The British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA)

The following history of the Leatherhead, Surrey, UK, based Research Establishment known as BCURA
(spoken as B'CURA or, effectionately by long-term employees, as just 'CURA)
was written by Alan G Roberts, in September 2006.

Coal Utilisation Research by the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA)
and the National Coal Board's Coal Utilisation Research Laboratories (CURL)
at Leatherhead, Surrey (UK), in the 20th Century.


Document written by A.G.Roberts*

Introduction

For almost 40 years, starting in 1945, research into ways of using coal was carried out at Leatherhead, Surrey, by the British Coal Utilisation Research Association (BCURA), which transformed into the Coal Utilisation Research Laboratories (CURL) in 1972. At its peak, BCURA was internationally recognised as one of the best (and arguably the best) in the world within its sphere of activity.

With the demise of the coal industry in the U.K., it seemed to the author* that the importance of the Leatherhead work was in danger of disappearing into oblivion. This short history is an attempt to record some of the things that made the Leatherhead site important and famous in its day.

*Alan G Roberts worked at BCURA in Leatherhead for 34 years, and was the last person to leave the site in 1984.


Origins
At some time after the first world war, an Act of Parliament set up the
Co-operative Industrial Research Association Scheme with the aim of encouraging individual industries, particularly those comprising a large number of small firms, to band together and sponsor research in their common interest. Financial support was given by the government through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), in an agreed proportion to that provided by the industry itself. This was an attempt (largely successful) to promote industrial research which was chronically lacking in those days (and is virtually non-existent nowadays!). The Research Associations which were formed included:- British Iron and Steel R.A.; Electrical R.A.; British Coke R.A.; Food Manufacturing R.A.; Printing and Packaging R.A.; Cotton R.A.; Leather R.A.
Eventually, some 15 to 20 Associations were formed.

The exact impetus for the formation of BCURA (one of the biggest of these Associations, although not the biggest) is uncertain, but probably came from two groups:

  • the British Colliery Owners Association and
  • the Combustion Appliance Makers (solid fuel) Association.

Implementation of the necessary agreements started in 1937, and the first official meeting (Council meeting) was held in London on 18th May 1938. Premises were leased in and around London, to enable experimental work to start. There were 60 staff in 1938, and the income for that year was £15,700.
Premises were at Rickett St. (where the British Iron and Steel R.A. already had an establishment), at Camberwell (workshops amongst other things), Trapp's Lane (Drawing office amongst other things), and Coombe Springs in Kingston. Combustion studies and domestic appliance research were carried out at Rickett St., but some laboratories moved to Coombe Springs (which was a large house) when Rickett St. was hit by bombs in 1941. The Head Office was in Victoria Street. There was a BCURA Home Guard unit based at Rickett St., commanded by the Director General!

Leatherhead Site
It must have been realized at an early stage that having a number of relatively small sites around London was not ideal and was not going to be adequate for future expansion. A further factor was that the sites were generally on short leases, which in some cases were to finish at the end of the war. So, in January 1944, the Association purchased 20 acres of land in Leatherhead, Surrey. The purchase price was £19,000 and the land stretched from Randall's Rd. to the railway line.

Almost immediately, plans were made to build the Engineering Research Building, a structure probably 100 metres long by 40 metres wide, with a two-storey row of offices along the length, and tall enough to accommodate any foreseeable pilot plant. This building was completed in 1945 and was occupied by the Furnace Dept, the Gas Producer Dept, and the Boiler Dept. In 1946, twelve Ministry of Works "huts" were installed along the ridge between Randall's Rd. and the railway line. Although designated "huts", they were in fact solid brick-built single-storey buildings, each about 50 metres long. They were arranged in pairs with a total width of perhaps 10 to 15 metres, connected by a central corridor about 2 metres wide, and housing the administration, the library, and the basic laboratories. Always thought of as temporary buildings, they in fact lasted for over 40 years.

Transfer from the London sites was complete by the end of 1946, with the exception of the Domestic Appliance Dept., which moved into a specially purchased large house at Pebblecombe, just outside Leatherhead. Eventually, a new building was erected at Randall's Rd., about the same size as the Engineering Research Building, and the Domestic Appliance Dept. moved there in 1953. For a time, the library and the Drawing Office were also sited at Pebblecoombe and the Chemistry Department was temporarily sited in the centre of Leatherhead. All the buildings at Randalls Rd. were confined to one portion of the site (14 acres), leaving about 6 acres allocated for recreational purposes, mostly football and cricket (BCURA teams played in local leagues) and four hard-surface tennis courts. The Sports and Social side of BCURA was highly-developed. As well as the football, cricket and tennis clubs, there were organized clubs for Billiards & Snooker; Bridge; Chess; Darts; Golf; Table tennis; and Horticulture.

Leatherhead Council was co-operative in all this. It is believed that they wished to encourage some "middle-class" employment in the area. For example, the Electrical Research Association (ERA) and one of the main laboratories for the newly nationalized Central Electricity Board (CEGB) (both organizations that were larger than BCURA), were established on neighbouring sites in the 1950's, and also in the 1950's part of the BCURA site was sold to two small research associations, i.e. the Food Manufacturing Research Association and the Printing & Packaging Research Association. So that by the end of the 1950's, this part of Leatherhead was essentially a Research Park, employing several hundred qualified scientists and engineers with back-up staff.

Organisation structure
Almost from the start, and certainly by 1950, a quite formal administrative structure was in position. Membership of the organisations contributing to the income of BCURA consisted of four groups:

  • the coal and coke producers (who became the National Coal Board - NCB - in 1946)
  • large coal users such as General Electric Co., I.C.I., B.P., Shell, Tate & Lyle, Vauxhall Motors
  • coal appliance manufacturers such as Babcock & Wilcox, International Combustion, Simon Carves, Wellmans, Woodall-Duckhams, and most of the domestic appliance manufacturers
  • coal factors such as Charringtons and Halls.

Subscriptions for these member groups were based on the size of the individual companies, although there does not appear to have been any upper limit.

Overall control on behalf of the members was in the hands of the BCURA Council, elected by the members and quite independent of the actual BCURA staff. In the 1950's and 60's there were about 40 member representatives on the Council, with a fair sprinkling of well-known scientific and industrial names. The research programmes were in the hands of a Research Committee (about 25 member representatives) who could initiate or control the direction of research, although in practice they were there to formally approve programmes put forward by BCURA staff. Finance was controlled by the Finance Committee, and a General Purposes Committee was responsible for buildings, etc. Facsimiles of the composition of these various Committees for 1958, 1962 and 1963 are reproduced in Appendix 1.

Day-to-day control of BCURA was in the hands of a Director General (DG), appointed by the Council and, of course, he represented the BCURA staff on the various committees. Under the DG was a Deputy Director General, followed by two Directors - one in charge of the Basic Studies Laboratories and the other in charge of the Industrial Laboratories. Each of these two sub-divisions contained a number of departments (e.g. chemistry, physics, boiler, domestic appliance, etc.), each headed by a Superintendent. The work of these departments is described later.

The first Director General was J.G.Bennett. Why he was chosen is a bit of a mystery. He was a mathematician and philosopher, involved in eastern spiritual mysticism even before his appointment. He operated from Coombe Springs (Kingston), and when he resigned in 1944 (apparently unhappy with arrangements inside BCURA) he purchased the Coombe Springs site and founded the Institute for the Co-operative Study of History, Philosophy and Sciences, a spiritual movement which is now based in the USA and which appears to be flourishing. Bennett has subsequently been said to have been "without doubt, the greatest British philosopher of the 20th century", although his value to BCURA remains obscure.

BCURA expanded rapidly in the war years - from a staff of 60 (income £15,700) in 1938 to 310 (income £127,600) in 1943. Between 1943 and 1947 income averaged about £200,000 per year. The total number of people in employment in 1957 was 304, of which 71 were scientific grade (i.e. degree status) and 125 were other research staff (i.e. qualified in some way).

A temporary DG was appointed after J.G.Bennett until Professor D.T.A.Townend was approached and asked if he would like the job. He was, at that time, Livesy Professor of Coal, Gas and Fuel Industries at Leeds University with a past history of research into flames and combustion kinetics of gases. After some discussion, he accepted the post and started full-time duties in January 1946. He was thus the first Director General at the Leatherhead site.

By the time Prof. Townend retired in 1962, BCURA was a fully-established organization with an international reputation, much of it probably due to his influence. Either by natural progression or, again, due to his influence, BCURA existed and operated like a semi-university, with inter-university contacts and also contacts with similar foreign State coal groupings, particularly in Germany (Bergbau Forschung-Shefte in Essen) and Holland (Dutch State Mines).

Mr.D.Hicks was the next DG, being brought in from a senior scientific post in the East Midlands Division of the National Coal Board (NCB, eventually British Coal Corporation, BCC). Rumour amongst BCURA staff was that Hicks was appointed to "deal" with the NCB, who were to become increasingly antagonistic towards BCURA. In 1948, the NCB had set up its own Central Research Establishment, becoming (by 1955) the Coal Research Establishment (CRE) at Stoke Orchard, near Cheltenham. In many ways, CRE was a poor replicate of BCURA and relations between individuals at CRE and BCURA were often strained. The objectives of CRE, to help the sale of coal, were slightly different to those of BCURA, being "to assist its members". CRE also had its own internal problems within the NCB; most of the influential people in the NCB were ex-mining engineers who believed that the purpose of the NCB was to produce coal and not to be involved in research.

Hicks retired in 1967, to be temporarily replaced by R.L.Brown, a mathematician who had been the deputy DG since the inception of BCURA. He soon retired and, in late 1967, was replaced by Dr.L.C.F.Blackman, a youngish career-based scientist.

BCURA Closure
It was about this time that the UK government's Dept. of Industrial and Scientific Research (DSIR) decided that the NCB had become too powerful in BCURA affairs and that BCURA no longer qualified as a Research Association. Hence, the government withdrew its grant and, on 1st January 1969, BCURA became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NCB, with all other members being asked to resign.

An attempt was made, under Dr.Blackman, to diversify into general research, but not enough time was available for this before the NCB announced the closure of BCURA in 1971. The run-down took approximately a year and was carried out under the direction of Mr.J.S.Hales, who had been with BCURA since the start and had been notable for his work in the domestic appliance field. Meanwhile Dr.Blackman left BCURA during 1971.

This was a very traumatic time for the staff, particularly from a pension point of view. Many of them retired with some sort of pension, and some relocated to the NCB's Coal Research Establishment. Most of the BCURA staff belonged to the F.S.S.U. pension fund (Federated Superannuation System for Universities), perhaps an instigation of Townend's. This was a university orientated scheme; basically a very good one with the usual arrangement of a retirement pension of X/60ths. of the final salary. However, with the shut-down of BCURA, the pension fund was frozen and contributors were paid a lump sum. Those of the staff who were re-employed by the NCB joined the NCB pension fund with an effective starting date being the date of change-over. The NCB pension fund is actually a very good one (virtually equivalent to the FSSU scheme), nowadays underwritten by the government. Nevertheless, this represented a considerable loss of future pension for the older staff.

Although BCURA ceased operating in 1971-72, the name continued to exist for a time. Because of the origins of the Research Associations, disposal of the capital (quite considerable) arising from the sale of the site and its assets, presented some legal difficulties. It was eventually decided to use this capital to "promote research by offering grants to academic Institutions in the field of coal science" and BCURA (the name by then just an acronym) became a small office in Cheltenham.

