CSIRO has developed an experimental database and modelling toolkit for making assessments of the suitability of coals for gasification technologies.
As the coal gasification market grows, coal deposits previously ranked of low value can become a marketable resource.
“Traditionally, coals have been selected for their tendency to not slag or foul boiler tubes in combustion power stations,” senior research scientist at CSIRO Dr Alexander Ilyushechkin said.
“However, with the gasification market, which relies heavily on a slagging coal, set to increase in the coming years, significant coal deposits are likely to become more marketable.”
He said there are more than 130 gasification installations around the world using over 50 million tonnes of coal each year. He cited the US Gasification Technologies Council and said this will climb by more than 70 per cent in the next three years.
“This provides a growing export potential for Australian coals, which will increase the value of the coal resource and extend the life of the mine.”
Recent study by CSIRO for the Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development agency showed slags produced from gasification are apt for product manufacturing such as concrete production.
It also showed their environmental impact in terms of leaching of heavy metals is miniscule.
Using its database of coal slag viscosity, CSIRO can analyse and assess coal in terms of its slagging behaviour and assist coal producers in valuing their resources by matching them to different gasification technologies.
It is based on measurements of slag viscosity behaviour for hundreds of different coals and artificial ashes. It can be used to gauge the behaviour of a particular fuel’s mineral matter under conditions relevant to the leading gasification technologies.
CSIRO can directly measure the viscosity of slags at temperatures up to 1600°C, giving an insight into how the slag will behave in a gasifier and pinpointing the cause of any problematic behaviour.
This is the best way for typifying slag flow behaviour and for determining optimum amount of flux that could be added to improve performance.