From waste to clean energy

date: 06.11.2018

category: Sporočila za javnost


In cooperation with the University of Florence, the RE-CORD Consortium and Cardiff University, researchers from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Laboratory for Internal Combustion Engines and Electromobility, rounded up their several-­­year-long research work, backed by previous top-quality publications, with a joint high-profile publication in the renowned Applied Energy journal with an impact factor of 7.9.

The goal of the research was ambitious: to establish the first continuous combustion of innovative biofuel synthesized from waste lignocellulosic biomass for the purposes of combined heat and power generation. The fuel production process was developed at the Institute of Chemistry, while the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering played an active part in the optimisation of the fuel production process with the purpose of providing suitable chemical and physical properties of the fuel. Like other liquid refuse derived fuels, this innovative fuel demonstrates by an order of magnitude higher viscosity and oxygen content than conventional fossil fuels, which in combination with low pH value leads to numerous technical obstacles.

In the process of developing a prototype turbine engine, researchers provided answers to all key challenges ranging from the kinetics of pollutant formation over improvements in the fuel production process to the durability and efficiency of the cogeneration system, thus becoming the first in the world to develop and implement a holistic approach for the development and optimisation of microturbines burning sustainable liquid refuse derived fuels.  Furthermore, researchers developed a series of innovative components that are necessary to achieve appropriate conditions in the combustion chamber for the use of highly oxygenated fuels.

Above findings may also be transferred to other sustainable fuels that could not be used in internal combustion systems so far, which is why the research results have a large social impact. Namely, they prove that the unique properties of refuse derived fuels can indeed be used to improve combustion and obtain very low emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. In combination with CO2-neutral raw materials, such approach can lead to clean combustion that leaves a near-zero environmental footprint. In combination with processes of circular economy (e.g. production of nanocellulose, biodiesel and various chemicals), the achievements hold great potential to change the perception of combustion and keep it abreast of cutting-edge green energy generation processes.

The research was supported by the Slovenian Research Agency, the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO), and the European Commission – DG Energy.



Figure 1: The experimental system for researching advanced combustion concepts


Figure 2: Fuel made of waste lignocellulosic biomass



Figure 3: An example of an analysis of sustainable fuel deposits on hot components


Figure 4: A prototype nozzle for high viscosity fuels 

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