Formation of CURL
In the event, however, coal research on the BCURA Leatherhead site did not, in fact, cease for more than another decade. In 1968, Mr.H.R.Hoy, (Raymond Hoy, later to be awarded the O.B.E) had started research into pressurised fluidised-bed combustion (PFBC) in the Process Development Department, and by 1972 had managed to activate interest from, in particular, American organisations. He had, by this time, been promoted to Director 'A', and along with Director 'B' (Dr. George Thurlow) was in charge of a mix of basic and industrial departments. These changes in the hierarchy were really made to accommodate the fact that two Superintendents of industrial departments (one of whom was Raymond Hoy) were due for promotion.

By the time of the BCURA closure, the development of PFBC in the Process Development Department (PDD) was beginning to achieve international recognition and it became difficult for the NCB to shut down this particular activity. It has been suggested** that there was pressure from the government and from the U.S.A. on the NCB to keep the project alive. Mr Hoy himself was extremely active in promoting this, and he persuaded some of the staff to back him. Thus, in 1972, the site area occupied by the PDD, together with some miscellaneous buildings, became known as the NCB Coal Utilisation Research Laboratories. Very rapidly this became known, simply, as CURL, with H.R.Hoy as the Director. Its existence and fortunes can be ascribed almost entirely to the intransigence and leadership of H.R.Hoy. Work on PFBC continued on the site until 1984, interspersed in the late 1970's with a huge gasification project for a private American consortium (see later). H.R.Hoy retired (reluctantly) in 1983 and CURL was closed down in 1984, by which time all existing contracts had been completed. Shortly afterwards, all buildings associated with CURL were demolished.

M Fisher (website author) visited the site in 2010 to find that all evidence of the existence of BCURA/CURL had vanished. The site was (then) an up-market business park/ housing development.

** In 2001, Dr. Steve Wright published, privately, his account of trials and tribulations at BCURA, NCB, and finally at Grimethorpe. He worked at BCURA from 1962 to 1969 where he was one of the first (perhaps the first) to work on fluidised-bed combustion at atmospheric pressure (AFBC). He moved to NCB Headquarters (Hobart House, London) to join a Control Group dealing with commercial designs for atmospheric and pressurised fluidised-bed boilers, and from the mid-1970's until closure of the Grimethorpe PFBC research plant in 1992 was, in effect, the managing director of the Grimethorpe PFBC project (alongside others with equally senior roles e.g Steve Dawes, Richard Jack, etc)

Scientific Structure and work carried out by the various departments of BCURA
By the time BCURA was established at Leatherhead, the work structure had become formalised. The site was divided into the basic laboratories (chemistry, physics, combustion, mathematics) situated in the "huts", and the industrial laboratories (domestic appliance, boiler availability, gas producer and furnace departments) in the two large purpose-built buildings. One of the "huts" contained the administration and library sections. The library was an important aspect of BCURA. It contained most of the known books concerning coal and related subjects, and subscribed to a wide range of periodicals in several languages, some not directly concerned with coal, such as 'Nature' and 'Journal of Scientific Instruments'. All the facilities of the library were available to the Members as well as to the BCURA staff. The library also handled the publication of BCURA documents. These consisted, broadly, two groups:

  • a monthly Bulletin, which contained a review of a subject by a member of staff, together with a list of abstracts of articles from the technical press which might be of interest to the Members;
  • a series of Informational Circulars which were the means by which the scientific work of BCURA was transmitted to the Members. These were generally of a very high standard and were published as each phase of a particular programme was completed. They were usually the preliminary stage in submitting a paper to one of the technical/scientific journals. These Information Circulars ('circular' was an inappropriate word-they were mostly full-scale reports) were available to Members only, and were printed in-house. In all, there were about 350 such I.C.s produced.

Monthly Bulletins and the Annual Report were professionally-printed externally.

The contents of the BCURA library, and in particular all the Information Circulars and Bulletins, are now (2009) stored in the library of the North of England Institute of Mining & Electrical Engineering, Neville Hall, Westgate Rd. Newcastle-on-Tyne. Tel. 01912 332459. These documents are accessible for consultation.

An idea of the scope of the work carried out by BCURA is best illustrated by the facsimile of lists of these Information Circulars produced between about 1954 and 1959, reproduced in Appendix 2, together with the Address by the President to Members at the Annual General Meeting of May 1962 (see Appendix 3, taken from one of the BCURA publications). More details of some of the work carried out in the different departments is given below.

BASIC LABORATORIES
These laboratories were often, or mostly, engaged in long-term fundamental investigations which were not always of direct relevance to the Members. In many ways this led to a university-type approach and atmosphere!

Chemistry Department
This had two distinct sections. Firstly, the Analytical Section was concerned with routine analysis of coal and ash, flue gases, ash fusion characteristics, etc. These analyses were carried out as a service to other departments, and occasionally to Members. From time to time, specialized analytical methods were developed to meet specific requirements and traditional methods were continually up-dated or "modernized".

Secondly, a significant section was concerned with efforts to evaluate the complex molecular structure of coal - its internal capillary surface, its influence on the composition of volatiles (e.g. see ref. 1). This was something which had been in progress since the early part of the century - for example, the work of Bone and Wheeler at Imperial College - and derived from the important chemical industry based on coal which existed from, say, 1850 to 1960.

Combustion Department
This department was concerned with two related projects:

(1) The rates of devolatilisation and combustion of pulverized coal particles, using special furnaces capable of producing a gas of controllable composition and temperature;
(2) the emission of corrosive substances (such as sulphur trioxide) during combustion of coal particles, together with the behaviour of corrosive deposits which form when the ash constituents of coal combine with sulphur trioxide and collect on metal surfaces.

Work was carried out at laboratory-scale (test-tubes), allied to work with small laboratory furnaces. One of the features was the development of dew-point meters to measure the temperature at which sulphur trioxide in flue gases condenses to form sulphuric acid. Corrosion of, and deposition on, superheater tubes was a major problem in the large water-tube boilers which were being installed by the CEGB in a major expansion after the war. Corrosion of superheater tubes was also a feature of the oil-fired boilers beginning to be installed, and the BCURA work was extended to include oil fuels, although this never became a dominant feature of the work. Both BP and SHELL were Members.

Working in close collaboration with the Combustion Department was the Boiler Availability Department (in the Industrial Laboratories Section) which carried out investigations on the large boilers in the CEGB. Special probes were developed for collecting and analysing deposits in these boilers. The Boiler Availability Department also built a small pulverised fuel combustor (50lb/h; approx. 22.5kg/h) for studying deposit formation on a larger scale than could be managed by the Combustion Departrment.

Much of the fundamental work on the combustion of coal tended to be in the hands of the universities (notably Imperial College and Sheffield) and practical development in the hands of the big boiler manufactures and the CEGB. BCURA decided in the early 1960's to gather together a group of four scientists from the Basic and Industrial Laboratories to review the subject and to extend existing knowledge. This culminated some years later in the publication of a book (ref.2) which became generally acknowledged to be the definitive treatment of the subject. It led to several developments (e.g. see ref.3).

It is appropriate at this point to record that the most famous 'graduate' of BCURA was probably Rosalyn Franklin, who developed X-ray crystallographic diffraction techniques as a young employee during the war. She left BCURA in 1944, having completed her Ph.D. thesis on 'holes' in coal in 1945 at the age of 25. She went on to become famous' as the woman whose contribution to the discovery of DNA was never officially acknowledged.

A second illustrious BCURA employee was the petrographer C.J.Seyler. In the early part of the 20th century he showed that all solid fuels (from wood to charcoal) could be roughly classified by their carbon and hydrogen contents. From an analysis of these two components it was possible to estimate the volatile matter, calorific value, caking and swelling behaviour and combustion characteristics, using the international Seyler Fuel Chart and Classification System. He worked for BCURA during the war and returned in the 1950's, at the age off 90, for a couple of years. In this latter period he was a figure-head rather than an active scientist.

Physics Department
This department had three major investigations in the 1950's and 60's-studying the wear in coal pulverisers, building and operating a viscometer for measuring the viscosity of coal-ash slags at working temperatures, and developing a method for measuring the solids content of flue gases. The latter became important in the 1960's with the implementation of the Clean Air Acts, and resulted in a practical handbook (ref.4) which became a classic and is still relevant.

Mathematics Department
Two mathematicians provided a service to the other departments (e.g. in the application of statistics). They were responsible for the installation and operation of an Elliott main-frame computer purchased second-hand from one of the universities (possibly Manchester ?) in the mid-1960's. BCURA staff were encouraged to write programs (in ALGOL), but the true value of computing skills would not become of significance until after BCURA had closed. It is doubtful whether a main-frame computer had any real value to BCURA.

Industrial and Domestic Appliance Laboratories
The work carried out here was of more direct interest to the Members and reflected their problems and product development.

Domestic Appliance Laboratory
The work carried out here probably had more effect on the everyday world than any other BCURA work. There were two main prongs to the work. Effort initially concentrated on improving the notorious inefficiency of the standard domestic coal fire, where most of the heat goes up the chimney, along with major quantities of air from the room. After quantifying these inefficiencies, what came to be known as the "free-standing convector fire with restricted throat" was developed (probably invented). This is the basis for all modern "open-fire" units, where convective heat from the outer surfaces of the appliance is directed into the room, and the appliance has an adjustable flap valve in the outlet to restrict the amount of air being carried from the room up the chimney.

Initial prototypes were manufactured at BCURA and tested in the houses of (BCURA) volunteers. This required the development of instruments for measuring air flows around the room, and for measuring heat emissions, in particular radiation emissions. Eventually, a "calorimeter" room was built in the laboratory for more scientific assessments, and it was used extensively for testing appliances built commercially by the appliance manufacturers. This calorimeter room was about the size of an ordinary living-room, with similar insulation characteristics and, of course, was equipped with accurate measurement devices. These included means for studying the emission of gases up the chimney. Various "smokeless" fuels produced by the NCB and others could be assessed.

The second project was the development of what came to be known as the "forced circulation central heating system" which involved using small-bore copper pipe (typically around 1cm bore) to allow hot water to be pumped from a boiler around small-bore radiators. To achieve this, small, relatively-silent, pumps, together with thermostats, were developed in conjunction with manufacturers, and tested in the calorimeter room. Small bore copper tubing and fittings had to be brought to the market and the amount of heating surface required for different room conditions (e.g. number of windows in the room) had to be established. The work was initially carried out for its applicability to domestic and commercial sized coal-fired boilers, but the oil and gas industries were quick to realize the potential and became collaborators.

It is probably true to say that the present-day central heating system, based on radiators, owes much of its popularity to this work at BCURA.

Boiler Availability Department
This has already been referred to in the section on the Combustion Department.

Gas Producer Department
In the first half of the 20th century, many small industries (e.g. the potteries) fired kilns by burning a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen with about 50% of nitrogen, a combustible gas mixture known as producer gas. It was made by passing air through a relatively-thick bed of hot coal or coke. The (small) BCURA department operated a standard producer, investigating improved methods of feeding (e.g. by pelletised slurry); methods of gas cleaning; use of briquettes, etc. By the mid- 1960's this type of equipment had become obsolete and this department was closed down.

Boiler Department
Even in the 1950's and 1960's, there were still thousands of factories and establishments in the country (and even more so, world-wide) where steam was provided by horizontal shell boilers,. Although many of these were coal fired, by this time the coal industry was beginning to struggle in competition with oil and gas fuels.

