Publication | Conference contributions

Advanced biomass fuel characterisation based on tests with a specially designed lab-scale reactor

Published 2012

Citation: Brunner T, Biedermann F, Kanzian W, Evic N, Obernberger I. Advanced biomass fuel characterisation based on tests with a specially designed lab-scale reactor, Conference Impacts of Fuel Quality on Power Production and Environment 2012, 23th-27th of September 2012, Puchberg, Austria.


To examine relevant combustion characteristics of biomass fuels in grate combustion systems, a specially designed lab-scale reactor was developed. On the basis of tests performed with this reactor, information regarding the biomass decomposition behavior, the release of NOx precursor species, the release of ash-forming elements, and first indications concerning ash melting can be evaluated. Within the scope of several projects, the lab-scale reactor system as well as the subsequent evaluation routines have been optimized and tests with a considerable number of different biomass fuels have been performed. These tests comprised a wide variation of different fuels, including conventional wood fuels (beech, spruce, and softwood pellets), bark, wood from short rotation coppice (SRC) (poplar and willow), waste wood, torrefied softwood, agricultural biomass (straw, Miscanthus, maize cobs, and grass pellets), and peat and sewage sludge. The results from the lab-scale reactor tests show that the thermal decomposition behavior and the combustion behavior of different biomass fuels vary considerably. With regard to NOx precursors (NH3, HCN, NO, N2O, and NO2), NH3 and, for chemically untreated wood fuels, also HCN represent the dominant nitrogen species. The conversion rate from N in the fuel to N in NOx precursors varies between 20 and 95% depending upon the fuel and generally decreases with an increasing N content of the fuel. These results gained from the lab-scale reactor tests can be used to derive NOx precursor release models for subsequent computational fluid dynamics (CFD) NOx post-processing. The release of ash-forming vapors also considerably depends upon the fuel used. In general, more than 91% of Cl, more than 71% of S, 1–51% of K, and 1–50% of Na are released to the gas phase. From these data, the potential for aerosol emissions can be estimated, which varies between 18 mg/Nm3 (softwood pellets) and 320 mg/Nm3 (straw) (dry flue gas at 13% O2). Moreover, these results also provide first indications regarding the deposit formation risks associated with a certain biomass fuel. In addition, a good correlation between visually determined ash sintering tendencies and the sintering temperatures of the different fuels (according to ÖNORM CEN/TS 15370-1) could be observed.