Alstom Power has been awarded a $1.9 million contract from the US Department of Energy for the development of a low NOx furnace coal-combustion system that will not increase the un-burnt carbon content of fly ash. According to Alstom, the system, which is expected to become commercially available by the end of 2001, will allow utilities to reduce NOx emissions without installing selective catalytic reduction equipment and at around half the cost.

Alstom is to provide a further $500 000 funding for the research project. The system utilises an air-staged in-furnace approach and a post-combustion carbon burn-out. The programme has been developed as a method of retaining the contribution of coal to the US power supply mix in the face of agressive NOx reduction limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency under its SIPs programme, see page 12.

The demand for such systems has been reflected in a report by McIlvaine Company, which has issued a study on the market for NOx control equipment in the US up until 2020. The report concludes that more than $25 billion will be spent on such equipment over the next 20 years, of which nearly $11 billion will be spent in the first five years, reaching a peak of $3 billion in 2002. A steadily increasing demand for critical components such as catalysts and low NOx burners will allow suppliers an attractive return on investment, the report states.