Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) will commission its first unit of 250 MW lignite-powered CFBC (circulating fluidised bed combustion) boiler at Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) complex in Tamil Nadu this month.

The second unit will become operational during April-May, said A. V. Krishnan, Executive Director, BHEL, Tiruchi Complex, where the technology for CFBC boilers operated with non-coal fuel options such as lignite, bagasse and straw was developed.

Mr. Krishnan hoped that lignite-fired boilers of 500 MW capacity could be developed by 2017-20.

Unlike in the case of coal that is powdered, pulverised and then burnt in furnace, the CFBC boilers have the advantage of fuel flexibility.

After supplying 2 x 125 MW CFBC boilers for Surat lignite power project (SLPP) through technical collaboration with Germany-based AE&E Lentjes, BHEL installed on its own two other boilers of 125 MW capacity each for NLC's mine at Barsingsar in Rajastan.

Technical studies commenced in late Seventies, and since the early Eighties, BHEL has supplied 100 atmospheric, bubbling and circulating fluidised bed combustion boilers for power and industrial applications, he said, adding that all were fully functional.

Mr. Krishnan sounded confidence that there would be more orders for CFBC boilers in future owing to existence of enormous lignite reserves in Neyveli and Barsingsar.

In CFBC technology, India ranks next only to European countries such as Germany where boilers of 400 MW capacity have been developed.