ECOCOMBUST: researching alternatives to coal with EDF

How can existing thermal power plants continue to be used while reducing their coal blueprint? How to replace coal? These questions were at the heart of the ECOCOMBUST project launched by EDF in 2018. Ever since its launch, WESSLING has been involved in R&D and has placed its expertise at the service of EDF. A look back at the project!

Centrale thermique de cordemais où le projet R&D de WESSLING a eu lieu

As part of the energy transition, EDF has studied a way of replacing coal with fuel from wood waste that has not been recovered to date. This project consists of transforming wood waste through direct contact with steam. This densification of wood is accompanied by gaseous emissions that had to be quantified and optimised in order to comply with regulatory emission thresholds. For this purpose, EDF developed the pilot (demonstrator), then the prototype (semi-industrial scale) on the site of the Cordemais power plant, in Loire-Atlantique. 

Within the ECOCOMBUST project, WESSLING has been involved in the "measurement and monitoring of gaseous effluents" subject. In this context, our R&D team has designed and implemented innovative sampling and treatment techniques to control and identify the co-products generated during the steam treatment of wood. We also developed analytical methods for project-specific compounds.

Philippe LE BEVILLON, EDF Project Manager, states: “Within the framework of the services entrusted to it, WESSLING has been able to adapt its measuring devices to the constraints of the EDF densification processes, which remain experimental devices, and has been able to propose solutions for carrying out exhaustive measurements of gaseous emissions.”

For this long-term project, EDF benefited from a reliable partner and a dedicated project team in WESSLING. Our staff put multiple technical skills at the service of the client to develop reliable and repeatable methods, aimin towards the securing of results.

The intervention of WESSLING enabled EDF to obtain a complete mapping of the gaseous releases in order to adapt the densification devices and limit the releases.

More details

Project stages:

  • Consultation with WESSLING to study technical feasibilities,
  • Establishment of a close collaboration for its technical development,
  • Methodology development on the EDF site,
  • Design and deployment of a sampling prototype on site,
  • Analysis and monitoring of the production of a “Black Pellet” that can be crushed and used in a thermal power plant for electricity or hot water production.

Other highlights:

  • The prototype has been proven to work well by demonstration.
  • A production plant project was designed.
  • The project was suspended by EDF in 2021.

Your contact for R&D projects

Stephane Fievet