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Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608

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Fuel Processing Technology
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / f u p r o c

Computational modeling of a utility boiler tangentially-fired furnace retrofitted with
swirl burners
Norbert Modlinski ⁎
Faculty of Mechanical and Power Engineering, Institute of Heat Engineering and Fluid Mechanics, Wroclaw University of Technology, 27 Wybrzeze Wyspianskiego St,
50-370 Wroclaw, Poland

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 1 February 2010
Accepted 22 June 2010
Keywords:
Tangentially-fired furnace
Swirl burner
Pulverized coal
CFD

a b s t r a c t
The paper presents 3D numerical investigation of OP-380 boiler tangentially-fired furnace utilizing bituminous
coal. The boiler was retrofitted by replacing traditional jet burners with RI-JET2 (Rapid Ignition — JET) swirl
burners. This kind of solution is unique in power generation systems. The purpose of this work is to show how
the flow, combustion performance and heat exchange in the furnace are affected by introducing rapid ignition
phenomena in RI-JET2 burners instead of delayed ignition associated with the traditional jet burners. Results
were compared to simulations of similarly designed boiler equipped with traditional jet burners. Furnace
simulation was preceded with a single RI-JET2 burner simulation at the inlet to a virtual combustion chamber.
The results have shown that pulverized coal (PC) concentrator separates the PC into two streams: concentric
with fine particles and axial with coarse particles. Stable flame operation was noticed even without secondary
and tertiary air swirl. 3D simulations of combustion chamber have shown that in a burner zone a visibly
isolated, concentrated flame exists in the furnace axis. This kind of flame shape reduces corrosion risk and
furnace walls slagging as a result of RI-JET2 burner's long range.
© 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Performance optimization of large-scale pulverized coal (PC) utility
boilers has become more and more relevant through the recent years for
the utility industry. Optimization efforts are focused on increasing
thermal efficiency, extending their lifetime and lowering pollutant
emissions. More restrictive environmental regulations are being enforced
and power generation companies are forced to maintain the agreement
between efficient and clean combustion. Additionally, in order to stay
profitable coal-fired power plants face a challenge of non-design, poor
quality coal utilization which imposes large operational difficulties
including enhanced waterwall slagging and high-temperature corrosion.
Slagging not only reduces thermal efficiency of a furnace, but also affects
its integrity as a result of corrosion, erosion and impact on the bottom
tubes [1].
Conventional coal-fired power plants are usually old facilities
looking for a cost effective modernization possibilities that could
improve boiler operational performance. Since a couple of years
tangentially-fired boilers have been retrofitted by replacing traditional
jet burners with RI-JET (Rapid Ignition JET-burner) swirl burners for the
purpose of improving the load range and NOx emission level. The burner
utilizes NR–LE (NOx Reduction–Load Extension) combustion technology developed in co-operation between Babcock–Hitachi and Enprima.

⁎ Tel.: + 48 606 219 270; fax: + 48 71 328 38 18.
E-mail address: norbert.modlinski@pwr.wroc.pl.
0378-3820/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.fuproc.2010.06.008

The basic feature of this combustion system is a stable flame. In
conventional jet burners the coal–air mixture injection velocity exceeds
the turbulent burning velocity. The ignition takes place at a long distance
from the burner nozzle and is caused by the hot flue gases from the
neighboring burner. Jet burners cannot operate individually — they are
stabilized mutually. Vortex burners, which have been used in wall fired
boilers since a long time, are able to operate individually. Another
possible advantage of tangentially-fired boilers retrofitting with RI-JET
burners is the reduction of water walls high-temperature corrosion and
deposit formation processes. Information appears on low corrosion rate
in tangentially-fired furnaces equipped with swirl burners.
CFD modeling has been extensively applied to provide information
on the complex phenomena in tangentially-fired furnaces including
gas–solid flow, combustion and heat transfer [2–6]. However, to the
authors' knowledge, there has been no literature to investigate
tangentially-fired furnace equipped with swirl burners. The paper
presents 3D numerical investigation of tangentially-fired OP-380
boiler combustion chamber utilizing bituminous coal. The boiler was
retrofitted by replacing traditional jet burners with RI-JET2 swirl burners.
This kind of solution is unique in power generation systems. The purpose
of this work is to show how the flow, combustion performance and heat
exchange in the furnace are affected by introducing rapid ignition
phenomena in RI-JET2 burners instead of delayed ignition associated
with the traditional jet burners. The results have been compared to
numerical simulation of OP-430 boiler furnace equipped with conventional jet burners. Additionally, influence of different aerodynamic
characteristics on slagging was qualitatively analyzed.

