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RESEARCH

The Laboratory carries out research in the following five fields:

 

1 - GENERATION OF HIGH-EFFICIENCY HEAT ENERGY

This area of research focuses on the study and development of thermal energy generator prototypes (gas, condensation and biomass boilers) for heating homes, with the aim of reducing consumption, optimising performance, increasing comfort and reducing environmental impact.
These aims are to be achieved through increased yield and reduced emissions at real working load conditions (both residential and commercial).

To this end, at LEAP tests are carried out on yield, power and emissions for different kinds of boilers using a boiler test bench.  The test bench was designed and realised on the basis of the latest requirements of a continually developing market and in order to satisfy the varied requirements of firms operating in this sector.  Flexibility and versatility are the two features which render the test bench suitable for testing new prototypes and for developing new plant designs.

 

 

2 - ENERGY FROM BIOMASS, WASTE AND BYPRODUCTS
Project Leaders > Prof. Stefano Consonni, Prof. Michele Giugliano

This field of research focuses on the production of energy from biomasses, waste and byproducts, with the aim of evaluating technological,  energy, environmental and financial implications, for both conventional technology such as fixed- or moving-bed combustion,  and for technologies still being developed such as staged combustion, gasification or pyrolysis.  Combustion of waste and byproducts, with and without the production of Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) is simulated and evaluated in an integrated context where materials recovery and energy recovery both have a determining role.  From an analysis of the whole treatment process and evaluation of the overall mass and energy balances, a Life Cycle Analysis provides the indices of energy and environmental merit for comparison of the technological and managerial alternatives.

As regards experimentation, the laboratory possesses avant-garde instruments for measuring fine and ultrafine dust, as well as for measuring the principle regulated pollutants.  These instruments, which permit evaluation of the effects of events occurring after release into the atmosphere, can also be used for all fixed combustion plant fuelled by natural gas and liquid and solid fuel.

 

 

3 - THERMOHYDRAULICS OF NUCLEAR PLANT COMPONENTS
Project Leader > Prof. Marco Ricotti

The study and thermohydraulic testing of critical components and systems, such as steam generators and passive safety systems, is very important for new-generation nuclear reactors.  Apart from being important as regards efficiency and cost, new types of steam generators may play a decisive role in increasing the safety of new reactors.  In collaboration with the SIET laboratories, LEAP possesses the expertise and facilities for the investigation and thermohydraulic definition of the full-scale and prototype conditions (pressures, temperatures, power) of components and systems such as innovative steam generators (for example with helical and spiral tubes) and the corresponding bi-phase natural circulation safety systems.

The theoretical and experimental study of biphase mixtures permits the identification of thermal crisis conditions, the evaluation of load losses and the areas of stable functioning of passive systems.

 

 
4 - TECHNOLOGY FOR FOSSIL FUEL USE AND CO2 CAPTURE 
Project Leader > Prof. Paolo Chiesa

This stream of research involves studying several aspects concerning the possibility of setting up power stations for the generation of electricity and hydrogen fuelled by liquid fuels but where the CO2 produced, instead of being released via the flue, is separated and made available as a highly pure flow for long-term underground storage.  This activity is being developed in two main directions: the first is devoted to the evaluation of the thermal balances of these power stations using sophisticated software developed by LEAP; the second activity, combining theoretical and experimental investigation, aims to provide reliable models for the calculation of the thermodynamic properties of mixtures of CO2 and other gases, resulting from the separation techniques used in the power plant.

Knowledge of these properties is fundamental, not only for the design of plant fitted with CO2 capture systems but also for determining the size of the gas pipelines carrying the CO2 from where it is produced to the storage area and for studying the physics of CO2 injection and migration processes in the geological formations used for storage.

 

 

5 - RENEWABLE OR RELATED FORMS OF ENERGY
Project Leader > Prof. Stefano Consonni

Activity regarding renewable energy is focused on solar and wind power.  For solar power technical and cost evaluations are being carried out on photovoltaic panels, both conventional and new designs (multijunction, sun tracking, etc.); the issues considered include integration with innovative systems of electrical conversion.
A project is currently being defined for the simulation and testing of concentration photovoltaic technology, with cogeneration of heat at low temperature.  For wind energy, potential production at regional and national level is being evaluated, with the aim of identifying the best sites for installing medium and large plant.
Activity regarding sources related to renewable energy also falls within this area, especially industrial cogeneration and cogeneration with domestic district heating.

Simulations, evaluations of performance and emissions, and studies of feasibility, process optimization and plant configuration are carried out for these systems.