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Milestone for major UK coal to biomass conversion

Emissions reduction specialist RJM International has completed the first phase of Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) tests and studies for a fuel conversion project at Uskmouth coal-fired power plant in Wales.

RJM was tasked to deliver a new engineering-based solution that will enable the plant’s operator, SIMEC Atlantis Energy, to convert the plant to run on waste-derived energy pellets, comprising a mixture of biogenic material and waste materials which contain a high proportion of plastic waste that cannot be economically or technically recycled.

RJM said that this is a first-of-a-kind re-tasking of a front-wall fired boiler, originally designed to fire coal, and opens up the possibility of redundant coal plants being given a new lease of life, delivering low carbon power.

For the past eight months, RJM has been working on several complex tests and studies to arrive at an appropriately-modified firing system that will deliver a stable flame and the desired combustion characteristics.

UK-headquartered RJM says a stable flame has now been achieved in medium-scale testing, proving that stable combustion of the 100 per cent waste-derived fuel pellets is possible. These results correlate to the Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling carried out by RJM that confirmed a stable, self-sustaining flame with combustion performance within expected parameters.

RJM International managing director John Goldring said: “This has been a genuinely ground-breaking project for RJM as we have been heavily involved in developing and assessing the impacts of the constituent parts of different pellet formulations and how that impacts on the ability to mill the pellets and ultimately how they combust. Specific tests have been designed by RJM and we have developed a new combustion system to handle this type of fuel.

“Going forward, our work now informs the specification for the EPC tender that includes the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the full combustion unit.”

He added that “looking further ahead, the Uskmouth conversion project will provide the blueprint for other coal to 100 per cent waste derived fuel conversions around the world”.

“The regeneration and repurposing of coal-fired power stations to consume waste-derived fuel and deliver low cost, low carbon electricity is already attracting strong interest from generators and governments worldwide.”

In Beijing, RJM has installed 33 of its ultra-low NOx CleanAir Burnersà¢â€ž¢ to help district heating plants meet the latest emissions regulations as determined by the China Clear Air Act. The company is also working on a number of other projects that are enabling power plants to co-fire with biomass to help them reduce their carbon emissions.

The innovative repurposing of coal plants forms a whole session of speakers at POWERGEN Europe in Paris in November. Click here for details of the event.


Pamela Largue
Pamela is a senior content creator and editor and has been a part of the Clarion content team for over seven years. She specializes in international power and energy-related content.