JERA and IHI have begun what they describe as the world’s first demonstration of large-volume fuel ammonia substitution (20%, heating value basis) at a commercial size coal-fired power plant. The testing, which began on 1 April, is being carried out at unit 4 of JERA’s Hekinan coal fired power plant and was expected to last until June 2024.

The test programme is part of a four year long NEDO funded project running from July 2021 until March 2025.

Since October 2022, JERA and IHI have been working on constructing the burners, ammonia tank, vaporiser, pipework, and other equipment needed for the ammonia demonstration.

IHI has developed the test burner, building on the results of small-volume testing of fuel ammonia at Hekinan unit 5, while JERA has focused on safety measures and operational aspects.

The Hekinan 4 demonstration will include monitoring of overall plant performance characteristics, investigation of NOx emissions and assessment of operability issues and the impact on boilers and ancillary equipment.

On the basis of the testing, and resolution of issues raised, JERA and IHI hope to offer ammonia co-firing in coal fired plants commercially by March 2025, with Hekinan 4 to be the first plant to operate with 20% ammonia on a commercial basis.

Looking to the future, IHI says it will apply the knowledge gained via the current project to develop the technology needed for 50% or more ammonia co-firing, and plans to develop burners for 100% ammonia combustion.

In India, IHI has been collaborating with Adani Power and Kowa on feasibility studies looking to apply ammonia firing at the Mundra coal fired power plant in Gujarat, and has carried out 20% ammonia combustion trials at its test facility in Japan, taking account of the combustion equipment used at Mundra.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is also working on ammonia co-firing for coal-fired power plants and has successfully completed combustion tests employing an ammonia single-fuel burner.

The testing, conducted using combustion test equipment at the Nagasaki District Research & Innovation Center, confirmed stable combustion, reduced NOx compared with coal firing, and complete combustion of the ammonia.