PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
|BCIA’s goal is to support the people and technologies required for a vibrant brown coal industry focussed on the environmentally responsible exploitation of Australia’s brown coal resources. This year, BCIA has been planning for the future, and looking to what the organisation can achieve over the next five to ten years. |
The project commenced early in the year with a review by BCIA’s Board and Research Advisory Committee on the potential for BCIA to boost its work in skills programs, and continued through our Strategic Review with BCIA members and brown coal stakeholders held in May.
BCIA is currently consulting with industry and international stakeholders, to identify areas where the company can boost collaboration and help to accelerate the development and deployment of novel technologies. The aim is to complete this activity by the end of October. If you would like to contribute to this review, please contact BCIA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Phil Gurney.
This has also been a busy time planning our new research funding round for 2013, and also planning the upcoming seminar program. As you will have read in the CEO update, we have been successful in collaborating with the Energy and Environmental Research Center from North Dakota to help run a coal Gasification short course in Melbourne in December. We expect this to be the start of a stronger relationship between the brown coal research in the USA and in Australia.
|To date, BCIA has supported 31 research students through our PhD scholarships, and our research programs. We are currently promoting scholarship support funding for up to 10 research scholars.|
BCIA began its scholarship program in 2010 and many of the students inaugural scholarship awardees are reaching the end of their projects, and are looking towards the next steps in their careers.
Already, 12 students who have participated in BCIA-funded research projects have taken up positions in industry but if your organisation is currently looking, or thinking of looking, for highly skilled and motivated researchers with a broad range of experience in coal, chemistry, chemical engineering or related areas, please let us know - we would be happy to put you in touch.
With this in mind, next year BCIA is also planning another networking event for students to meet and network with industry partners.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
|BCIA strongly supports the view that brown coal-fired power generation can only have a long-term future in Australia if greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced without dramatically increasing the cost of electricity. Reflecting this, BCIA’s research portfolio has a strong emphasis on pilot-scale demonstration of lower-cost CO2 capture technologies that could be deployed in Australia.|
BCIA-supported CO2 capture research is relevant not just for Australia, but for the world. Global warming is an international problem and, as a major coal exporter, Australia has an obligation to help find a solution. Successful technologies developed in Australia have the potential to be implemented worldwide.
One of the more promising technologies being investigated with BCIA support is the WES froth absorber, under development by Process Group. This is a unique gas-liquid contactor which is more efficient than standard technologies, and has the potential to significantly reduce the capital cost of CO2 capture equipment. Dr Trina Dreher, the project leader, provides an update on page 3.
In another BCIA-funded project, known as coCAPco, CSIRO Energy Technology is operating a CO2 capture pilot plant at AGL Loy Yang power station. This project is an investigation of new methods to combine CO2 and SO2 capture in a single unit, as an alternative to the (more expensive) conventional
|approach of having two sequential capture systems. CSIRO is collaborating with iCap, a European Union consortium led by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, making this a truly international project.|
The first phase of this project has recently been completed, in which an iCap technology was successfully tested. The process involved loading a solvent with CO2 and SO2 simultaneously, and then stripping them out sequentially. The CO2 was extracted using a conventional heat regeneration process, while the SO2 was recovered in the form of sulphate crystals, which could be sold as fertiliser. This novel process was found to have a lower operating cost than two sequential absorption steps, and could avoid the high capital cost of a separate SO2 scrubbing system.
The CSIRO pilot plant is now in the final stages of refurbishment, in preparation for a new series of trials. These will test a patented CSIRO technology for simultaneous extraction of CO2 and SO2. After evaluating the two alternative technologies, the project participants will select the most promising for further commercial development.
Both the WES absorber and coCAPco projects have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of CO2 capture, and are applicable in markets beyond Australia and beyond brown coal. As such, they are well placed to deliver a substantial return on BCIA’s innovation investment.
|In mid-September, BCIA announced both its 2013 R&D Funding Round and funding support for up to ten PhD research scholarships. The company’s third competitive funding round offers more than $3.5 million in additional funding for R&D to improve the efficiency of low-emissions brown coal power generation.|
The seventh edition of BCIA’s e-newsletter, Perspectives on Brown Coal, was released in early August and featured an article on Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research (AVESTAR) – a US centre for operational excellence of coal-fired power plants using dynamic simulation and virtual reality technologies.
BCIA held a community forum in the Latrobe Valley during August to provide an update on BCIAś innovation funding, highlights from BCIA's R&D program and an update on the outcomes of our recent skills activities. The forum was well received with almost 60 people attending (see page 6 for more information).
BCIA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Phil Gurney, addressed Monash University and a Barbarians luncheon during August on coal research for Victoria. Dr Gurney also participated in a panel at the All-Energy Australia conference in Melbourne on 9 October; the panel discussed the future energy mix for Australia.
BCIA members had the opportunity recently to participate in an online meeting with the Canadian Clean Power Coalition (CCPC) Technical Committee in September to share information about technologies such as biomass co-firing, partial capture IGCC, in-situ gasification, coal benefication, efficiency improvements, carbon capture and advanced uses of coal.
Work is well underway for the next event in the seminar series, the Coal to Products – Gasification, Pyrolysis and Beyond seminar supported by the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation through the CarbonNet project, to be held on Friday 6 December, 2013 in Melbourne. The seminar will focus on technologies for upgrading coal to value added products, including processes via gasification and pyrolysis.
To coincide with the seminar, BCIA has also been working with the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) based in North Dakota, a world leader in gasification research, to deliver a one-day short course on gasification technologies on Thursday 5 December.
Details for both of these events can be found on BCIA’s News and Events page.