12.3 RESEARCH

12.3 RESEARCH

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RESEARCH
Above: DME synthesis reactor

First steps toward a new clean fuel from brown coal
Continued from previous page ...

Structural changes in the catalysts were studied using X-ray synchrotron power diffraction. It was found that the catalyst was deactivated at temperatures above 300◦ C, accompanied by an increase in the size of copper crystallites in the methanol synthesis catalyst.

The alumina catalyst phase was found to be resistant to structural and chemical changes. The results suggested that the working life and efficiency of the bi-functional catalyst could be improved by refinements in the formulation of the copper-based catalyst phase. This is the key to the commercial viability of the single-step DME process, and will be the subject of on-going research at Monash University.

This project has, for the first time, demonstrated the technical feasibility of single-step production of DME via catalytic conversion of syngas from Victorian brown coal. While further work is required to improve the catalyst working life, the syngas composition is favourable and the reaction efficiency is high. There is every reason to believe that improved catalyst formulations can be developed for stable DME synthesis.

The DME project is one of four projects that have been funded by BCIA to support the development of oxygen-blown gasification of Victorian brown coal. Ms Joanne Tanner and Mr Tao Xu, recipients of BCIA PhD scholarships, are studying the fundamental reactions of brown coal under high temperature, entrained-flow gasification conditions.

Ms Sunaina Dayal, another PhD student working with Professor Bhattacharya, has been studying the flow behaviour of molten slag produced from brown coal in an entrained flow gasifier. These complementary projects are building a coherent knowledge base that can be applied to synthesis of a range of value-added products from Victorian brown coal.

The PhD student who worked on the DME project, Mr Bayzid Kabir, has recently taken up a position as Assistant Professor at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. A postdoctoral fellow, Dr Srikanth Srivatsa, is continuing the research on catalyst development.

Professor Bhattacharya hopes to continue his collaboration on DME with Japan, to build the foundation of a new export industry for Victoria.


For more information on our R&D innovation portfolio, visit the RESEARCH section of our website.



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