We, the staff at “SCL”, some 10 people including professors, academic researchers, research assistants and Ph.D. students, are proud to be involved in, and to contribute, in varied and important ways, to the Master of Science Course in “Environmental & Energy Engineering”, which, headquartered in the Campus of Savona, has been recently launched by the School of Engineering of Genova. The Laboratory at Savona-Campus is located partially in a single building and partially in a hangar [responsible for EN3: Prof. F. Pittaluga and Prof. Nilberto]
Since 1998, DIMSET/SCL is active in the broad field which encompasses the thermal (at difference with the bio-technological) modalities and technologies for power generation falling under the “sustainability” heading, which involves both the fossil-fuel based generation (under extremely tight environmental constraints) and the renewable-fuel energy converters and power plants, with particular emphasis on the utilization of biomass and biofuels territorial resources. Both above energy generation modalities, fossil and renewable, once conscientiously managed and made compatible with “life and environment”, attain a peculiar, distinctive and strategic appellation as conferred by the European Commission: “Intelligent Energies”. Notice that these latter are also becoming, progressively more and more, the unique resources at man’s disposal for a real, safe, enduring economical and technological development.
It is exactly this motivating, strategic objective that we at DIMSET/SCL have been pursuing since the establishment of our Lab, by adopting a characterizing approach (not so common, at least in Italy): namely, that of considering the fossil energies, once made “compatible”, and the renewables, not cross-conflicting and mutually excluding, rather, as complementary resources to be strategically integrated in a highly intelligent and synergic scenario. Another way of conveying the same concept is that of adopting, for both above energy generation modalities, the term “sustainable”: on this ground, from now on, you are allowed to read the first letter in the acronym “SCL” of our Lab not just as “Savona” but also in the variant “Sustainable”.
All the above helps organize under a correct perspective the multifold contribution we, at DIMSET/SCL, are committed to offer the students attending the M.SC. Course in “Environmental & Energy Engineering”. Whilst the whole of our activities and involvements can be seen on our website, for the present “Mission to EN3” the peculiar aspects which characterize our offer in formation, training, as well as in professional opportunities, can be listed as follows:
- In first place, we deliver the students our experience and direct expertise of teachers and researchers, not just in a person-to-person modality but, many times, by including them into our specialist teams and assigning them operational roles, hands-on tasks and direct responsibilities, to the advantage of imparting a unique first-hand training, otherwise impossible to be achieved
- Closely complementary, and most of the times strictly necessary to pursue above mentioned training activities, the students can get direct, operative experience of our “in-campus” research infrastructures and related instrumentation, some of which not limited to the size of laboratory equipment but of real, industrial-size configuration and capabilities as allowed by the peculiar feature of being DIMSET/SCL “Joint Laboratory” with several industrial companies and manufacturers of the energy sector
- Of no secondary importance, our students can also take advantage of quite interesting “off-campus” opportunities brought in by our numerous participations to National and European R&D programmes and also by our important industrial and technology-transfer involvements.
Mostly from European funding we have drawn the resources for pursuing a continuous in-house development and updating of NastComb, a powerful time-dependent Favre-ensemble-average reactive Navier-Stokes solver capable of tracking both the dynamics of turbulent coherent structures and capturing fast-transient phenomena (up to about 250 Hz time-scale), including the thermo-acoustical instabilities, in their longitudinal and azimuthal modes. Among the unique NastComb’s features, there are:
- a 3-equation higher-order, scale-interaction, compressible turbulence model
- a non-equilibrium, continuous-field, time-dependent, “photonic” 3D model (formerly, a neutronic code) for radiation prediction
- a direct evaluation (pdf-free) of the chemical source term in Arrhenius formulation, thus immediately allowing to adopt any improved updating in kinetic data (notably: the ignition delays) as soon as they become available.
- a turbulent combustion model based on a cell-by-cell PASR (“partially stirred reactor”) approach, together with an SGI (“sub grid interaction”) model, suitable to capture the chemistry-turbulence interactions.
