We are developing a revolutionary new technology that promises to improve key performance characteristics of industrial combustion systems including energy efficiency, emissions control, fuel flexibility and overall cost effectiveness. ECC™ can be used anywhere there is a flame, regardless of fuel type, in the world’s combustion systems. These systems account for the majority of energy utilization worldwide, and include those used in:
- electrical power generation,
- the hydrocarbon and chemical processing industries,
- petroleum refining, and
- all manner of industrial and commercial steam generation and industrial process heat.
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s total energy consumption is accounted for by combustion of hydrocarbon and other fuels in boilers, furnaces, kilns and turbines. These are used to generate electrical power, to provide heat for all manner of industrial processes and for building heat. The combined value of these capital assets in the United States alone is in the trillions of dollars, and they consume and produce more than 50 quadrillion British thermal units (Btus) of energy annually in the U.S. In order to maximize energy efficiency while keeping pace with regulatory guidelines for air pollution emissions, operators of these systems invest billions of dollars each year installing, maintaining and upgrading a variety of costly process control, air pollution control and monitoring systems.
ClearSign’s Electrodynamic Combustion Control™ technology can be applied to virtually any system in which there is a flame. We are developing solutions that will enable cost-effective retrofitting of our technology onto existing, standard system designs to simultaneously improve both their energy efficiency and pollution control characteristics. The following are examples of applications in which we believe our technology offers clear and measurable advantages relative to competing technologies and addresses unmet market needs:
In boilers and furnaces, the charge is introduced directly to the flame and a controlled vortex is used to minimize the formation of NOX while improving heat distribution and stabilizing the flame to maximize efficiency. Flame shape and heat transfer are then optimized to improve thermal efficiency and mixing within the flame is enhanced to reduce NOX, CO, and particulate.
In this way, a significant increase in energy efficiency can be achieved by increasing flame stability at the low end of the operating range, thereby increasing turndown ratio (the ratio of maximum to minimum firing rate). We believe ECC would yield efficiency increases of as much as 30%.
Petrochemical reaction furnaces such as ethylene cracking units and hydrogen reformers (among others) are particularly sensitive to flame impingement (direct contact of the flame with the heat exchange surface). By appropriately charging the flame and post-flame regions, the flame is managed and shaped, and heat transfer is supplied to the process tubes without flame impingement.
Cement kilns: in systems such as cement kilns, the charge is also introduced directly into the flame, but heat is directed away from the wall of the kiln and into the product. Heat loss through the wall is minimized, increasing system efficiency, and the amount of product produced.
Stoked furnaces: in solid-fired furnaces using stokers and grates (e.g., industrial coal, biomass and municipal solid waste), the charge is introduced into the flame cloud while the grate remains grounded, thus enhancing residence time of solids, increasing the amount of fuel burned and reducing particulate.
In the United States, approximately 45% of the electricity produced for domestic consumption is generated by coal-fired power plants. There are currently 1,665 large-scale coal-fired utility boilers in the US and more than 6,000 worldwide, ranging in size from 50MW (megawatts) to over 1.5GW (gigawatts, or 1,000 MW). Assuming an average system size of 300MW, a typical air-pollution control (APC) train can cost up to $200 million to install and between $20 – $30 million annually to operate.
Major utility operators are facing significant challenges in multiple areas, including the need for improved fuel efficiency, cost-effective remediation of both visible and ultra-fine particulate (PM 2.5), nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulfur oxide (SOX), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Additionally, these operators face an uncertain and changing regulatory environment in which the long-term commitment of capital to new projects is extremely difficult. Current combustion and APC technology is not only very expensive, but it is also inflexible because it is ‘hard coded’ to a specific fuel type. Making long-term capital deployments under these circumstances has proved extremely challenging to operators and has resulted in the delay and, in many cases, cancellation of major power generation projects.
ClearSign’s technology, we believe, disrupts the legacy economics of utility plant operation and will be adopted by customers to increase the profitability of their operations. For the first time, an air pollution control system has the potential provide a net positive return on investment for operators.