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CH 4203: Research Project

Final Report

Biomass torrefaction for co-firing with coal: Sri Lankan scenario

Name of the supervisor: Mrs. Duleeka Gunarathne

Date of submission: 02/08/2017

Kallegoda C.M. 130262G

Kumaragmage S. 130305T

Saumya A.K.D.D 130549T

Department of Chemical and Process Engineering

University of Moratuwa
ABSTRACT
Biomass can provide a full range of convenient feed stock for energy. When considering
torrefaction, it is a mild pyrolysis pre-treatment applied to raw biomass which results in a
more coal-like product. Torrefaction concept was being in use from very past, such as in tea
and coffee making industries. But only in recent times it has caught attention for producing
coal substitute from biomass. Biomass torrefaction is a pre-treatment method carried out in
temperature between 200-300oC in absence of air. Torrefaction increases the calorific value
while improving the grindability and hydrophobic nature of it. Depending on the conditions
applied in the torrefaction process, the characteristics of the product change.

The torrefied product, which is a coal like material can be used to cofiring with coal in power
plants. But its very important to identify the optimum ratio to blend with coal. This research
is being done for the Sri Lankan scenario. Lakvijaya coal power station in Norochcholai is
the core of power generation in Sri Lanka. It adds 900MW to the national grid which is 62-
47% of national demand. Coal is imported from countries like South Africa, Indonesia which
costs the government heavily. So substituting a part of coal with a suitable material is
appropriate for this case. There is a current problem occurring because of the coal type used
as well. That is in furnaces fuel rich combustion takes place because the fixed carbon
composition in coal is high. All carbon does not get converted in to CO2 completely. Since a
complete combustion does not happen, several drawbacks take place. To mitigate this
problem and optimize the process, cofiring torrefied product with coal can be suggested.

Objectives of the research were as follows.

To design and construct the torrefaction reactor.


To analyse the properties of torrefied biomass by varying raw material, temperature,
and residence time.
To simulate co-firing process of coal and torrefied biomass and determine optimal
cofiring ratio.

This paper presents a work on biomass torrefaction performed in a designed and constructed
stainless steel reactor with 10cm diameter and 15cm length. Experiments were to be
conducted for three raw biomass types, rubber, pinus and albesia using three temperatures
220, 250, 280 oC and three residence times 30, 60, 90 minutes were used for each biomass
type. The reactor was fabricated as required with temperature controlling and the proximate

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analysis was done for the raw biomass selected. The cofiring ratio calculation is included in
the report which was carried out using existing literature values which is the method which
will be used to find the cofiring ratio for the Norachcholai coal power plant using the
torrefied products obtainable from our experiment.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to each and every individual who helped us in
completing the Final report for CH 4203. Our sincere gratitude goes out to the Head of the
Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, Dr. (Mrs) S.H.P.Gunawardena, Module
coordinator of Final Year Research Project (CH 4203), Dr. P.G.Rathnasiri for the untiring
efforts and valuable support given.

We would like to extend our gratefulness to our supervisor, Mrs. Duleeka Gunarathna for the
valuable guidance, enthusiasm and the motivation given throughout the period whenever
needed. We are thankful to Dr. Mahinsasa Narayana for sharing his valuable knowledge with
us all over the research period.

We are thankful to our seniors as well as the MSc students for the support given. We are
grateful to the non-academic staff for the support given when needed. Our gratitude goes to
Nawajeewana Industries and Mega Heaters (PVT) LTD for the immense help given for
constructing the reactor. Finally we would like to convey our gratitude to all the lecturers in
the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering and all our fellow colleagues for
supporting us.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................... 1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT ......................................................................................................... 3

TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................................... 4

LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................................... 5

LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................................... 6

LIST OF APPENDICES ............................................................................................................ 6

CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................ 7

CHAPTER 2.LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORY .......................................................... 8

2.1 Background ...................................................................................................................... 8

2.1.1Biomass as a Fuel....................................................................................................... 8

2.1.2. Background of torrefaction ...................................................................................... 9

2.2 Torrefaction process techniques ...................................................................................... 9

2.3 Mass and energy yield ................................................................................................... 11

2.4 Torrefaction process efficiency...................................................................................... 11

2.5 Torrefied biomass properties ......................................................................................... 11

2.6 Torrified biomass applications ....................................................................................... 14

2.7 Experimental Set up for torrefaction.............................................................................. 15

2.8 Biomass Torrefaction Experiment ................................................................................. 16

2.9 Torrefaction to the industrial scale ................................................................................ 17

2.10 Cofiring Torrified product with coal............................................................................ 18

2.11 Sri Lankan Scenario and the research .......................................................................... 20

CHAPTER 3.MATERIALS AND METHODS ....................................................................... 21

3.1 Biomass selection for raw material ................................................................................ 21

3.2 Reactor Fabrication material selection........................................................................... 22

3.3Analyzing raw biomass (proximate analyzing test methods) ......................................... 23

