The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 39 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Fluidized Bed Conversion (FBC TCP)


Building larger fluidized bed boilers reduces emissions

The FBC TCP aims to support dissemination of research results on fluidized bed conversion technology, thereby advancing the knowledge of national experts and industry professionals. The increased size of recent fluidized bed coal power plants has resulted in improved efficiencies and lower GHG emissions. 

The world's first 600 MW circulating fluidized bed plant (Baima, China).*

Compared to traditional coal-fired power plants, fluidized bed boilers are designed to maintain the coal in a fluidized motion in order to burn the coal thoroughly and to achieve a constant temperature in the boiler. This results in efficient combustion and a higher, regular production of steam (and electricity) over time. 

By adding absorbent materials such as limestone or dolomite into the combustion chamber, it is possible to reduce the SO2 emissions by up to 90%. The NOx emissions are inherently low but may be further reduced with additional processes. Furthermore, coal can be burned together with biomass and waste fuels (e.g. coal discard, rubber) at a high efficiency of combustion.

To accelerate further development of this technology, the experts participating in the FBC TCP activity share recent progress with their respective fluidized bed pilot plants (designed according to the local fuel supplies) through regular symposia. These information sharing opportunities have contributed to larger and more efficient boilers, from the original pilot plants in the early 1980s to the larger, commercial-scale boilers capable of providing electricity to the grid. While design and construction of large-scale boilers benefits from the experience of building smaller boilers, there is currently less experience with operations and detailed behaviour of the large-scale boilers.

The 69th symposium of the FBC TCP (Beijing, China) focused on recent developments concerning new large-scale boilers. Large-scale application has been of particular interest as several of the participants (e.g. Tsinghua University of China, the Korean Electric Power Corporation, and Czestochowa University of Technology) are directly engaged in the design and evaluation of large-scale fluidized bed boilers.

Tsinghua University has substantially contributed to the design of the world’s largest fluidized bed boiler (600 megawatts electrical [MWe]) in Baima, China. After construction the first testing was carried out in October 2013. Operational data observed during a 168-hour test period were consistent with design values. The SO2 and NOx emissions were lower than the national requirements. However it was noted that by reducing and harmonising the size of the coal fed into the boiler, the combustion process could be improved. Some ash leakage was also noted.

In Yeosu, Korea, the performance of a 340 MW fluidized bed boiler, which had been in operation since 2011, was evaluated by using the model originally created by the FBC TCP. The calculated results were comparable to the measured values from the plant. It was found that by changing the ratio of pressure to air intake that the boiler performance (temperature, pressure, GHG emissions) could be improved. Presentations from the symposium may be viewed on the website of the FBC TCP.

* Graphic courtesy of Research Group, Tsinghua University 


  • Co-firing and ash problems
  • Energy crops and fluidized bed conversion
  • Fluidized bed design aspects
  • Mathematical, three-dimensional modelling
  • Recent trends in participating countries
  • Sewage sludge conversion


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