2. then swirled secondary and tertiary air register. During normal operation one level of burners is always out of service for the case of unexpected coal pulverizer shutdown.84 383 77.04 383 29. a structured mesh with grid lines approximately along the swirl flow direction in the furnace was created. Single RI-JET2 burner simulation has shown to what extent an individual burner model could be simplified for OP-380 furnace simulation. . Furnace simulation was preceded with a single burner simulation at the inlet to a virtual combustion chamber as presented in Fig. coal combustion. Extension of radical-rich zone (NOx reduction zone) can be achieved by increasing secondary and tertiary air swirl.7-m high. 3. Characteristic flow features behind the burner have been recognized and the simplified burner model was approximated as shown in Fig. 3 and 4. To resolve as much of the major flow properties in the furnace as possible and thus reduce the pseudo-diffusion [8]. Detailed RI-JET2 burner model. Each boiler is also supplied with four dual air zone over-fired air ports for reducing NOx formation. 2. demonstrated in Fig.24 379 55. It has three concentric inlets: nearest the axis is the pulverized fuel and primary air pipe with pulverized coal concentrator to promote radial spreading of the coal. Main steam/reheat steam temperatures are 540/540 °C for both boilers.615-m wide. The gas phase is modeled assuming an Eulerian approach. View of the burners region grid system and mesh formation at the cross-sections throughout the burners is shown in Figs. 2. gas-phase combustion.65-m deep. Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 Due to complex RI-JET2 design OP-380 furnace investigation was preceded with a single burner simulation at the inlet to a virtual combustion chamber in order to understand characteristic flow features behind the burner. Fig.86 560 0.65 603 22. In the case of the boiler equipped with RI-JET2 burners where the flame is attached to the flame stabilizing ring it is necessary to generate a fine mesh in the burners section. Complexity of RI-JET2 burner design (Fig.92 383 2. whilst for the solid phase. 5.47 603 – – 3. fuel rich conditions in that region. Simulation of the following processes takes place in the furnace: turbulent flow.000 for OP-430. the Lagrangian approach is more suitable. and 9. CFD model geometry of a tangentially-fired boilers. Case study boilers and operating conditions The evaluations were performed for a drum type radiant tangentially-fired units installed at the EDF CHP plant in Cracow (Poland) utilizing bituminous coal. 1. In this manner a two-stage combustion is carried out by means of a single burner. Steam capacity of the boilers is 380 t/h for OP380 and 430 t/h for OP-430. A special ring located at the end of coal nozzle ensures flame stability and provides high-temperature. A body fitted mesh was created with the total number of nodes of 954. 4) brings the necessity to simplify it for OP-380 boiler simulation. The region of study comprises only the furnace: ash pit. 1. Fig. particle transport and radiative transport.16 603 12.21 560 15. Mesh is one of the most important factors in the simulation of the large-scale boilers. Operating conditions (full load) Total coal feed rate [kg/s] Coal–air mixture temperature [K] Total primary air flow rate [kg/s] Primary air temperature [K] Total secondary air flow rate [kg/s] Secondary air temperature [K] Total OFA [kg/s] OFA temperature [K] OP-380 OP-430 RI-JET2 11. and the section of radiant superheater. as shown in Fig. Their geometrical features are very similar as demonstrated in Fig. In the following simulations three bottom burner levels are in operation. The circular OFA inlets have been replaced by rectangular ones to ease the meshing process. Because of the discrepancy of scale between the burner and of the much larger volume of the furnace the solution domain was subdivided into fine grid regions around the burners and coarser regions elsewhere (Figs. 2 and 3).24 379 38. OP-380 boiler has recently been retrofitted with RI-JET2. 9. The platen super heaters have been modeled as zero-thickness horizontal planes. Combination of this technology with air staging (OFA) in the boiler is very effective in terms of NOx reduction. Table 1 Operating conditions.1602 N. 4. burners belt. Thermal power at nominal load is 300 MW for OP-380 and 315 MW for OP-430. Mathematical model The mathematical model used here is based on commercial CFD code FLUENT [7]. low NOx burners. Boilers are dual pass type with sixteen burners arranged in an array of four burners disposed in four different locations.000 for OP-380 and 468. Both boilers are approximately 35.48 383 6. 3. since it is practically impossible to model actual tubes. Radiant super heaters geometry has been included for the better development of gas outflow (Table 1). RI-JET2 burner utilizes the concept of “in-flame” NOx reduction using hydrocarbon radicals at high temperatures. Computational domain grid system The three-dimensional geometry was created using GAMBIT — a FLUENT pre-processor [7].

