Interview with prof. dr hab. Eng. Wojciech Nowak

Do you think that Polish conventional energy is at a high level?

As far as coal energy is concerned, yes. Blocks built with us match the best in the world. We also excel in fluidized bed technology. The duoblock created in Korea is modeled on it – 2000MW on coal. In recent years, a project has been created whose goal was to create pilot devices, including carbon dioxide capture and installation based on solid sorbents. Such an installation is located in the Łagisza Power Plant, where scientists from all over the world come to see it.

How to fight air pollution caused by burning coal?

The worst in flue gas is 2.5 and 10 micron dust. Unfortunately, it is not possible to retain these particles in home coal stoves. On the other hand, electrostatic precipitators are installed on modern chimneys in a CHP plant. They capture harmful compounds and convert them into products useful for humans. Oxides of sulfur, nitrogen and dust are captured from energy flue gas even in 100%. There is social pressure to limit coal burning, and all energy is really responsible for only 10% of smog. Transport and diesel engines have a much larger share . The alternative for using coal in domestic furnaces is network heat generated in modern combined heat and power plants. Unfortunately, it is not available everywhere. Hence our search for portable heat sources that would be zero-emission. We are also working on a technology for clean coal burning.

What is the role of new technological solutions in the modernization of the Polish energy sector?

We are constantly looking for new solutions that are not yet discussed in Poland. We want to develop the energy of the future. Together with one of the American companies, we are testing ceramic materials to be used to protect surfaces. At the Energy Center established at the AGH University of Science and Technology we deal with research and development in power networks, conventional energy and work on e-mobility. We implement projects related to energy, its effective production and processing, and in the field of creating renewable sources. We are developing new ways to use electricity storage technology. We are talking about storage of compressed or liquefied air, chemical products (salts) and gases. The next implemented project is the production of lithium batteries. This is a patent from AGH and UJ. The manufactured cells are equally good or even better than the leading global producers. The only thing missing is an investor who will undertake the construction of a Polish battery factory. It is worth mentioning that the AGH team has already started working on sodium batteries, which are cheaper and based on domestic raw materials. We also deal with biofuels and alternative fuels. In the matter of heat storage, programs have been launched, involving the use of phase transformations for this purpose. We are talking about phase-change batteries, in which the material that is charged at night melts during the day, and gives off heat during crystallization. In the future, it may be a small device that will provide heat. Everyone will be able to use it in the selected room. This solution can be a breakthrough in the field of heating and the use of waste heat generated in combined heat and power plants.

It is also worth mentioning the production of cold. We want to propose solutions that will make cold from waste or district heat. We are dealing here with the technology of production by adsorption methods. In this matter, we work with the university in Singapore that developed it. We also signed a contract with one of the Warsaw companies with which we further develop this technology. We already have specific implementations. The “cold” devices are already working commercially, eg in Zielona Góra. In addition, the cold using waste heat from combined heat and power plants increases the profitability of cogeneration. As a result, we get a new quality – trigeneration.

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