New technologies are being developed with knowledge accumulated from the Chalmers Power Plant

Anders Lyngfelt is a world-leading researcher in chemical looping combustion, a technology geared towards carbon dioxide-free combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. He commented: “I have learnt a lot by working in the Chalmers power plant (CPP). It also gives me an enormous boost when I talk to industry people”.

The CLC laboratory contains four reactor systems for chemical looping combustion.

Anders Lyngfelt came in contact with the CPP for the first time as a graduate student in 1985, when his professor, Bo Leckner, considered that he would start studying desulfurization.
“We began by purchasing 500 tons of petroleum coke and made large-scale experiments that provided a whole new understanding of desulphurization in fluidized beds”, says Anders Lyngfelt, who is Professor of Energy Technology.
Since then, Anders Lyngfelt has been involved in several projects at the CPP. Altogether, he has been involved in ten EU-funded projects.

“There are many fluidized bed boilers in use around the world, but no boiler of this size is being used at an institute where you can combine industrial experience with a scientific approach to research”, says Anders Lyngfelt.

The CPP is equipped and built with research in mind. The second boiler, which is the circulating fluid bed boiler built in the early 1990s, has a very flexible format, with lots of different openings into which one can insert the various probes.
“Thus, when we came up with new ideas we could implement them. We could, for example, adjust the input of combustion air at different heights in the boiler, as well as control the temperature” ”, says Anders.

Inexpensive and easy process
When a Japanese researcher visited the institute in 1998, he spoke about Chemical Looping Combustion, which is the capture of carbon dioxide with chemical-looping, a technique that almost no one had investigated at that time. The Japanese had been trying to build their own facilities but they never got them to work. Anders realized immediately that this was a topic on which he wanted to carry out research.
“This is an absolutely amazing process, which is both cheap and easy. The technique can be used for carbon dioxide-free burning of gaseous, liquid and solid fossil fuels, so as to capture the carbon dioxide in the air and convert fossil fuels to carbon dioxide-free fuels”.
Professor Anders Lyngfelt
The new combustion technology is based on transferring the oxygen from the combustion air to the fuel by means of metal oxide particles. The particles take up oxygen in the air reactor, and subsequently react with the fuel in a fuel reactor. Thus, one obtains carbon dioxide and water vapor. This means that the carbon dioxide is captured as part of the combustion process. The fuel and combustion air are never mixed. As no active gas separation is needed, the costs and energy consumption associated with gas separation and the capture of carbon dioxide are avoided.

Want to solve climate problems
Today, Chalmers is a world leader in this technology. To date, four plants of various sizes have been constructed that have used solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels, and 3000 hours of operating experience have been accumulated.

In the next stage, Anders Lyngfelt wants to test the technology in the CPP.
“My driving force is the climate. As I continued my research on desulfurization, which was a major environmental problem in the 1980s, I realized after a while that there were more serious issues to address, and I want to solve the big problem”.

Published: Tue 13 Jan 2015.