Cleaner coal technology


Supervisors: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian and Professor Lin Ma.

Coal-fired power generation currently accounts for approximately 30% of the total energy market share globally and contributes a significant portion of the total emissions to the atmosphere. However, due to the ever increasing demand for electricity, coal will continue to play a key part in meeting this future demand.

Therefore, developing cleaner coal technologies, including supplementing with bioenergy and better interacts with renewable generations, are urgently required in order to cut the pollutant emissions from the power generation sector. With strong support from industry, two new areas of cutting edge research in cleaner coal technologies are available.

Developing new predictive tools for improving the combustion processes for coal/biomass fuels

Ignition of pulverised fuel is the first stage in the combustion process. Successful ignition is important for achieving flame stability, improving combustion efficiency and reducing environmental pollutants. Improving the fundamental understanding of ignition phenomena is required to determine the ignition mechanisms of solid-fuel particles and this increasingly relies on engineering computer modelling.

This project aims to develop a deeper understanding into the mechanisms of pulverised solid fuel ignition, and to develop a predictive fuel ignition model for an industrial burner configuration optimisation. This can result in improvements to plant flexibility and energy efficiency of modern coal-fired utility boilers to meet the demand of more flexible power generation and reduced pollutant emissions from power generation.

Combustion technology for low volatile coals

Volatile combustion is typically an important first stage of coal combustion that plays an important part in flame stability and overall combustion process. However, little is known about the combustion of very low volatile fuels in large scale power plant furnaces which are used in some power plants. Significant issues exist with the efficient combustion of such coals using the traditional combustion technologies and thus lead to poor plant performance and high pollutant emissions.

This project aims to investigate the unique characteristics of combustion of very low volatile content coals using cutting edge experimental and computer modelling techniques. The research is expected to fill the important gaps in knowledge of combustion of low volatile coal and potentially lead to innovative designs of burners for such coals and substantially increase the efficiency and flexibility of coal-fired power plants.

For further information contact Professor Derek B Ingham (

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