The boiler department at BCURA was one of the largest departments. It operated two commercially-built shell boilers fitted with chain-grate stokers (for firing industrial lump coal 'small's), each of 7,3001b/h (approx. 3,300kg/h) steam output. These boilers were used to study dynamic response, heat transfer patterns, automatic coal feeding, effect of coal characteristics (e.g. see ref.5), under the general guidance of a Member's committee known for 20 to 25 years as the Shell-Type Boiler and Firing Committee (Ref 16).

One of the more exciting episodes at BCURA was the testing of a 'Royal Scot' (locomotive) type boiler in the l960's. The locomotive was installed (itself quite a feat), minus wheels and engine cylinders, on railway sleepers in the middle of the Combustion Building. When operated at full output, the whole of the building (including the offices) vibrated, and initially the exhausting of high-pressure steam to atmosphere alarmed the whole of Leatherhead! A silencer was quickly fitted and, fortunately, the programme only lasted a few weeks.

In the mid-1960's, the department began the development of an industrial shell boiler for burning crushed-coal in a fluidised bed at atmospheric pressure. Two small combustors (12inch and 27inch diameter; 30.5cm & 68.5cm) were built to provide design data, leading to the installation of a vertical shell boiler (based on "Cochran" principles) of about 8,0001b/h (approx. 3,630kg/h) steam output. This began operation in the late-1960's, was converted to heavy & residual oil-firing (within a fluidised bed) in a programme for BP in the 1970's, and continued to provide steam (firing oil) for the gasification work of the NCB CURL establishment in the 1980's.

Furnace/Gasification/Process Development Department (PDD)/ NCB Coal Utilisation Research Laboratories
This department is dealt with at some length, partly because it was the one with which the author was involved within, and partly because it was the department which remained on site for a further twelve years after BCURA was closed.

The name of the department changed according to the nature of the work being carried out. It was concerned with the development of advanced and futuristic conceptions for the large-scale use of coal. Work was generally at the pilot-scale level and involved considerable sums of money for building and operation. For this reason, financing was nearly always from large organisations (U.K. Government and large private companies; and eventually the U.S. Government and large foreign companies). In most cases the projects were part of comprehensive power generation or gasification schemes, and were specified by, and subcontracted from, other organisations. The department was the only one to continue at Leatherhead after the closure of BCURA, becoming the NCB Coal Utilisation Research Laboratories (CURL), though in practice it was virtually independent of the NCB.

The first real Superintendent (Head) of this Department was W.V.Battcock, with H.R.Hoy as the project leader. Battcock was a very sound, Oxford University-educated engineer, who had worked on jet engines at Bristol during the war. He was the brains of the department and a steady influence, whilst Hoy increasingly became the driving force (for nearly 40 years), becoming Superintendent when Battcock became Chief Engineer of BCURA. Hoy had been an RAF officer in the war, responsible for repairing and turning-round bombers as quickly as possible (he was colour-blind and not allowed to fly). As such, he became adept at circumnavigating red-tape and at getting things done as quickly as possible. This became his trade-mark at BCURA. He was a workaholic who drove his staff hard, but was greatly liked. He worked harder than anyone else!

The first major project in the department was a contract from the Government's Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (D.S.I.R.) to develop a cyclone-fired combustor for a small industrial gas turbine. After the war, a number of scientists/engineers migrated to the D.S.I.R. and to the National Gas Turbine Research Establishment (N.G.T.E.) at Farnborough, and they came up with a number of schemes for coal-firing gas turbines (coal-mining being the major industry and gas turbines the latest 'toy'!). The one allocated to BCURA was the cyclone-fired combustor.

Large cyclone-fired (coal fired) boilers were in commercial existence in the U.S.A. and in Germany and a few in England. These operated at a high enough temperature to liquefy the coal ash, which was drained off from the cyclone combustor as a liquid 'slag'. The problem that the Furnace Department addressed was to produce a combustor small enough for a 2 to 5MW gas turbine (this was the size aimed at - thought to be the correct size for electricity production at colliery sites) and to reduce the temperature of the combustion gases from c.1700deg.C to a gas turbine inlet temperature of c.800deg.C by adding additional cold air. It was probably the most difficult technical problem that the department solved (ref.6), although it was not the biggest engineering project undertaken.

From the outset, condensation of volatilised coal ash onto the turbine blades was thought to be a possible (even probable) limitation to the concept, but it was decided that this should not be addressed until a satisfactory combustor had been developed. Experiments then showed that condensation and deposition on turbine blades would be a major, indeed insoluble, problem and this was confirmed when a similar combustor was linked to an industrial gas turbine at the English Electric Co. at Rugby. Hence, the programme was abandoned at BCURA's suggestion.

For another few years, the cyclone combustor in the Furnace Department was used as a means for assessing the suitability of British coals for firing industrial cyclone-fired boilers. To this end, a viscometer for measuring the viscosity of coal-ash slags was built and operated by the Physics Dept. of BCURA (initial experiments were carried out at Imperial College by an arrangement with the British Iron and Steel Research Association - BISRA) and the relationship between viscosity and chemical composition was advanced by analysis in the Mathematics Dept. of BCURA.

The whole of this work ceased in 1956, and was replaced by a major project to produce fuel gas (also called synthesis-gas) carried out under contract to the Ministry of Power.

BCURA undertook the development of a fixed-bed gasifier operating with steam & oxygen at temperatures high enough to liquefy the ash. It became known locally as the 'Slagging Lurgi', since Lurgi Gmbh in Germany had developed a non-slagging version in the 1930's and used it extensively during the war to produce gasoline (there was also a large plant at SASOL in South Africa, built to satisfy South Africa's oil requirements). The non-slagging Lurgi gasifier was also used for the production of Town's Gas by the West Midland's Gas Board during the 1960s at their production works at Coleshill, east of Birmingham, UK.

The particular advantages of the slagging development were that it led to a higher efficiency, higher output and to the possibility of using a wider range of coal-type. The BCURA work was carried out at atmospheric pressure (ref.7,8), and in the late 1950's the Ministry of Power built a pressurised version of the BCURA gasifier in a purpose-built building on the BCURA site. It was operated by a private firm; Constructors John Brown (CJB). Naturally, there was close collaboration with BCURA staff.

In parallel with the work at Leatherhead, the Gas Council was developing a similar process (but with a slightly different method of slag removal) at Solihull, and in 1960 the Government decided that all work on gasification should be carried out by the Gas Council and the work at Leatherhead was wound down. The Solihull work was later transferred to Westfield in Scotland, and a full-scale gasifier was built, with developoment work continuing into the 1980's.

In about 1963, a major national programme was begun to investigate open-cycle Magneto HydroDynamics (MHD) power generation, a very futuristic method of increasing the efficiency of power generation. Work was organised by what was called The British MHD Collaborative Committee and consisted mainly of the CEGB, the NCB, and the oil companies. The principle of MHD is that combustion gases at c.2400deg.C and 5atm. pressure become electrically conducting when 'seeded' with a small amount of e.g. potassium sulphate. Then, electricity can be produced directly by passing the gases through a magnet at high velocities. The whole project was supervised by the CEGB, with the NCB's task being to produce a design for a coal-fired combustor with a thermal input of 60MW, this being the basis for a complete prototype plant. BCURA (PDD) were subcontracted by the NCB to carry out the development work.

A combustor, with a heat input of 6MW at 5atm. pressure, was built in what was previously the Ministry of Power gasification building at Leatherhead, and the PDD moved into these premises. The development and testing was successful, and a 60MW combustor was designed (ref.9). BCURA staff always had doubts about passing coal-ash slag over a magnet, but this aspect was outside the contract terms and was thought solvable by CEGB. However, the whole project was abandoned in c.1968, partly because future development costs were beginning to look overwhelming.

This MHD combustor development work at Leatherhead was the most ambitious up to that time, and involved several departments in addition to the PDD.

In 1967, the PDD began its longest, and ultimately commercially successful, project i.e. Pressurised Fluidised Bed Combustion (PFBC). Fluidised-bed combustion at atmospheric pressure (AFBC), whereby coal is burned in a fluidised bed of inert particles (in early developments this was coal ash, but later developments used sand and other materials), began in the early 1960's with the objective of developing small industrial FBC boilers (the Boiler Dept. at BCURA developed such a boiler). The idea of applying the concept to power generation by operating the FBC process at a pressure of several atmospheres and using the hot gases to drive a gas turbine, as well as generating steam to pass through a steam turbine, was first suggested to two BCURA staff by Professor Douglas (Doug) Elliott at an informal meeting at the Marchwood Engineering Laboratories of the CEGB in late 1967 (the BCURA staff were attending an MHD meeting). Elliott became known as the 'father of PFBC', although he was an 'encourager' rather than a participant. The feature of PFBC is that combustion takes place at a temperature of c.900deg.C, so that the coal's ash is not liquefied; in fact, experiments showed it to have a consistancy not unlike face powder. BCURA staff realised the possibilities and were also aware that they had suitable plant items available to carry out the necessary R&D work, from the previous MOD gasification project and the MHD programme.

An experimental PFBC combustor was built at Leatherhead and started operation in 1969; a world's first !. The potential of the process was soon recognised and by the mid-1970's the Leatherhead work was being financially supported by US government energy agencies and, most importantly, by Stal-Laval Turbin AB.

PFBC development continued at Leatherhead until the site closed down in 1984. By this time, similar research was being carried out worldwide (ref.10), but particularly in the USA and Germany, and a large international backed research facility was in operation at the Grimethorpe colliery in England. CURL was involved in the design of the Grimethorpe combustor (it was based on the Leatherhead technology) and was also almost entirely responsible for the design and manufacture of specialised instrumentation for in-bed sampling probes, gas analysis and heat transfer. There was close cooperation between Grimethorpe and CURL.

In Sweden, Stal Laval Turbin AB's interest in PFBC lay in the fact that they manufactured large industrial (i.e. rugged) gas turbines which were suitable for incorporation in a PFBC cycle. They decided to commercialise the process in the 1980's (again, based on the Leatherhead work) and built (and sold) PFBC combined-cycle plants in Sweden, USA, Spain, Germany and Japan. Plant sizes ranged from 70MW to 350MW. Stal Laval was a subsidiary of ASEA in Sweden, and when ASEA combined with Brown-Boveri to form ABB, their PFBC activities were controlled by a company named ABB Carbon.

In 1974, the PFBC work at CURL was put 'on hold' for four years when a subcontract to investigate a complex gasification process for an American private group (COGAS) was negotiated. By this time, the four senior engineers and Raymond Hoy had been working at Leatherhead since c.1950 and had acquired unrivalled experience in a wide diversity of coal technologies - fluidisation, gasification, slag removal, pressure operation and the general handling of coal. Anybody dealing with the handling, storing and feeding of coal into furnaces will know that this is an 'art' as much as a science, and there is no substitute for experience! The engineers were backed by an experienced technology workshop and experienced designers. At that time, CURL was internationally recognised as a (perhaps 'the') premier research group where advanced coal utilisation concepts were concerned. It was with this background that H.R.Hoy, whilst in the USA in 1974 on PFBC business, got into conversation with some members of a company (FMC) who asked for his advice regarding a complex gasification scheme that they were considering (on paper).

The heart of the process involved gasifying coal char in a fluidised bed using steam as the fluidising medium. The overall process also intended the avoidance of the cost and complexity of a pure oxygen supply. The steam/carbon (water gas) reaction is endothermic, and so the necessary heat was to be supplied by circulating the char to a transport 'lift tube', where the char was to be heated by the flue gases from a combustor. The type of combustor to use caused some uncertainties amongst the designers, and Raymond Hoy suggested using a slagging cyclone combustor. As a result of this, and following further discussions, FMC realised that CURL were ideally-suited (and were the only group who could carry out the work quickly) to build and operate a pilot-plant, and so contracted the work to CURL. Remember; CURL had previously worked on slagging cyclone combustion, fluidisation and gasification and had carried out these operations under pressure, another important factor since the FMC process was intended to operate at 5atm.

