Mcilvaine Insights


No. 120   September 25, 2019


Weekly selected highlights in flow control, treatment and combustion from the many McIlvaine publications.

·       Market Briefs

·       Lots of Water Reuse Discussion at WEFTEC

·       Food Flow and Treat Multi-Client Reports in Preparation

·       The Compromise Solution in the Climate Change Debate

·       World Wide Tree Planting and Biomass Ready Coal Plants are the Compromise Climate Change Solution

·       Why can India Justify Coal-fired Power Plant Expansion?

·       Biomass Capable Coal-fired Plants are the Answer for Developing Countries

·       Drax Plans to Suck Out 50 Percent of the Needed UK CO2 Tons and Sequester It

·       Planting Trees can Greatly Reduce the CO2

·       CFB Technology has the Biomass Capability and Needed Efficiency

·       Teesside’s CFB-based 300 MW Biomass Plant

·       How CFB Addresses the Challenges of Biomass Burning at Utility Scale

·       The Value Proposition for CFB Power Plants in Indonesia and Broader Asia


Market Briefs

Lots of Water Reuse Discussion at WEFTEC

WEFTEC has held in Chicago this week.  Many of the stands and speeches dealt with water reuse.  There is a major trend to purify municipal wastewater and return it to drinking water sources.  There was a tertiary membrane mobile session with stops at Toray, Pall, and  Suez.  McIlvaine prepared tour guides on membrane bioreactors, blowers for aeration, and dryers. These will be updated to reflect information gathered at the stands and speeches.

Food Flow and Treat Multi-Client Reports in Preparation

The food industry has a number of distinct flow and treat processes. Each segment has unique requirements. A few thousand operators account for 75 percent of the purchases. The report will analyze the processes and provide forecast of purchases not only by country but by purchaser.  Individual segmentation and analysis will be provided  for

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Distilled spirits
  • Soft drinks
  • Dairy
  • Corn/Grain
  • Fruit/Vegetable including juices
  • Meat/Poultry/Seafood
  • Oils
  • Sugar Cane/Beet
  • Confectionery

The report is being customized to some extent depending on the specific products which are of interest.   Presently the scope includes decanter centrifuges, basket centrifuges disk centrifuges, belt filters, filter presses, cross flow membranes and cartridges.  The potential scope includes dryers, pumps, valves, instrumentation and air pollution control products. Clients will receive excel files with specific product forecasts for each segment in each country and forecasts by purchaser. In each case this report will be a supplement to the product market  reports which already includes food but as one industry.   For more information on this initiative contact Bob McIlvaine at  or by cell 847 226 2391.



The Compromise Solution in the Climate Change Debate

World Wide Tree Planting and Biomass Ready Coal Plants are the Compromise Climate Change Solution

Biomass ready coal fired plants and a worldwide tree planting program are the best path forward to dealing with climate change issues. 

·       The concern by advocates of fossil fuel elimination is that the damage will occur 50 years from now but the path will be irreversible.  But a new technology to suck the CO2 out of the air means that the crisis can be abated.

·       Massive tree planting now will take out CO2 for the next 40 years but when these trees die there needs to be biomass combustors which use the energy and sequester the CO2.

·       Analyses by Drax shows how one 4000 MW former coal plant can burn biomass, sequester CO2 and create 50% of the CO2 reduction goals for the entire country.

·       Analyses by researchers show planning 1.2 trillion trees is the best way to reduce CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

·       The McIlvaine analysis shows that 30-40 years from now when the 1.2 trillion trees start to die, they can be a cheap source of biomass for combustors.

·       Breakthroughs on CO2 capturing solvents and use of CO2 in fracking and other new applications will make sequestration economic.

·       CFB boilers are capable of handling a wide variety of fuels from coal to relatively poor quality biomass.

·       India has already determined that CFB boilers are a cost effective option.

·       This compromise program will result in better life quality for citizens of the world than any other and can be evaluated based on a common metric to measure all harm and good.

If developing countries move ahead with their coal fired boiler plans but make those combustors biomass ready in the future and if the tree planting program moves forward, this provides a cost effective approach which should receive wide spread support.