3. 4. Char undergoes heterogeneous oxidation to CO. Grid system of the OP-380 boiler with RI-JET2 swirl burners. The pulverized coal combustion process can be divided into two parts. The realizable k–ε model is relatively widely used for engineering applications and provides better performance in many industrial turbulent flows than the standard k–ε model. Realizable k–ε model [9] was used as a closure of turbulent Reynolds equations. The reaction rate is calculated on the assumption that the process is limited by the diffusion of oxygen to the external surface of the char particle and char reactivity. Fig. This model was extended by using FG-DVC network devolatilization model [11. A single-rate kinetic devolatilization model [10] is used to predict the volatiles yield rate. .N. It predicts the rate of the production and high-temperature yields for the char. 5. tar.12] as a pre-processor. FG-DVC output has been used in the devolatilization sub-model. RI-JET2 detailed model at the inlet to a virtual combustion chamber. The results as well as the proximate and ultimate analysis for the used coal are given in Table 2. devolatilization and char combustion. which assumes that the rate of devolatilization is dependent on the amount of volatiles remaining in the particle via a first-order reaction. Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 1603 Fig. Fig. Grid system of the OP-430 boiler with traditional jet burners. and volatiles and the composition of key species during the devolatilization of any coal.

n = 5.59 7. daf) Volatiles Char 47.9 Ultimate analysis (wt.7 43.62 32.%. In this model the total space is subdivided into fine structures and the surrounding fluid. An attempt has been made to predict how the two different burner types influence the water walls slagging process. In the case of combustion in furnace problem radiation is not only the dominant energy transport mechanism but also one of the most complex problems.69 0. the mass flow of coal particles is represented by a number of trajectories that always represent a much larger number of actual particles. The dispersion of particles due to turbulence in the fluid phase was considered.1604 N. An inertial impaction mechanism of fly ash deposition was considered only. Flow field near the stabilizing ring colored by temperature.98 1. which assumes that the probability that a particle will stick to a surface is inversely proportional to its effective viscosity for viscosities higher Fig. Discrete phase trajectories are calculated using Lagrangian formulation and the coupling between the phases is introduced through particle sources of Eulerian gas-phase equations.%.75 8.41 Eddy dissipation concept (EDC) [13] was used as a general concept for treating interaction between turbulence and chemistry in flames. 7.31. reflectivity. as received) Ash Volatile matter Moisture Fixed carbon 21. . y = 7. Temperature contours (K) behind the RI-JET2 burner for three different swirl vane angles(°). daf) C H N S O 84.66 5.76 x = 7. For water walls and pendant superheaters.2 9. Four-step global mechanism mainly based on the one demonstrated in [14] was employed: Cm Hn þ ðm=2 þ n=4ÞO2 ¼ NmCO þ ðn=2ÞH2 O ð1Þ Cx Hy Oz þ ðx=2−z=2ÞO2 ¼ NxCO þ ðy=2ÞH2 ð2Þ CO þ 0:5O2 ¼ NCO2 ð3Þ H2 þ 0:5O2 ¼ NH2 O ð4Þ Fig. the inertial impaction rate is calculated by monitoring when a particle trajectory meets the surface.23 FG-DVC high-temperature yield (wt. 6.3 Empirical formula for light hydrocarbons (CmHn) and tars (CxHyOz) CmHn CxHyOz m = 1. All reactions of the volatile components are assumed to react only in these spaces which are locally treated as a perfectly stirred reactors.54 0.%.43 2. Inertial impaction occurs when a particle has sufficient momentum to impact an obstruction by penetrating the flow field surrounding the obstruction. Proximate analysis (wt. Within the particle transport model.8 52. The heat absorption coefficient of combustion gases (containing H2O and CO2) was calculated using Weighted Sum of Grey Gases method. z = 0. The primary mode of particle transport to heat transfer surfaces is inertial impaction [16]. and scattering effects are included in the calculation of heat transfer. Pulverized coal particles concentration (kg/m3) at the burner nozzle. daf) Fig.%.2 25. Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 Table 2 Coal analysis and FG-DVC output. The particle emissivity. 8. No boundary layer phenomena were included. A Discrete Ordinates method [15] was used to evaluate radiative heat transfer. H2O CO CO2 CmHn CxHyOz 3. Viscosity-based capture model [17] was employed.2 Volatile Composition from FG-DVC (wt.

Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 1605 Fig. the sticking probability is assumed to be unity. than the critical viscosity. CO mole fraction in vertical planes at different boiler heights. Browning [18] model was used to predict ash particles viscosity. For viscosities lower than the critical viscosity. 10. . Critical ash particle viscosity was 106 Pa s. 9. Temperature fields (K) in vertical planes at different boiler heights.N. Fig. was measured experimentally at the OP-380 boiler exit without predictive means of any kind. Fly ash particle size distribution.

