Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Experiments Examine Hydrogen-production Benefits Of Clean Coal Burning

Date:
May 10, 2006
Source:
Sandia National Laboratories
Summary:
Sandia National Laboratories researchers here are studying the burning characteristics of coal to prepare the way for the coming of a hydrogen economy. That's because while there are many long-term options for providing hydrogen as a fuel of the future, coal is the leading contender to provide a hydrogen source in the near term.

Sandia National Laboratories researchers Chris Shaddix (left) and Alejandro Molina discuss an experiment to determine the best proportion of oxygen and carbon dioxide for oxy-combustion of coal.
Credit: Photo by Bud Pelletier

Sandia National Laboratories researchers here are studying the burning characteristics of coal to prepare the way for the coming of a hydrogen economy.

Related Articles


That’s because while there are many long-term options for providing hydrogen as a fuel of the future, coal is the leading contender to provide a hydrogen source in the near term.

“While some day we may be able to produce hydrogen by breaking up water molecules in association with the high-temperature heat from nuclear power reactors, or through renewable energy technologies, right now the most cost-effective way to produce hydrogen is with coal,” says Chris Shaddix, principal investigator for clean coal combustion at Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility.

Sandia is a Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

Shaddix and his colleagues are involved in a number of experiments to optimize the combustion of coal to produce the most energy and the least possible pollution. While traditional coal combustion produces harmful emissions, modern plants can meet environmental regulations for burning coal cleanly, Shaddix says. As the cost of competing fuels — particularly natural gas — climb, burning clean coal becomes cost competitive.

Add in the possible benefits of separating and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power plant stacks and coal looks very promising for generating both electricity and hydrogen to provide a bridge to that future technology. “Utilities are starting to invest in coal,” says Shaddix.

Two approaches

Two different approaches to burning coal are now under study:

* The first, called oxy-combustion, combines coal with pure oxygen.
* The second, called gasification, burns coal only partially to create a fuel-gas.

The first approach is driven by concern over emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. The burning of coal in oxygen is a near-term solution that with current knowledge can produce exhaust streams that are close to pure CO2, says Shaddix. Harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur compounds, and mercury are virtually eliminated.

The oxy-combustion approach is favored by companies in Japan, Canada, Germany, and elsewhere, where pilot plants are under construction.

U.S. companies tend to favor gasification technologies, which offer higher efficiency and low pollution formation. One of these technologies, called steam reformation, combines the coal with steam in a hot environment to produce a “syngas,” composed mostly of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen.

Once the syngas is produced it can be burned directly in a turbine to produce power. Or the syngas can be further reacted with more steam to shift the remaining CO to CO2 and produce more hydrogen.

The CO2 can be stored in oil and gas fields and the hydrogen can be used in many potential applications: to power a car in an engine or fuel cell, to power a turbine to produce electricity, or to fly an airplane.

The DOE has already demonstrated gasification technology in two pilot projects. Now, several commercial proposals are afoot in the U.S. for utilities to build plants without government support.

CRF role

Working with the National Energy Technology Lab in Morgantown, W. Va., the CRF is focused on understanding the chemistry and physics of coal combustion using state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities and modeling expertise. “We apply computational models of reacting particles to the data to understand why we see the results we see,” says Shaddix.

Shaddix and Alejandro Molina, a Sandia postdoctoral student, have been working in a small-scale lab to analyze coal combustion.

“It is very important to understand how fast [coal] burns and releases energy,” Molina says. Burning coal in pure oxygen instead of air eliminates some separation problems, leaving water and CO2, which can be stored, or sequestered, Molina says.

One problem with this oxygen approach has been a high flame temperature, he continues, which can rapidly destroy the metal burner materials. “The question is: what is the right proportion of oxygen and CO2?”

After two years of small-scale research, work is now under way to bring two other CRF facilities into the research. A gasification lab will help the researchers study the behavior of coal gas under pressure. A two-story flow reactor that will help the team study the oxygen-coal combustion with recycled CO2. Tests in this reactor are expected to begin in a few months.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sandia National Laboratories. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sandia National Laboratories. "Experiments Examine Hydrogen-production Benefits Of Clean Coal Burning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060510094138.htm>.
Sandia National Laboratories. (2006, May 10). Experiments Examine Hydrogen-production Benefits Of Clean Coal Burning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060510094138.htm
Sandia National Laboratories. "Experiments Examine Hydrogen-production Benefits Of Clean Coal Burning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060510094138.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) A virtual flying enthusiast converts parts of a written-off Airbus aircraft into a working flight simulator in his northern Slovenian home. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Microsoft has robotic security guards working at its Silicon Valley Campus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins