The University of Newcastle's Professor Terry Wall has been selected to lead an international working group to push forward the global introduction of a new clean coal technology.
Oxyfuel combustion technology involves burning coal with oxygen rather than air, producing a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide which is easier to capture and store. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP) has awarded $500,000 to Professor Wall - a chemical engineer with the University's Priority Research Centre for Energy - to lead the Oxyfuel Working Group and identify opportunities for global collaboration as the technology is demonstrated.
"A demonstration is a physical plant which combines coal combustion; and the generation, cleaning, compression, transport and storage of carbon dioxide," Professor Wall explained.
"A demonstration tests oxyfuel combustion technology at a scale large enough to give us accurate results, but smaller than a commercial plant."
The first demonstration is underway in Germany and the second will be in Queensland. Several others will take place over the next three years in several countries including Australia, Germany, France, Japan, Korea, Canada and the USA.
The oxyfuel combustion technology can be applied to existing coal-fired power stations as a retrofit, or to new units.
"Coal is a significant source of power and an important export-earner for Australia," Professor Wall said.
"Burning coal to create electricity, however, releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at levels which are environmentally unsustainable. Research at the Priority Research Centre for Energy attempts to balance the ongoing use of this important resource with the needs of the environment."
The Priority Research Centre for Energy brings together industry, government agencies and University of Newcastle researchers to focus on one of the world's most challenging issues - managing greenhouse gas emissions.
The APP brings together Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the USA to address the challenges of climate change, energy security and air pollution in a way that encourages economic development and reduces poverty.