SEATTLE, WA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/12/13 -- ClearSign Combustion Corporation (NASDAQ: CLIR) today announced the delivery and first-fire of a new, commercial-scale solid fuel test platform. Capable of firing at a rate of over 1.2 million Btu/h per square foot, this continuous-feed furnace will expand the company's development and testing capabilities to include biomass fuels such as wood pellets and chips (biomass), solid waste and various types of coal at a scale that will enable the company to demonstrate the effectiveness of ECC technology to prospective partners and customers.
In addition to coal, the most widely used solid fuel, solid fuels also include biomass, tire derived fuel and municipal solid waste (MSW), often referred to as waste or opportunity fuels.
According to ClearSign CEO, Rick Rutkowski, solid fuels present a range of unique challenges for combustion and emissions control systems.
"They typically produce multiple types of emissions including particulate matter (PM) and ultrafine particulate matter (PM 2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), as well as Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Sulfur (SOx)," explained Rutkowski. "Because of this, most solid fuel combustion facilities will require multiple emissions control systems. Currently available systems use, almost exclusively, after-treatment or post-combustion techniques to trap or remove pollutants once they have been formed rather than to suppress the formation of the pollutants. They are expensive to buy and install and often impose substantial operating costs including the use of consumables and/or significant energy.
"We believe that our ECC technology may enable a much more cost effective and energy efficient alternative. Our experiments suggest that it may be possible to dramatically reduce or even eliminate the formation of multiple types of pollutants at the flame source, through enhanced control of flame chemistry, flame shape and temperature," said Rutkowski. "If pollutants can be eliminated or even significantly reduced in this way, it would obviate or substantially lessen the need for costly post-combustion emissions control systems. We believe the potential for savings is enormous."
Solid fuel combustion systems range from smaller commercial wood pellet furnaces, through industrial scale spreader-stoker systems used in a variety of industries, all the way to massive multi-story coal-fired power generators operated by large electric utilities.
"There is a great commonality of interest when it comes to solid fuels," Rutkowski adds. "We are actively in discussions with manufacturers, operators and installers of all of these types of systems as well as with two of the world's leading centers of excellence for solid fuel combustion. We are talking with large utilities and also seeing interest from major forest products companies as well as coal producers, and freight haulers."
Rutkowski estimates that there are roughly a few thousand industrial scale solid fuel systems in the US, burning mostly wood waste and municipal solid waste, but they are expensive systems that will be facing significant new regulatory challenges with the introduction of new EPA regulations such MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) and MATS (Mercury and Air Toxics Standards) regulations, with rapidly approaching effectiveness dates in the next 18 months to 2 years. Moreover, there are nearly half a million systems of this same type burning coal in China. Indeed, he says, coal fuels their entire economy. They are feeling the cost in other ways as we recently saw reported in the news when Beijing was literally forced to shut down because of poor air quality.
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