Major Active Research Projects

Reliable and Efficient Combustion of Oxygen/Coal/Recycled Flue Gas Mixtures (FP7-ENERGY-2010-2 9.76M€)

Project coordinated by Professor S.J. Wilcox

Most coal-fired utility boilers are fired with pulverised coal and the use of this technology for power generation far outweighs that of alternatives. The consortium have identified key issues that need to be addressed to pave the way for full-scale deployment of oxy-coal firing. As most previous work has been undertaken at pilot-scale so that, in addition to medium scale demonstration activities, there is also a need for more fundamental underpinning studies to provide improved understanding of oxy-fuel firing technology before it can be taken reliably even to the large scale demonstration stage. The overall aim is to undertake a systematic and focused series of applied research, development and demonstration activities involving both experimental studies and combustion modelling work to resolve existing technical uncertainties and barriers which inhibit commercial deployment of the technology. Attention will be paid to the generation of design rules and methods which can be employed for scaling up results from pilot and laboratory studies to the full-scale. The data obtained in the experimental tests and from the developed modelling tools will be integrated to produce detailed designs for both a retrofit oxy/coal/RFG system for an existing boiler as well as a novel design for “new build” plant. The programme of work will therefore enable full-scale early demonstration plant to be designed and specified with greater confidence as well as providing improved assessment of the commercial risks and opportunities.


Carbon Reduction by Auxiliary Firing Techniques for glass Melters (FP7-ENERGY-2011-2)

Principal investigator Dr.C.K. Tan

Each year, the EU’s Primary glass melters producing container and flat glass consume some 150 PJ of energy and emit some 10 Gigatonnes of fuel related CO2. Most of the EU’s large glass melting furnaces already employ reversing regenerators to achieve a thermal efficiency of 50% or more, a very good figure for a process operating at about 1600?C. The industry is facing conflicting challenges to reduce its carbon emissions while respecting ever tighter limits on nitrogen oxide emissions since increasing heat recovery from the exhaust gases through the use of more regeneration would result in an increase in NOx emissions. Responding to this challenge, three of the partners in the present proposal have developed and patented a new combustion strategy for glass melters (Auxiliary Firing). Auxiliary Firing has been shown on a glass furnace simulator to offer up to 5% direct energy savings. It also reduces NOx emissions to meet the 2009 EU limits offering further indirect energy savings by avoiding the energy currently consumed by some exhaust gas NOx clean-up processes (a further 5 to 10% of furnace fuel in some NOx reduction processes).

The CRAFTEM proposal brings together the Auxiliary Firing developers and two major Glass Makers with the objective of demonstrating the new combustion process on two full scale glass melters. The demonstration furnaces will represent the two major firing configurations (cross-fired and end-fired) currently used on the majority of the EU’s glass melters. The aim of the demonstrations will be to show that Auxiliary Firing will yield the expected Carbon Savings while maintaining glass output and quality, and reducing NOx emissions to the 2009 EU limits. A successful demonstration will allow immediate replication of the new firing technique within the operation of the two glass making partners, and subsequently throughout the EU Glass Sector.


Organic waste management by a small-scale Innovative automated system of anaerobic digestion (FP7-SME-2011)

Principal investigator Dr. A. Chong

Restaurants, hotels, markets, fisheries and other small to medium size agro-food industries have to manage 239million tonnes of organic waste in Europe per year. The specific management of such waste, with respect to the legislative regulations of EU, involves costly treatment for SMEs and potential hygiene issues on site. ORION aims at allowing a vast majority of SMEs to manage their organic waste by themselves in order to decrease their treatment costs (storage, transport, landfill or incineration) and increase on-site hygiene conditions. Wastes will be also valorised as biomass to produce energy and increase SME autonomy and profitability.

ORION main objectives consist of:

  • Developing for the first time anaerobic digestion machine at the SME scale (1 m3 to 50 m3) that will combine effectiveness for a large range of organic wastes and reduced capital and operating costs
  • Developing advanced control tools and sensors to reach an optimum reliability
  • Increasing know-how on the impact of nanostructured surfaces on bacterial growth and increase waste throughput in the digestor
  • Developing a dissemination and training strategy in order to address a vast community of SMEs and offer them a personalised service
  • Contributing to the implementation of EU policies on waste management and renewable energies production.

A maximum autonomy, adaptability and reliability are targeted. The digester is expected to be very cost-effective for users. ORION partnership is composed of European and National IAG representing the targeted sectors: fishery/aquaculture, hotel-restaurants, small agro-food industries and a Core Group of representative SME partners involved in the pilot design ND testing with various waste qualities and quantities. They will rely on a interdisciplinary group of research centers in order to achieve the technical goals of the project.


Advanced Measurements and Dynamic Modelling for Improved Furnace Operation and Control (RFSR-CT-2012-00009)

Principal investigator Dr. C.K. Tan

Advanced and novel measuring technology will be used initially to improve reheating furnace operation and temperature control. Comprehensive furnace measurements will also provide validation data for the development of three-dimensional dynamic ‘virtual furnace’ models for investigating enhanced furnace control strategies, especially during transient conditions, where existing supervisory control has severe limitations. These combined approaches of advanced process measurements and simulation techniques will result in better understanding of novel heating strategies to improve stock temperature homogeneity and the link between furnace and rolling mill, whilst initiating the evolution of the next generation of supervisory furnace controllers.