9th International Symposium on Coal Combustion – Qingdao, China, 21-24 July 2019

I was privileged to be able to continue my longstanding links to this symposium series, which this time was held in Qingdao, part of the coastal region of Shandong Province.
The event was organised by the Department of Energy and Power Engineering from Tsinghua University, with whom we have cooperated for several decades.

There were some 280 people present, from many countries, covering academia and various technology related organisations especially from the power sector. Over the three working days of the meeting, the structure comprised a morning session of plenary and other invited lectures, while the afternoons included several sessions each covering various technology streams.

One of the highlights occurred on the first day when Prof Lyu Junfu spoke about China’s extensive and innovative research on clean coal technology. In particular, he strongly suggested that it should be possible to establish an ultrasupercritical (USC) circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) coal-fired power plant at 900MWe scale or even larger plus, most importantly, the nature of CFBC means that it may be possible to achieve ultra-low emissions standards without the need for specific emissions control systems.

Clearly the introduction of USC steam conditions will be challenging and there would be a need for considerable characterisation work to ensure acceptable environmental performance. That said, the economic benefit of not having to install emissions control equipment would be significant. I await with interest to hear more about this initiative.

The other special presentation was given by Dr Lu Pisi of China Energy who spoke about ‘China’s clean and efficient coal strategy and practice’. This was a tour de force run through of the sheer scale of China energy’s operations and its R&D commitment on clean coal technology. The company GDP is simply huge. Annual coal output is some 520 Mt, coal power capacity is 181 GWe with 15 Mt/y of coal to liquids output. It is heavily involved in major national activities to advance clean coal energy efficiency and environmental improvements above and beyond the very high standards already achieved in China. They are also involved in various CCUS initiatives. This is a topic that the IEA Clean Coal Centre has worked closely with them on, for a retrofit study for a 1000MWe USC coal-fired unit based in |China. China Energy has stated that CCUS will be the next major challenge for China’s coal power sector. In this regard, it is especially interested in the Allam Cycle since it offers the potential of maintaining high efficiency, with lower capital costs while achieving high capture rates of high purity CO2 for use in EOR (enhanced oil recovery) and other applications.

The other great aspect of such a conference is catching up with old friends. In my case, this included Prof Mao Jianxiong, who I first met in the UK and then in Beijing in 1987. We worked together on many international collaborative projects throughout China over many years. At this symposium, Prof Mao was awarded a special award by the Conference organisers for his longstanding support which includes setting up the first of these ever popular events way back when.