This pilot-plant gasified up to 3,500lb/h of char (1,600kg/h), with char-circulating rates of up to 400,0001b/h (180,000kg/h). These figures made it by far the biggest project ever undertaken at Leatherhead and one which stretched the facilities and the staff to the limit. To commercialise the process, FMC formed a composite group of companies, known as COGAS, and the process became known as the COGAS process (ref. 11).

With the successful demonstration of the plant at Leatherhead, COGAS proceeded with the detailed design of a complete 'demonstration' plant (handling 2,200 tons/day of coal) for a site in Illinois, and also the conceptual design of a full-scale commercial plant. The USA government was seriously considering the building of a demonstration plant to produce synthesis gas, but then Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as President in 1981 and all plans were cancelled. The choice of design for the synthesis gas plant would probably have been between the COGAS arrangement and one based on the Westfield slagging (Lurgi) gasifier, referred to earlier. This latter was based on work by a British Gas/Lurgi consortium; the COGAS scheme was believed to be the favourite.

With the end of the COGAS work (1978/79), CURL returned to further work on PFBC. However, H.R.Hoy retired (reluctantly!) in 1983 and the site was closed down by the NCB in 1984 after the remaining contracts with the USA Dept. of Energy were completed. This was the final end of coal utilisation research at Leatherhead.

References

1) Dryden, I.G.C. "Chemistry of coal and its relation to coal carbonisation" Jnl. Inst. Fuel 1957, vol.30, pp. 193-221.
2) Field, M.A., Gill, D.W., Morgan, B.B, Hawksley, P.G.W., "Combustion of Pulverised Coal", BCURA, Leatherhead 1967.
3) Gibson, M.M.(Northern Research& Engineering Corporation), Morgan, B.B. (BCURA). Extension of earlier BCURA work, sponsored by BCURA and carried out by NREC with assistance from Professor Spalding of Imperial College.
4) Hawksley, P.G.W., Badzioch, S., Blackett, J.H., "Measurement of Solids in Flue Gases" BCURA, 1961. Copyright of this book was invested in the Inst. of Fuel (now the Energy Institute) when BCURA closed, and a third edition was published in 1997, extending the original to include a section on oil-firing.
5) Thurlow, G.G., "The mechanisation and automatic control of coal-fired shell boilers: a summary of work carried out by the BCURA". Journal of the Institute of Fuel, vol.35, p.516
6) Hoy, H.R., Roberts, A.G., Wilkins, D.M., "Some investigations with a small cyclone combustor". Journal of the Institute of Fuel, vol. 22, pp.58-72. Oct. 1958.
7) Hoy, H.R., Roberts, A.G., Wilkins, D.M., "Some investigations into the gasification of solid fuel in a slagging fixed-bed gasifier". Paper to the Joint Conference of Institution of Gas Engineers and Institute of Fuel on "Gasification Processes", September 1962.
8) Hoy, H.R., Roberts, A.G., Wilkins, D.M., "Behaviour of mineral matter in slagging gasification processes". Journal of the Institution of Gas Engineers, Vol.5, 1965, p.444.
9) Hoy, H.R., Roberts, A.G., Wilkins, D.M., Chapter 4.1 of "Open-Cycle MHD Power Generation-Results of Research Carried Out by Members of the British Collaborative Committee". Editors Heywood, J.B.& Womak, G.J., Pergammon Press 1969, pp.262-308.
10) Hoy, H.R., Roberts, A.G., Stantan, J.E., Introduction (History of PFBC Development) to "Pressurised Fluidised Bed Combustion", edited by Alvarez Cuenca, M., & Anthony E.J; Blackie Academic and Professional (Chapman and Hall), 1995 pp. 1-37.
11) Bloom, R., & McCray, R.L. "The COGAS Process Demonstration Plant." Paper to 8th. Energy Technology Conference, Washington D.C., March, 1982.

Acknowledgements

  • The writer wishes to thank his old colleagues at Leatherhead - Malcolm Wilkins and Rosemary & Bill Gearing - for proof-reading, correcting and providing information.
  • Also thanks to the officers of the subsequent BCURA organisation, based at Cheltenham, for allowing access to the minutes of the BCURA Council Meetings.
  • All BCURA Information Circulars, and other Publications, have been stored in the library of the North of England Institute of Mining and Electrical Engineering at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


Appendix 1
Composition of the Various BCURA Committees (1958, 1962 & 1963)
Composition of Committee for 1958
Director General: DR.D.T.A.TOWNEND, C.B.E.
Director of Industrial and Domestic Laboratories; MR.J.S.HALES
Deputy: MR.D.C.GUNN
Director Basic Research: MR.R.L.BROWN
Deputy: DR.I.G.C.DRYDEN
Chief Engineer: MR.W.V.BATTCOCK
Liaison and Publications: MR.T.G.WILLIAMS
Secretary: MR.P.T.SUTTON
Composition of Committee for 1963
Director General: MR.D.HICKS
Deputy Director General: MR.R.L.BROWN
Director of Industrial and Domestic Laboratories; MR.J.S.HALES, O.B.E.
Director of Intelligence and Publications: DR.I.G.C.DRYDEN
Secretary: MR.P.T.SUTTON
Research Committee
Chairman: Dr.W.Idris Jones, C.B.E
Research Committee
Dr. J. Bronowski
Mr. E. D. Copley
Dr. H. E. Crosslcy
Dr. W. Davidson
Mr. J. E. Davis, O.B.E.
Dr. F. J. Dent
Dr. A. C. Dunningham
Mr. F. A. Gray
Mr. H. R. Hodgson
Mr. l.cster N. Horne
Dr. D. C. Rhys Jones
Mr. W. G, Marskell
Mr. W. J. R. Merren
Mr. B. L. Metcalf
Dr. R. J. Morley
Mr. W. C. Moss
Mr. G. Nonhebel
Mr. H. E. Pearsall
Mr. R. H. Rowse
Mr. B. Samuels
Prof. R.J.Sarjant, O.B.E.
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Mr. W. F. Simonson
Dr. A. Alan Taylor
Mr. J. Walker
Mr. A. M. Wandless
Dr. E. A. C. Chamberlain
Dr. H. E. Crossley
Dr. W. Davidson
Dr. F. J. Dent, O.B.E.
Mr. K A. Gray
Mr. G. U. Hopton
Mr. G. S. Horne
Mr. Lester N. Horne
Dr. D. C. Rhys Jones
Dr. G. L. Kington
Mr. W. G. Marskcll
Mr. W. J. R. Merren
Mr. B. L. Metcalf
Dr. R. J. Morley
Mr. W. C. Moss
Mr. H. E. Pearsall
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Mr. D. A. Tanfield
Dr. A. Alan Taylor
Mr. A. M. Wandless
Dr. F. A. Williams
Mr. J. S. Williams, O.B.E.
General Purposes Committee
Chairman: Mr. H. Christopher, J.P.
General Purposes Committee
Chairman: Mr. H. Christopher, J.P.
Mrs. D. M. Charlton
Mr. A. G. F, Farquhar
Sir Sydney Frew, K.B.E., C.B.
Mr, S. A. Horwood
Mr. E. J. Kimmins
Mr. J. A. Lacey
Mr. F.. J. M. Leslie
Mr, M. H. Bower (alt.)
Mr. Lionel G. Locket
Mr. H. R. Mathys
Mr. J. M. Aubrey (alt.)
Mr. R. J. Moffat, C.B.E.
Dr. T. J. P. Pearce
Mr. A. J. Penston
Mr. R. W. Rutherford
Mr. P. M. K. Embling (alt)
Sir Percy Sanders, C.B.E., D.L, J.P.
Mr. H. Fletcher (alt.)
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Mr. J. M. Aubrey
Mr. F. E. Bonner
Mr. W. N. A. Camp
Mrs. D. M. Charlton, O.B.E.
Mr. H. Fletcher
Mr. H. R. King
Dr. T. J. P. Pearce
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Dr. A. Alan Taylor
Brigadier J. V. Topham
Finance Committee
Chairman: Mr. E. C. Leader
Finance Committee
Chairman: Mr. E. C. Leader
Mr. W J. Crafter
Mr. R. H. Gummer
Mr. C. C. Inglis
Mr. Lionel. G. Locket
Mr. H. L. Lowe
Dr. L. H. A. Pilkington, J.P.
Mr. F. A. Rawlings, O.B.E.
Mr. F. G. Williams
Mr. F. E. Bonncr
Mr. R. H. Gummer
Mr. C. C. Inglis
Mr. H. L. Lowe
Dr. L. H. A. Pilkington, J.P.
Mr. F. G. Williams
Officers and Council
President:
Vice-Presidents: Sir John Charrington
Mr.H.Christopher, J.P.
Officers and Council
President: Mr.E.H.Browne, C.B.E.
Vice-presidents: Sir John Charrington
Mr.H.Christopher, J.P.
Council Elected:
Dr.W.ldris Jones, C.B.E. (Chairman)
Dr. A. T. Rowden
Mr, \V. J. Burton
Mrs. D. M. Charlton
Sir John Charrington (Vice-Chairman)
Mr. H. Christopher, J.P,
Mr. E. D. Copley
Dr. W. Davidson
Mr. J. E. Davis O.B.E.
Mr. J. N. Deas
Sir Josiah Eccles, C.B.E.
Mr. F. A. Gray
Mr. R. H. Gummer
Mr. D. Hicks
Mr. H. R. Hodgson
Sir Leslie Hollinghurst, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.F.C
Mr. C. C. Inglis
Sir Henry Jones, M.B.E.
Mr. W, E. Jones
Mr. E. J. Kimmins
Mr. E. C. Leader
Mr. E. J. M. Leslie
Mr. Lionel G. Locket
Mr. W. G. Manskell
Mr. H. R. Mathys
Mr. B. L. Metcalf
Mr. R. J. Moffat, C.B.E.
Dr. R. J. Morley
Mr. G. Nonhebel
Dr. T. J. P. Pearce
Mr. H. E. Pearsall
Dr. L. H. A. Pilkington. J.P.
Sir Percy Sanders, C.B.E., D.L., J.P
Mr. E. F, Schumacher
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Mr. W. F. Simonson
Mr. R. H. E. Thomas, O.B.E,
Mr. J, Stanleigh Turner
Mr. J. Walker
Mr. A. H. A. Wynn
Council Elected:
Dr. A. T. Bowden
Sir John Charrington (Vicc-Chairman)
Mr. H. Christopher, J.P.
Dr. H. E. Crossley
Mr. J. N. Deas
Mr. F. A. Gray
Mr. R. H. Gummer
Mr. P. Hawksfield
Mr. G. U. Hopton
Mr. G. S. Horne
Mr. A. T. Horsrfield
Sir Kenneth Hutchinson, C.B.E.
Mr. C. C. Inglis
Mr. H. R. King
Mr. J, S. B. Lea
Mr. E. C. Leader
Mr, H. L. Lowe
Mr. W. J. S. McKinnell
Mr. W. G. Marskell
Mr. B. L. MetcalfDr. R. J. Morley
Dr. T. J. P. Pearce
Mr. H. E Pearsall
Dr. L. H. A. Pilkington, J.P,
Dr. L. Rotherham, F.R.S.
Mr. E. F. Schumacher
Mr. H. V. Shelton
Mr. D. A. Tanfield
Dr. A. Alan Taylor
Mr. J.Walker
Mr. A. M. Wandless
Mr. F. Wilkinson
Mr. J. S. Williams, O.B.E.
Mr. A. H. A. Wynn
Appointed: Dept of Scientific & Ind. Research
Dr. B. K. Blount, C.B
Sir Sydney Frew, K.B.E., C.B. Co-opted:
Mrs. D. M. Charlton, O.B.E.
Mr. S. W. G. Ford, M.B.E.
Sir Leslie Hollinghurst, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.F.C
Brigadier J. V. Topham
Appointed: Dept of Scientific & Ind. Research
Dr. C M. Cawley, C.B.E. (Voting)
Dr. B. K. Blount, C.B. (Non-voting)
Mr. P. D. Greenall (Non-voting)
 