7.1. which promotes the rapid ignition. Fig. This phenomena is related to the flame root position. The closer the flame root to the burner. Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 Fig. 5. This may be because of the fact that if the flame is detached from the burner. The presence of this same oxygen results in production of fuel NOx [20]. In the case of traditional jet burner. Recirculation zone is formed. Fig. 8 compares fine and coarse particle concentrations at the burner nozzle. NOx reduction is often associated with unburned carbon in ash increase. 12. As demonstrated in Figs. Results 5. 6 shows temperature profiles for three different swirl vane angles of secondary and tertiary air. Such a particle distribution ensures stable burner operation and penetration of large particle stream deep inside the combustion chamber. Comparison of average total surface heat flux at different boilers heights. It is visible that the PC concentrator separates particles into two streams: concentric with fine particles distributed close to the stabilizing ring and axisymmetric with larger particles. in which flame is lifted due to delayed ignition. fuel rich condition close to the burner outlet. 11. Flow with combustion behind a single burner at the inlet to a virtual cylindrical combustion chamber (Fig. Detailed RI-JET2 modeling Single RI-JET2 swirl burner has been modeled prior to OP-380 boiler simulation. which is an important parameter in the design of low NOx burners. 5) was investigated. This flow feature was included by setting certain boundary conditions at the injection surfaces in OP-380 boiler model. 6 and 7 flame stabilizing ring provides hightemperature. Comparison of maximum surface radiation at different boilers heights. It is defined as the axial location at which the gas temperature reaches 1000 K [19]. promoting thermal NOx formation.1606 N. transition to lifted flame) results in NOx emission increase. Stabilizing ring operation can easily be seen in Fig. the concentration of oxygen near the flame envelope will locally increase the temperature. Important observation is a stable flame operation without secondary and tertiary air swirl. Loss of flame stability (flame blow-off. where volatiles from the fine particles distributed by the pulverized coal concentrator close to the ring are entrained and mixed with the hot flue gases causing ignition. This is the consequence of stabilizing ring being fixed at the end of the coal pipe. . the less NOx is formed. Fig.

Simulations of OP-380 furnace have been conducted for no secondary and tertiary air swirl. In OP-380 the flame impingement to the furnace walls is prevented. the flame pattern can be controlled from wider to narrower by adjusting secondary and tertiary air swirl. This kind of burner operation takes place very often due to insufficient forcing fan compression when the emission limits and unburned carbon in ash are satisfied. Vertical distance between burner levels was increased to reduce the burner zone heat release rate related to burner zone as demonstrated in Figs. 11 the wall Fig. It can be seen that the heat flux absorbed by the walls and incident radiation flux in the burner region are significantly lower for OP-380 in comparison to OP-430. Deposit thickness (mm) on the OP-430 and OP-380 furnace walls. Combustion temperature in the regions close to the side walls was decreased effectively in OP-380 furnace in comparison to OP-430. Thus it makes it possible to avoid the high-temperature influence on slagging to furnace walls. 5.N. Particle concentrations (kg/m3) in vertical planes at different boiler heights. Results from the OP-430 furnace simulations show disadvantageous concentrations of particles and CO in the combustion chamber as demonstrated in Fig. 14. OP-380 and OP-430 boilers modeling The present work demonstrates full load operating conditions of both boilers. 11 and 12. High CO concentrations in the vicinity of the walls in the burner zone indicate reducing atmosphere promoting corrosion [21]. Fig. OP-380 retrofitting by installing RI-JET2 burners was accompanied by another modification of furnace corners in order to reduce slagging. As a consequence heat flux distribution along the boiler axis is different for both boilers. Single jet burner operation is not possible since it needs to be stabilized by the neighboring burners.2. This kind of flame shape limits corrosion and slagging processes on the water walls. 13. 10. Coal is ignited by the hot flue gases from the adjacent burner far from the coal nozzle. It can 1607 be seen that in the case of OP-430 furnace equipped with conventional jet burners the flame is stabilized in the central fireball. Modlinski / Fuel Processing Technology 91 (2010) 1601–1608 Fig. Maximum values of these magnitudes are located at a higher elevation in OP-380 compared to OP-430 furnace. 9 shows temperature contours in three planes crossing burners along different heights of tangentially-fired boilers. Favorable conditions for stable ignition and combustion such as high-temperature and high CO concentration are formed at a distance from the side walls. Strong deflection of primary air–PC mixture towards the water walls promotes stabile ignition of the adjacent burner but is negative in terms of slagging and corrosion. whereas in the case of OP-380 the long range of RI-JET2 burners provides more isolated and concentrated flame in the furnace axis. Furthermore. In OP-430 the flame is located near the furnace sides. As demonstrated in Fig. .

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It is apparently seen that the slagging process is more intensive in the case of OP-430 furnace equipped with traditional jet burners. Xu.