Ignition and combustion of single particles of coal and biomass

Juan Riaza, Jonathan Gibbins, Hannah Chalmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Co-firing technology at large power plants can contribute to reducing emissions and maintaining stable and secure electricity supplies. Due to the higher reactivity of biomass, a larger particle size range is generally used for biomass fuels compared with pulverized coal. A single particle apparatus has been developed for rapid heating and combustion of individual fuel particles. This wire mesh apparatus is used as a heating element to heat the particle by radiation while optical access allows particle combustion characterization by high speed camera recording. A woody biomass and a bituminous coal were used in this study. Both fuels showed a sequential combustion of volatile matter followed by char combustion. High speed video image analysis showed differences in ignition and devolatilization behaviour. The biomass volatile flame was smooth along the overall particle, while coal volatile matter release was delivered by jets. Times for the volatile matter combustion were much shorter for the coal while pyrolysis seemed to be the dominant step for around half of total combustion time. During devolatilization, the bituminous coal showed a significant swelling that was not seen in the biomass. As particle mass increased the overall times required for drying, devolatilization and burnout increased for both samples, and this was the dominant parameter to predict burnout time. Impact of particle size and mass was much higher in coal, with a dramatic increase in burnout times for particles above 300 µm, while biomass particle size can have a greater range of sizes for the same burnout times. During biomass particle combustion, the results showed that the surface tension on the biomass char particle plays a significant role due to partial melting of the char particle. This effect modifies the char particle shape during its combustion, with particles becoming more spherical even for the initial fibrous shape of the woody biomass particles.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date26 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Coal
  • Biomass
  • Single particle combustion
  • Ignition
  • High speed recording
  • Wire mesh reactor


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