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What is Industrial Combustion?

Combustion File no.: 32
Author: Peter Roberts


Version no.: 2
Referee: Nick Syred

Date: 17-10-2000
Source: Author

General definition

For the purposes of the IFRF Combustion Handbook, combustion is defined
as the oxidation of fuels, typically, but not exclusively, through the rapid
combination of hydrogen and carbon contained in the fuel with the oxygen
contained in atmospheric air. This rapid combination releases heat at
relatively high temperature, which may then be used for the heating of
industrial processes, including the generation of steam and high-pressure
hot water. This may be very simplistically represented as:
2C + O2 ---> 2CO + Heat
2CO + O2 ---> 2CO2 + Heat
2H2 + O2 ---> 2H2 O + Heat


Industrial Fuels

An industrial fuel may be a regular fossil fuel such as coal, crude oil, or
natural gas. These may be processed from their raw “as found” state to
produce a wide variety of refined fuels such as blended pulverised coal,
desulphurised coal gas, Liquified Petroleum Gases (LPGs), liquid fuels ranging
from gasoline through to residual oils and so forth.
Alternatively the fuel may be derived from biomass material. Traditional
firewood is arguably the “original fuel” used by mankind. Alternatively fuels
may be derived from wastes to produce so-called “Refuse Derived Fuels”or
Industrial Fuels are discussed in greater depth in associated Combustion Files –
see below.


Industrial Comburents

An industrial comburent may range from regular atmospheric air containing
approximately 21% v/v O2, the remainder being almost exclusively molecular
nitrogen - N2 , through oxygen enriched air to relatively pure oxygen –
Oxygen containing a very small quantity of impurities.

A photograph of the firebed is shown in Figure 2.Alternatively oxygen depleted (vitiated) air – for example Gas Turbine or Diesel exhaust gases .may also be used as a comburent. Figure 1 shows an example of a stoker fired boiler. 4. domestic solid waste. Industrial Combustion Modes Traditional industrial combustion processes were primarily based on the concept of the comburent – almost always. Industrial comburants are discussed in greater depth in associated Combustion Files – see below. Such a system is described as a stoker fired boiler of which there a several basic types. regular atmospheric air – being encouraged to rise through a bed of fuel originally containing wood but later various forms of lump coal and most recently. Figure 1: Stoker fired boiler Figure 2: View of fire-bed in a stoker fired boiler .

Figure 3: Example of a pulverised coal flame Most recently.for the smaller scale combustion of coal and other solid fuels. Arrays of such flames are used to fire boilers of various designs. Figure 4: Rauma CYMIC fluidised bed boiler Source: Kvaerner Pulping Oy. See figure 4. but modern liquid fuel burners employ atomising devices to produced fine droplets of the fuel which initially are evaporated in the throat of a burner . where the coal is milled to a very fine powder – typically 75% by mass<75µm.bubbling and recirculating . there has been a trend towards the development of various forms of fluidised beds . an example of which is shown in figure 3. and passed through a burner in suspension in an atmosphere derived from the coal dryer. at least in relatively large coal fired scale boilers.In recent decades such solid fuel combustion modes. Finland Liquid fuels have been traditionally burned in various forms of pot burners. have given way. to pulverised coal burners. This produces a turbulent diffusion flame.

. Alternatively the gaseous fuel and the comburent may be mixed in the burner to give a regular turbulent diffusion flame. These may be produced by premixing the gaseous fuel and the comburent to give a “premixed” flame. 5 Conclusion General and detailed descriptions of industrial fuels and comburents are given in series of combustion files elsewhere in this handbook. It is clear from the various examples of combustion given above. Figure 5: Example of a fuel oil flame Finally gaseous fuels are exclusively fired in burners which give rise to flames. an example of which is shown in figure 5. that there is a variety of combustion modes used in industry. as shown in figure 6 Figure 6: Example of a burner mixed natural gas flame The flame examples introduced in the foregoing paragraphs display different characteristics and shapes which depend upon the fuel and the burner design. These aspects will be explored further in a cluster of Combustion Files.which gives rise to a turbulent diffusion flame.

gaseous. industrial combustion The information contained in this Combustion File is derived from the IFRF Combustion Handbook (http://www. Acknowledgements This Combustion File contains images from a number of sources including the IFRF M2 trials and magazine articles authored by Bengt-Johan Skrifvars and Pia Kilpinen of Åbo Akademi and Hartmut Spliethof of TU  IFRF 2000 . The reader is encouraged to dig deeper and deeper in this mine of industrial combustion related information. and thus get extensive attention in this handbook. burners.Flames are of considerable importance in industrial process heating and have formed the basis of the research of the International Flame Research Foundation for over 50 years (Ref to Spirit of IJmuiden). emulsion etc. Comburent: A comburent is the generic term describing the gaseous mixture. Glossary Terms Fuel: A fuel is the generic term describing the material – solid. However the various form of bed stokers. Keywords: Combustion.which contains the carbon and/or hydrogen consumed in the industrial combustion process.ifrf.handbook. fuel. particularly fluidised beds. flames. which contains the oxygen used in the industrial combustion process. are also of particular importance in industry and will eventually receive the attention they deserve in due course. liquid. comburent. .