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Coldry Process is a patented coal upgrading technology being developed in Victoria,
Australia by Environmental Clean Technologies Limited
based on 'brown coal
densification'. It has been developed specifically to beneficiate low-rank brown coal (lignite)
and some forms of sub-bituminous coal by removing the majority of the naturally occurring
moisture content; harden and densify the coal; raise the calorific value of the coal; and
transform the coal into a stable (lower spontaneous combustion risk), exportableblack coal
equivalent product for use by black coal fired power generators to produce electricity or as a
feedstock for downstream processes such as coal-to-gas, oil and other high value chemicals.
The Coldry Process is currently developed to pilot scale (as at October 2012).
How it works
Essentially, brown coal is sheared and attritioned reducing the mean particle size and
releasing water naturally held in the porous coal microstructure forming a plastic mass. This
dispersal of surface and physically trapped moisture lends itself to evaporative removal at or
near ambient temperatures. Shearing also opens fresh coal surfaces exposing reactive
molecular species, which participate in new bond-forming reactions and liberate some
chemically trapped moisture. As the pellets densify, the newly formed structure shrinks,
resulting in a significantly more compact microstructure compared to the original coal. This
new structure significantly reduces the propensity to self-heat to that of a typical bituminous
coal. When applied to lignite and some sub-bituminous coals, the Coldry process produces a
feedstock in the form of densified pellets that significantly reduce CO
to its original brown coal state, when combusted to generate electricity. A key feature of the
technology is its use of low-grade 'waste' heat from a co-located power station to provide the
evaporative drying energy. Typically, power stations shed that energy via cooling towers,
drawing significant water from local river systems. The Coldry plant is designed to act as a
heat sink for the power station, offsetting or replacing water taken from the environment for
cooling. The temperature range for drying is between 35°C and 45°C. This forms the basis
for the synergy with existing mine-mouth power stations and avoids the need to incur
increased operational expense by generating high-grade process heat, or by calling on high-
grade heat from other processes, that may have higher value in other applications.
Schematic Layout of Integrated Coldry Fired Power Station
The image to the right illustrates the schematic layout of an integrated Coldry fired power
1. Raw Coal Feed Raw coal is screened to remove oversize and contaminants, and sized to
ensure a uniform feed into the next process step.
2. Attritioning & Extruding A small amount of water is added to the mill attritioner, where
the coal is sheared to form a coal paste. This intensive mixing initiates a natural chemical
reaction within the coal which ejects both chemically trapped water, as well as physically
absorbed water within the coal pore structure. The coal paste is then further masticated,
finally being extruded into pellets.
3. Conditioning The coal paste pellets are surface dried on the Conditioning belt to provide
sufficient green strength to withstand the transition to the next step, the Packed Bed Dryer.
4. Heat Exchange Waste heat form the co-located power station is recovered using heat
exchange. This low grade energy stream is used to provide the warm air streams required to
evaporate surface water from the coal pellets.
5. Packed Bed Dryer Incoming moist coal pellets from the Conditioning belt are further dried
to their ultimate moisture level within the packed bed dryer. Warm air from the heat
exchangers removes the moisture rejected from within the coal pellets. The cross-linking
reactions come to completion within the dryer, increasing the coal pellets' strength to levels
sufficient to withstand bulk transport.
6. Coldry Pellets The incoming brown coal has now been converted into a Black Coal
Equivalent (BCE) through the permanent elimination of structural and physical trapped water.
These high energy pellets are available for thermal applications, as well as other uses.
7. Pulveriser The pulveriser reduces the pellets into finely ground coal dust, suitable for
injection into a Pulverised Coal Combustion boiler.
8. Boiler The coal is burned in excess air, producing a high temperature gas stream. This
high temperature heats the water in the boiler, generating the steam needed for power
9. Turbine High temperature, high pressure stream is injected into the steam turbine, which
is connected to the generator. High voltage electricity is the finished product from this
10. Condenser Steam exhausted from the turbine is passed into the condenser, where it is
cooled to again form liquid water. This liquid water is pumped back into the boiler to start the
steam cycle once again. The cooling water from the condenser is now at elevated
temperatures, and needs to be cooled. It is pumped to the Coldry plant for heat exchange
11. Cooling Tower Return water from the Coldry heat exchange is now at a lower
temperature, but still requires further cooling. This water is now pumped into the cooling
tower, where a portion evaporates, cooling the remainder down to suitable temperatures for
the condenser operation. Make up water is added to replace that which was lost to
The Coldry Process evolved from theoretical and test work in the Department of Organic
Chemistry, University of Melbourne, Victoria, in collaboration with CRA Advanced Technical
Development, Melbourne in 1989.
