

The Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC) process uses metal oxides as oxygen carriers to enable the combustion process. This approach results in highly concentrated streams of CO₂ without the need for an expensive air separation unit (ASU) – a system that contributes to the high cost of other pre-combustion CO₂ capture technologies, such as oxy-combustion and gasification.

BCIA is currently sponsoring a CLC project, co-led by Monash University and CSIRO, to evaluate the technical efficacy and economic viability of the CLC process with Victoria’s world class brown coal resource. This project builds on an earlier BCIA sponsored project at Monash University, which confirmed that the high reactivity of Victorian brown coal makes it very suitable for CLC.


The current project is a truly international collaboration. On the technology development side, it involves the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium, a major research institution with expertise in the synthesis of advanced oxygen carrier materials. On the commercial development side, it involves ALSTOM Boiler/GE, France, with expertise in CLC process modelling and techno-economic evaluation. The project is further supported with the local expertise of EnergyAustralia and Lycopodium Engineering. The project partners provide highly relevant and complementary expertise critical to further advancing CLC technology for Victorian brown coal.

A major focus of this project is the use of a nominally 10kW continuous compact CLC reactor system at the CSIRO Clayton Laboratory. This custom-built facility is the first continuous looping CLC reactor in Australia. It is designed to enable continuous feeding of fuel into a fully looped reactor system, which consists of inter-connected fuel and air reactors. The facility is fully supported with online gas analysis and the appropriate control and monitoring systems.


Above: Trevor Hadley of CSIRO inspects the CLC Rig

The continuous looping CLC reactor allows brown coal CLC research to progress from small-scale batch processing to continuous operating conditions. This will provide a better understanding of the longer term coal and oxygen carrier interaction effects. The research in this facility will enable scientific and engineering evaluation of the CLC process conditions, and the performance of a range of metal oxide oxygen carriers including Australian natural minerals and synthetic materials.

Significantly, the data generated through this project will assist in techno-economic evaluation of a commercial scale brown coal based CLC plant (i.e. ~500MW). The credibility of this modelling will be boosted through the collaboration with Alstom/GE, which has extensive commercial expertise in CLC technologies. The project will also provide training and capacity-building for new skills and expertise in this exciting new technology area.


Figure 1: Chemical looping (a) bench scale system (Monash University) and (b) compact fully looped,
continuously fed 10kW CLC reactor system (CSIRO).


Participants
The BCIA project participants have the following expertise:
  • Monash University - Fundamental understanding of kinetic, reaction and interaction of Victorian brown coal with metal oxide under simulated CLC environment. Analytical experience with electron microscopy, synchrotron, XRF, XRD, XPS and process simulation
  • CSIRO - Fluidised bed process know-how in experimental design with industrial relevance. Engineering evaluation and scale up of fluidised bed processes. Mineral processing and mineralogy understanding
  • EnergyAustralia - Power generation know-how, commercial and economic understanding, interest in CTX applications, asset evaluation
  • Southeast University - Experimental technique and test regime relevant to Chinese lignite in CLC environment
  • University of Alberta - Experimental technique and test regime relevant to Canadian lignite in CLC environment
  • VITO - Oxygen carrier development and bulk production expertise
  • Lycopodium - Process modelling, evaluation and engineering scale up and economics


Participants in the industry-academia collaborative project for the advancement of chemical looping combustion technology for Victorian brown coals



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