WASHINGTON, DC - The Department of Energy announced today that six projects will receive nearly
$2.4 million in funding under the University Coal Research Program, the
Department's longest-running student-teacher research grant initiative.
"I am pleased to announce the projects that have been selected as the result of the call to U.S. colleges and universities for proposals to conduct coal research," Jeffrey D. Jarrett, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy said. "Tapping the creativity and talents of America's young scientists to investigate long-term solutions for clean and efficient use of our nation's abundant coal resources reiterates the Department's commitment to overall basic science."
Now in its 28th year, the University Coal Research Program has directed nearly $122 million in coal-related research. Since the program began in 1979, approximately 1,750 science students and their professors have worked together on more than 700 federally funded research projects.
The projects selected this year will focus on technologies in three areas: instrumentation (sensors and controls), computational energy sciences, and materials sciences. Four projects were selected to receive up to $300,000 to work alone or in collaboration with another college or university. Two projects were selected for joint projects in which, at a minimum, three colleges or universities (or two colleges or universities and an industrial partner) will receive a maximum of $600,000.
The six projects, all of which will be performed over 36 months, are described below:
- University of Central Florida (Orlando, Fla.) will develop an optical technique to measure temperature and pressure in hazardous environments. Advanced coal-based power systems will require robust and intelligent sensor networks that can function in extreme temperatures and pressures. To address this need, project researchers will conduct a comprehensive theoretical and experimental study of the temporal dynamics of single-crystal silicon carbide; design, build, and test basic sensors based on single-crystal silicon carbide chips; and design a networked sensor system to measure temperature and pressure in different zones of an extreme-environment power plant. (DOE award: $300,000)
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.) will join with The Pennsylvania State University, GE Energy, and Siemens Power Generation to develop a design tool that can predict flashback and combustion instability in gas turbines operating on coal-derived high-hydrogen fuels. These fuels, which are produced in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants, are more prone to instability and flashback events, which can destroy fuel nozzles and combustion equipment. The research will focus on high-fidelity simulations, validating measurements, and development of fast, physics-based models to minimize and manage these events. (DOE award: $600,000)
- Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.) will team with Iowa State University and City College of City University of New York, on a joint computational, experimental, and theoretical effort to understand the frictional flow of granular materials. Static or slowly moving assemblies of granular material are present in many industrially important flows, including the movement of coal in fluidized bed combustors. The research will lead to validated models to capture these flows in large-scale process computations, an important step in developing new power generation technologies. (DOE award: $600,000)
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.) will develop simulation and modeling tools to optimize the operation and control of complex IGCC plants. Dynamic simulations of IGCC plants are needed to determine key equipment response times, investigate interactions between major plant sections, and support development and evaluation of advanced process control strategies. Project objectives are to perform steady state and dynamic simulations of an IGCC plant; assess the steady-state and dynamic operability of the plant under various power load and coal quality conditions; and develop model predictive control and multiple model predictive control strategies to improve the dynamic operation of these power plants. (DOE award: $300,000)
- University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.) will employ computer-aided design to investigate materials for use in future high-temperature power-plant applications. It is estimated that the use of better and improved high-temperature structural materials could increase the power generation efficiency of coal-fired power plants by as much as 15 percent. Notre Dame researchers will develop a multi-scale simulation tool to analyze the properties one such promising material: silicon carbide-silicon nitride nanoceramic matrix composites. This tool will then be used as a basis for predicting optimal design variables to improve high-temperature performance of the nanocomposites. (DOE award: $300,000)
- University of California at San Diego (La Jolla, Calif.) will conduct experimental studies leading to improved joining of high-temperature alloy tubes. The quest for higher efficiencies in advanced power systems leads to higher operating temperatures and increased demands on new materials and fabrication technologies. The growing use of nickel-base (Ni-base) and oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) alloys in high-temperature applications presents a special challenge, as these materials are not readily welded by conventional means or the welds perform poorly. The project goal is to develop joining methodologies (inertia welding for butt-joint configurations and magnetic pulse welding for lap, overlay, or cladding welds) for Ni-base and ODS tubes while preserving near-baseline creep performance in the weld region. (DOE award: $265,000)