Oxy-fuel combustion of pulverized coal: Characterization, fundamentals, stabilization and CFD modeling

Lei Chen, Sze Zheng Yong, Ahmed F. Ghoniem

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

888 Scopus citations


Oxy-fuel combustion has generated significant interest since it was proposed as a carbon capture technology for newly built and retrofitted coal-fired power plants. Research, development and demonstration of oxy-fuel combustion technologies has been advancing in recent years; however, there are still fundamental issues and technological challenges that must be addressed before this technology can reach its full potential, especially in the areas of combustion in oxygen-carbon dioxide environments and potentially at elevated pressures. This paper presents a technical review of oxy-coal combustion covering the most recent experimental and simulation studies, and numerical models for sub-processes are also used to examine the differences between combustion in an oxidizing stream diluted by nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The evolution of this technology from its original inception for high temperature processes to its current form for carbon capture is introduced, followed by a discussion of various oxy-fuel systems proposed for carbon capture. Of all these oxy-fuel systems, recent research has primarily focused on atmospheric air-like oxy-fuel combustion in a CO 2-rich environment. Distinct heat and mass transfer, as well as reaction kinetics, have been reported in this environment because of the difference between the physical and chemical properties of CO 2 and N 2, which in turn changes the flame characteristics. By tracing the physical and chemical processes that coal particles experience during combustion, the characteristics of oxy-fuel combustion are reviewed in the context of heat and mass transfer, fuel delivery and injection, coal particle heating and moisture evaporation, devolatilization and ignition, char oxidation and gasification, as well as pollutants formation. Operation under elevated pressures has also been proposed for oxy-coal combustion systems in order to improve the overall energy efficiency. The potential impact of elevated pressures on oxy-fuel combustion is discussed when applicable. Narrower flammable regimes and lower laminar burning velocity under oxy-fuel combustion conditions may lead to new stability challenges in operating oxy-coal burners. Recent research on stabilization of oxy-fuel combustion is reviewed, and some guiding principles for retrofit are summarized. Distinct characteristics in oxy-coal combustion necessitate modifications of CFD sub-models because the approximations and assumptions for air-fuel combustion may no longer be valid. Advances in sub-models for turbulent flow, heat transfer and reactions in oxy-coal combustion simulations, and the results obtained using CFD are reviewed. Based on the review, research needs in this combustion technology are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-214
Number of pages59
JournalProgress in Energy and Combustion Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Carbon capture
  • Coal
  • Flame stabilization
  • Heat transfer
  • Oxy-fuel combustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Oxy-fuel combustion of pulverized coal: Characterization, fundamentals, stabilization and CFD modeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this