Pulse Detonation Engine for Advanced Oxy-Combustion of Coal-Based Fuel for Direct Power Extraction Applications


Illustration of a pulse detonation<br/>engine for operation using coal
Illustration of a pulse detonation
engine for operation using coal
Oregon State University
Website:  Oregon State University
Award Number:  FE0025822
Project Duration:  09/25/2015 – 12/31/2019
Total Award Value:  $874,749
DOE Share:  $673,339
Performer Share:  $201,410
Technology Area:  Advanced Combustion Systems
Key Technology:  Enabling Technologies/Innovative Concepts
Location:  Corvallis, Oregon

Project Description

Oregon State University (OSU) will develop and evaluate a pulse detonation combustion system for direct power extraction. The system will work on either gaseous (e.g., natural gas) or solid (e.g., coal) fuels. OSU will computationally investigate coupling the pulse detonation combustor with a magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) system. Such a system can be used as a topping cycle to improve the efficiencies of industrial power plants. Specific objectives of this effort include (1) design, build, and operate a pulse detonation engine that operates on gaseous or solid fuels with air and oxygen as the oxidizer; (2) evaluate the operational envelope and performance of the pulse detonation engine; and (3) develop and validate a numerical design tool to calculate the performance of both pulse detonation and coupled detonation-MHD systems. Methane with other gaseous fuels will be considered initially to provide validation data for the detonation model, gain confidence in the combustor, and avoid the complexities associated with seeding the flow with coal. Once confidence has been gained in the methane/oxygen combustor, the system will be expanded to operation with coal. A baseline design for a functioning pulse detonation engine will be provided by Innovative Scientific Solutions Inc. at no cost.

Project Benefits

Direct power extraction using MHD has the potential to help address global energy challenges by providing a step increase in the efficiency of power generation plants. By utilizing high-temperature gases as a working fluid in a MHD topping unit, a combined-cycle coal-fired power plant can be expected to achieve plant thermal efficiencies close to 60 percent. OSU’s promising approach for MHD systems is to use detonations to release chemical energy at supersonic speeds. Specific advantages include a net pressure increase to the system instead of a pressure drop; the high temperature of the detonation waves can increase the efficiency of power extraction compared to other processes; significant thermal energy can be released in a compact region; and the high flow velocities increase extraction of electrical power. Furthermore, by operating the combustor with coal and oxygen, exhaust gases can easily be separated for carbon capture purposes. In summary, a pressure gain combustor coupled with an MHD has the potential to be transformative.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Robin Ames: robin.ames@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager 
John Rockey: john.rockey@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator 
David Blunck: david.blunck@oregonstate.edu

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