‘Clean’ coal no pipe dream: CSIRO

THE future use of brown coal is moving out of the Australian laboratory and set to be tested in cylinder diesel engines in Japan.

Brown Coal Innovation Australia has announced the completion of the first stage of CSIRO research trials into a Direct Injection Carbon Engine project, saying they are “on track” to reduce brown coal emissions in the Latrobe Valley.

The DICE technology injects a water-based coal slurry into adapted diesel engines for electricity engines and hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent from the Valley’s existing power stations.

CSIRO lead scientist Dr Louis Wibberley said the slurry fuel was successfully used in an eight kilowatt laboratory engine and was the first long-duration test of Victorian brown coal in DICE.

Dr Wibberley said ‘micronised refined carbon’ from the coal proved ultra-stable, easy to inject and gave rapid ignition and smooth combustion characteristics.

“Given these very positive technical results, we expect a successful large scale engine test by MAN/Mitsui in Japan during the next stage of the research project,” he said.

BCIA chief executive Phil Gurney said the Japanese testing was about 18 months away, and was still negotiating testing schedules.

This will involve running 20 tonnes of Latrobe Valley coal slurry through a large diesel engine.

Dr Gurney said the technology was one step closer to commercial viability, and was not “some dream”.

He said DICE could also be turned on and off rapidly, allowing for back-up intermittent energy sources such as solar power.

“The commercial success of such technologies would help secure Victoria’s – and indeed Australia’s – future economic prosperity by enabling the continuation of low cost distributed power generation.” he said.