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Future prospects

In industry, FLOX burners are primarily used because they entail low nitrogen oxide emissions, even with intensive preheating of combustion air. Thus, exhaust gas heat can be utilised, even with high process temperatures, which reduces the fuel requirement by up to 50%. This technology offers further advantages: the combustion chamber has a more uniform temperature distribution, the burner's thermal load and noise emissions are lower, the burners are often more reliable, and they have lower quality requirements of the combustion gas. Climbing energy prices and strict emissions requirements will serve to promote the implementation of FLOX burners further. New developments, for instance in combustion processes for glass-melting tanks, broaden the fields of application for this technology.

Globally, interest in flameless combustion is growing outside the traditional fields of application. In research, there is a particular focus on electricity generation, using conventional energy sources and also using energy sources which have as yet not seen much use, e.g. lean gases.
With a clean and reliable technology, lean gases can be used for generation of heat and electricity much more often than they have been to date. If used consistently, it is possible to increase the utilisation of biomass in Europe by 50%. At the same time, the nitrogen oxide emissions from biomass combustion could be decreased by 76,000 tonnes per year.
Flameless combustion can assume an important role in power plant technology. WS-Wärmeprozesstechnik GmbH is researching the implementation of FLOX in gas turbines in cooperation with DLR, the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (German Aerospace Centre).
By far the greatest potential for CO2 reduction is in efficient coal combustion. In the international research project FLOX-COAL, a pilot system has been realised for the combustion of pulverised coal. Here, with the flameless burner, extremely low NOx emissions are achieved.

Also of significance is that flameless combustion can be an important component of a CO2-free fossil power plant. In the new joint project OXYCOAL-AC, researchers from various tertiary institutions and companies are now working on the implementation of this idea. The individual projects are sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi), the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Science and Research (MWF), and industrial partners. Initial projects were approved as part of COORETEC, the "research and development concept for low-emission fossil-fuelled power plants" initiated by BMWi at the end of 2003.

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