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R&D Focus Areas

National Institute of Clean-and-Low-Carbon Energy (NICE) is dedicated to the development of cutting-edge technologies in clean energy and related fields. Through technology innovation, NICE supports China Energy Group’s strategic goal of becoming a world-class clean energy enterprise. Currently, NICE focuses on the following six technical areas :

Clean Coal Conversion and Utilization

Aligning with China Energy Group’s business strategies, NICE focuses on three clean coal utilization processes: coal refining, gasification and clean combustion. The R&D activities are directed towards clean coal conversion process development, critical reactor design, gas cleaning as well as pre and post-combustion carbon capture technologies.

Current Status
Current efforts are focused specifically on the development of the following technologies: pilot and demonstration scale of advanced low rank coal refining process and critical reactors; semi-coke slurry pyrolysis and its application in entrained flow bed gasification technology; coal gasifier and special burner development; coal tar upgrading technology.

Goals & Objectives
To complete pilot plant demonstration of advanced coal refining technologies and novel reactors, pyro-oil upgrading technologies in five years.


Coal-derived Performance Materials

Coal derived performance materials are technology driven, value added, coal originated and/or converted materials that are developed for clean and low carbon applications.  The research directions include polymeric materials upgrading and compounds, "clean" asphalt and coal pitch materials from direct coal liquefaction residue (DCLR); cement supplement materials and ceramic materials from coal combustion products (CCP).  The focused application areas are: automobiles weight reduction, fire-retardant and insulation materials, filtration materials, and materials for energy storage, etc.   NICE brings cleaner and more efficient solution to coal utilization, leading the transformation to a technology driven clean energy company by value extraction and extension from each step of coal utilization including solid wastes from coal combustion, gasification and liquefaction.

Current Status

Current research and development status (1) early commercialization stage for the controllable cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) technology, market validation of PP compounds including automotive TPO and flame retardant FRTPO for mining applications (2) scale up stage for the liquefaction residue based asphalts modification and coal derived pitches (isotropic and mesophase) applications (3) market validation stage for fly ash based insulation materials and fillers development and (4) scale-up stage for the aluminum extraction technology in cooperation .

Goals & Objectives

Our goals are (1) to broaden the applications of controllable cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) technology to various processing technologies such as sheet extrusion and injection molding, and for various industries including automotive industry, and military applications -- such as light weight ammunition cases and battery separator applications; (2) to commercialize DCLR based asphalts and to develop coal pitch based materials for various applications such as thermal conductivity and environmental applications; and (3) to commercialize the fly ash based building and construction materials including insulation materials and functional fillers; to complete the market validation for CCP based filtration materials; and (4) to exploit cleaner technologies for aluminum extraction from fly ash, and to integrate and optimize the value of aluminum extraction by-products in five years.
Hydrogen Energy and Its Utilization

Hydrogen is a clean secondary energy source and has enormous future in the areas of transportation, distributed power generation and renewable integration. As the largest energy provider in China, China Energy Group aims to create a cleaner energy system by linking its businesses through hydrogen. For example, hydrogen produced from curtailed wind could be used to power fuel cell vehicles or sent to China Energy Group’s chemical plants; China Energy Group’s railroads and ships could be used for hydrogen transportation. The key research and development areas are hydrogen storage and distribution, hydrogen production optimization, fuel cell system development and applications.

Current Status

(1) Hydrogen storage and distribution – Liquid hydrogen technology, liquid organic hydrogen carrier and metal hydride hydrogen storage; (2) Hydrogen production – System integration of curtailed renewables (wind/water) with distributed energy, optimization and small scale of coal to hydrogen; (3) Hydrogen utilization – Fuel cell evaluation platform,PEMFC and SOFC system integration and applications.

Goals & Objectives
To complete vertically integrated demonstration projects including hydrogen production, transportation, storage, utilization and megawatts-level fuel cell power generation in five years.
Water Treatment

Water is of great importance in the coal mining, power generation and coal chemical processes. Driven by tightened regulations, efficient reuse and safe disposal of industrial wastewater have become more and more imperative. NICE aims to develop high salinity wastewater treatment technology, zero liquid discharge and pure salt crystallization technology for coal chemical plants, fuel gas desulphurization wastewater treatment technology for power plants as well as staged mine water treatment and utilization technology for coal mines.

Current Status

Current projects focus on the development of high salinity wastewater treatment and zero liquid discharge and pure salt crystallization technologies, including unit technologies such as hardness and salt removal, high efficiency preconcentration and low cost evaporation. The purpose is to establish integrated wastewater treatment solutions that are competitive and applicable for China Energy Group in coal mining, power generation and coal chemical industries.

Goals & Objectives

To develop a competitive zero liquid discharge flow sheet for high salinity industrial wastewater, complete pilot scale demonstration in coal chemical plants and coal-fired power plants, promote its commercial applications, and gradually establish a healthy portfolio of wastewater treatment technologies including advanced desalination, high-efficiency organics removal, low-cost evaporation and value-added utilization of crystallization salts, with China Energy Group’s own intellectual property rights in five years.
Distributed Energy

Aligning with the clean energy strategy of China Energy Group, NICE focuses on the areas of distributed generation, power conversion, energy management & control and energy storage to develop a complete set of products on distributed energy systems to effectively utilize wind, solar and other types of distributed energy.

Current Status

NICE  Energy Operating System (EOS) generation and load module is at product development stage, EOS storage block has entered industrial demonstration stage while EOS power conversion module is under lab-scale testing; NICE advanced electrode materials for energy storage devices is under pilot-scale testing while the storage device is under lab-scale verification; NICE distributed energy management system is ready for commercialization.

Goals & Objectives

To commercialize EOS system, micro inverter, high power energy storage batteries and amorphous carbon battery materials of liquefaction residue materials, so as to establish an industrial active distribution network in five years.

NICE is committed to the development of catalysts for coal-based syngas catalytic conversions (e.g. methanol synthesis, water gas shift, methanol to olefins, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis , coal to natural gas, coal to ethanol etc.), hydro-processing catalysts for coal tar upgrading and de-NOx catalysts regeneration. In the future, NICE aims to further develop shale gas reforming and environmental catalysis technologies.

Current Status

MTO Gen-I catalyst has been commercialized, MTO Gen-II enters production trial; iron-based Fischer-Tropsch catalyst is at pilot scale-up stage and SCR de-NOx catalyst regeneration technology is ready for commercialization.

Goals & Objectives

To commercialize water gas shift, methanol synthesis, coal to ethanol, iron-based Fischer-Tropsch and cobalt-based Fischer-Tropsch catalysts in five years.

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