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3.3.1Test method for Moisture analysis of Particulate Wood Fuels ................................ 23

3.3.2Test method for Ash in Wood.................................................................................. 25

3.3.3Test method for Volatile Matter analysis of particulate wood fuels ........................ 27

3.4Designing process of the reactor ..................................................................................... 29

3.4.1Basic design ............................................................................................................. 31

3.4.2 Heating element for the reactor............................................................................... 32

3.4.3 Adding pipes, pipe fittings ...................................................................................... 36

3.4.4 Temperature controlling circuit .............................................................................. 36

3.4.5The final setup.......................................................................................................... 38

CHAPTER 4.RESULTS AND DISUSSION ........................................................................... 40

4.1 Proximate analysis results for raw biomass ................................................................... 40

Fuel Specification of Norachcholai Power Plant ............................................................. 41

4.2 Cofiring ratio .................................................................................................................. 43

4.2 Error discussion ............................................................................................................. 44

CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................ 45

REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................ 46

APPENDICES ......................................................................................................................... 47

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 3. 1 Moisture test samples ............................................................................................ 25
Figure 3. 2 Ash Content Test samples ..................................................................................... 27
Figure 3. 3 Volatile matter Test samples ................................................................................. 29
Figure 3. 4 Reactor set up in literature ..................................................................................... 30
Figure 3. 5Reactor set up (Luo,2011) ...................................................................................... 30
Figure 3. 6 Drawing of the reactor ........................................................................................... 31
Figure 3. 7 Reactor fabricated .................................................................................................. 32
Figure 3. 8 System (Reactor) ................................................................................................... 33
Figure 3. 9 Body heating element ............................................................................................ 35
Figure 3. 10 On/Off Temperature controlling action ............................................................... 37

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Figure 3. 11Time proportioning controlling ............................................................................ 37
Figure 3. 12 Temperature off-set controlling ........................................................................... 38
Figure 3. 13 temperature controlling system ........................................................................... 38
Figure 3. 14 Final Set up .......................................................................................................... 39
Figure 3. 15 inlet nitrogen pipe bend ....................................................................................... 39

LIST OF TABLES
Table 3. 1Energy Balance calculation ..................................................................................... 34

Table 4. 1 Proximate analysis results (raw biomass) ............................................................... 40


Table 4. 2 Comparison of proximate analysis ......................................................................... 40
Table 4. 3 Fuel Specs ............................................................................................................... 41

LIST OF APPENDICES
Appendix 1 Moisture Test Results.......................................................................................... 47
Appendix 2 Ash Content test results ....................................................................................... 47
Appendix 3 Volatile matter test results ................................................................................... 48

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CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION
Transition methods from fossil to renewable energy are looked at constantly all over the
world with the aim of reducing the environmental impact. Out of various types of
alternatives, use of biomass is considered to be one of the straight forward ones. Using
biomass for heat and power generation is comparatively sustainable solution because it is a
carbon neutral fuel. So, increasing the fraction of biomass in the energy supply contributes to
diminishing adverse environmental impacts of CO2. Coal fired power plants still account for a
huge share of the global electricity supply. The situation is similar in Sri Lanka as well. When
Lakwijaya power plant in Norochcholai is considered that supplies 900MW to the national
grid. Therefore, co-firing torrefied biomass with coal can play an enormous role to increase
the use of renewable sources and also when reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

The raw biomass is currently used for cofiring purposes in some countries. But raw biomass
has disadvantages as a fuel such as low calorific value, high moisture content, smoking
during combustion and hygroscopic nature. Considering these problems, torrefaction of
biomass has been identified as a feasible method for improving properties of biomass as a
fuel. The torrefied biomass is stable, homogeneous, and high in energy density and calorific
value when compared to original biomass. By torrefaction, biomass is converted into a more
coal like material. Torrefied biomass can also provide significant benefits in logistics,
handling and storage.

Biomass torrefaction and cofiring have vast scope since the torrefaction process varying
according to major parameters such as residence time, torrefaction temperature, heating rate,
feed stock partical size, and raw material type. Importance of biomass torrefaction have been
studied under several researches. Torrefaction is a thermo-chemical process carried at 200C-
300C, with with varying residence times as required. The treatment is done in the absence of
oxygen at near atmospheric pressure. During the process, biomass decomposes to give off
different kind of volatilities.

This research is conducted to find out the variations of torrefied biomass properties with
respect to temperature, raw material, and residence time by fabricating a torrefaction reactor.
The report includes proximate analysis for raw biomass, calculation in fabricating the reactor
(gas tank calculation), and selection of appropriate raw materials (types of raw biomass and
fabrication materials of reactor). Moreover, determination of optimum cofiring ratios to
Lakvijaya Coal Power plant is done as the final part of the research project.

