World-beating, leading-edge expertise – in Gothenburg. HTC was the natural research choice for Babcock & Wilcox Vølund AB when it was time to test sulphur recirculation in order to generate more, and greener, electricity.
“Their expertise and our products are a perfect match, says Sven Andersson, R&D Manager at Babcock & Wilcox Vølund AB.
A natural cooperation
Babcock & Wilcox Vølund specialises in flue gas cleaning technology and energy recovery from waste and biofuel. The company has been working together with High Temperature Corrosion Centre HTC, for 10 years. HTC’s world-leading expertise in high temperature corrosion made it the natural choice when it came to testing the effect of sulphur recirculation aimed at generating more electricity and reducing boiler corrosion.
“When using sulphur recirculation, the most important goal is reducing high-temperature corrosion. HTC not only has the expertise, it’s also located here at Chalmers in Gothenburg, which is a perfect fit for both of us,” says Sven Andersson, R&D Manager at Babcock & Wilcox Vølund AB.
In October 2016, B&W Vølund completed its first commercial sulphur recirculation installation at the Maabjerg Energy Center, (MEC) in Denmark. The Danish installation’s unique feature is its two parallel boilers, one with sulphur recirculation and one without. This makes it possible to compare precisely how much more electricity is produced and how much less boiler corrosion there is using the new technology.
“We already have preliminary results and it appears that corrosion is significantly reduced with sulphur recirculation. We will take new samples this autumn to see how things are developing after a year’s operation.”
The new test results provide significant financial and environmental gains.
“With a higher sulphur concentration, the boilers don’t corrode as quickly, and not having to replace boiler components means enormous gains, both for the environment and for our budget. Another is the boiler’s ability to cope with higher steam values, allowing us to generate more environmentally-friendly electricity,” says Sven Andersson.
“HTC is both capable of and interested in industry related research.”
– Sven Andersson, R&D Manager at Babcock & Wilcox Vølund AB in Gothenburg.
Aiming for a sustainable society
The ability to see how research findings function in practice was part of HTC’s original vision 20 years ago.
“One of our ideas at a very early stage was to change the environment and reduce corrosion by e.g. adding sulphur to prevent chemical reactions in the boilers. We ran experiments in the lab and saw how this affected the corrosion mechanisms; we ran them on a larger scale in various types of projects and today’s collaboration means we’re conducting research in the first commercial installation. The ability to link the research all the way from fundamental studies to commercial installation that realises HTC’s visions of a more sustainable society is very rewarding,” says Torbjörn Jonsson, Associate Professor at the Division of Energy & Materials at Chalmers University of Technology.
Thanks to the collaboration with HTC, B&W Vølund now enjoys a deeper understanding of how sulphur recirculation actually works.
“It’s given us an entirely different insight into the chemistry and physics, and of course this is incredibly satisfying. HTC is both capable of and interested in industry-related research”, says Sven Andersson.
Success spawns more ideas
The success at Maabjerg Energy Center provides a breeding ground for more ideas that can be developed and put into practice in the future. Working close to companies and being able to interpret what research findings will entail for companies and society are guiding principles in HTC’s work.
“At HTC, we’re constantly striving to play our part in the creation of a sustainable society. We research relevant issues and we’re extremely proud whenever our research has a positive impact on society. The long-term collaboration between our researchers, companies and the Swedish Energy Agency is the key to creating continuity and allows us to develop,” says Torbjörn Jonsson.
The dream that B&W Vølund and HTC share is for the findings from the project in Denmark to enjoy a major breakthrough both at home and internationally.
“In Sweden, we use a great deal of the energy recovered from waste incineration boilers as district heating. Corrosion is the reason we don’t generate much electricity directly; today the boiler material can’t usually cope with the temperatures necessary for increased electricity generation. If we succeed in creating a less corrosive environment for district heating boilers, we can extract more green electricity, which will benefit both society and the environment,” says Torbjörn Jonsson.