Composition of Committee for 1962
President: Dr.W.IDRIS JONES, C.B.E.
Vice-Presidents: SIR JOHN CHARRINGTON
HERBERT CHRISTOPHER, J.P.
 Council:
Chairman: Dr.W.Idris Jones, C.B.E, National Coal Board
 Elected Members
J.BARRETT
DR. A. T. BOWDEN
SIR JOHN CHARRINGTON (Vice-Chairman)
H. CHRISTOPHER, J.P
E.D.COPLEY
DR. H. E. CROSSLEY
J. E. DAVIS, O.B.E
J. N. DEAS
F.A. GRAY
R. H. GUMMER
P. HAWKSFIELD
G.U. HOPTON
A.T. HORSFIELD SIR KENNETH HUTCHISON, C.B.E.
C.C. INGLIS
H.R.KING
J. LEA
E. C. LEADER
H.L.LOWE
National Coal Board
C. A. Parsons & Co., Ltd.
Charrington, Gardner, Locket & Co., Ltd.
Hemel Hempstead Engineering Co., Ltd.
International Furnace Equipmemt Co., Ltd.
Central Electricity Generating Board
Gas Council
British Ironfounders' Association
United Steel Companies, Ltd.
International Combustion, Ltd
Associated Coal & Wharf Cos., Ltd.
Gas Council
Association of Shell Boilermakers Gas Council
British Transport Commission
Institution of Mining Engineers
Cochran & Co., Annan, Ltd.
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
W. G. MARSKELL
W. J. S. MCKINNELL
B.L.METCALF
DR. R. J. MORLEY
G. NONHEBEL
DR. T. J. P. PEARCE
H. E. PEARSALL
DR. L. H. A. PILKINGTON, J.P.
DR. L. ROTHERHAM
E.F.SCHUMACHER
H. V. SHELTON
W. F. SIMONSON
D.A. TANFIELD
DR. A. A. TAYLOR
J.WALKER
A. M. WANDLESS
F.WILKINSON
J.S.WILLIAMS
A. H. A. WYNN
Babcock & Wilcox, Ltd.
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd.
Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd.
John Thompson Water Tube Boilers, Ltd
Pilkington Bros., Ltd.
Central Electricity Generating Board
National Coal Board
British Ironfounders' Association
Water-Tube Boilermakers' Association
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
Morganite Research and Development, Ltd.
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
National Coal Board
Co-opted Members: Appointed by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research:
MRS. D. M. CHARLTON, O.B.E.
S. W. G. FORD, M.B.E
SIR LESLIE HOLLINGHURST, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.F.C.
BRIG. J. V. TOPHAM
LIONEL G. LOCKET
Women's Advisory Council on Solid Fuel
National Union of Mineworkers
National Industrial Fuel Efficiency Service
Combustion Engineering Association
DR. C. M. CAWLEY, C.B.E. (Voting representative)
P. D. GREENALL (Non-voting representative)
DR. B. K. BLOUNT, C.B. (Non-voting representative)
D.S.I.R. Visitors:  Professor C. E. H. BAWN, C.B.E., Ph.D. F.R.S. and DR. F. H. SANITER, O.B.E., B.Eng.


Appendix 2
List of BCURA Information Circulars published between 1954 and 1958

Copies of all the Information Circulars and the Monthly Bulletins are stored in the library of the North of England Institute of Mining & Electrical Engineering, Neville Hall, Westgate Rd., Newcastle-on-Tyne. Tel. 01912332459. These documents are accessible for consultation.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1954

No. 90 "A Laboratory Tube Furnace for Determining Ash-Fusibility Characteristics up to 1750degC", by A.J.Copson, R.S.Bernhardt, M.P.Mendoza and D.E.Shipley.
No. 91 "Heat Transfer Between a Single Hot-Air Jet and a Flat Plate", by G.G.Thurlow
No. 92 "The Chemical Reaction between Nitrogen Dioxide and Coal as a Means for the Controlled Reduction of the Caking, Swelling and Smoke-Producing Tendencies of Coal", by A.H.Billington.
No. 93 "Laboratory Studies on the Use of Coal Tar Bases as Inhibitors of Corrosion by Flue Gases", by R.W.Kear.
No. 94 "The Gravimetric Analysis of Flue Gas", by D.Flint and M.P.Mendoza.
No. 95 "Underfeed Ignition of Solid Fuels: Effects of Absolute Pressure Variation", by J.R.Arthur and J.R.Bearing.
No. 96 "A Total Heat Meter for Use in Industrial Furnaces", by A.M.Godridge and G.G.Thurlow.
No. 97  "The Corrosive Nature of Combustion Gases", by G.Whittingham.
No. 98 "Some Investigations into the Effect of Temperature and Pressure on the Collection Efficiency of Cyclone Dust Separators", by M.C.Clark, B.G.Curtis and D.B.Leason.
No. 99 "The Evaluation of Coals for Use on Underfeed Stokers", by A.R.Dolman, J.E.Roughton and W.D.Smith.
No.100 "X-ray Studies of the Ultra-Fine Structure of Coal. II. Atomic Distribution Functions of Vitrinite from Bituminous Coals", by J.B.Nelson.
No.101 "Some Kinetic Aspects of the Slow Combustion of Solid Fuels. Part I. Some Effects of Fuel Type, Burning Time, Surface Oxygen and Particle Size", by J.R.Arthur, E.J.Newitt and M.M.Raftery.
No.102 "Properties of Smoke. Part II. Combustion Products from Reversed Diffusion Flames of Hydrocarbons", by J.R.Arthur, J.M.Horspool and D.H.Napier.
No.103 "Properties of Smoke. Part III. Release of Volatile Matter from Coal", by P.F.Langley and D.H.Napier.
No.104 "The Infra-red Spectra of Coals", by J.K.Brown.
No.105 "Infra-red Studies of Carbonised Coals", by J.K.Brown.
No.106 "A Pilot-Scale Furnace for Experimental Studies of the Behaviour of Mineral Matter during the Combustion of Pulverised Coal", by M.E.How, R.W.Kear and G.Whittingham.
No.107 "Size and Interaction of Coal Molecules in Solution", by P.H.Given.
No.108 "A Suction Pyrometer for the Measurement of High Temperatures in Dust Laden Gases", by A.M.Godridge and G.G.Thurlow.
No.109 "How Precise is a Boiler Trial?", by S.R.Broadbent
No.110 "The Calibration and Operation of a Small Pneumatic Pyrometer", by A.M.Godridge, R.Jackson and G.G.Thurlow
No.111 "The Release of Heat from Fuel Beds", by A.R.Dolman, J.E.Roughton, W.D.Smith and C.R.Wyllie.
No.112 "Coal Grindability - A Standard Procedure for the Determination of Coal Grindability and a Survey of Grindabilities of British Coals", by T.G.Callcott.
No.113 "The Mechanism of Coke Formation. Part I", by I.G.C.Dryden and K.S.Pankhurst.
No.114 "An Air Cooled Probe for the Collection of Deposits in Coal Fired Boilers", by W.M.Crane, A.W.Lindsay and G.G.Thurlow.
No.115 "The Effect of Hydrochloric Acid on the Corrosive Nature of Combustion Gases containing Sulphur Trioxide", by R.W.Kear.
No.116 "Some Investigations into the Design of Cyclone Dust Separators for Gas Turbines. Tests on Single Cyclones of 6 in. Internal Diameter", by M.C.Clark, B.G.Curtis and D.B.Leason.
No.117 "The Influence of Dolomite on the Corrosive Action of Flue Gases in Solid Fuel-Fired Water-Tube Boilers", by C.H.Allen, J.G.Belsey (Tate and Lyle, Ltd.), P.F.Corbett and A.W.Lindsay (B.C.U.R.A.).
No.118 "The Oxidation of a Low Rank Northumberland Coal with Molecular Oxygen at 110°C and 175°C", by P.J.Farenden.
No.119 "Errors in the Determination of Carbon Dioxide in Coal", by J.B.Nelson and D.E.Shipley.
No.120 "Some Effects of Primary Air Temperature and Steam Injection on the Underfeed Burning of Coals", by J.R.Arthur, J.E.Roughton, W.D.Smith and C.R.Wyllie.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1955


No.121 "A Glass-working Machine", by E.L.Mays.
No.122 "Further Investigations into the Corrosion of a Steel Surface by Condensed Films of Sulphuric Acid", by R.W.Kear.
No.123 "A Small (l inch O.D.) Suction Pyrometer", by G.G.Thurlow.
No.124 "Small-Pipe Forced-Circulation Central Heating Combined with Hot Water Supply", by D.V.Brook.
No.125 "A Fully Automatic Thermobalance", by A.J.Copson and D.Flint.
No.126 "The Corrosive Nature of Combustion Gases from Carbon Monoxide Flames containing Sulphur Oxides", by G.Whittingham.
No.127 "Some Observations on a Simple Theory of Luminous Radiation and its application to Pulverised Fuel Flames", by G.G.Thurlow.
No.128 "The Determination of Carbon and Hydrogen in Coal and Coke by the Liebig Method: Elimination of the Errors due to the Formation of Nitrogen Dioxide", by M.P.Mendoza.
No.129 "The Properties of Smoke. Part IV: Measurement of Ignition Temperatures of Volatiles Generated from Coal Beds", by D,Finch.
No.130 "The Properties of Smoke. Part V: The Catalytic Oxidation of Coal Volatiles", by D.Finch.
No.131 "Some Effects of Inorganic Compounds on the Burning of Coals", by J.R.Arthur.
No. 132 "A Study of the Reflectance of Coal", by S.R.Broadbent and A.J.Shaw.
No.133 "Note on Plant for Producer Gas Cleaning", by G.A.Sparham and W.Scott.
No.134 "The Formation of Alkali-Bonded Deposits", by K.H.Brinsmead and R.W.Kear.
No.135 "Coal Grindability: Some Sources of the Differences in Grindability Indices as Determined in Two Laboratories", by T.G.Callcott.
No.136 "Water Circulation in an Economic Boiler", by J.R.Clough and E.J.MacDonald.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1956 (Nos. 137 - 163) the list is missing.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1957

