Part 2: Advanced Coal Cleaning

Yoon, Roe-Hoan
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 39
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
INTRODUCTION In 1960, coal accounted for 49% of the world energy consumption, an amount that was reduced to 29% in 1973 because of the availability of cheap oil. At that time, it seemed that oil would remain available for a long time in unlimited quantities. However, this situation changed drastically in 1973/74 when a series of closely spaced price increases from $3 per to $12 per bbl by mid-1974 hit both industrialized and developing countries. Another sharp price increase in 1979/80 to the $34 to $38 per bbl level also hit the world economy hard and, at the same time, set in motion powerful technology development forces for increased coal utilization. At this point, the price of coal was approximately $1.50 per MM Btu, while that of oil approached $6.00 per MM Btu. This huge price differential offered an incentive for developing new coal technologies including liquefaction, gasification, fluidized bed combustion, coal-water mixture (CWM), etc. The CWM technology was of particular interest to the utility industry, which consumes more than 80% of the coal mined in the US for power generation. In this technology, a powdered coal is mixed with water to produce a stable slurry that can be stored for an extended period of time without settling and is readily pumpable. Various reagents in the amount of approximately 1% by weight of the coal are added to inhibit sedimentation during storage and to reduce the viscosity for atomization in burners. The coal loading is in the range of 50 to 80% solids, depending on the particle size and its distribution. With very fine particles, it is difficult to increase the coal loading above 50%, and a binomial distribution helps increase the coal loading. The presence of water consumes a relatively small amount of the heating value of the coal during combustion; for a coal-water slurry containing 30% water, less than 5% of the calorific value of coal is usually consumed due to evaporation. The major advantage of burning coal as a slurry is that many of the oil-burning furnaces can be converted to coal-burning with a minimum retrofit cost. Considering the substantial price margin between coal and oil, the pay- back period for retrofit costs can be relatively short. Nevertheless, the retrofit cost can be further reduced if low-ash coals are used as feedstocks for CWM; there will be savings in the capital cost of installing bag filters or electrostatic precipitators that are designed to remove the ash from the combustion gases. Furthermore, the use of low-ash coals can minimize derating of boilers because the velocity of the combustion gases can be maximized without creating erosion
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