Conference Presentation | Conference Papers | Modellierung und Simulation

Numerical simulation of fuel nitrogen conversion and NOx emissions in biomass boilers with advanced air staging technology

Published September 2020

Citation: Essl M, Schulze K, Scharler R. Numerical simulation of fuel nitrogen conversion and NOx emissions in biomass boilers with advanced air staging technology. 3RD DOCTORAL COLLOQUIUM BIOENERGY. 2020


The increased biomass utilization leads to the need of an efficient and flexible usage of available sources. Therefore, it is necessary to combust low-cost biogenic residues, which inherently have higher nitrogen contents that lead to increased NOx emissions. In order to tackle this issue a new combustion technology with double air staging and flue gas recirculation is under development. The technology also features an increased fuel bed height and very low oxygen concentrations in the fuel bed to reduce fuel bed temperatures. This work focuses on the CFD simulation of the formation and reduction of NOx emissions of in a small scale boiler (35 kWth). Compared to previously applied models, major modification concerning the heat and mass transfer in the fuel bed as well as the subsequent conversion in the freeboard were made. The fuel bed is modelled via representative fuel particles with a Lagrangian approach and a thermally thick particle model considering intra-particle
gradients. Due to the increased fuel bed height and the relatively low oxygen concentration the formation and cracking of tars has to be considered in the simulation. This heavily influences the formation and reduction of NOx and its precursors. The fuel bound nitrogen is released via the particle model in the form of NO during char burnout and via a lumped tar species during pyrolysis. The cracking of the lumped tar species is modelled via two global gas phase reactions that releases the NOx precursors NH3 and HCN. The cracking reactions are added to a skeletal reaction mechanism with 28 species and 102 reactions that includes the fate of the N species. The simulation results are compared to experimental data from test runs with spruce wood chips and Miscanthus pellets as fuels. The comparison showed good agreement for the test runs with wood chips, where the temperature distribution inside the fuel bed and the released species above the fuel bed were predicted well. The test runs with Miscanthus showed a greater deviation between the measured and simulated values. For both fuels the NOx reduction that was experimentally observed in the secondary combustion zone could not be predicted with reasonable agreement. Therefore, it is necessary to further investigate the cracking of the tars and the subsequent formation of the NOx precursors. The presented work forms the basis for further improvements of the numerical models and subsequently the optimization of the new technology.