Electric fields could shape the flames inside power plants so combustion is cleaner, more efficient

GE Turbine
© GE promo

Better combustion and less wasted heat could result in 30% fuel savings

Humans have been in control of fire for millennia. Or at least we think we are... What if there was a better way to control a burning flame than what we've been using so far? What if we have better control over all kinds of aspects of combustion, making it cleaner and more fuel-efficient? That's what a company that specializes in what they call Electrodynamic Combustion Control (ECC) claims it can do.

Using electric field generated inside the flame and controlled by computer, they say they can fine tune how a a fuel is burned, optimizing energy efficiency, emissions control, fuel flexibility and overall cost. This is particularly interesting because incomplete or badly targeted combustion causes a lot of pollution and wasted fuel in power plants and industrial processes worldwide. As you know, I'm a big fan of clean energy sources like wind and solar, but there will always be some industrial processes that require high temperatures and burn fuel, and thermal power plants will be around for decades to come, so if we can get more out of them and reduce pollution with this, all the better.

The best way to understand how this works is to see it in action. Check out these videos be ClearSign:

Of course, this would be pointless if it took a large amount of electricity to do that. But ClearSign claims that they only need a fraction of 1% of the power produced by a power plant, and since they use that energy to improve efficiency and reduce pollution, it theoretically more than pays for itself.

Here are some 'lab videos' of the technology in action:

This one on thermal efficiency is pretty interesting:

And here's one on the emission of particulate matter (causing smog, respiratory problems, even cancer):

If it all works as claimed, it would be great to see large scale deployment of this technology. Making thermal power plants 30% more efficient is more or less equivalent for the planet to shutting down 30% of these thermal plants out there. That's pretty huge!

Via ClearSign, TR

See also: Residential solar is a middle-class phenomenon

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