NIER engineering project awarded for excellence

Thursday, 22 September 2016


The Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) received accolades at the Engineers Australia Excellence Awards on Friday September 16.

These awards highlight the contribution that engineering makes to people’s lives, their community and the environment.

An abatement technology project developed by University of Newcastle (UON) internationally-renowned energy researcher, Professor Behdad Moghtaderi, received an award for Engineering Excellence.

The project, VAMCO: A highly effective solution for abatement of ventilated air methane emissions from coal mining is a novel technology for abatement of methane emissions from underground coal mines also has the potential to reduce Australia’s annual greenhouse gas output by three per cent.

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential that is 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

These emissions are predominantly discharged to the atmosphere from the mine’s ventilation system in low volumetric concentrations and are referred to as Ventilation Air Methane (VAM).

Globally, VAM constitutes two thirds of the fugitive methane emissions from the mining sector; representing one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the mining agency.

“In this project, we tackled the shortcomings of current VAM abatement technologies with the aim of developing an innovative solution featuring a higher level of inherent safety, ability to operate over a wider range of VAM concentrations, tolerance to fluctuations in methane concentration, reduced energy footprint and a lower capital cost,” Professor Moghtaderi, Director of the Priority Research Centre for Frontier Energy Technologies and Utilisation said.

Based at the NIER precinct, the resulting pilot-scale prototype features very simple hardware, operates at near atmospheric pressure, is remarkably energy efficient and can be integrated with a range of other technology options for combined heat and power generation at mine sites.

The team is currently preparing for a Phase-II project dedicated to large-scale demonstration of the VAMCO technology.

Watch a timelapse video of the construction on YouTube.