School of Engineering
PhD grant via ECU-HEC Joint Scholarship 2018
Non-conventional torrefaction under partially oxidative conditions is an emerging cost-effective thermochemical pre-treatment method to improve the quality of biomass for energy applications. The literature lacks data on the combustion of biomass torrefied under oxygen-deficient atmosphere with actual reactor conditions (inevitable non-uniformities in the thermal environment). In this work, a dual mode fixed-bed biomass (torrefaction) reactor and combustor was operated on Australian biomass pellets, to torrefy the fuels at 275 °C for 30 min using partially oxidative atmosphere (O2: 5 vol %, balance N2) and then to combust them. Combustion behaviour with a particular focus on gaseous emissions of raw, blended (25 % torrefied), and torrefied (100 %) pellet fuels in a batch-type combustor was investigated. The decomposition behaviour was analysed in a thermogravimetric analyser to understand the impact of biomass constituents on the direct combustion of the tested samples. Results indicate that unlike the combustion of raw biomass, the fuels torrefied under partially oxidative conditions burned 45 % faster, attained high packed-bed temperatures (1382 °C) and exhaust gas temperatures (657 °C) then latter (bed: 1128 °C, exhaust: 574 °C) at similar airflow. Additionally, 100 % torrefied pellets emitted 38 % less NOx compared to raw biomass pellets. However, low CO values for torrefied biomass were attained at higher primary airflows compared to raw. The combustion of 100 % torrefied biomass in a fixed-bed was dominated by both flaming and smouldering phases with a modified combustion efficiency (MCE) value of 91 %, whereas raw biomass combustion occurred in flaming phase with an MCE value of 98 % at same airflow (0.35 kg·m − 2·s − 1). The outcomes of this work provide useful insights into the viability of using biomass fuels torrefied under partially oxidative conditions alongside other industrial processes generating (waste) heat and flue gases.
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