OPTIMIZATION OF PREPARATION PLANT PERFORMANCE
Dr. Gerald H. Luttrell
Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Thursday, May 6th, 2004 3:00 pm
Ben Bandy Conference Room
UK Center for Applied Energy Research
Coal preparation plants play an important role in the electrical power supply chain by providing high quality fuel for coal-fired utilities. These plants, which incorporate a complex array of solid-solid and solid-liquid separation processes, control the quality of their clean coal products by manipulating the operating points of their separation processes. Unfortunately, data from recent field studies indicate that preparation plants rarely operate under optimum conditions. This shortcoming is often due to the misconception by production plant managers that operating points are dictated by the characteristics of their feed coals. In fact, an incremental quality analysis shows that the optimum operating points for the separation processes are actually controlled by contractual agreements and are independent of the relative cleanabilities of the coal feeds. In many cases, the mismatch between plant capabilities and the requirements of the coal sales agreement makes it impossible to globally optimize the fuel supply chain. This presentation discusses the general problem of preparation plant optimization and provides an industrial case study to illustrate the potential economic gains that can be realized via increased cooperation between coal suppliers and consumers.