Circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) is a more recent boiler technology whose higher tolerance to fuel quality has favoured niche application in small-scale and industrial
power generation, often firing unconventional fuels such as waste coal and biomass.
The technology has attained status as a ‘cleaner’ coal technology due to more easily controllable
NOx and SOx emissions, use of CFBC at the utility scale has long been restricted by smaller boiler sizes and lower efficiencies than PCC (Pulverised coal combustion).
However, scale-up and optimisation over the last ten years have allowed CFB boilers to benefit
from economies of scale and begin to provide a viable alternative to PCC for utility power generation. The successful operation of the first supercritical CFB boiler at Lagisza power plant in Poland has proven this technology for utilities. In China, 300 MW subcritical CFB boilers have
managed to capture around 10% of the country’s rapidly growing coal capacity. Recently,
the world’s largest supercritical CFBC unit at 600 MW was commissioned.
The ongoing construction of a multiple unit 4400 MW CFBC plant in South Korea is further evidence that this technology is becoming more viable.