Kazakhstan invention can save $200 million a year for thermal power stations

17 июля 2012, 17:44
Plasma system. Photo by Dmitry Khegai©
Plasma system. Photo by Dmitry Khegai©
Laboratory tests. Photo courtesy of Vladimir Messerle©
Laboratory tests. Photo courtesy of Vladimir Messerle©
Kazakhstan scientists developed a plasma technology for burning coal at thermal power stations, Aleksander Ustimenko, Director of NTO Plasmotekhnika and head of heat physics department of Scientific-Research Institute of Experimental and Theoretical Physics of Al-Farabi Kazakh National University told Tengrinews.kz.

According to him, thermal power stations currently use fuel-oil residue to heat up the boilers. This is related to the fact that coal flares up only at the temperature of over 1,000 degrees Centigrade. Heating up one boiler requires several hours and up to 100 tons of fuel-oil residue. During one heating season the boilers are heated up over ten times. The scientist noted that Kazakhstan coal had high ash content of up to 50 percent. Sustaining its burning in the boiler also requires burning of fuel-oil residue.

The Kazakhstan innovation allows to fully eliminate the use of residue at thermal power stations, replacing it with coal dust flared up by plasma. The technology is based on the electric-thermal-chemical preparation of coal for burning that is made in the plasma-fuel system (PFS) equipped with arc-jet plasmotron. Coal is processed in PFS to obtain a highly reactive bi-component fuel, self-inflammable in the boiler’s furnace. The system consumes 100 to 200 kW of energy, which is around 1 percent of the burner’s heat power (up to 15 MW).

Replacement of fuel-oil residue with plasma will halve the quantity of hazardous emissions. One ton of residue costs around $400, while coal costs around $30 per ton. PFS also makes burning of coal more efficient, decreasing the incomplete combustio of the fuel. According to the scientists, installation of PFS unit at all Kazakhstan thermal power stations will save up to 30 billion tenge ($200 million) a year.

According to deputy chairman of Kazakhstan National Scientific Council for Energy Vladimir Messerle, there are no PFS analogues in the world. Several Western countries have replace the residue with gas or diesel fuel to decrease emissions. The plasma system has been successfully tested in China and Russia.

PFS has already been installed at Almaty Thermal Power Station No.2. It was first tested in spring 2012 and was successful in general. More tests are scheduled to be held either in summer 2012 or in spring 2013. PFS are expected to be installed at Kazakhstan thermal power stations anyway, it is only a matter of time.

By Dmitriy Khegai

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