Bioenergy

The following are some of the projects that we can offer:

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A Study of the Co-Digestion of Various Urban and Agricultural Wastes for Optimum Biogas Production

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

The proposed research would explore of the potential of anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from a number of different waste biomass sources that are ubiquitous throughout the world but are currently underutilized, and to co-digest them with more familiar anaerobic digestion feedstocks. A key objective will be to explore the relationship between digester design, scale and the ability to utilise biomass in a variety of co-digestion scenarios. This work would complement our current research into anaerobic digestion for electrification of rural communities in India. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work with micro-AD development sites in the UK.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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AD design and operating strategies for energy demand matching in the face of non-uniform feedstock availability and composition

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Mark Walker and Professor Lin Ma

In the urban environment at the household to institutional-scale the availability and composition of waste biomass feedstocks, suitable for biogas production, is likely to vary on a variety of timescales. This raises issues about how the AD system can be designed to meet the local energy demands and to be resilient to these changes in feedstock quantity and composition. This research will use a combination of modelling and experimental work to investigate and optimise the algorithms for optimal process control. The research will benefit from the available experimental facilities including laboratory-scale digesters, excellent analytical facilities, expertise in the computer modelling of AD process kinetics, mass balance and operational strategies and links with industry through our collaborative work.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Biological production of methane from hydrogen

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Mark Walker

Future electricity grids will rely on large scale two-way storage of chemical energy for balancing intermittent renewables with variation in demand. A novel technology for this purpose is the use of excess electrical energy to produce hydrogen which can be biologically converted to methane, via hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, and then easily stored in existing natural gas infrastructure. The proposed work will create a process model to describe the process in order to ascertain the basic operating principles and to perform in silico testing of potential control systems. Validation of the developed models will be performed using existing experimental facilities and the project will benefit from existing academics and industrial collaborations in this area. Several potential applications of the hybrid technology are envisaged which will be investigated using the integrated process model, drawing from existing expertise in this area within Energy 2050.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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Integration of algal biofuel and biogas production

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Mark Walker

There is an increased international interest in the use of algae to sustainably produce liquid biofuels to meet future energy demands. Anaerobic digestion/biogas production is an ideal synergistic process to the algal biofuel production and could help to satisfy the local parasitic energy demand of the biofuel production process, in a similar way to how it is currently used in wastewater treatment. The potential synergies include nutrient recycling, residue valorisation, biogas upgrading to biomethane and reduced water use. This project will develop knowledge into the combination of these two technologies using an integrated process modelling, built from sub-models describing the component physical, chemical and biochemical conversions and processes. The model will be used to perform system wide optimisation and scaling studies and eventually lead to recommendations on large scale installation of the technology.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Low cost, energy efficient biomethane production from landfill gas or biogas

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr W Nimmo and Professor Lin Ma

Biomethane can be produced from biogas or landfill gas in a fairly simple water scrubbing system. This process has been used on large scale biogas plants but the optimal operation has not been fully investigated. Existing validated models will be used to design the process conditions to give optimal conversion to the required quality of biomethane depending on the application (vehicle use, CHP, grid injection) such as operating pressure, water and gas flow rates and packing media. This will lead onto a techno-economic assessment of the process and its integration into the larger AD energy system. The student will benefit from excellent laboratory and analytical facilities and links with industry through our collaborative work and have access to micro-AD development sites in the UK where pilot scale test facilities can be developed.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Ash deposition process modeling for biomass based power plant

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma, Professor Derek Ingham

Biomass as a renewable fuel is considered to be CO2 neutral. However, firing biomass in power generation plant, either as a sole fuel or for co-firing in both air and oxy-firing conditions, causes a number of complications, such as slagging, fouling, and increased depositions and corrosion on the superheat-exchange tubes. This would reduce both system efficiency and durability. An advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics model will be developed in order to simulate the formation of aerosol, and the process of deposition of fine particles on combustion chamber and heat exchange tube surfaces, that occur during biomass combustion. The model development will be based on an existing model that has previously been developed at Leeds and will be validated against measurement data. The successful outcome of this research will be very useful for biomass fuel selection and combustion system optimization for power generation plant co-firing biomass and coal.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Pilot plant experimental work - 250 kW PACT facility - zero emission strategies - coal- biomass and bio-CCS

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr W Nimmo

Fossil fuel will remain a significant contributor to power generation around the world as countries develop and realise their economic and social potentials through industrial growth and increase in people's standard of living. For example, coal remains a principal fuel for electricity generation (~40% of the world market) and contributes ~43% of CO2 emissions from the combustion of all fossil fuels. Therefore, in order to meet CO2 reduction targets, the urgency of developing, demonstrating, and deploying Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies is clear, supported by the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Oxyfuel combustion is one of the front running technologies for CO2 capture in power generation and energy intensive industries, as recognised by the UK government’s recent announcement to fund the FEED study for the White Rose Partnership project as part of the £1bn DECC competition for CCS commercialisation. Displacement of coal by biomass with CCS is a method of gaining benefits from negative CO2 emissions.

