Diversified Energy completes combustion system

By Anna Austin | June 17, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 8, 2008 at 2:41 p.m. CST

Diversified Energy Corp. announced July 1 the conclusion of a demonstration illustrating the successful completion of a glycerol combustion system that the company has been developing for three years.

Jeff Hassannia, Diversified Energy's vice president of business development, said the prototype model testing has been ongoing for roughly the past year. "We wanted to ensure utmost confidence in what we had before going public," he told BDM.

Diversified Energy has filed for U.S. and International patents for the system, which was developed by a team from North Carolina State University. Led by William Roberts of the NCSU department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, the group developed a prototype burner capable of efficiently and safely burning the glycerol byproduct produced from the manufacturing of biodiesel. The prototype burner is capable of processing 100,000 BTUs per hour.

Due to its high viscosity and combustion temperature, as well as low heating value, the glycerol combustion is an obstacle the biodiesel industry faces.

According to Diversified energy, as the industry expands, an enormous excess of the substance is being produced. Glycerol by nature is costly and dangerous to refine into a higher-grade glycerol. The company adds that the novel spray atomization swirl burner architecture of the system overcomes these technical and safety issues. This is done by pre-heating the combustion chamber, maintaining heat retention, and maximizing radical retention, while interacting with air and fuel flows.

Hassannia expects the system to have a significant impact on the biodiesel industry. "As the economics are extremely challenging today, any system (like ours) that can offer an economic benefit should be viewed favorably," Hassannia said. "We see this system as a means for the industry to enhance the value of the crude glycerol byproduct being generated today, and envision our system being retrofitted into existing facilities and designed-in for new facilities."

The company seeks a commercialization partner. "We are really looking for a partner that can take the technology from where it is today and get it into the marketplace," Hassannia said. "Diversified Energy as a company does not have the necessary combustion manufacturing expertise for these systems, nor the sales staff to accomplish this. So we are really looking for a partner company to run with the technology."

Hassannia added that based on the state of maturity of the technology, the combustion system could be commercially available within 12 months once a commercialization partner is secured.
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