When new energy systems are tested or the issues associated with existing systems are examined, quality processing of the fuel being tested is critical to ensure quality results. Each year, the EERC prepares over 150 different solid fuel samples in support of combustion and gasification research projects. If the fuel meets chemical, moisture, and size specifications, then the results will be representative and reproducible and will strengthen the long-term commercialization opportunity.
“Not that many facilities around the United States can process small batches of coal,” said EERC Senior Research Manager Jason Laumb. “At the EERC, we can receive any size coal from the mine and pulverize it. Our clients don’t have to send prepared coals here; it saves them a lot of time and money in the demonstration process,” he said.
The EERC also has significant experience with fuel blends. A custom process is performed to mix in other products, such as raw wood or a specified adsorbent additive. With the majority of projects requiring just a single day of testing, the EERC can process several different coal sources each week.
“In the combustion test facility, we are running a minimum of 2 or 3 days of testing each week,” said Laumb. “The quality of the pulverized fuel sample is often critical to achieving quality results for clients.”
Once the fuel is thoroughly mixed and dried to specification, it is moved into a hopper which is then sealed to prevent contamination. The hopper is next transported to any number of technologies for testing within the EERC’s demonstration facilities, including the fluid-bed gasifier, the combustion test furnace, the entrained-flow gasifier, the circulating fluid-bed gasifier, or the transport reactor development unit.