The project will involve detailed experimental work performed on the 250kW combustion test facility associated with funded projects in the area of oxyfuel combustion. Coal and biomass fuels will be used and flame analysis methods will be employed; heat flux, temperature, chemical species and emissions. The effect of flue gas recycle conditions on flame characteristics and emissions will also be investigated.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Negative CO2 Emissions through Combining Bio-Energy and Carbon Capture

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Kevin Hughes

Stringent CO2 emission reduction targets that are now in effect mean that the carbon intensity of energy generation from all sources needs to be considerably reduced in order to meet such goals. The use of biomass fuels – either dedicated biomass firing or co-firing with fossil fuels, such as coal – can considerably minimise the net CO2 emissions to atmosphere from conventional energy generation processes, i.e. combustion. Coupling biomass utilisation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies could mean the CO2 emissions from such forms of energy production are further reduced and even have the potential to lead to zero or negative emissions. This project will aim to compare different fuel resources (coal, wood chips and co-firing these two fuels) in terms of their carbon intensity and techno-economics, when used with and without CCS applications. A large-scale power facility will be modelled using the IECM and Aspen packages to achieve the project objectives, with input data and other parameters being acquired from the literature review conducted.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham

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Conventional renewable power generation - Fluidised bed biomass combustion

Supervisor: Dr W Nimmo


To achieve the UK's ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 without compromising energy security, the UK's conventional power plants must be operated in a flexible manner in terms of high efficiency, using alternative fuels (e.g. biomass) and integrating technologies for carbon abatement (e.g. Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS). Ultra-supercritical (USC) steam Rankine cycle power generation combined with Circulating Fluidised Bed (CFB) and Fluidized Bed (FB) combustion technology is the most viable alternative to the pulverised coal (PC)-based USC power generation. In addition, operating under USC/FB/CFB conditions has a number of advantages over USC/PC, particularly regarding fuel flexibility.


However, there are still many fundamental research and technical challenges facing the development of this technology. In particular, combustion issues related to safe and stable operation of CFB/FB boilers when burning a variety of solid fuels are not yet fully understood and there is a great need to develop novel materials that will be able to cope with adverse conditions associated with operation.

The specific project areas would include:

To understand how the combustion of a variety of fuels affects Emissions, bed material agglomeration, fouling and corrosion of boiler heat exchanger tubes.

Facilities at the University main campus and at the LCCC will be offered to suitably qualified students for study leading to a PhD in combinations of the following areas.

1. combustion testing at pilot scale (250 kW Fluidised bed),

2. deposition testing and experimentation at pilot plant scale,

3. corrosion testing in lab scale furnaces,

4. fundamental TGA decomposition studies,

5. Biomass characterisation

For further information please contact Dr W Nimmo

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Comparison of entrained metal aerosol emissions from the combustion of different biomass fuels

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma, Dr Kevin Hughes and Dr Karen N Finney

Impurities in fuels have detrimental impacts on combustion/downstream systems, including CCS and heat recovery. Biomass with CCS can be a net negative emissions source, so is gaining interest, but as a result, there is more variation in the fuels being used, from conventional wood pellets to wastes, which have more impurities. This project will compare metal aerosol emissions from the combustion of such fuels throughout the combustion/capture plants, assessing the differences in the levels and species, monitored via ICP-OES at the UKCCSRC PACT Core Facilities. Quantitative data on the simultaneous multi-elemental detection for volatile/non-volatile species (major to ultra-trace elements) will focus on alkali (K, Na), transition (Fe, V, Zn) and heavy (Cd, Hg, Cr) metals, as well as acidic elements (S), as these are toxic, easily vaporised and/or cause operational issues. Combined with data for ash residue analysis (composition), mass balances will enable the determination of element partition/the fate of specific species, thus aiding in the development of better gas cleaning methods tailored for individual fuels and operation conditions.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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Mitigation of ash deposition, slagging and fouling in biomass fired power generation

Supervisor: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Dr Kevin Hughes, Professor Lin Ma and Dr Janos Szuhanszki

Switching from fossil fuel fired power generation to the combustion of sustainably produced biomass can achieve near zero CO2 emissions, thereby significantly contributing to the decarbonisation of the energy sector. However, burning biomass in power plants designed for coal firing poses a number of challenges, including increased slagging and fouling and corrosion potential, which can reduce overall efficiency and plant availability.

Making use of the state of the art 250 kW Combustion Test Facility at the Pilot Scale Advanced Capture Technology (PACT) Facilities, this project will involve a thorough and innovative experimental programme to characterise the above phenomena and correlate the findings with Computational Fluid Dynamics based modelling work as part of an integrated team.

A central aim of the project is to identify successful mitigation strategies and thereby enhance the commercial viability of biomass fired power generation.

For further information please contact Professor Derek B Ingham.

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