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During April, a major focus was the Second International Low Rank Coal Symposium held in Melbourne. BCIA was a major sponsor of the Symposium and participated in the program organising committee.

Also in April, BCIA held its annual Strategy Planning Day with participation by the Company’s member organisations. Member representatives worked with BCIA Directors, Research Advisory Committee members and senior executives to identify opportunities and priorities for the coming year.


BCIA seeks to actively manage its research portfolio, and support its funding recipients. BCIA’s Research Advisory Committee has met twice in recent months to review projects and advise on research priorities.

BCIA also hosted visits from research stakeholders from Japan and Korea and Chief Executive, Dr Gurney, recently visited the United States where he presented BCIA’s research program at the Florida Clearwater Coal Conference and met with a number of low emissions coal organisations including the US National Carbon Capture Center, the EERC and Lignite Energy Council in North Dakota, and with EPRI in California.


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT


BCIA funding has so far contributed to more than 20 research projects that rely on the involvement of local universities, research institutes, manufacturers and power companies, as well as significant overseas linkages. The research portfolio includes projects in the areas of higher efficiency power generation, capture of carbon dioxide emissions, and new products derived from brown coal.

One of BCIA's members, HRL Technology Pty Ltd, in collaboration with Monash University and local power generators, has recently completed a multi-strand project aimed at gaining an improved knowledge of the advanced materials and methods that will be needed to construct the next generation of high-efficiency brown coal-fired steam boilers. This project drew upon the specialist capabilities developed by HRL Technology as a consultant to the power industry.

The project involved very detailed studies of the changes that take place in advanced steel alloys during long-term exposure to high temperature steam environments, including the development of oxide film layers and changes in microcrystal structure. This required construction of a unique high-temperature steam oxidation facility utilising power plant conditions at Loy Yang B power station. The experiments allowed the development of sophisticated methods to estimate the thermal history of high-temperature pipework and assess the remaining working life of the equipment.

The project also involved the commissioning of an advanced testing facility to evaluate the slow deformation behaviour of advanced alloys under high-temperature conditions. Experimental observations were compared with various predictive modelling methods, leading to development of a method to estimate the remaining working life of metal components much more quickly than the existing procedure.


A further aspect of the project was to assess new welding techniques with the potential to substantially reduce the time lost for weld repairs during plant shutdowns. It was found that semi-automatic flux-core arc welding resulted in a weld of equivalent quality to conventional manual arc welding, but in a much shorter time. Further long-term testing is required to validate these results but the outcome suggests that significant value can be achieved by implementing new welding techniques.

This project was initially funded through the Victorian Department of Primary Industry’s Energy Technology Innovation Scheme (ETIS) and was subsequently novated to BCIA. As well as creating valuable new knowledge that HRL Technology can use to the benefit of local power generators, the project also contributed to the training of some very promising young engineers.


SKILLS DEVELOPMENT


BCIA’s Postgraduate Scholarship award program is part of our commitment to strategic investment in skills development to secure the scientific, engineering and trade expertise required for the development of new low-emissions brown coal technologies.

BCIA is delighted to announce the appointment of our most recent PhD scholar, Joanne Moore. Joanne has commenced her PhD studies at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University.

Joanne’s project will investigate the potential for producing value-added products by gasification of brown coal. She comes to this project after working in industry and is keen to contribute to the development of new technologies for brown coal utilisation in Victoria.

BCIA is currently providing financial support for six postgraduate students. The five students who received scholarships from BCIA in 2010 have all successfully been confirmed as PhD candidates. This is a significant achievement in itself, demonstrating a high degree of research aptitude on the part of each student.

During April, three of BCIA’s Research Scholars were selected to participate in the Young Energy Professionals (YEP) program as part of the Low Rank Coal Symposium program. Candidates were required to submit a paper on their area of expertise with Adam Rady, Alicia Reynolds and Karen Little, each receiving sponsorship to participate in the Symposium.

Sponsored YEP delegates were also given the opportunity to exhibit a poster on their subject at the Symposium. The YEP sponsorship provided great networking and professional development opportunities and was supported by BCIA.



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