Diesel engines have run on coal in the past. High thermal efficiencies and fast response times reportedly make this a potentially useful route to low emissions power generation, if the engine wear issues are resolved. This study was commissioned to gain understanding of the techno-economic prospects for developing such a technology. Micronised Refined Coal (MRC) fuel for DICE engines was successfully made from a range of black coals, and from brown coal.
The project analysed scenarios of the engine life required to compete with available thermal generation processes. Engine run hours, that must be achieved for breakeven economics with the alternatives, gave an indication of the degree of engine development effort required.
The results suggested that with development, DICE could be competitive for remote area power where the alternative is trucked diesel.