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Lee Roberts


I graduated in 2014 with a BSc in Physics for New Technology at the University of Liverpool, a course that covers a wide range of subjects within physics whilst also focusing on aspects regarding innovation and manufacture. The bulk of my final year consisted of planning and developing a particle detector for a university exhibition.

Research Interests

Additives and Materials to Mitigate Slagging and Fouling in Biomass Combustion.

During biomass combustion, the inorganic components in the fuel are converted to ash. Depending upon the composition of the ash it can become soft and even molten at the high temperatures involved in combustion. This softened, sticky ash can deposit on boiler walls (slagging), and, as it is transported from the combustion zone to the cooler zones in the boiler, it can condense and deposit on heat transfer surfaces (fouling). It can then capture other ash particles and a large deposit can develop which not only decreases the efficiency of the boiler, but also increases the rate of corrosion. Fluidised bed or grate combustion is often used for smaller scale biomass units, and here there is an additional problem, of bed agglomeration. The cost of these issues to the global utility industry is several billion dollars a year.

One method to reduce deposition is to use an additive to alter the nature and composition of the biomass ash, both within the boiler itself and during its removal using electrostatic precipitators, and to determine how the effect that this will have through both experiments and modelling. Another approach is to make the boiler materials themselves more difficult to deposit upon, through the use of anti-fouling coatings. My research will look at both of the above ways to reduce the rate of this deposition, how effective they may be in practice, and to develop a model to predict the deposition rate of the ash.

Why I chose the CDT in Bioenergy

The innovation and manufacturing aspects of my degree, coupled with a final year module on renewable energy sources, led to my interest in the Bioenergy CDT. The course seemed ideal for me to utilise my practical skills in a relevant and important field, with the potential to work at the forefront of technology and with industry.