Insufficient knowledge of fireside behavior in the near-burner region during biomass combustion is one of major factors preventing widespread use of this renewable fuel in pulverized coal power plants. The current research is aimed to investigate the impact of biomass cofiring on NO formation in the near-burner region through interpretation of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) predictions and data collected from a series of biomass tests in a pilot-scale (0.2 MW), swirling flow burner. Two-dimensional gas species mole fraction data were collected with state-of-theart instruments from nine experiments, composing one herbaceous biomass (straw), one woody biomass (sawdust), a low sulfur sub-bituminous coal (Blind Canyon) and a high sulfur bituminous coal (Pittsburgh #8) and their mixtures of different mass fractions with the same swirl setting. Velocity and temperature are calculated from CFD modeling with FLUENTTM, supplemented with hot-wire anemometer measurements. For the first time, a reverse flow region was predicted during solid fuel combustion simulations for the reactor used. Interpretation of the results was carried on with two original methods: stoichiometric maps and normalized species mole fraction profiles. The impacts of biomass on combustion in the swirling flows were analyzed from several aspects: aerodynamics, fuel properties (particle size, volatile content, and fix-carbon content), and NO formation routes. The species maps show the low-grade fuel combustion under swirling flows is composed of two zones: a high species-gradient combustion region attached to the inlet and flat-profiles dominant across the rest of the reactor. Results from tests involving biomass clearly demonstrate the expansion of the combustion region. CFD calculations demonstrate that there is no obvious alteration of the reverse-flow region by biomass combustion. The larger average particle size of biomass generates a combustion region with further penetration into the reactor. In certain tests involving biomass, more NH3 than HCN was detected in several biomass experiments, though limited by the data collection method and low fuel-nitrogen fuels used (sawdust). Supplemented with kinetic calculations with CHEMKIN, it was found that NO formation is dependent on the nitrogen forms in the parent fuels.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





swirling burner, coal, biomass, NOx, NH3, HCN