This latter provision allows NastComb to handle detailed-chemistry combustion mechanisms, up to about 1500 reactions and 350 species. The most recent NastComb configuration is a fully-paralleled, clustered version, executing on a 24-cpu shared-memory cluster.
In the following slides, a few NastComb’s prediction results referred to the performance of an Ansaldo Energia AE 64.3A gas-turbine burner, both as a single component installed on the test-rig at DIMSET/SCL, and also in real-field operation within a complete (24-burner) combustor.
DIMSET/SCL, in the last 10 years, has been, and is being, involved in several R&D industrial partnership endeavours, in 6 National or Regional research programs, in 7 European projects, all centered on sustainable energy generation, with returns, in funds and infrastructuring, well over a value of 3 M-euro (details on SCL website).
Since 2005, DIMSET/SCL is proud to have become a “University-Industry Joint Laboratory” with AEN (Ansaldo Energia), which fact has paved the way for the very recent, long-term (9 years, renewable) official Agreement signed between AEN and the University of Genova for the joint utilization and management of the powerful, large-size combustion-research infrastructure, for the real-scale testing of gas-turbine burners, installed and operational in “DIMSET/SCL – Hangar n.2”. Specifically for this test stand, the combustion diagnostic instrumentation is likewise most advanced and unique: in particular, a last-generation LIF (Laser Induced Fluorescence) equipment suitable to analyze flame processes developing a thermal power up to 2.5 MW, which is the actual operational level when the rig is pressurised (5 bar). Such a test infrastructure and its instrumentation allow to pursue at Savona Campus research activities at levels of scale, power and depth of detail unique in the Italian context and with a few competing Laboratories in the European scenario.
DIMSET/SCL has also been selected by Danieli Combustion Centre SpA as its official “R&D Partner Laboratory”. In this context, an extremely recent, long-term Agreement (9 years, with possibility of renewal) has been signed between Danieli C.C. SpA and the University of Genova for a joint utilization of an industrial-size combustion-research infrastructure, for the real-scale testing of furnace-burners, now undergoing installation in “DIMSET/SCL – Hangar n.3”. Also for this test infrastructure, the dedicated combustion-and-emissions diagnostic instrumentation will be particularly advanced and sofisticated: indeed, the most important issues which determine the market competitivity of the industrial furnace burners is linked to combustion efficiency and to pollutant (NOx and CO) emissions. Although Danieli CC SpA is a world leader in furnace burners technology, including last-generation regenerative equipment for energy saving, the partnership with DIMSET/SCL has been deemed instrumental in order to enhance innovation and market competitivity for its combustion-related equipment. We are of course, particularly proud of that.
Under sponsorship and overall coordination of the “Regional Innovation District for Sustainable Energy”, recently established in Savona, DIMSET/SCL is also partner with Tirreno Power SpA in the so-called “Clean Coal Project” aimed at:
- in-depth monitoring, with advanced combustion-and-emission diagnostics, the present-day technology of pulverised-coal burners
- investigating the overall flame-process non-uniformities in the steam-generator combustion chamber, in order to trace and fix any localised ill-performance of single burners, expectedly induced by a series of mis-tuned local feeding of the coal-air mixture in dependence of the different path of each feeding duct upstream of the respective burner
- on the base of above investigations, pursuing innovation for next generation burners, characterised by a further primary containment of atmospheric emissions, both gaseous and particulate.
More details can be found in DIMSET/SCL website.
On the forefront of research related to future developments in coal-based power generation, under sponsorship of the European Commission, DIMSET/SCL is involved, together with Ansaldo Energia and other 23 European prestigious industrial partners and research centers, in the strategic “H2-IGCC Project: Low Emission Gas Turbine Technology for Hydrogen-Rich Syngas”, addressed at integrating coal-gasification with combined-cycle technologies. More details can be found in the official website as well as in DIMSET/SCL’s.
Within this Project, DIMSET/SCL contributes with both numerical and experimental activities: to this end, for interested candidates, ideally last-year post-graduate students with a sound background in Energy and Environment, a doctorate (Ph.D.) scholarship is available for advanced research work in this field.
