New benchmark for coal co-firing reported in China

The ammonia-coal co-firing pilot setup at Huaneng Yantai. Source: China Science.
Click to enlarge. The ammonia-coal co-firing pilot setup at Huaneng Yantai. Source: China Science.

The South China Morning Post reports that China Energy – China’s state-owned mining & energy investment corporation – has successfully demonstrated co-firing 35% ammonia with coal at a power generation unit in Shandong Province. A Twitter post from China Science (a state-affiliated media outlet) and an article (Chinese language) from the website add further technical details: the pilot test occurred in a 40 MW coal boiler at the Huaneng Yantai coal power plant (possibly one of the three retired units) and the results were signed off on by the China Electrical Engineering Society. NOx emissions were reportedly lower than burning pure coal fuel, and only 0.01% of ammonia fuel was left unconsumed. An image of the setup was also provided (see above right).

At Ammonia Energy we’ve reported on a number of China updates in the past few years: the significant potential of a transition away from coal-based ammonia production, R&D collaborations on the use of ammonia as a transportation fuel, a roadmap for implementing ammonia fuel solutions in Fujian Province (presented at our 2016 conference), maritime engine updates, and recently a trio of ship building announcements. But coal co-firing (and ammonia fuel for power generation in general) is something new from China, even though it’s a well-established idea in the wider region. In the South China Morning Post article, an interviewed Chinese academic from Xiamen University suggests that – similar to Japan’s recent announcement regarding ASEAN – China will look to export ammonia-coal co-firing technologies to developing countries:

It’s very important for China and some developing countries, though it’s not important for the developed ones because they have almost phased out coal. The idea is that if we cannot phase [coal] out in a short time, we can reduce the emissions.

Lin Boqiang, Dean of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University in “Chinese energy firm uses ammonia in coal-fired power unit in bid to cut emissions” (author Echo Xie), South China Morning Post, 28 Jan 2022
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