This work was based on earlier theoretical work around
Densified coal undertaken by the Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Melbourne
in 1980-81. The possibility of creating densified coal was identified following observations
made at the Maddingley Mine near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. The mine operator observed
that hardened bitumen-like road surfaces formed naturally soon after rain events when trucks
had churned up brown coal fines with moisture when they entered and left the mine. In the
days that followed a rain event the road surfaces at the mine would harden like tarmac and
no longer absorb water. Dr J ohns and colleagues identified that a process of low-mechanical
shear had occurred where brown coal mixed with a small amount of moisture and subject to
low-level mechanical shear had substantially destroyed the coal porous structure and
triggered a mild natural exothermic reaction process within the coal leading to the
mobilisation and subsequent evaporation of its moisture content.
The low mechanical
shear process fundamentally alters coal physical porous structure and to varying degrees the
micro chemical bonds within the coal, reducing moisture content to between 10 and 14 per
cent; boosting calorific value over 5200 kcal/kg; and creating a new ‘densified coal’ product
that is hydrophobic, no longer prone to spontaneous combustion, readily transportable and
from a commercial and environmental point of view, a black coal equivalent.
For some years the Maddingley Mine provided brown coal to an adjacent fibreboard
manufacturing plant located on the outskirts of Bacchus Marsh. The plant and the mine were
decommissioned in the late 1980s. In 1990 the Calleja Group transport company acquired
the mine and the industrial site and became aware of the concept of densified coal. The
company acquired Intellectual Property rights for the densified coal process around 1994.
Under the leadership of David Calleja and David Wilson the company invested in the
development of a densified coal methodology and succeeded with bench tests by 1997. At
this time the technology process became known as the Coldry Process. For some time the
company sought without success to include the Coldry Process as a technology worthy of
review, investment and development by the government funded Cooperative Research
Centre (CRC) for Lignite program. Subsequently the Calleja Group invested in the
establishment in February 2004 of a pilot plant to further develop the process. By April 2004
the Coldry plant rapidly established itself as a potential commercial method to dewater brown
coal without producing hazardous byproducts. The operation of the pilot plant was assigned
to Asia Pacific Coal & Steel Pty Ltd (APCS) in J une 2004 when APCS was licensed to
commercialise the technology. In March 2006 APCS was acquired by ASX listed company
Environmental Clean Technologies Limited (ASX:ESI), which took responsibility for
commercialising the Coldry Process. The pilot plant has been incrementally developed at the
Bacchus Marsh site and testing of coal types from around the world has helped characterise
and validate coal suitability for use in the process.
Status of Development
• The Coldry pilot plant, located in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia has been the
centre for research and development of the process.
• The pilot plant, originally commissioned as a basic batch process in 2004 to prove
the process at its next logical scale, was further upgraded in 2007, with the support of
the Victorian Governments Department of Sustainability. The upgrade to a continuous
process, which also included the addition of water recovery technology, was successful
and led to the engagement of engineering firm Arup in 2008 to further drive the
commercialisation of the process, through pre-feasibility studies.
• At the beginning of 2011, ECT commenced critical equipment trials and detailed data
gathering activities to inform the design for a commercial scale plant.
• During October 2011, ECT commissioned engineering firm Arup to commence the
detailed design for tender (DFT) for the next logical scale up; 20 metric tonne per hour
demonstration plant. The commercial demonstration plant (CDP) is targeted to complete
construction during 2014, subject to financing and government planning approvals.
Characteristics of Coldry densified coal
The chemical and calorific values of densified coal derived via the Coldry Process from
typical Victorian brown coal with a natural average moisture content of 60 per cent by weight
compares well with typical high grade black coal exported from Tarong Queensland, and
Newcastle New South Wales Australia.
Name C Carbon % H Hydrogen % N Nitrogen % O Oxygen % S Sulfur %
Victorian Brown Coal (Lignite) 26.6 1.93 0.21 9.4 0.39
Densified Brown Coal (Coldry ) 59 4.24 0.46 21 0.85
QLD Black Coal (Export) 52 2.59 0.74 11 0.25
NSW Black Coal (Export) 48.9 3.29 1.19 10.1 0.81
Comparison of calorific values
Name Moisture % Volatiles %
Ash % Sulfur %
Net Weight Specific
Morwell Brown Coal
59.3% wb 20.0% wb 19.86% wb 0.9% wb 0.3% db
2006 kcal/kg ar
8.4 MJ /kg ar
Tarong Black Coal
15.5% adb 22.5% wb 44.1% wb
4800 kcal/kg adb
20.1 MJ /kg adb
Densified Brown Coal
12.0% adb 48.9% wb 49.1% wb 2.4% wb 0.3% wb
5874 kcal/kg adb
24.6 MJ /kg adb
Percent by weight
adb =as dry basis. ar =as received. db =dry basis. wb =wet basis.
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