Neyveli Lignite Corporation has expanded its search area for the right pelletisation technology from Germany to Australia and Japan, as it seeks to increase the use of lignite (brown coal) for power production.

The state-owned company is speeding up its efforts to set up India’s first pilot plant in Tamil Nadu using suitable overseas technology to convert lignite into pellets.

If successful, this could give a significant boost to India’s power generation capacity, as the country’s vast lignite resources could be used in more significant scoops for meeting domestic energy needs.

Pelletisation essentially seeks to convert lignite into pellets that can compete with coal in terms of calorific value and ability to be transported to longer distances.

Lignite’s use in power production is handicapped by the fact that it has a much shorter spontaneous heating time compared to coal.

And hence, this raw material cannot be transported beyond 100-odd km by rail or road, necessitating power units to be set up in the vicinity of the pit heads.

Hunt for technology

Last year, the company had started its hunt for the right technology in Germany, which developed a way to preserve the inherent moisture content in lignite by converting it into pellets and thus prolong the spontaneous heating time.

Also, the calorific value of pellets could be raised from 3,000 kilo calories to about 6,500 kilo calories.

“We are now looking for other pelletisation technologies in Australia and Japan. We have recently sent teams to these countries to study the available technologies there,” NLC Chairman Surender Mohan told Business Line here.

This has also been included in the agenda of the Indo-Japan Working Group on Mining.

(This article was published on December 11, 2012)
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