BCIA Research Leader Fellowship

The BCIA fellowship program recognises outstanding researchers of international repute who can provide a significant leadership and mentoring role in building Australia's internationally-competitive research capacity within the brown coal innovation sector.

In 2010, BCIA Research Leader Fellowships were awarded to Dr Klaus Hein (pictured right) as Professor of Low Emissions Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University and Research and Development Manager, HRL Technology Pty Ltd and Dr Alan Chaffee, as Professor and BCIA Research Leader, School of Chemistry, Monash University.

Professor Hein’s Research Leader Fellowship was Australia’s first joint industry-university professorial appointment in brown coal-related technology. As his Fellowship term has now come to an end, he reflects below on his experience as a BCIA Research Leader.

My Time as a BCIA Research Leadership Fellow

By Prof Dr.-Ing. Klaus Hein

“Three years ago, I was pleased to be awarded one of two inaugural BCIA Research Leader Fellowships, for an initial duration of 18 months. The focus of my fellowship was to enhance Victoria's low-emissions coal technology skill base through research and development (R&D), education, mentoring, in particular, international scientific and industrial and international collaboration.

“There were two primary activities of my fellowship. The first was a research, mentoring and educational directed focus in an industrial surrounding as Research Manager at HRL Technology Pty Ltd (HRL) in Mulgrave.

“The second major area of activity was a mentoring/ educational focus in a scientific establishment as Professor of Coal Science and Technology within the group of Energy, Fuels and Reaction Engineering Research, Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University, Clayton.

“At HRL, my principal responsibility, among other advisory functions, was to prepare and coordinate the BCIA supported research project ’Next Generation Lower Emission Gasification Systems R&D – Products and Power’ (Project 1).

“At Monash University, I was involved in preparing two BCIA-funded research projects; namely, ’Development of Chemical Looping Process for Fuels Productions and CO2 Capture from Victorian Brown Coals’ (Project 2) and ’Development of Entrained Flow Gasification Technology with Brown Coal for Generation of Power, Fuel and Chemicals’ (Project 3).

“Project 1 was initiated and submitted by HRL with support from CO2CRC and Monash University. The project scope comprised a critical survey of the available literature on the following interrelated areas:

  • State-of-the-art syngas production from solid fuels, and the downstream processes for gas cleaning and conditioning for both power applications and for the use of the syngas as feedstock for chemical and petrochemical processes to produce higher value products (HRL)
  • The potential products, the corresponding processes and the specific input conditions required for the use of syngas (Monash)
  • The development of CO2 capture options (CO2CRC)

“In order to conduct this project, a team of young, enthusiastic post-graduate engineers and chemists was formed under my leadership. The research team comprised of mostly HRL staff and a number of personnel from each of the two project partners.

“In all three areas of the project scope, emphasis was placed on the potential application of processes to Victorian brown coal covering the full range from fundamental research to experience in industrial application.

“This approach resulted in the identification of critical issues and open gaps in knowledge and the formulation of research requirements.

“As part of the project, overseas and interstate research missions were organised to partner institutes with many years’ experience in thermal conversion of solid fuels and the operation of corresponding equipment from laboratory to semi-technical scale.

“These trips, organised through my existing contracts, were to various research and educational facilities throughout Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. A highlight of these missions was my participation in the ‘36th International Technical Conference on Clean Coal and Fuel Systems’ held in Clearwater, Florida in 2011, with an extended session on gasification and a visit to the Tampa Electric Company’s Polk IGCC Power Plant.

Above (middle): Participating on the Low Rank Coal Utilisation
Panel at the Clearwater Clean Coal Conference in Florida.

“The Monash research group also visited the Victorian Coogee Energy Methanol plant which gave the team its first look at the processing of natural gas into methanol – one of the potential products evaluated for production from brown coal derived syngas.

“Related to the project were two six-week student industrial projects conducted in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and supervised by myself and members of the HRL team.

“One project concentrated on the state-of-the-art fuel cell technology and another one on the conversion of crude oil and natural gas into value added products. The outcomes of these two projects provided additional information for inclusion in BCIA funded Project 1.

“During the project, interim progress reports were presented to BCIA, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and the Australian National Low Emissions Council R&D (ANLEC R&D). Final project outcomes were presented by HRL at a BCIA research seminar on July 18, 2012.

“With regards to Projects 2 and 3 at Monash University, an overview and initial results for Project 2 were presented at the above-mentioned Clearwater Clean Coal Conference in June 2011.

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