PCI and UCONN Team Wins DOE Grant to Develop a Predictive Spouted Bed Model for Cleaner Biomass/Coal Boilers
April 7, 2016
(North Haven, CT) Precision Combustion Inc. (PCI) announced today that it has been awarded a Department of Energy Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant in partnership with University of Connecticut to develop and validate a predictive multi‐scale combustion modeling tool to optimize the design and operation of a spouted bed reactor. Spouted beds are an advanced fluidized bed reactor which offers the potential for higher fuel conversion efficiency and emissions with improved operating cost. The modeling tool will help guide new designs for substituting renewable biomass in coal-fed boilers while improving efficiency and reducing emissions. It is also expected to decrease the cost and time associated with the development of such co-fired boilers.
While coal will continue to be a primary source of energy for the foreseeable future, its high carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gas emissions raise serious environmental concerns driving new EPA rules regulating air pollution. Under the carbon accounting protocol of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, use of biomass fuels for energy does not add to the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere because the same amount of carbon that is released during combustion of biomass fuels is absorbed from the atmosphere by the plants while they grow. This has led to greater interest in the co-fired boilers (coal with renewable biomass) employing spouted bed geometries.
According to Prof. George Bollas, the lead investigator at University of Connecticut, “This is a good opportunity for creating a high value use for biomass while reducing emissions from coal combustion. The model will lead to better designs and more rapid development of spouted bed systems. It’s a win-win for both biofuel and coal.” In the proposed Phase I effort UCONN will use its existing spouted bed reactor experimental setup to operate with biomass and coal. PCI will leverage its combustion modeling and hands-on combustor experience to develop an experimentally validated, physics based reactor network model that predicts spouted bed reactor performance. Development of the predictive capability via the use of the computational model will provide a powerful tool to minimize investment and time in testing new design for co-fired boilers, as well as reduce net emissions from coal plants.
The proposed STTR project helps advance DOE’s missions of energy efficiency, energy independence, and mitigation of climate change. Additionally, the technology helps stimulate local economies by encouraging use of local renewable biomass since transporting biomass any significant distance can quickly erode its cost advantage and sustainability benefits. PCI will explore industrial collaboration opportunities with companies to further mature this tool along with support for pilot scale level demonstration project to test and validate the tool for transitioning it into the field. Kevin Burns, PCI President, adds, “The spouted bed reactor offers a chance to improve solids combustion, reduce emissions and better handle a mixed feedstock. This project represents an excellent model for industry-university collaboration where a university lab has partnered with small business to create something new for society. We’re looking forward to working with UConn on this. ”
Precision Combustion, Inc. is a clean energy technology development company directed to energy sector applications. To learn more, visit www.precision-combustion.com
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