No.164 "The Ultrafine Capillary Structures of Coals and Carbonised Coals and their Relation to that of Activated Chars - Part I- Principles used in Interpreting Adsorption, Apparent Density and Heat of Wetting Measurements; and a Model for the Capillary Structure of Uncarbonised Coals", by R.L.Bond.
No.165 "The Use of Free Standing Convector Open Fires with Restricted Throats to Prevent Dcwndraught in Chimneys", by D.E.Kimber.
No.166 "A Comparison between the B.C.U.R.A. Cage Radiometer and the Arc Radiometer of the Fuel Research Station", by J.Venables.
No.167 "An Electrostatic Precipitator for the Measurement of the Total Smoke from Domestic Appliances", by E.G.Lamble.
No.168 "The Formation and Behaviour' of SO3 in a Small-scale Pulverised-fuel-fired Furnace", by M.E.How, R.W.Kear and G.Whittingham.
No.169 "A Method of Measuring Chimney Volume Flow from Domestic Appliances", by J.Venables.
No.170 "Methods of Procedure and a Statistical Analysis of Coal Sample Preparation Experiments in the B.C.U.R.A.", by D.Flint and W.D.Ray.
No.171 "Reflectance of Oxidised Coals", by D.Chandra.
No.172 "The Venturi Pneumatic Pyrometer", by A.M.Godridge, R.Jackson and G.G.Thurlow.
No.173 "Steam Wetness: Its Measurement and Removal", by C.E.Hierons.
No.174 "Collection of Gas-borne Dust Particles by Means of an Aspirated Sampling Nozzle", by S.Badzioch.
No. 175 "The Polarography of Some Aromatic Carbonyl Compounds and Solvent Extracts of Coals in Dimethylformamide - Part I. Carbonyl Compounds of Known Structure", by P.H.Given, M.E.Peover and J.M.Schoen. "Part II. Solvent Extracts of Coals", by P.H.Given and J.M.Schoen.
No.176 "The Paramagnetic Resonance Absorption of Carbonaceous Solids", by D.J.E.Ingram and A.R.Murnaghan.
No.177 "The B.C.U.R.A. Calorimeter Room for Testing Domestic Heating Appliances - Part I. Construction and Instrumentation", by A.J.Copson, B.E.Flemons and A.Taverner.
No.178 "The B.C.U.R.A. Calorimeter Room for Testing Domestic Heating Appliances - Part II. Calibrations, Calculations and Proving Tests", by A.J.Copson, B.E.Flemons and A.Taverner.
No.179 "The Bromination of Coals and Solvent Extracts of Coals", by P.H.Given, V.Lupton and W.P.Wyss.
No.180 "The Reactivity of Coal in Organic Chemical Reactions", by P.H.Given.
No.181 "Small-pipe Central Heating: Design, Installation and Cost - Part X. Design", by D.V.Brook.
No.182 "Small-pipe Central Heating: Design, Installation and Cost - Part II. Installation and Cost", by D.V.Brook.
No.183 "Determination of the Distribution of Radiation from Various Domestic Appliances", by J.Venables.
No.184 "Some Measurements of the Smoke from Domestic Appliances", by E.G.Lamble.
No.185 "The B.C.U.R.A. Calorimeter Room for Testing Domestic Heating Appliances - Part III. Corrections for Ventilating Air Flow", by A.J.Copson, B.E.Flemons and A.Taverner.
No.186 "The Reaction of a Low Rank Northumberland Coal with Chlorine Trifluoride", by P.J.Farenden.
No.187 "A Comparison between the Assessment of Domestic Smoke Emission by Optical and Gravimetric Means", by R.Dickinson, D.E.Kimber, and E.Lamble.
No.188 "The Mechanism of Coke Formation, Part II " , by I.G.C.Dryden and K.S.Pankhurst.
No.189 "The Measurement of Smoke Emission from Solid Fuels in a Laboratory Apparatus", by D.Finch and M.M.Raftery.
No. 190 "Fossil Fungi in Lignite", by E.Stach and D.Chandra.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1958

No.191 "Report on Visit to France to Inspect the de Poray Vertical Boiler and the Ignifluid Combustion Process", by M.V.Murray.
No.192 "Draught Losses in the Smoke Tube Banks of Tubular Shell Boilers", by J.R.Clough and M.V.Murray.
No.193 "Design Curves for Shell Boiler Smoke Tube Banks", by J.R.Clough and M.V.Murray.
No.194 "The Rapid Analysis of Coal Ash, Slag and Boiler Deposits", by K.Archer, D.Flint and J.Jordan.
No.195 "Heat Transfer in the Smoke Tube Banks of Tubular Shell Boilers", by D.J.I.Roderick and A.G.Wall.
No.196 "A Method of Studying the Influence of Flame Characteristics on the Heat Transfer in Furnaces", by A.M.Godridge, G,G.Thurlow and J.Wallis.
No.197 "A Small 3-hole Globe Pitometer for the Determination of Velocity and Static Pressure in Three-dimensional Fluid Flows", by A.G.Roberts and C.C.Tulley.
No.198 "Some Aspects of Tube Bank Design for Shell Boilers", by M.V.Murray.
No.199 "The Mechanism of Coke Formation. Part III " , by J.K.Brown, J.G.C.Dryden, D.H.Dunevein, W.K.Joy and K.S.Pankhurst.
No.200 "Study of Quinone Groups in Solvent Extracts of Coals by Controlled Potential Electrolysis", by P.H.Given and M.E.Peover.
No.201 "Studies of the Aromatic Systems in Coals by Chemical and Electrochemical Reduction Procedures", by P.H.Given, V.Lupton and M.S.Peover.
No.202 "The Chlorination of a Medium Rank Coal at Various Temperatures", by F.J.Pinchin.
No.203 "Similarity Criteria for the Study of Furnace Flames by Means of Cold Models", by D.Linden Bell and G.G.Thurlow.
No.204 "The B.C.U.R.A. Calorimeter Room for Testing Domestic Heating Appliances - Part IV. Estimation of Heat Loss due to Combustion Flue Gases", by A.J.Copson and G.P.Lewis.
No.205 "A Flame Photometer for Measuring Alkali Concentrations in Furnace Gases", by D.Ounsted.
No.206 "The Chlorination of Low Rank Coals with (a) Sulphuryl Chloride and (b) Hydrogen Peroxide/Hydrochloric Acid" by F.J.Pinchin.

BCURA Information Circulars: 1959

No.251 "The Mechanism of Coke Formation - Part IV" by I.G.C.Dryden and W.K.Joy.
No.252 "A Report on the Small Automatic Chain-Grate Stoker Field Trials" by R.J.Cook, A.H.Howland and R.G.S.Johnston.
No.253 "Further Trials on Coal Handling - The Effects of Fines Content and Free Moisture on the Handling of Industrial Washed Smalls" by A.G.Wall.
No.254 "Preliminary Investigation of the Measurement of Practical Thermal Diffusivity of Coal by Kraev's Method" by S.Badzioch.
No.255 "The Determination of the Thermal Conductivity and Thermal Diffusivity of Bituminous Coals by a Hot Wire Method" by M.A.Field and D.R.Gregory.
No.256 "The Automatic Measurement of Moisture in a Stationary and in a Moving Coal Feed" by W.R.Ladner and A.E.Stacey.
No.257 "Studies of the Reactivity of Reactor Grade Graphite and Other Carbons" by P.A.H.Tee.
No.258 "A Particle Size Classifier for Preparing Graded Sub-Sieve Fractions" by A.M.Godridge, S.Badzioch and P.G.W.Hawksley.
No.259 "Preliminary Studies of Mineral Matter in Pulverised Fuel" by A.M.Godridge and I.B.Gussin.
No.260 "The Hydrogen Distribution in Macerals" by W.R.Ladner and A.E.Stacey.
No.261 "Tests on an Automatically Controlled Chain-Grate-Fired Shell Boiler" by T.J.K.Rolfe.
No.262 "Gas-liquid Chromatography of an Anthracene Oil" by F.J.Pinchin and E.Pritchard.
No.263 "Some Measurements of the Effects of Fuel Characteristics and Plant Output on the Rate of Solids Emission from a Shell Boiler under Manual and Automatic Control" by D.J.Loveridge.
No.264 "The Design of Buckets for Elevators" by M.Harris and A.G.Wall.
No.265 "Investigation of the Composition, Pozzolanic Properties and Formation of Pulverised Fuel Fly Ash" by D.J.Thorne and J.D.Watt.
No.266 "Measurements of the Internal Friction and the Dynamic Young's Modulus for Coal and Graphite" by P.E.English.
No.267 "Shear Strength Measurements of Some Free Flowing Granular Materials" by J.C.Richards.
No.268 "An Open Twin-Screw Feeder for Coal Handling" by M.Harris and W.L.Rivett.

All other information on BCURA Information Circulars is lost.


 Appendix 3
President's address to the Annual General Meeting, 1962.

Alongside is the cover picture to the 1961 BCURA Gazette and the opening picture to the AGM Presidential Address of 1962, but unfortunately the names of those shown are now unknown.

Annual General Meeting and Informal Open Day — 2nd May, 1962. Address by the President, Dr. W. Idris Jones, C.B.E.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you once again to Leatherhead and to present my Report on the activities of the Association during 1961. Within a few days you will all be receiving the Annual Report of Council for last year; and I will, therefore, now refer briefly to the
high lights.
Distinguished Visitors
Last May we were pleased to welcome the Minister of Power, the Rt. Hon. Richard Wood, P.C., M.P., who, with Mrs. Wood, was shown in particular the work being carried out by the Association for his Ministry and also our investigations in progress in the large Combustion Building on the automatic control of industrial boilers. More recently — at the end of March — Dr.Townend and his staff were pleased to welcome Mr.Denzil Freeth, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science; Mr. Freeth is visiting in turn all the Research Associations in the Government Scheme. He showed a great interest in, and a wide knowledge of, various aspects of our activities and the problems confronting a Research Association such as our own. I need hardly stress the importance to our staff of the great encouragement provided by the presence of such distinguished visitors.
Coal Science Lecture
Mr. Wood also honoured us by attending the Coal Science Dinner last October, at which I had the pleasure of presenting the Tenth Coal Science Medal to Mr.L.Rotherham, Member for Research and Development of the Central Electricity Generating Board — and a Member of our own Council.
As you all know, Mr. Rotherham had delivered his Lecture earlier the same evening on "The Position of Coal in Electric Power Generation", a matter of great import to the coal industry. If you were not able to attend the Lecture, you will, I am sure, have read the full text as it appeared in our Quarterly Gazette No. 44.
I am now happy to announce that Mr.Herbert Seidl, Technical Director of the German Babcock & Wilcox Organisation, has accepted Council's invitation to deliver the Eleventh Coal Science Lecture on 10th October next. Mr. Seidl has been closely associated with the development in Germany of the cyclone system of boiler firing, a subject on which, as you know, our Association has contributed considerable basic research. This field will form the basis of his lecture.
General Activities
Before referring to specific research programmes, I should mention that in the Annual Report we have incorporated a separate Section dealing with Service to Members. This is a most important aspect of our Association's activities; for, apart from direct assistance given to individual Members or groups of Members, it is perhaps not always realised how much background service is rendered by our staff; examples of many of the ways in which the Association watches the interests of its Members are quoted.
I should, however, like personally to refer to one of them: a preliminary survey has been made of the temperature and pressure distribution in a hand-fired intermittent kiln burning coal, used by the East Midlands Division of the National Coal Board to fire building bricks. The purpose of this work was to establish techniques of measurement and assessment that can be used in any subsequent tests on alternative firing methods which may include the use of producer gas; and this work should be most valuable to the Brickworks Executive of my Board.
Reference is also made in the Report to the high regard in which the Association's publications are held, particularly — as I mentioned here last year — the Review series in our Monthly Bulletin. In addition to circulation in this country, 326 copies of the Bulletin are regularly sent overseas to 32 countries six months after date of issue; most of these go to the Commonwealth and to the U.S.A., either on a subscription basis or in exchange for similar material. This wide circulation and the Association's other publications result in the work of our Association being well appreciated overseas and perhaps partly accounts for the large number of visitors we receive from abroad every year. Such visitors arrive in this country with the address of our Research Station occupying a place of high priority in their itinerary; and this type of contact is, of course, valuable both to them and to us, for stimulating discussions on broad issues and common problems ensue between our research staff and their counterparts from all over the world.