This support will be even broader if logic is applied to the options and if there is agreement that people should have what they want and not necessarily what someone 5,000 miles away thinks they should have. People can be relied upon to make rational choices with the adoption of a common metric to measure all harm and good.  This is explained in an article below.

Why can India Justify Coal-fired Power Plant Expansion?

India is expanding coal-fired power capacity and can justify it based on the Sustainability Universal Rating System. 

India expects coal-fired power capacity to grow by 22 percent in three years. That’s according to the Chief Engineer at the country’s Federal Power Ministry, Ghanshyam Prasad, who Reuters reported as stating coal capacity is likely to reach 238 GW by 2022.

India’s Coal Minister, Pralhad Joshi previously said annual coal demand rose by 9.1 percent during the year ending March 2019, noting the figure hit 991.35 million tons, driven primarily by utilities, which accounted for three-quarters of total demand. The anticipated growth is likely to affect efforts to cut emissions and could risk worsening already poor air quality. India’s electricity demand rose by 36 percent in the seven years up to April 2019, while coal-fired generation capacity during the period rose by three-quarters to 194.44GW.

Pralhad Joshi said, despite the growth rate in thermal capacity outpacing electricity consumption in the last few years, more coal-fired power plants will still be needed in the future to meet growth.  He added: “If we have to meet demand and address the intermittencies we have with solar and wind, we have no choice but to keep depending on coal-based generation in the near future”

India must address the question of balancing the benefits to the world vs. the benefits to citizens of India. Cardinal Health contracted with McIlvaine to answer a similar question relative to single-use surgical garments. Should a hospital throw away surgical garments after each use or wash them?  Washing exposes local hospital clients to the risks of viruses in the water while manufacturing the garments generates CO2 somewhere. One risk is personal and immediate. The other risk is long term and general.

McIlvaine realized that it was necessary to develop a common metric to measure harm and good. This metric is labeled Quality Enhanced Life Days (QELD). It is described in a hospital magazine article In terms of decision making, QELD is radically different from the accepted medical metric Quality Adjusted Life Years  (QALY).

Let’s say an Indian without electricity sleeps more hours at night. Without a large income he eats more fruit and vegetables and less ice cream and pizza. The Indian without electricity lives to age 90 while the Indian with electricity only lives to age 88. The QELD metric would rate the electricity option as superior while the QALY metric rates the “no electricity” scenario as superior. It is only common sense. Would you rather be in solitary confinement for the next 50 years or only live 40 years longer leading your present life?

The quality of life has to be taken into account in any government policy. If coal-fired power can give reliable electricity to millions 10 years earlier than a plan that excludes coal, then the quality of life benefits have to be taken into consideration. Discounted future value  has to be considered. The millionaire in the U.S. setting up a trust fund for his grandchildren enhances his life quality with this sacrifice. The Indian grandfather worried about the basic needs of his grandchildren will take satisfaction from making life better for them now. Since many of the negative impacts of greenhouse gases are long term, there is the necessity to realize that the discounted future value is dependent on the personal QELD of the individual.

It would be possible for the Indian government to estimate the cumulative QELD for all Indians for any policy and then choose the one with the greatest aggregate QELD.

Biomass Capable Coal-fired Plants are the Answer for Developing Countries


Developing countries are building more coal-fired power plants than ever existed in the U.S. They will not be dissuaded by arguments about climate change.  If the choice is electricity, ice cream and death through drowning or disease at 85 versus eating raw vegetables in the dark and living to 90, the vast majority of people will choose life quality over quantity.


There is a way to have your cake and eat it too, build biomass-capable coal plants and initiate a worldwide tree planting program.


This maximum flexibility is achieved with a program which greatly increases biomass growth and then allows coal-fired boilers to be converted to biomass combustion if necessary. Here are the reasons this is the best approach.

  • No option, such as wind or solar, would have the CO2 reduction impact of biomass combustion and sequestration. If all fossil boilers switched to this mode, we would take as much CO2 out of the air in the next 30 years as we added to it in the last 30 years.
  • The cost in the near term is very low. Biomass-capable generators will not cost more than conventional designs.
  • Longer term, when due to the planting program, there is ample low-cost biomass—the generators can be converted. CO2 sequestration systems will be added using the FGD scrubbers already installed.
  • New uses for sequestered CO2 such as hydraulic fracturing is being developed.


