Alstom and DOE to work on new coal combustion technologies

16 October 2002 – Alstom is to participate in two US Department of Energy-sponsored programmes to develop and test new and more efficient coal combustion technologies.

Under the first programme, Alstom will build and evaluate the CMB Circulating Moving Bed combustor, a new type of steam generator which involves a novel method of solid fuel combustion and heat transfer. In this design, a heat exchanger will preheat the energy cycle working fluid (steam or air) to the high temperature levels required for advanced power generation systems. This will produce a step change in both performance and capital costs relative to today’s pulverized coal and fluid bed boiler designs.

Unique features of the CMB(tm) combustor will include a significant reduction in heat transfer surface (due to enhanced heat transfer rates), improved operational flexibility, and substantial reduction in capital costs over existing technology.

Design studies are now underway and will be followed by a 3 MW pilot-scale test at Alstom’s site in Windsor, CT, USA. Upon completion of the pilot test in 2003, the new technology will be ready for field trials. Participants include the US DoE, Alstom, the University of Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Under the second programme, Alstom is evaluating advanced coal-fired plant concepts that will render plants using pulverized coal, fluid bed and moving bed combustors significantly more efficient.

While current plants operate at 1004à‚°F (540à‚°C), this programme will evaluate the feasibility of building advanced steam cycle power plants that operate at steam temperatures up to 1328à‚°F (720à‚°C). Operating each of the three plant types at higher steam temperatures would boost today’s average existing plant efficiencies of about 35 per cent to nearly 50 per cent.

This programme, which also concludes in 2003, includes steam cycle analyses, plant performance analyses, boiler design studies, and economic evaluations of total plant systems. Participants include Alstom’s boiler and turbine Segments and US Power Plant Laboratories, and American Electric Power (AEP), the Ohio-based electric utility.

Both programmes are intended to help the power industry maintain a reliable, efficient, low-cost electricity supply by combusting coal, the nation’s most abundant fuel source, in an environmentally-responsible manner.

According to Robert Romanosky, the National Energy Technology Laboratory Product Manager for Advanced Power Systems, “Alstom’s work could mean using less fossil fuels to produce more power for the US These projects to increase efficiency in power plants support DoE’s goal of raising the bar for low-cost, highly efficient, and environmentally acceptable power production.”

Funding for the CMB combustor programme ($2.5m total) is provided by a partial grant by the US Department of Energy under Instrument Number DE-FC26-01NT41223. Funding for the advanced steam cycle programme ($764 400 total) is provided by a partial grant by the US Department of Energy under Instrument Number DE-FC26-01NT41222. Alstom is committed to the successful development and commercialization of these technologies and is providing significant co-funding to both projects.

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