D.B. Robinson Distinguished Speaker Series 2012-2013
— Alberta Innovates Energy Environment Solutions Lecture
Co-firing: Implementation of Bioenergy within the current Infrastructure
There are compelling logistical and economic reasons to cofire biomass with coal in thermal conversion processes (gasifiers and combustors). Biomass-coal co-firing represents a near-term, low-risk, low-cost, sustainable, renewable energy option that promises reduction in effective CO2 emissions, reduction in SOx and often NOx emissions, and several societal benefits. When combined with effective CO2 capture and storage (CCS), this process could represent a net reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentrations – an accomplishment beyond the reach of non-biomass-based renewable energy options. CCS technology on dedicated biomass facilities would also result in a net CO2 reduction, but cofiring produces power from biomass with much higher efficiencies and CCS systems on large-scale coal plants are much cheaper compared to similar technologies in dedicated biomass plants. Nevertheless, much of this discussion is as relevant to dedicated biomass systems as to cofired systems.
Such cofiring involves several technical challenges. This presentation explores these technical challenges. Technical issues associated with cofiring include fuel supply, handling and storage challenges, potential increases in corrosion, decreases in overall efficiency, ash deposition and management issues, pollutant emissions, carbon burnout, impacts on ash marketing, impacts on SCR performance, and overall economics. Each of these issues has been investigated and this presentation summarizes the state-of-the-art in each area, both in the US and abroad. The focus is on fireside issues. While each of the issues can be significant, the conclusion is that biomass residues represent possibly the best (cheapest and lowest risk) renewable energy option for many power producers.
Larry Baxter (BS, PhD, Chemical Engineering) has been involved in biomass research for over 25 years with particular emphasis on thermal biomass processing (combustion, gasification, etc.). He joined the Chemical Engineering faculty at BYU in late 2000, having worked 14 years at Sandia National Laboratories' Combustion Research Facility. Since arriving at BYU, Larry has supervised hundreds of undergraduate and tens of graduate research projects on biomass and related issues. Prof. Baxter is also the founder of Sustainable Energy Solutions (SES,www.sustainablees.com), which employs 11 full-time and 12 part-time engineers and is focused on commercialization of a disruptive carbon capture technology process. Currently the principal investigator of more than $16M in funding at BYU and SES, Prof. Baxter focuses on finding practical and economic solutions to regional and global energy and environmental issues.