Chinese collaborations

The Williams Group continues to maintain strong collaborations with Chinese colleagues. Three activities in 2011 are notable:

  • Larson and Tsinghua University colleague Zheng Li collaborated as Co-Convening Lead Authors, and Williams as a Lead Author, of the Fossil Energy Systems chapter of the Global Energy Assessment (GEA), an IPCC-style study involving several hundred authors and reviewers globally. The GEA describes sustainable technologies and strategies for addressing major societal challenges connected to energy. It will be published in book form by Cambridge University Press in 2012 and is anticipated to be “essential reading” for public and private sector decision-makers worldwide.
  • Collaboration continued with former post-doctoral fellow, Guangjian Liu, who returned to China in late 2010 to take a faculty position at North China Electric Power University (NCEPU). During 2011, Liu collaborated on the MTG analyses described in earlier paragraphs. Liu was the lead author of a paper that won the CMI’s award for best paper published in 2011 by a CMI post-doctoral fellow.
  • Larson, together with Guangjian Liu, and former visiting fellow, Dr. Xiangbo Guo (visiting from SINOPEC during 2010), presented a coordinated set of three papers at the Sixth Sino-U.S. Joint Chemical Engineering Conference held in Beijing in November 2011. The conference, with a theme of clean energy, was well attended by high-level decision makers and national academy members from both sides of the ocean. These papers, dealing with various aspects of coal/biomass conversion to liquid fuels and electricity, were well received.
  • Williams and Larson initiated their participation in a 5-year Coal Conversion and Utilization Research and Education Program led by colleagues at NCEPU in Beijing. The program is a collaboration of investigators from NCEPU and U.S., Australian, Swedish, and British universities. The program was established in 2011 when a prestigious “111 Program” grant was awarded by the Chinese Ministry of Education to NCEPU. The Ministry created the 111 Program to support collaboration between scholars from the world’s top 100 universities and colleagues at China’s top 100 universities.

These Chinese collaborations are especially important in light of the high level of interest in China in coproduction technologies where they are labeled “polygeneration” technologies. The coal chemical process industry in China has extensive experience with modern coal gasification technologies (more than all the rest of the world combined), and there is much interest in extending this industrial experience from niche chemicals markets to the much larger fuels and electricity markets that require very similar energy conversion technologies.


Italian collaborations

In 2011, the Williams Group continued its longstanding collaboration with the Energy Conversion Systems Group at Politecnico di Milano. The research used the novel bottoming cycle optimization methodology of Professor Emanuele Martelli (former visiting researcher with the group) to re-analyze and understand more deeply the efficiencies of energy conversion facilities that produce electricity and liquid fuels. By generating both theoretically optimal and more realistic (i.e. economically viable) plant configurations for waste heat recovery, Martelli’s software provides important context for the Williams Group’s previous work, highlighting both opportunities for optimizing designs and the need to make practical concessions for improved system operability and economics. This work resulted in a peer-reviewed paper (Martelli et al., 2012).

The Williams Group also continues to collaborate with Dr. Andrea Lanzini at the Politecnico di Torino, who was a visitor with the group as a Fulbright scholar in 2010. The collaboration in 2011 focused on solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and fuel cell/gas turbine (FCGT) hybrids. Lanzini applied the Capture Group’s systems analysis methodology to advanced power plants, coupling coal gasification and an FCGT hybrid, with an emphasis on strategies for “methanating” synthesis gas upstream of the SOFC in order to significantly improve overall conversion efficiency. Lanzini presented these findings at the 11th European Fuel Cell Conference and as a result was invited to submit a paper on the findings to a peer-viewed journal. Also, a second paper by Lanzini, Kreutz and Martelli was accepted for presentation at the ASME Turbo Expo 2012 and publication in an ASME journal (Lanzini et al., 2012).

In December 2011, Kreutz gave the keynote presentation at the kickoff meeting of “SOFC CCHP with poly-fuel: operation and maintenance” (SOFCOM), a 3-year EU research project that explores – both experimentally and analytically – combined heat and power production in SOFC systems. SOFC systems analyses will be carried out with both Lanzini (lead researcher) and Ilkka Hannula of the Finnish Technical Research Center, who was a visiting researcher with the Capture Group in 2011.