Since the 1970s, China's energy supply has been relying heavily on coal.
However, due to the pollution caused by improper usage of energy resources and low efficiency of the coal processing, conversion, and combustion processes, the coal industry has created a series of environment problems, including contamination of underground water, land subsidence in mine areas, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), diffusion of sodium peroxide, and so on.
To overcome these challenges, coal water slurry fuel (CWSF), a product of clean coal technology (CCT), was introduced as an alternative for traditional coal burning. CCTs are a series of new technologies that aim at reducing the pollution resulting from the processing and use of coal and improving the efficiency of the coal processing, conversion, and combustion processes. CWSF is a mixture that contains 55-70 percent of coal particles, 30-45 percent of water, and less than 1 percent of additives. The customers have to equip a special boiler before CWSF is consumed. Once CWSF is fed into the special boiler and it undergoes the chemical reaction process in it, energy can be produced and released. This energy can be used in generating electricity, heating, support processing, and manufacturing. There are two outstanding characteristics of CWSF - cost advantage over fuel oil and environmental friendliness over coal. The cost per unit energy (1,000 kcal) produced using fuel oil is around RMB0.426, while it is only RMB0.211 for that produced using CWSF. This makes CWSF the best alternative to traditional primary energy resources such as fuel oil. When compared to coal, CWSF has higher burn-off rate as well as thermal efficiency, which reduces carbon discharge and increases the utilization of coal input. Moreover, CWSF can also contribute to environmental protection due to lower sulfur and soot contents than coal. CWSF emits 79.7 percent less sulfur dioxide and 49.3 percent less soot than coal to generate the same amount of energy.
The Chinese Government supports CWSF as a CCT product and encourages its development because it creates less pollution and has high utilization rate of energy. From 1981 to 2005, the promotion plan of CWSF was recorded in "Five-year Plans" in succession. During this period, a series of relevant technologies was developed in terms of CWSF production, storage, and transportation. In the 10th Five-year Plan (2001-2005), CWSF was recognized as one of the core energy technologies, and its development was supported by financial subsidies. Since 2006, local governments have also been issuing policies to encourage the usage of CWSF in local markets. For example, some provincial governments are making financial aid plans for boiler upgrade and CWSF usage.
The CWSF market in China has developed to the advanced level globally with a nearly thirty years' history. During the next 5-6 years, Frost & Sullivan expects the increasing demand for CWSF, stimulated by government support and the requirement to save energy and reduce emissions, is expected to promote the rapid development of the Chinese CWSF market further.