3-D imaging to enable clean energy technologies

Mar 28, 2006

Ohio State University researchers have invented a technique to record three-dimensional scans of the gases and solids that mix inside boilers and other industrial processing reactors. Scientists can use the patented technique, called electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT), to observe how the density of materials varies inside a reactor. The end result could be better monitoring of reactor systems, including power plants.

Industrial plants need tomography for the same reasons hospitals do, explained L.S. Fan, a Distinguished University Professor and the John C. Easton Professor of Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Ohio State.

"Hospitals use tomography to view areas of the body that aren't easily or safely accessible," Fan said, "and the interiors of boilers and other high temperature reactors in industry are similarly inaccessible."

Fan studies the processes for converting coal to liquid fuels and chemicals, in order to optimize the energy conversion efficiency while reducing power plant emissions.

"Right now, the way to convert coal or natural gas to liquid fuels is in high-temperature, high–pressure reactors," Fan said. "But if we're going to develop processes to achieve high energy conversion efficiency, we need to be able to see inside those reactors to know how they work. That's why we developed ECVT."

Fan described the imaging technique at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society on March 27, as he gave the keynote address for the Chinese American Chemical Society 25th Anniversary Symposium.

The invention includes a sensor system that measures the capacitance of the materials inside the reactor -- their ability to store an electrical charge. Software then converts those measurements to information about the materials' composition.

Materials flow inside these hot reactors in complex ways. So the key to making ECVT work is a visualization system that presents the rapidly changing data accurately in three dimensions, Fan said.

Other techniques produce two-dimensional images, or less accurate images. But ECVT is the only method he knows of that gives scientists the accurate three-dimensional images they need to manage these industrial chemical reactors in real time

Fan has already invented two coal-conversion processes, OSCAR (Ohio State Carbonation Ash Reactivation) and CARBONOX (carbon-based NOx reduction technology), both of which remove coal combustion gases from power plant exhaust. He's optimistic that tools such as ECVT will help scientists think of even more ways to understand and improve reactor operations.

Source: Ohio State University

Explore further: Samsung phones cleared for US government use

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan vows to tighten nuke safety after accident

May 28, 2013

Japan pledged better safety practices for its troubled nuclear industry Tuesday after an accident at a government research facility that exposed 33 people to minor excess radiation and had not been immediately ...

Radiation leak at Japan lab; small impact expected

May 25, 2013

An atomic research lab in northern Japan has reported a radiation leak that may have affected about 50 people, though none were hospitalized and no impact was expected outside the facility, the lab's operator ...

Recommended for you

Samsung phones cleared for US government use

36 minutes ago

Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday some of its Galaxy mobile devices were approved by the National Security Agency for use with classified U.S. government networks and data, a boost to the company's efforts to expand in ...

Amazon, Simon & Schuster sign book retail deal

1 hour ago

Amazon has reached a deal with American book publisher Simon & Schuster, the companies said, though the e-commerce giant remains at loggerheads with France's Hachette over e-book pricing.

Review: Apple Pay in action

2 hours ago

If there ever comes a day I can ditch my wallet and use my phone to pay for everything, I'll look back to my first purchase through Apple Pay: a Big Mac and medium fries for $5.44. That wallet-free day won't ...

User comments : 0