We sought to understand and mitigate technical concerns surrounding the combustion of biomass-derived fuels in dedicated power generation boilers.

Key facts

    • The ASPIRE (Advance Surface Protection for Improved Renewable Energy) project involved seven UK-based partners.

    • The £1.4 million project, a follow-on to the ASPECT project, enabled a successful consortium to continue providing industrially-relevant knowledge and technology.

    • The aim was to understand the aggressive combustion chemistry associated with biomass fuels, and develop and test novel coatings to protect boiler materials against corrosion damage.

  • Funded by Innovate UK

Impact of our research

The utilisation of biomass fuels in power generation boilers provides a method of producing continuous renewable energy and, when combined with CO2 capture and storage, provides a means of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

In the short term, the knowledge gained in this project will support the reliable operation of existing plant that may be converted to run on biomass-derived fuels. In the longer term, the improved understanding of combustion chemistry, materials performance and coating technologies will enable the design and construction of advanced dedicated biomass-fired boilers.

Biomass combustion deposits on a boiler probe.

Why the research was commissioned

The ASPIRE project built on the knowledge gained from the TSB (Technology Strategy Board, now Innovate UK) co-funded ASPECT project.

ASPECT was concerned with the development and evaluation of coating materials for advanced fossil fuel plants but ASPIRE focused on the issues related to the combustion of biomass-derived fuels.

Biomass combustion products can be challenging, particularly in terms of the risks associated with excessive rates of metal loss due to fireside corrosion of high temperature boiler components. The development of effective corrosion-resistant coatings enables power plant to safely operate at higher temperatures and efficiencies, and also utilise lower grade (cheaper) fuels.

Development of a novel coating technology.

Why Cranfield?

Our range of expertise and experimental facilities allowed us to contribute effectively to all parts of this project.

Our ability to offer such a complete service – which included assessing the combustion chemistry of fuels in a large-scale burner rig, developing a novel coating system, and testing the corrosion performance of this and other materials and coatings – enabled our academics and researchers to provide a universal perspective. This unique industry-focused capability is a key reason for our success.