news / 2016-02-02
Database for coal gasification
The third phase of the research project HotVeGas launched in early January. Previous findings in coal gasification will be further developed and consolidated in a fuel database. The project will run until the end of 2019. Technische Universität München is coordinating the project.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology could be a crucial development for a successful energy transition. Power plants with this technology are more flexible in terms of performance and fuel compared to the currently used coal-fired power plants. From today’s point of view, this puts them in an optimal position to cover the residual load. The project has been running since 2007, and it is coming to a preliminary conclusion with the end of its third phase. One goal of HotVeGas III is to catalogue the results obtained so far in a database. The researchers are also investigating gasification power plants in terms of their profitability. This is one disadvantage of previous IGCC power plants: they are too expensive.
Database helps optimise process designs
In phase III, the project partners are creating a database that will aid in achieving an optimal design for IGCC processes for various fuels, and in validating simulation models. Some examples of categories that are included in the database: intrinsic parameters for the reaction of coke with steam, CO2 and oxygen; structural parameters such as diameter distributions and densities; as well as flow rates that depend on particle dwell times in entrained flow experiments at different temperatures, pressures and atmospheres.
Fuels to be examined for the first time in the current project phase are being coordinated at an early stage of the project. A matter important to the researchers is that there is a wide range of differing reactivities and coal ranks. In addition to several types of coal – such as brown coal, hard coal or anthracite coal – this could also be pre-treated biomass. This biomass, however, would have to be pre-treated with torrefaction or so-called hydrothermal carbonisation.
New challenges in fuel flexibility
Fuel differences are often very important and have a significant impact on dimensioning entrained flow gasifiers. An example: if a given fuel has a lower reactivity, then the reactor would have to run at higher temperatures, and the process would require more oxygen. Otherwise, fuel would remain inside the reactor for too long – which in turn would result in a larger reactor volume. However, other parameters such as the moisture content, the ash fusion point or the ash content must also be considered during planning. The HotVeGas database can help find a good compromise between the technically possible and the economically sensible.
In the completed projects HotVeGas I and II, researchers also developed flow models, so-called CFD models, for simulating entrained flow gasifiers and components. In a later phase of the project, they validated the models at the test facility on the premises of Technische Universität München. In the third phase, an additional validation will take place using the large-scale gasifiers at partners in the industry. The validated models will help both design gasifier components on an industrial scale and further optimise them.