Funding for university coal research

TWO university research programs have been selected to receive more than $US500,000 in financial assistance to further studies on efficient fossil energy methods, the US Department of Energy announced Wednesday.
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia

Donna Schmidt

The new projects under the DOE's University Coal Research Program, in its 29th year, were allocated the funding to enable the universities to continue their work investigating innovations in coal research and provide exposure for coal research to an up-and-coming crop of industry scientists and engineers.

"I'm pleased to announce the projects that have been selected under this year's call to America's universities for advanced coal research," said Fossil Energy acting principal deputy assistant James Slutz.

"The innovations coming out of the University Coal Research Program strengthen America's energy security by enabling us to make better use of coal, our most abundant energy resource."

The announcement of funding availability was made earlier this year to groups under one broad but important topic: the enabling of advanced modelling and simulation for fuel-flexible combustors.

The chosen schools and projects were:

  • Stanford University, Stanford, California

The school, which received $276,264, will look at the potential for simulation that can capture turbine fuel variability effects.

"Currently, combustor simulations are unable to predict such key features as flame stability and pollutant emissions; such simulations are critical for optimising turbine efficiency and minimising emissions," said the DOE in a statement.

"The new project will resolve these problems and enable large eddy simulation (LES) to be used to optimise turbine design. The optimised turbine-engine design will aid in planning and construction of future turbines by predicting performance for new gasification-created fuels."

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia

Virginia Tech, utilising its award of $276,256, will examine the "sensitivity of transient thermo-acoustic computational fluid dynamics simulations to poorly defined or misrepresented acoustic boundary conditions," the department said. Experimental boundary conditions that are time-dependent, such as compressor diffusers and combustor inlets, will be reviewed in simulation and then measured.

"The study will result in a methodology to measure these experimental boundary conditions, describe them properly in a simulation, and apply them to an analysis of a realistic combustion system," it noted.

The University Coal Research Program, established in 1979, is the DOE's longest-running grant program for student/teacher research. Since that time, it has funded more than 700 research projects.