In the field of renewable energies, specifically the bio-energies, we at DIMSET/SCL are pursuing a peculiar, integrated strategy which can be defined “from soil to engine”, because it is suitable to cover the entire path which involves agronomy, thermo-chemistry conversion and energy technology. It has been conceived exactly in order to avoid the so common short-life durations, or even the clear economic failures, once the public financial aids come to an end or just are trimmed, of many entrepreneurial initiatives addressed at “territorial” energy generation.
The strategy takes into account all the steps which are necessarily involved in order to achieve the so-called “triple-E” sustainability (Energy, Ecology, Economy) for above initiatives.
Synthetically, the cornerstones upon which it is based are the following:
- High biodiversity, rapid growth forestation techniques, in order to achieve a substantial increase, most of the times “critical” for attaining economic sustainability, of the wood biomass yield per hectare-year (up to 120 DM ton/ha/y). The forestation modality is called “consociated forestry”: it features a great capacity of sequestering atmospheric carbon and producing high energy density wood. Notice that by applying this forestation modality the expected yields are about one order of magnitudine (10 times) higher than the standard ones, e.g. those based on poplar clones or other single-species forestry. “Tecnoforest”, an academic spin-off of DIMSET/SCL addressed at pursuing R&D activities, and supplying services, of rapid-growth energy-rich forestry, has been very recently established in the inland near Savona: it holds a specialized rapid-growth wood-seed bank and an annexed biodynamic nursery for production of tree seedlings ready for transplanting
- Energy densification of biomass feedstock by means of proper thermal pre-treatments such as dessication, torrefaction, pellettization. Dedicated, laboratory-size equipment suitable to perform these pre-treatments are available and operative at the Chemistry-Lab “Roello” annexed jointly to DIMSET/SCL and to DICHEP, the Chemical Engineering Dept. of the Univ. of Genova.
- Careful selection of the thermo-chemical process most suitable, case by case, for efficient biomass-based energy generation. Which points to “biomass combustion processes” when, in a distributed CHP scenario, the thermal energy needs (in MWh per year) are at least twice than the foreseen electric energy generation, in order to attain a fuel utilization factor of at least 0.7. On the other hand, whenever the heat requirements in relation to the electric capability are less than above (and even null), the proper choice should be “biomass gasification processes”, possibly of high conversion efficiency with a clean enough bio-syngas production. DIMSET/SCL is deeply involved in both such conversion technologies: whilst it closely monitors the operation of “Bevera 2.8 MW” steam-cycle power plant (biomass combustion) near Ventimiglia, it directly operates two downdraft gasifiers of different technologies (biomass gasification) with the respective gas engine generators. Recently, DIMSET/SCL has become partner of ALL Power Labs, the new global leader in small-scale wood gasification, and, as such, is quite involved in operating, demonstrating and distributing their ‘GEK’ gasifiers (see pictures below). Some experience has also been pursued, at DIMSET/SCL, in the field of bio-syngas conversion to liquid fuels (Fischer-Tropsch process), but so far with no encouraging results.
- In the recent years a new thermo-chemical conversion technology is becoming quite attractive, which allows to directly convert solid biomass to a mixture of liquid biofuels. This wood-to-liquid process is called flash-pyrolysis and is deemed (at least by us, at DIMSET/SCL) one of the most likely candidates for becoming a winning technology in the context of second generation biofuels. This strategy holds a distinct advantage: interested investors in power generation via liquid biofuels can immediately install and operate low-speed, high-efficiency, diesel engines by feeding them with today available “straight” bio-oils derived by oily-seeds cultivations in arid lands, even desert, or anyhow set-aside terrains (rape-seed, castor-seed, jatropha, tobacco), and progressively shift to second generation biofuels as soon as the corresponding technologies are maturing. At DIMSET/SCL a ground-wood fed, circulating bed, flash-pyrolysis reactor is nearing completion and related scientific cooperations at European level are becoming quite active.