The study results were published in the journal Energies.
Composite fuels are a modern perspective energy resource for thermal power plants (TPPs), which are used instead of coal to generate electric and thermal energy. Usually, these are mixtures of various components (low-grade coal, combustible solid municipal waste, waste oils, wastewater, or biomass), the share of which varies widely, depending on specific tasks.
The advantages of composite fuels compared to coal are its low cost (the main costs are associated with the preparation of fuel mixtures and transportation of components) and lower sulfur and nitrogen oxide emissions through flue gases.
Using new energy resources, unclaimed waste, in the fuel and energy industry allows the consumption of coal to be reduced, especially since TPPs use less than 30% of coal’s energy potential; and it’s much more efficient to use it, for example, in the metallurgy and chemical industry.
"To develop technology for burning composite fuel, we have analysed the economic effect of switching coal-fired TPPs to a new energy resource. We carried out a study as part of a strategy of combined industrial and municipal combustible waste recovery in several neighbouring regions of Russia (Tomsk, Novosibirsk, and Kemerovo) by burning it as part of composite fuels at local TPPs", Dmitry Glushkov, associate professor at TUP's School of High-Energy Physics.
The scientist noted that in most countries with a developed raw materials sector, mining regions are surrounded by regions with a high level of industrial and social development. This creates favourable conditions for extracting raw materials and energy resources, developing enterprises, as well as population growth.
At the same time, one of the major environmental tasks for regions with a developed raw materials sector is to reduce the negative environmental impact from factories and oil enterprises when stockpiling combustible waste at industrial landfills.
In regions with a high standard of living, it's very important to process and recover municipal solid waste (MSW); its annual production volume is comparable to the volume of industrial waste of enterprises (millions of tonnes per year).
Adding MSW to composite fuels helps reduce the growth rate of landfill areas, as well as prevent vast areas from being excluded from agricultural use, Dmitry Glushkov explained.
"Our combined waste recovery strategy involves switching three coal-fired TPPs to composite fuels (at least one in each of the regions). They willfully generate thermal and electric energy by burning composite fuels. Fuel slurries can be prepared both at the TPPs and at an appropriate plant and then transported through pipelines", he added.
According to the researcher, the positive economic effect will be up to $6.9 billion, or 78% of the main costs of three thermal power plants operating on coal within 25 years.
To further develop industrial technology and apply it practically, it is necessary to solve several engineering problems and conduct full-scale field experiments at thermal power facilities.