Current Projects

Current Projects

In 2013, BCIA announced $3.62 million in funding for nine world-class R&D projects as part of BCIA's competitive funding round for low emissions brown coal power generation technologies. The total leveraged value of the 2013 BCIA R&D projects was $14.69 million including research institute, industry and State and Commonwealth Government (via Australian National Low Emissions Coal R&D) contributions.


Laser Based O2 and CO Monitoring
$250,000 FUNDING
Submitted by HRL Technology Pty Ltd with support from EnergyAustralia, Siemens Ltd, AGL Loy Yang Pty Ltd, GDF SUEZ Australian Energy, Macquarie Generation, Intergen – MOC, Origin Eraring, CS Energy, Alinta Energy and a number of other Australian power industry participants.
The performance of existing coal-fired power stations can be improved to reduce the coal utilisation and therefore CO2 gases emitted. Continuous measurement of the composition of the flue gases allows on-line modification of the plant boiler and fan operation to optimise coal combustion. However, power station boiler ducts present a very hostile environment for sensors and, consequently, current-generation sensor technologies have proven to be unreliable for process control. This research project will test state-of-the-art tuneable laser sensors to measure oxygen (O2) and carbon monoxide (CO) in brown coal-fired power station flue gases. Project trials will determine whether Tuneable Laser Diode Spectroscopy (TLDS) instrumentation, utilised successfully in the oil and gas industry, can provide a more accurate representation of oxygen and CO concentrations in station boiler economiser outlets. Current CO measurement technologies in Australian coal-fired power stations are compromised by high levels of dust, moisture and the sheer size of the boiler ducts. Inaccurate readings of oxygen content within the boiler ducts can result in increased coal usage to generate the same amount of energy.
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Accelerating the Deployment of Oxy-Fuel Combustion Technology for Victorian Brown Coal
$400,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University. Project participants include Shanghai Boiler Works; Energy Australia; GDF Suez Australian Energy; Chubu University, Japan and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (University of Electric Power), China.
This project is a continuation of earlier BCIA-funded research (via ANLEC R&D) and is expected to accelerate the deployment of oxy-fuel combustion for Victorian brown coal; thereby improving power generation efficiency and significantly reducing CO2 capture costs. Oxy-firing technology is a process for the combustion of coal in a mixture of high-purity oxygen and recirculated flue gas. Through prior removal of nitrogen and the optimisation of boiler operating parameters, oxy-fuel combustion testing has delivered up to 95% CO2 purity in flue gases which can be sequestered or utilised with minimal treatment. The initial research project proved a range of outcomes including the stable and faster combustion of Victorian brown coal in a pilot-scale oxy-fuel fired furnace, production of high purity CO2 (up to 80%) in flue gases and led to a greater understanding of the distinct slagging /fouling propensities of Victorian brown coal in oxy-fuel mode. The current research project will investigate technical issues related to oxy-fuel combustion of externally dried Victorian brown coal under supercritical and ultra-supercritical conditions.
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Advanced Chemical Looping Combustion Technology for Victorian Brown Coal
$450,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Monash University in association with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Alstom Boiler, France; Energy Australia; VITO, Belgium (oxygen carrier manufacturer); and Lycopodium Process Industries Australia (engineering consultancy); Southeast University, China and University of Alberta, Canada.
This project extends earlier BCIA-funded research – the first known study of chemical looping combustion (CLC) and gasification of Victorian brown coal – as an emerging alternate technology for the capture of CO2 at a significantly lower energy and cost penalty. A targeted focus of this research project is to advance the commercial prospects of this emerging technology through an evaluation of brown coal CLC performance under more continuous operating conditions, and to improve understanding of the longer term coal and oxygen carrier interaction effects. Chemical looping has been widely studied for the combustion of natural gas but research into its potential application for solid fuels commenced only in recent years. Utilising metal oxides as a major source of oxidising agent, rather than concentrated gaseous oxygen from air separation plants, the technology removes the energy and capital costs of air separation plants. The initial BCIA-funded project systematically assessed various oxygen carriers for use with Victorian and international lignite samples and found that the low ash content, high reactivity and high oxygen content of Victorian brown coal is particularly suited to chemical looping. The current project will extend this research through both bench-scale research and targeted experiments to be conducted in a Victorian purpose-built, compact fully looped and continuously fed reactor system.
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Evaluation of Advanced Post Combustion Capture Process and Equipment with Two Advanced Liquid Absorbents for Application in Victorian Brown Coal-Fired Power Stations
$650,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in association with IHI Corporation, Japan and AGL Loy Yang Power Pty Ltd.
This research project is a major collaboration between internationally renowned technology provider, IHI Corporation, and Australia’s world-class research organisation; CSIRO. The collaboration is a world-first evaluation of a technology provider-developed PCC process in flue gases from Victorian lignite-fired power. Successful completion of the project is expected to enable scale-up of the next technology phase; most likely a demonstration project at a scale of between 100 and 1,000 kton CO2 per year. In the first year of the research program, a 0.5 tpd CO2 capture pilot plant – incorporating an advanced, low-pressure packing material – will be designed and manufactured by IHI in Japan. The plant will then be transported to Australia and re-commissioned at AGL Loy Yang Power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
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Victorian Direct Injection Carbon Engine (DICE) Development – Derisking and Small Scale Development
$1,000,000 FUNDING
Submitted by CSIRO Energy Technology. Project participants include MAN Diesel & Turbo Australia Pty Ltd, Exergen Pty Ltd, Ignite Energy Resources Pty Ltd, AGL Loy Yang Pty Ltd and Energy Australia.
This project is a significant progression of earlier BCIA-funded research and will inform development plans for commercial production of the world’s first direct injection carbon engine (DICE) powered by water-based lignite slurry; within the next three years. The research program is targeting a step-change in fuel cycle efficiency which will enable a 48–50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with existing Victorian brown coal-fired power plants. The initial laboratory-scale research funded by BCIA achieved excellent ignition and combustion results from lignite slurries prepared by hydrothermal treatment and also addressed a range of technical issues related to fuel production and coal engine interactions. The new research program includes development of an adapted engine design by MAN Diesel & Turbo, the world’s largest manufacturer of stationary diesel engines, and testing of 20 tonnes of micronised refined carbon (MRC) from Victorian brown coal in a pilot-scale engine facility located in Japan.
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Combined Pre-Treatment of Flue Gas and Capture of CO2 by Closing the Sulphur Loop (coCAPco2)
$350,000 FUNDING
Submitted by CSIRO with support from AGL Loy Yang Pty Ltd and Energy Australia.