Drax Plans to Suck Out 50 Percent of the Needed UK CO2 Tons and Sequester It


The first carbon dioxide has been captured using C-Capture technology at Drax Power Station in their innovative bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot  This moves Britain further ahead in the race to develop BECCS technologies—essential in the fight against climate change. The project could enable Drax to become the world’s first negative emissions power station—reducing harmful greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.

The demonstration plant at the power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, is using innovative technology, developed by Leeds-based C-Capture, to capture a ton of CO2 a day, during the pilot. It is the first-time carbon dioxide has been captured from the combustion of a 100% biomass feedstock anywhere in the world.

C-Capture utilizes solvent systems with superior CO2 capture potential compared with current industry standards and represents step change technologies that can significantly improve the overall efficiency and economics of the process, and hence reduce the cost and environmental impact.


If the BECCS pilot can be scaled up to deliver negative emissions, Drax Power Station would be helping to remove the gases that cause global warning from the atmosphere at the same time as electricity is produced.


Engineers began commissioning the pilot plant in November with the first carbon now being captured, proving that the proprietary solvent developed by C-Capture can be used to isolate the carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is used to generate electricity.


Data being obtained about the CO2 capture process will continue to be analyzed throughout the pilot to fully understand the potential of the technology and how it could be scaled up at Drax. Part of this will include identifying and developing ways to store and use the carbon dioxide being captured.


Drax has invested £400,000 in the pilot, which could be the first of several projects undertaken at the power station to deliver a rapid, lower-cost demonstration of BECCS.


Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said:“ Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project. Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance – not just for us at Drax, but also for the UK and the rest of the world.


“The successful deployment of BECCS requires us to identify ways in which the carbon dioxide we’re now capturing can be stored or used in other processes and we’re working with the government and other businesses on that.


“We’re focused on working together to make the progress required for us to tackle climate change and enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future.”


The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering have estimated that BECCS could enable us to capture 50 million tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050—approximately half the nation’s emissions target.


Planting Trees can Greatly Reduce the CO2


Natural forests can be supplemented by plantations. This concept has been successfully demonstrated in the UK, Uruguay, Finland and the Southeast U.S. There are many benefits beyond the sequestration and fuel supply.

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.


As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing.”


The analysis found there are 1.7 billion hectares of treeless land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.


The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”


CFB Technology has the Biomass Capability and Needed Efficiency


The Central Electricity Authority in India has concluded that CFB technology has many advantages for new coal-fired boilers. The ability to deal with Indian coals plus biomass, the low NOx emissions and other features are attractive. Progress in increasing the size and efficiency of CFB units over the last decade has made them more cost-effective.


Teesside’s CFB-based 300 MW Biomass Plant


Historically, the utility scale power plant design has been determined by scale economics, fuel availability and environmental impact. The world’s first 300 MW class, 100 percent biomass-fired Tees renewable energy plant (Teesside) is being constructed based on these parameters.


The 299 MWe plant located in the Tee-sport Estate near Middlesbrough, UK, will become the world’s largest circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology-based plant firing only virgin biomass sourced from international sustainable sources.


How CFB Addresses the Challenges of Biomass Burning at Utility Scale


Combustion of biomass poses a number of problems, particularly in utility scale boilers. The circulating fluidized bed has features that control ash agglomeration, fouling and corrosion, and therefore make it particularly suitable for biomass applications, with inherent characteristics that favor low emissions. The technology also has considerable potential for greatly improved steam conditions.


The Value Proposition for CFB Power Plants in Indonesia and Broader Asia


The use of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology has steadily increased in large scale power generation principally because of the technology’s inherent ability to burn a very wide range of fuels, such as low-quality coals and lignites as well as opportunity fuels like petcoke, waste coal washings, biomass and peat.


CFB is the only technology proven to fire these fuels fully or in unlimited combinations while maintaining high plant reliability and low plant maintenance. Its ability to fully fire or co-fire biomass and other carbon neutral waste fuels offers power producers a low risk and affordable path to carbon reduction.


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