The new pavilion, where Members met informally over lunch.
Two visitors from Commonwealth Universities spent varying periods of their sabbatical year's leave with us last year: Dr.K.S.Basden, Lecturer in Fuel Technology in the University of New South Wales, worked in the Combustion Department and further developed a fluidised bed differential thermal calorimeter which he had originally devised in Australia: incidentally, a former member of our own staff, Mr.N.Y.Kirov, is Dr.Basden's Professor. And Dr.J.B.Stott, Senior Lecturer (Coal Research) in the Department of Mining and Metallurgy in the University of Otago, spent his leave in the Domestic Appliances Department; and he brought with him the good wishes of our friend, Professor Ivon Graham. The experience they brought with them and the assistance they rendered during their stay were alike of great value to our work.
Most visitors to our Research Station, however, naturally come from within our own shores, mainly from the staff's of Member organisations and educational bodies. Here may I remind you that we accommodate, each year, a number of Vacation Students, whose service has considerable value. The Association has also continued to furnish industrial training for students taking Sandwich Courses leading to the Diploma in Technology in such subjects as chemical engineering, industrial chemistry, applied chemistry and mathematics.
In its broadest sense, the objective of coal utilisation research at the present time is to make the most effective use of all the coal raised to the surface. This requires that all sizes and all qualities must find a market. In this context, it is worth noting that although the present balance of the Association's work is subject to further changes as new problems arise, the present programmes — for example, handling of coal and slags, pulverising, and those concerned with appliance design and automation — continue to contribute to the advancement of the technologies of coal utilisation; and, for this reason, the results will be useful both now and in the future.
The step-by-step advances typically found in traditional industry may lack the drama of the "break-through" in newer industries based on recent scientific discoveries, but they are nonetheless very real. The total financial reward accruing from even marginal economies in a large-tonnage heavy industry can be considerable: an increase in the efficiency of industrial boilers of only 1% could lead to a potential financial saving of over £1million p.a. on a national scale.
I will now turn to some specific research programmes.


Mr.A.G.Roberts (Gasification Dept) discusses gasification problems with Mr.E.D.Copley (International Furnace Equipment Ltd); in the background, Mr.E.Burke (Associated Portland Cement) studies diagrams of the gasifier rig.
Gasification
Last year I referred to the Report (August, 1960) of the Committee on Coal Derivatives, under the Chairmanship of Sir Alan Wilson, F.R.S. Following that Committee's recommendations in respect of research into the complete gasification of coal, the Ministry of Power last year gave notice that it would terminate, on 31st March, 1962, its Contract with the Association in this field; and, at the last meeting of our Council held in February, I was happy to be able to report that the three nationalised industries — the Gas Council, the Central Electricity Generating Board, and the National Coal Board — had agreed jointly to continue support for this work. A new Panel has now been set up to guide the work, under the Chairmanship of Mr.G.U.Hopton (Gas Council); the other members are: Dr.H.E.Crossley (C.E.G.B.), Messrs.Wandless and Greenwood (N.C.B.), and Dr.Townend, Mr.Battcock and Mr.Hoy; this Panel has already met and will continue to give advice on the programme and receive progress reports.
You will recall that the work of the Ministry was concerned with a slagging fixed-bed gasifier aimed at producing low-cost gas from the cheaper grades of coal; and recent investigations have involved developments in the design of the tuyeres, through which the gasifying medium is supplied, in order to facilitate movement of the fuel bed. Bed behaviour depends also on the quality of the coke formed when coal is carbonised very rapidly at high pressure and under the conditions obtaining in the gasifier; and a rig for studying the phenomena concerned is now in use. Future researches will cover selected features within this ambit.


Mr.H.F.Ferguson (Gasification Dept) in conversation with Dr.G.Milner (Power-Gas Corporation Ltd) on the control platform of the slagging gasifier.
I should also remind you that the Ministry was sponsoring other researches into gasification, carried out under Contract by Messrs.Constructors John Brown Ltd. in a building erected for the Ministry on the Association's site in 1957. This Contract has also been terminated and the Association has recently taken over this building from the Ministry, together with the equipment and other assets on the site relating to both Contracts. You will no doubt be familiar with this building on the northern boundary of our site; its acquisition will be of great value to the Association's work as a whole.
I understand that expressions of appreciation of the happy and friendly co-operation which has existed between our staff and their former C.J.B. and Ministry co-workers have already been reciprocated; and I would like to take this opportunity, on your behalf, of wishing all good fortune in the future to Mr.Peat and his CJ.B. staff, and to Dr.Masterman and his Ministry colleagues.
Slagging
Closely allied to the gasification work now supported by the three nationalised industries is a programme being carried out under Contract with the C.E.G.B. on the assessment of the slagging properties of British coals in relation to boiler firing; and our facilities for complete ash and slag analysis have been expanded.


Mr.W.D.Jarvis (C.E.G.B) examines the results of mineral separation in pulverised fuel. Mr.R.F.Littlejohn (left: Combustion Dept) and Mr.E.M.Hamilton right:C.E.G.B).
A direct method of studying the formation of crystals in slags suitable for routine use has now been developed, and this is being applied to all the slags examined in the survey of British coals.
This work also relates to the suitability of coals for firing cyclone furnaces, a subject in which, as I have already mentioned, the Association has developed considerable expertise; and collaboration with operators of cyclone furnaces has been of great help in formulating a tentative method for assessing the suitability of coals for the purpose.


Mr.K.W.Archer (Analytical Dept) discusses with Mr.B.Wolstenholme (Simon-Carves) the mineral examination of slags.


Mr.W.L.Rivett (Boiler Dept) describes to Mr.T.E.Rowles (Ashwell&Nesbit Ltd), Mr.H.B.Jolly (John Hudson & Co. Ltd), and Mr.E.C.Rogers (Associated Coal & Wharf Cos. Ltd.) the automatic coal-feeding equipment to one of the experimental boilers.
Automatic Boiler Plant
As I mentioned last year, the aim of our work on industrial boilers is to improve the competitive position of coal; and to this end a programme was initiated just over two years ago aimed at evolving an automatic coal-fired shell boiler. An Economic boiler fired with a chain-grate stoker has been operated in conjunction with coal and ash handling plant and automatic controls; and a comprehensive programme of testing carried out with two selected coals. The results of this work were reviewed last Autumn by both the R/16 and Research Committees and the results have been encouraging.
It was agreed that it had been successfully demonstrated that an integrated unit could run
with very little manual attention, provided that the coal supplied met certain requirements.
Further improvements are now in hand, such as provision of automatic banking and a larger turn-down ratio; and further consideration is being given to determining the range of coals that can be burned successfully.
As the work has proceeded, assessments have naturally been made of the likely cost of the coal and ash handling equipment, stokers and controls for use with industrial boiler plant, in line with the cost that the boiler user is likely to find economic; and last Autumn, the R/16 Committee (under the Chairmanship of Dr.F.A.Williams) recommended, at the request of the N.C.B., that a Panel representative of all interests be set up to review these economic considerations.
The Director General invited Mr.L.Clegg, M.B.E., to chair this Panel, the other members being Mr.H.E.Pearsall, Dr.R.J.Sarjant, O.B.E., and Mr.A.Harrison Slade. The Panel is now finalising its report and it would seem fair to say that its findings are likely to prove encouraging.
Individual items of equipment developed by the Association may simplify — and hence cheapen — the equipment required; one such development is an inexpensive open twinscrew feeder for conveying coal from a pile, dumped on the open ground, into the inlet hopper of a conveyor or bucket elevator. Tests are now being made to evaluate its full potentiality and possible limitations; meanwhile arrangements for its manufacture are under negotiation.
Coal Handling
Investigations have continued into the influence of rank, moisture and size consist of washed smalls on the flow through a model vibrating bunker and on the build-up of deposits in the buckets of a small elevator. A beginning has also been made towards obtaining similar correlations for the through-put of a screw elevator and an experimental pneumatic handling rig.
I cannot now go into the details of our findings, but the importance of this work needs little emphasis; I will only mention that the tests with the screw conveyor and pneumatic handling rig, although still in an early stage, reveal the critical importance of moisture content. Nevertheless it has been demonstrated that it is possible to maintain the feed through a screw conveyor when the moisture content is increased to fairly high values so long as means can be found of continuously feeding the coal into the screw.


Mr.W.L.Rivett explains to Messrs.Rowles, Jolly and Rogers the screw elevator used in connection with the experimental boiler seen in the background.
Grit and Dust
As part of the tests with the industrial boiler unit, measurements have continued on grit and dust emission.
Although the fines content has an important effect on efficiency and dust emission, it may be said that so long as good combustion conditions are maintained, the main factor determining grit emission is the specific output of the plant.
Here may I mention that the Association's new Handbook: "The Measurement of Solids in Flue Gases" was published last Autumn and the sales are gratifying.
Heat Transfer
The results of the Association's work on heat transfer through the furnace tubes of Economic boilers has found wide recognition in industry; and last year the Heat Transfer Panel of the R/16 Committee studied the thermal stress that can be set up in furnace tubes operating at high loads. It concluded that stresses high enough to cause tube failure were unlikely unless other factors were operative, and two possibilities were scale formation and film boiling. Work
has been initiated on nucleate and film boiling, the influence of steam pressure, shape and condition of surfaces, and surface temperature; and a special apparatus for these experiments
has been constructed.
You will judge from my review of these items that our work on industrial boilers now provides a major activity within our programmes; and we have recently extended it to embrace a survey of pulverised fuel firing for industrial boilers and this is involving a limited number of trials on boilers located in industry and covering the range 10-50,000lb/h steam (0.5 to 2.5tons/h coal). Special attention is being paid to grit emission over the range of load and coal properties encountered at the sites selected.


Miss E.M.Rosling (left: Assistant to the Director General and Member, Women's Advisory Council on Solid Fuel) looks on as Miss S.E.D.Winthrop, Mrs.J.Saunders (Secretary and Member of the W.A.C.S.F. London Regional Committee), and Miss E.Ferigan (Secretary to Dr.W.Idris Jones) view the experimental Economic boiler. Mr.W.L.Rivett (Boiler Dept) on the right.
Boiler Availability
Last year I reported rather fully on the work undertaken on behalf of the Boiler Availability Committee; for not only is it an important aspect of our work, but it is also a fine example of collaboration between a Research Association and industry. I need only remind you that the
experimental approach to the subject has been four-pronged, involving: (a) fundamental studies of the chemical and physical processes giving rise to deposition or corrosion; (b) the development of instruments for measuring variables having a direct effect upon availability, e.g.dewpoint, corrosion rate, sulphur trioxide and alkali contents of flue gases; (c) pilot scale studies into the effect of combustion and fuel characteristics upon the formation and nature of deposits and the nature and extent of corrosion; and (d) field studies at power stations to investigate new features or to test promising methods for controlling or eliminating known troubles.
Over the years, the success of this work may be judged from the fact that emphasis has changed from research to overcome immediate problems to research directed towards forestalling problems expected to arise in the future. In particular, much of the current work is aimed at the alleviation of the deposition and corrosion problems that are accentuated as boiler efficiencies are improved by means of raising superheat and reheat temperatures and by the further lowering of flue gas exit temperatures.
Domestic Heating
The main effort in this field has been concerned with central heating. It is in this sector of domestic heating that the greatest changes are taking place throughout the country; and the economic issues involved are large because of the rapidly expanding market and the increased standards of comfort and amenity now being sought.
The success of the small-pipe central heating system pioneered by our Association has largely been responsible for this expansion; and evaluation of the field trials carried out previously has confirmed that the running costs as well as the installation costs are low for solid-fuel-fired nstallations. This has resulted in a demand for central heating boilers burning solid fuel that would have performance and amenity features competitive with those of oil firing. The Advisory Committee on Domestic Appliance Research (under the Chairmanship of Mr.Donald Hicks) therefore recommended the initiation of a major programme of research with this objective, and it is of special interest in the light of more recent publicity directed to the increased use of certain types of hard coke for domestic heating.


