Physical characterisation and chemical composition of densified biomass fuels with regard to their combustion behaviour

I. Obernberger, G. Thek

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Abstract

With respect to the use of densified biomass fuels in fully automatic heating systems for the residential sector a high quality of these fuels is required. Several European countries already have implemented standards for such fuels. In other countries such standards are in preparation or planned. Furthermore, in some countries also standards from associations are existing (e.g. from the Austrian Pellets Association). In addition to these national standards, European standards for solid biomass fuels are under development. For producers of densified biomass fuels, especially for pellet producers, it is therefore very important to produce high-quality fuels keeping the limiting values of the standards addressed. However, in this context it has to be considered that as a high fuel quality as is necessary for the combustion of densified biomass fuels in automatic small-scale furnaces is not necessary if these fuels are used in larger industrial furnaces as they are equipped with more sophisticated flue gas cleaning, combustion and process control systems. Two pellet qualities, one for industrial and one for small-scale consumers seem to be more meaningful.Within the framework of the EU-ALTENER-project "An Integrated European Market for Densified Biomass Fuels (INDEBIF)" a questionnaire survey of European producers of densified biomass fuels was performed. In this connection the possibility was offered to the producers to participate in an analysis programme with their fuels. An overview was obtained of the qualities of densified biomass fuels offered in the European market, covering pellets and briquettes from Austria, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway and the Czech Republic.The parameters analysed were the dimensions of the fuels, the bulk and the particle density, the water and the ash content, the gross and the net calorific value, the abrasion, the content of starch (as an indication for the use of biological binding agents), the concentrations of C, H, N, S, Cl, K as well as of the heavy metals Cd, Pb, Zn, Cr, Cu, As and Hg. These parameters have been chosen following the Austrian, German, Swiss and Swedish standards for densified biomass fuels.The results showed that a majority of the participating producers produce fuels of high quality. However, wood pellets of some producers show a high abrasion, one of the most important quality parameters for pellets. An increased amount of fines often causes failures in the feeding systems used in the residential heating sector. In order to decrease abrasion, the addition of small amounts of biological binding agents (e.g. maize or rye) is possible. This kind of additive is most common in Austria.Moreover, some producers obviously use not only chemically untreated raw materials or additives, which increase the content of pollutants. Such fuels cause problems regarding emissions, deposit formation and corrosion. Emission problems are expected due to increased contents of N, Cl, S as well as heavy metals. Increased concentrations of heavy metals additionally contaminate the ash, increased Cl concentrations raise the risk of corrosion. Moreover, an increased content of K has a negative effect on the ash melting behaviour and causes higher aerosol formation, which enhances deposit formation and particulate emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-669
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Volume27
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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