This project builds upon earlier BCIA-funded coCAPco research and aims to significantly reduce capital costs – by up to $200 million for a 550MW plant – in retrofitted post-combustion capture of CO2 from coal-fired power stations. The research objective is to integrate the removal of sulphur (SO2) and carbon (CO2) in a single column, with a single liquid absorbent, thus removing the requirement for a separate flue gas desulphurisation unit. Researchers will focus on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a range of methods for regeneration of these liquid absorbents including crystallisation and alternatives such as nanofiltration, electro-dialysis, ion-exchange and distillation, to determine the best option for scale-up and continuous evaluation of the coCAPco process. The research project is targeting a $40 to $50 per tonne avoided CO2 cost with specific application to Victorian brown coal-fired power plants.

Dispersion Modelling for CO2 Pipelines: Fit for Purpose and Best Practice Techniques
$285,770 FUNDING
Submitted by Sherpa Consulting with support from ENVIRON Australia and Hanna Consultants.
This project is being undertaken to inform the future development of CO2 pipelines, as part of integrated CO2 capture and storage infrastructure. The aim of the project is to create a reference point for national and international best practise in modelling CO2 emissions and dispersion and fit for purpose modelling approaches, which will potentially be used for pipeline route selection, risk management and emergency response planning. The project will establish an authoritative reference point that will accessible to CO2 pipeline designers, regulators and the broader community.

Feasibility Study for Direct Carbon Fuel Cell Operation on Victorian Brown Coal
$120,000 FUNDING
Submitted by CSIRO.

Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC) technology is recognised as a highly efficient way to produce electricity from fossil fuels, but it is not known whether it is practical to use it with Victorian brown coal. There is uncertainty about the effects on DCFC performance of accumulating coal ash, loss of direct contact between the coal particles and the cell reactive surface, and presence of residual moisture in the coal. This project will to identify the priorities for future DCFC research specifically required for utilisation of Victorian brown coal, e.g. cell materials, extent of coal preparation in relation to sizing and cleaning, fuel feeding methods and systems-related issues. Some experimental work will be involved, to investigate the operability of the DCFC on pulverised coal particles and the effect of typical coal impurities on cell performance and materials. Building on the outcomes of the experimental investigations, this project will deliver a roadmap to guide future research on DCFC technology in Victoria.