Messrs.W.C.Moss, L.Coster and D.E.W.Page (Coal Utilisation
Council) take lunch with Mr.J.S.Hales (right: Director of Industrial and Domestic Development Laboratories).
During 1961 a survey of existing types of British and foreign boilers has been made and a number of test settings have been constructed to enable many aspects of boiler performance to be investigated.
Mechanical Properties of Coal, and Grinding
I have already referred to the activities of
the Director General's Advisory Committees on Shell-type Boilers and Firing Equipment (R/16) and its Panels, on Domestic Appliances, and now on Gasification; and I would like to take
this opportunity of expressing the Association's indebtedness to these Committees and their Chairmen for the great assistance they are rendering to the work of the Association.
I should now mention that the Advisory Committee on Particle Mechanics, under the
Chairmanship, since 1957, of Mr.G.Nonhebel (and previously of Mr.J.D.Peattie) has been disbanded; and Council has expressed its warm appreciation to Mr.Nonhebel and the members of his Committee, for the service they have rendered the Association.


Mr.A.Darrington (Domestic Appliances Dept) discusses the work on central heating boilers with Mr.L.Alexander (Powell Duffryn Heating Ltd) and Mr.E.C.Rogers (Associated Coal & Wharf Cos. Ltd).


Mr.F.J.Hiorns (left: Physics Dept) describes to Mr.A.R.Middleton (N.C.B.) an apparatus in which the specific energy to split coal is measured.
The measurement of grit emission is now a normal part of the work on industrial boilers and is dealt with by the R/16 Committee, as I have already mentioned.
The subject of grinding, however, is now being handled by a new Advisory Panel, under the Chairmanship of Professor M.G.Fleming (Imperial College of Science and Technology), the research work being accelerated by the C.E.G.B.
Other Basic Researches
I am afraid that time will not allow me to make detailed reference to the other basic researches pursued by the Association's staff. These include: (a) the fundamental work on the combustion and gasification of coal, from which much new important data are emerging on the physical properties of solid fuels at high temperatures; (b) the new experimental techniques which are permitting fresh aspects of coal pulverising to be studied under the guidance of the Advisory Panel concerned; (c) the further exploration of chemical aspects of coal constitution by means of nuclear magnetic resonance spectra; (d) further work concerned with the mechanism of coking; (e) the preparation and examination of carbons. Special mention should, however, be made of the continued activity of the Association into the structure and reactivity of reactor graphite under contract with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority; for you will be pleased to know that additional contracts within this field are now under negotiation.
Finance
You will note from the copy of the Audited Accounts now before you that the Association's income in 1961 amounted to £482,941. This increase of £30,000 over 1960 was mainly related to fully-endowed and contract work.


Over lunch—(left and right): Dr.G.Underwood and Dr.K.Littlewood (University of Sheffield), with Mr.R.L.Brown (Director of Basic Research Laboratories) and Dr.F.A.Williams (M.O.P.:Chairman, R/16 Committee).
It is interesting to reflect that the Association's income has increased progressively over the past 13years, from £229,000 in 1949; and today about 40% of our income is obtained from research contracts and work sponsored on a repayment basis, another 10% being derived from accelerator grants related to specific projects.But the aspect which I feel to be the most pleasing is that, whereas in 1949 55% of our income was devoted to direct research, last year this percentage had risen to 80%; this is, of course, largely attributable to the fact that over this period the Association's expenditure on Administration and Maintenance has been fairly constant: a great tribute to Dr.Townend and his colleagues.
Having in mind that in 1949 the Association's income from contract work was very small by comparison with today's figure, it speaks well that the quality of our research has been such as to attract contract income in relation to specific projects.
As Mr. Leader has already pointed out, the General Reserve at the end of the year was £249,608, represented by Fixed Assets of £117,724, Sundry Debtors less Creditors £108,960, and Cash at Bank and in Hand £22,924.
Retirement of the Director General
I now come to the most important matter in my Presidential Address this year in having to report to you that at the last meeting of our Council Dr.Townend formally tendered his resignation, to take effect from a date convenient to Council following the appointment of his successor. He explained to us that he attains the age of 65 in July this year, and that he felt that the time had come when he ought to be easing up, adding that his appointment as Director General had always carried with it a full life providing constant challenge and one that had always been after his own heart.


From the inside looking out of the new Sports Pavilion.
Sir John Charrington (Vice-President), Dr.Townend and Mr.H.Christopher (Vice-President) in conversation over lunch.
I need hardly say that at the Council meeting we expressed to him our very great regret; and I and a number of members paid tribute to the sterling work he had carried out with us.
Dr. Townend, after distinguished work for 18 years at the Imperial College, six years as Livesey Professor at Leeds University, and noteworthy contributions to the war effort, has completed nearly 17 years in his present office. B.C.U.R.A. has made great strides under his direction and he has been honoured by the academic world and by learned bodies here and abroad. He has been chairman of the Committee of Directors of Research Associations and is now Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.
I will say no more about him at present apart from observing that we shall have an opportunity
later this year of paying more adequate tributes to him and of recognising the work he has done as our Director General. Council, incidentally, agreed to send Dr.Townend to represent us at the World Power Conference to be held in Melbourne next Autumn.
Council asked me to be responsible, aided by a special Panel, for the appointment of his successor; and I have no doubt that many of you have seen, in this connection, the advertisement which has appeared in the Press.
Council and Committee Chairmen
And now I would like on your behalf to express our thanks to our two Vice-Presidents, Sir John Charrington and Mr.Herbert Christopher, to the Members of Council, and to the Chairmen and members of our Committees, Advisory Committees and Panels — Mr.Nonhebel, Mr.Leader, Dr.Williams, Mr.Hicks, Mr.Hopton, Professor Fleming and so on — I am sure I shall be forgiven for not mentioning them all by name. We are indeed most grateful to all of them for their services.
Staff
Finally, last, but by no means least, it is once more my pleasure to thank Dr.Townend and his staff for all their effort during the past year. Not only have the research programmes been
pushed ahead with vigour, but many outside duties have been undertaken.
Mr.Brown is now a member of the Organising Committee of the Institution of Chemical Engineers dealing with a Symposium on the Handling of Solids, to be held shortly in London; and he has also recently chaired a session at the First European Symposium on Size Reduction organised by the European Federation of Chemical Engineering. He attended the Gordon Conference last Summer, contributing to the session dealing with Coal Handling; while in the States, he visited the University of Utah in connection with the acquisition by the Association of special apparatus for measuring the shear strength of granular materials, a matter of importance in the design of bins.
Mr. Flint played a leading part in the organisation of a Plenary Meeting of the International Standards Organisation which took place in London; indeed, he was the leader of a strong U.K. Delegation. He also attended meetings of this Organisation held last December in Budapest.
Dr.Dryden and colleagues attended the Fourth International Conference on Coal Science, held at Le Touquet. Other visits to the Continent have been made by Mr.Hoy and his colleagues, who visited Germany in order to inspect a number of operations involving slagging; and Mr.Thurlow — as well as maintaining with Dr.Townend British interests in the work of the International Flame Research Foundation in Holland — also visited the Ruhrkohlenberatung in Essen to discuss problems in the use of coal in industrial boilers.
In conclusion, may I mention that you will notice two new building operations: thus, you will have your buffet lunch in a new Sports Pavilion which Council agreed should be erected owing to the deterioration of the former one, which was previously brought here from Pebble Coombe. And building contractors are also at the moment making an extension to the canteen building; this is to provide better accommodation for the staff to confer both among themselves and with our numerous visitors; and its cost has been met from the accumulated reserve in the Staff Welfare Fund.

After lunch, the President, Dr.W.Idris Jones, C.B.E., made presentations to five members of the staff who had completed 21 Years' Service in the Association's employ.


(left to right): Mr.W.L.Cocker (Accountant); Sir John Charrington; Mr.R.E.Holland (Combustion Dept); Miss M.Griffith (Chemistry Dept); Dr.W.Idris Jones, C.B.E.; Mr.E.Forster (Head, Engineering Workshop); Mr.W.A.Gearing (Boiler Availability Dept); Dr.D.T.A.Townend, C.B.E.; Mr.H.Christopher, J.P.



DR. TOWNEND'S RETIREMENT
As announced by the President at the Annual General Meeting (see above), Dr.D.T.A.Townend, Director General of the B.C.U.R.A. for the past seventeen years, retires on 30th September, 1962. Educated at Bancroft's School, he served in the R.N.A.S. during the First World War; he afterwards returned to the Imperial College of Science and Technology, where he was for many years associated with Bone and Newitt in researches into combustion problems, particularly at high pressures.
Towards the end of this period he elucidated the two-stage process of combustion of higher hydrocarbons and its relation to the problem of 'knock' (pre-ignition) in internal combustion engines. In 1938 he was appointed to the Livesey Chair of Coal Gas and Fuel Industries in the University of Leeds and became associated with researches undertaken collaboratively between the University and the Institution of Gas Engineers (later the Gas Research Board); he also threw considerable light on the phenomena concerned with the stability of burner flames.
During the Second World War he was engaged on research problems for a number of Ministries; and as a Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Home Security he made notable achievements in the field of incendiary warfare. In 1945 he was invited to his present post.
During the war the B.C.U.R.A. staff had been widely dispersed in temporary accommodation, and he has been largely responsible for the present organisation at Leatherhead. Following nationalisation, in 1947 the National Coal Board took the place of the Mining Association of Great Britain as the principal Member of the B.C.U.R.A; membership by the other nationalised industries soon followed, and today much of
the B.C.U.R.A.'s work is supported by them, as well as by Trade Associations and other industrial concerns. Apart from fundamental studies and the development of techniques, the Research Association's work has embraced pioneering achievements in methods of domestic heating, the design of industrial boiler equipment, the elucidation of problems concerned with deposits and corrosion in power station boilers, as well as
combustion and gasification in slagging systems.
Dr. Townend has received many honours in academic and professional spheres; he is a Past President of the Institute of Fuel, a past Chairman of the Committee of Directors of Research Associations, and is at present Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.
Dr. Townend, accompanied by his wife, leaves England on 16th September in order to attend the Commonwealth Conference on Fuel Research in Sydney, and the World Power Conference in Melbourne; on the outward journey he is visiting American counterparts, and returns via Rhodesia. He and Mrs. Townend take with them the best wishes of everyone.

At a special meeting held on 1st August, 1962, Council appointed Mr.Donald Hicks to be Director General, with effect from 1st October, 1962. Mr.Hicks is at present Carbonisation and Scientific Director of the East Midlands Division of the N.C.B. and Director of the Operational and Pneumoconiosis Research Units of the Board.
Mr.R.L.Brown, Director of the Association's Basic Research Laboratories since 1950, has been appointed to the newly-created post of Deputy Director General.

This page last updated: 2nd May 2015