The second in our new series of articles exploring IFRF’s archives…
Following on from the first contribution to our ‘Reigniting the…’ series last month, when former IFRF Director and Investigator Neil Fricker acted as our guide to some of the key IFRF activities and outputs of the 2010-2016 period, we are now delighted to be transported a bit further back in time along with another familiar face from IFRF’s recent past – Giovanni Coraggio.
Reigniting the… 2000s – a perspective from Giovanni Coraggio, former IFRF Assistant Director and Investigator
Hello again MNM readers, I am Giovanni Coraggio and I started working at IFRF as visiting investigator in June 2004 when it was based in IJmuiden, the Netherlands. Being a physicist, I was supposed to deal mainly with research matters, but over the years my work expanded to include communication and management. When IFRF moved to Livorno, Italy, in 2006 I moved too and continued to work there until the summer of 2016 by when I had become the Assistant Director.
When I was invited to write a contribution to this ‘Reigniting the…’ series covering the period 2006 to 2010, I gladly accepted – although I’m very conscious that it won’t be easy to summarise those incredible years in a short piece like this! However, I will try to give you a feel for what we did and some key references concerning our research.
As I have said, in October 2006 IFRF moved from the Netherlands to Italy. The mood at that time was rather ‘bittersweet’ – we were sad to be leaving the place that had been the home of IFRF since it’s foundation and where a lot of combustion research history had taken place, but at the same time we were enthusiastic about the beginning of a new era for IFRF and the possibilities in front of us.
The immediate challenge was to get IFRF back into action both from a communications and a research point of view. How did we achieve this? Well, with three big inputs: The University of Pisa, ENEL Research (the company that was hosting IFRF) and… the IFRF archive. Digging into the IFRF library, we soon realised what an incredible amount of knowledge it contains. Yes, “standing on the shoulders of giants” makes everything easier!
In those few years we carried out many experimental campaigns. In particular, we undertook a lot of work on oxy-combustion (with oxygen/recycled flue gas mixtures to burn with coal and natural gas). These activities positioned IFRF to be able to participate in the European Union Relcom project some years later (see Neil Fricker’s ‘Reigniting the…’ piece last month here). In addition, IFRF performed measurements for ENEL as part of the EU ‘Friendly Coal’ project (funded under the framework of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel). The results of these various campaigns are collected together in the report:
- Combustion of natural gas and pulverised coal in a mixture of oxygen and recycled flue gas – IFRF Doc. No. F110/y/01, 2009
Some of the outcomes achieved during these studies remain highly relevant to industrial combustion today and into the future: This work contains one of the first, if not the first, measurement evidence of the formation of thermal NOX via the Zeldovich mechanism in a semi-industrial furnace flame. These results were presented at the 33rd International Symposium on Combustion in Beijing in 2010 and subsequently published in the proceedings of the Combustion Institute:
- Retrofitting oxy-fuel technology in a semi-industrial plant: Flame characteristics and NOX production from a low-NOX burner fed with natural gas, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, Volume 33, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 3423–3430; republished as IFRF Doc. No. K22/y/02, August 2010
One of the main focuses of our studies and, in general, of IFRF activity throughout its history, was to develop the most advanced techniques for measurements inside industrial or semi-industrial flames. After our move to Italy we had to rebuild all of the IFRF instrumentation: We started by manufacturing standard IFRF probes according to the original designs and then we studied how to develop them even further.
In order to design a new, optimised probe for sampling gases and solid particles, we developed an experimental prototype in which every part was modular or adjustable. Different sensors where incorporated to monitor and record the gas cooling history under different conditions. We connected this prototype probe to the IFRF’s FTIR analyser to perform measurements with the highest level of information concerning water content, nitrogen species and hydrocarbons. The probe was very difficult to handle at the beginning, but years of research led to an improved design for the IFRF sampling probe that provided excellent results during the Relcom project and many other measurement campaigns.
Very promising results were also achieved using the optical diagnostic technique developed by ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) for gas turbines, and applied by IFRF to furnaces and for solid fuel characterisation. Through high-speed, non-intrusive measurements, this probe was able to record particle velocities inside the flame of a furnace or a reactor, determine the status of combustion (conventional combustion or oxy-flames) and provide a great deal of other information about the combustion processes. It was also hypothesised that it would have been possible to perform real-time characterisation of the solid fuel without laboratory analysis. The results of this work were presented at the 17th IFRF Members Conference in Paris, 2012 and can be found in the following two interesting reports:
- Application of an optical diagnostic methodology to the characterisation of solid fuel combustion in the Isothermal Plug Flow Reactor operating in conventional and oxy-fuel conditions – IFRF Doc. No. F32/y/02, 2012; and
- Optical diagnostics in a 3MW furnace Oxy-RFG-coal/gas combustion tests – IFRF Doc. No. F32/y/03, 2012.
In my opinion, one of the most important research contributions from this era of IFRF’s history was the work carried out on measuring and assessing uncertainty. Thanks to a cooperation between IFRF and the University of Pisa, we performed a detailed study about in-flame measurement accuracy and developed a method to quantify the agreement between measured data and mathematical modelling forecasts. All of this seminal activity is described in the following report:
- Verification, validation and uncertainty quantification in industrial combustion modelling: some practical tools – IFRF Doc. No. G25/y/01, 2010
I have barely scratched the surface of our activities during those four years in Livorno, but I hope that I have stimulated your interest and that you take the time to have a look at some of these documents. If you want to know more about those years and the studies we undertook, or if you want to buy an IFRF probe or a particular measurement service, you can get in touch with me directly at the Green Flames Technology website or through IFRF.
[Editor – thanks Giovanni and we wish you and Marco Faleni well with your new venture – Green Flames Technology. Next month, we will be looking at some of the key outputs that form part of the IFRF’s Solid Fuel Database, with Jarek Hercog of IEN as our guide. If you would like to view any of the documents mentioned in this article please visit our online archive here or if they pre-date the online archive please contact us. Documents are free to IFRF members (up to five per year) and are priced at €200 each for non-members.]