8.4 RESEARCH

8.4 RESEARCH

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RESEARCH


UPDATE FROM BCIA


POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH SCHOLARS
BCIA’s annual program of postgraduate research scholarships is part of our commitment to strategic investment in skills development to secure the scientific, engineering and trades expertise required for the development of new low-emissions brown coal technologies.

To date, BCIA has awarded six research scholarships to PhD candidates at top-ranking Australian universities.

In this edition of Perspectives on Brown Coal, BCIA scholarship recipient Joanne Tanner from Monash University updates us on her recent overseas research trip as part of her PhD project.


International Collaborative Research at PhD Level - Opportunities and Advantages
By Joanne Tanner, Monash University PhD Candidate and BCIA Scholarship recipient (2011)

As part of her BCIA-funded PhD project, Joanne had the opportunity earlier this year to travel to Europe and the USA on a two-month collaborative research trip. Here she describes the aims and outcomes of the expedition, and demonstrates the many advantages to be gained by international collaborative activities at PhD level.

My doctoral project “Brown coal-derived syngas generation for higher value product processes”, focuses on the need for reliable fundamental data concerning the behaviour of Victorian brown coals (VBC) under high temperature, entrained flow gasification conditions.

Once such data is available, it can be used to develop models of the VBC gasification process with the view to utilising state-of-the-art gasification technologies to convert this abundant, low quality resource into high quality, value added products for domestic and international markets.

In order to augment the research capabilities available to me at Monash and to foster international relationships, this year I was able to conduct some of the experimental work related to my thesis at Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (FZJ, Research Institute of Jülich) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. I also attended the 38th International Technical Conference on Clean Coal and Fuel Systems, colloquially known as The Clearwater Clean Coal Conference, to formally present my project to an international audience.

The idea for the expedition and collaborative activities was conceived in mid-2012 when one of my two co-supervisors, A/Prof. Sankar Bhattacharya, suggested that I submit an application for a grant from the Go8 Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme
1. The application was successful, and funding was secured over two years to support reciprocal visits to FZJ. This new collaboration represents a continuation of the existing relationship between the Energy, Fuels and Reactions Engineering Group at Monash led by A/Prof. Bhattacharya and the Division of Thermochemistry at the FZJ Institute for Energy and Climate Change Research (IEK-2) led by Dr Michael Müller.

The experimental work I undertook at FZJ involved using high temperature analytical techniques to determine the release of reactive, intermediate and condensable inorganic species from low rank coals under gasification conditions. Both Victorian brown coals and German lignites were used in this study, and further work has been planned for a subsequent visit in 2014. The results of this and future related work may be used to predict which species will be released under various conditions, and to extrapolate the impact on downstream processes in commercial gasification applications.

Once the initial funding for the visit to Germany had been secured, it was decided to maximise this opportunity to gain exposure to the international research community with similar fields of interest by extending the research trip. Therefore, following the experimental work at FZJ, I attended the 2013 Clearwater Clean Coal Conference - a prestigious international meeting of academic and industrial experts in coal utilisation and related fields.

As a student presenter and panel member, I was able to publicise my project and progress to date, to receive feedback from experts in the field and to build and develop networks with peers having common or related research areas.

I returned to Germany after the conference to complete the final leg of my research trip and to instigate a new research partnership with the Division of Fuel Chemistry and Technology (CEB) in the Engler-Bunti-Institute (EBI) at KIT, headed by Prof. Thomas Kolb. This collaboration was established through the connections of my co-supervisor, Prof. Klaus R.G. Hein, a former BCIA Fellow, and was funded with a subsidiary grant from BCIA.

The aim was to utilise the complementary equipment available at KIT to expand the scope of my project and enable me to determine fundamental kinetic parameters at the high temperatures and pressures typical of entrained flow conditions. The data generated at KIT will be compared and contrasted with the ambient pressure measurements completed at Monash, and the results made available for future modelling and design applications.

This expedition, with its combination of collaborative research and conference participation, has proven to be an invaluable opportunity for me to network with peers and publicise my research project and results to date.

I have also been able to extend the scope of my research to better represent industrial gasification processes by forming relationships with international partner institutes having capabilities complementary to those available to me domestically. I am looking forward to returning to Germany in 2014 to continue my work with the group at FZJ and expect once again to be able to incorporate additional beneficial activities into the expedition.



ABOVE: Joanne conducting high pressure measurements at KIT to determine fundamental kinetic parameters of VBC gasification.

BANNER ABOVE: Joanne conducting high temperature gasification measurements at FZJ to determine the species evolved from Victorian brown coal





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1. http://www.go8.edu.au/university-staff/international-collaboration/go8-germany-joint-research-co-operation-scheme



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