Evaluation of Carbon Monoliths for Capture of CO2 by Electrical Swing Adsorption
$120,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Monash University and the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with the international
MATESA consortium.
The objective of MATESA is to evaluate the technical feasibility of a potentially ‘game-changing’ technique for CO2 capture, which uses low-grade waste heat as a source of energy. The aim is to develop carbonaceous adsorbent monolithic solids that can be used to capture CO2 in a process known as Electrical Swing Adsorption (ESA). In ESA, CO2 that is adsorbed from the flue gas is recovered in a concentrated form by applying an electrical current. In order for this to work, the carbon monolith must be electrically conductive. This is a novel process that has the potential to markedly reduce the cost of CO2 capture.
The project will be undertaken in two streams, at Monash University and The University of Melbourne. Monash University will develop carbon monoliths from Victorian brown coal and test them for physical strength, electrical conductivity and their capacity and selectivity for separation of CO
2 from flue gas. The University of Melbourne will evaluation of the ESA approach by testing the monoliths in an experimental ESA rig, supplemented by detailed process modelling. The project will establish the feasibility of using monoliths fabricated from Victorian brown coal as a substrate for low-cost CO2 capture, and will benchmark their performance against potential candidates fabricated by the collaborating MATESA organisations.


Development of Entrained Flow Gasification Technology with Brown Coal for Generation of Power, Fuel and Chemicals
$603,028 FUNDING
Submitted by Department of Chemical Engineering, Monash University in association with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
This project will model the characteristics of molten slag from Victorian brown coal under gasification to enable the future use of entrained flow gasifiers for brown coal-fired power generation. Gasification is capable of producing coal-fired electricity more efficiently and with reduced CO2 emissions; thereby lowering generation costs. The project will develop commercially-applicable models for prediction of the slag behaviour of Victorian brown coals including slag formation, slag viscosity and trace element emissions while also making preliminary assessment of coal reactivity under entrained flow gasifier conditions. The measurement of slag viscosity under gasification will be undertaken in a state-of-the-art viscometer (one of only two operating in Australia) to be built at Monash University. The project is an international collaboration combining Monash University's expertise in brown coal gasification research and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' experience with commercial scale coal gasifiers.

Improved Handling of Lignite-Based Products
$525,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Monash University; project participants include Environmental Clean Technologies Ltd; LawrieCo; Keith Engineering (Australia) Pty Ltd.

Dried or de-watered lignite (brown coal) is prone to spontaneous combustion following exposure to air, making lignite-based products notoriously difficult to handle and transport. This project has the potential to open up significant new domestic and global markets for Victorian brown coal through improved control of the composition and particle size distribution of lignite products. The first part of the project will seek to identify processing methodologies that can significantly reduce the tendency of lignite to spontaneously combust. This will involve an investigation of the physical (structural) and chemical features of lignite which correlate with the low temperature, heat-releasing oxidisation processes that result in combustion. The second part of the project will investigate and establish optimum conditions for the granulation of lignite and lignite-derived fertilisers. This research will be used to develop an integrated granulation and drying process for lignite using superheated steam.

Coal-Derived Additives: A Green Option for Improving Soil Carbon; Soil Fertility and Agricultural Productivity?
$450,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Monash University. Project participants include Clean Coal Victoria; International Power; LawrieCo; Exergen Pty Ltd and Environmental Clean Technologies.

This project will evaluate the merits of using Victorian brown coal and its derived products for improving soil health and plant yields and increasing carbon capture from the atmosphere. The study will involve glass house and field plot trials to determine the best performing brown coal derived materials, specifically humic / fulvic acid containing materials and char, for plant growth, soil health and soil carbon capture. Additionally, the project will compare char from brown coal with existing commercial char products and evaluate phosphorous fertilisers coated in a brown coal derived humate to determine improvements in soil health and associated increases in carbon uptake. The research plan will incorporate a life-cycle assessment of brown coal products for agricultural applications including all aspects of the supply chain, transport and distribution.