An 18-cylinder coal-fueled Colt-Pielstick diesel has been delivered to the University of Alaska.

The coal-fired diesel will be fuelled with a coal slurry prepared using an advanced coal drying process to produce Low Rank Coal Water Fuel (LRCWF). The process allows the dried coal to be reduced to micron size, then slurried in water for injection into the diesel engine.

The University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) is working with Arthur D Little to install and operate the 18-cylinder coal diesel and a retrofitted 5 MWe oil-fired boiler on LRCWF at its campus in Fairbanks, Alaska. The new engine will also provide black-start capability for the University.

The engine will operate at low levels of NOx and SOx emission. The demonstration plant will achieve 41 per cent efficiency, and future plants are expected to achieve 48 per cent efficiency.

The diesel engine, manufactured by Coltec, has modified fuel injectors, exhaust valves and piston rings and a lubricating oil system to accommodate the abrasive wear of the LRCWF. Coltec plans to use hard sapphire inserts in the injector tips, an advanced technology previously tested on smaller diesel engines to reduce injector hole wear.

The objective of this demonstration project is to obtain long-term (ie, over 6000 hours) durability data of a heavy-duty coal diesel engine using LRCWF.

The project was selected under Round 5 of the Clean Coal Technology Programme. The total value of the project is $48 million.