University of Nottingham helps to change the way China uses coal


The University of Nottingham Ningbo China is playing a crucial role in the People’s Republic of China as part of efforts to develop novel technologies for gasifying coal to harness its energy in a cleaner and more efficient way.

The initiative will lead to the construction of a large-scale coal gasification unit in Shandong province which will cleanly process and convert up to 4,000 tonnes of coal per day into synthesis gas or syngas, which will be used as a fuel. When commissioned in three years’ time, the plant will have the largest single gasifier with the largest capacity in the world.

UNNC’s team, led by Professor Tao Wu, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering, is developing ‘clean coal’ technology as part of China’s National Key R&D Project. The plant will signify a major milestone in the global development and commercialisation of a gasification technology with significant UNNC inputs.

Working with a host of collaborators including the prestigious East China University of Science and Technology and Tsinghua University, as well as state-owned companies such as Yankuang Group, the alliance is developing and deploying cleaner energy solutions in China, with a focus on using coal in a much cleaner way.

Professor Wu said: “It is important that the University of Nottingham Ningbo China takes a lead, along with our research and industry partners, to rethink how we exploit our coal reserves and produce innovations that will improve our energy efficiency and achieve large-scale coal gasification. These efforts will enable the highly efficient production of bulk chemicals, electricity as well as synthetic natural gas, which are in high demand in China.

“The coal gasification technology that we are developing, is going to be the most advanced technology of its kind. It will address the efficient conversion and air quality issues, with the potential for it to be applied in other countries such as India, which uses a lot of coal to produce power, as well as Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.”

Construction of the facility will begin in late 2018 and is due to be completed in 2020. The plant will be the largest of its kind to be used for generating syngas and is expected to meet new and stricter regulations for efficiency and water consumption.