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CHAPTER 2.LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORY

2.1 Background

2.1.1Biomass as a Fuel
To reduce the green house emission and as a solution for increasing world energy demand,
biomass is used highly in worldwide. It is a renewable source of energy which can be utilized
as a fuel in energy production and this can be used to replace fossil fuels, which is a highly
depleting source. Even though fossil fuel can be replaceable with biomass, the huge
differences in combustion properties of biomass and fossil fuel, it is difficult to do a 100%
replacement. When coal power plants are considered, they emit NOx, SO2, fly ash and
mercury and it contributes to local air pollution. Above 42% of the global electricity supply is
provided by coal fired power plants and these contribute to above 28% of CO2 emissions.
But because of the inherent property of biomass, the pollution emissions are much less or
none. So replacing coal with biomass is a good option.

Disadvantages of biomass as a fuel are low calorific value, high moisture content, smoking
during combustion and hygroscopic nature. So an acceptable method is to partial replacement
by cofiring biomass with fossil fuel and it reduces the above mentioned incompatibility. Also
the limitations of biomass highly impact on logistic as well as the financial efficiency. Since
the energy density is low compared to fossil fuels, very high volumes of biomass are needed.
So it cause problems in storage, transportation, and feed handling.

Because of the high moisture content of biomass as well, problems arise such as natural
decomposition resulting in loss of quality and storage issues like off gas emissions. The high
moisture content affects the physical, chemical and microbial properties. When biomass is
used for cofiring or gasification, the ununiformed sizes and shapes of biomass also becomes
problematic. Another reason for making biomass less suitable for energy applications is that
it consists of more oxygen than carbon and hydrogen when compared to fossil fuels.

So it is required to pre-process biomass prior to energy applications. Pretreatment can be


either chemical, thermal or mechanical. Torrefction is a thermal treatment method currently
identified as a feasible solution.

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2.1.2. Background of torrefaction
Torrefaction, which is also known as isothermal pyrolysis is a thermal pretreatment process
occurring in temperature range of 200-300oC in atmospheric pressure and in absence of
oxygen (JS Tumuluru, 2011). It is currently recognized as a feasible solution of converting
raw biomass into a solid which is suitable for commercial and residential combustion and
gasification applications. The resultant substance would have high energy density and a lower
oxygen-to-carbon (O/C) ratio, also is hydrophobic, compactable, and grindable. Torrefaction
process is basically involves interaction of drying and incomplete pyrolysis.

Co-firing of biomass with coal is also an area which is being looked at since there are number
of coal power plants all around the world. Since regular biomass lacks ideal fuel
characteristics, it has to be converted in a way that the co-firing process will be more
efficient. This conversion of biomass into more coal like material is called torrefaction.
Compared to regular biomass (wood pellets or wood chips), torrefied pellets have number of
benefits.

Higher calorific value


More homogeneous
Better grindability
No biological activity

As per the following reasons, torrefied biomass suits well as an ideal replacement for coal

Existing infrastructure can be used since it grinds and burns like coal
Lower feedstock and shipping costs
Non-intermittent renewable energy
Lower sulfur and ash content compared with coal.

2.2 Torrefaction process techniques


The parameters affecting the torrefaction product characteristics are (JS Tumuluru, 2011)

reaction temperature
heating rate
absence of oxygen
residence time
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ambient pressure
flexible feedstock
feedstock moisture
feedstock particle size

It is requires to pre-dry biomass to 10% or less moisture level before doing torrefaction.
Particle size also is an important factor which affects the kinetics, reaction mechanism,
duration required, and the heating rate. When the impact of temperature is considered,
exposure of biomass to elevated temperatures results in thermal degradation of its structure. It
is often visualized by mass loss. The duration and the temperature supplied affect the thermal
degradation degree of the biomass sample.

Colour change of raw material is a good mean that shows the torrefaction degree. Colur
change happens in different regimes of temperature. With a main chemical composition
change, from 150-300oC temperature change the biomass colour changes from brown to
black. In addition colour change is also a good indication which shows impurities like bark,
ash, or any other foreign material present in the biomass.

The influence of torrefaction on grindability and reactivity of woody biomass was studied
under an article made by B. Arias, C. Pevida, J. Fermoso, M.G. Plaza, F. Rubiera, and J.J. Pis
in 2007. As I mentioned earlier they have also discussed about the use of biomass to produce
energy and how its becoming more frequent since it helps in achieving a sustainable
environmental scenario, but there would definitely be drawbacks when exploiting fuel source.

They have studied the torrefaction of biomass in order to improve its properties for
pulverized systems. A heating treatment at moderate temperatures (240,260,280C) under an
inert atmosphere was consisted in the study. Treated and untreated samples were then tested
in order to compare. A clear improvement in grindability was identified in treated biomass.

Reactivity in the air was also studied by doing a thermogravimetric analysis of the samples
and kinetic parameters had also been calculated for each reaction stage. Differential
thermogravimetry (DTG) curves have showed a double peak when it comes to the torrefied
biomass which proves the high reactivity. When considering the kinectic parameters,
torrefaction process has influenced the results in the first stage.

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This study goes on to show the improvement of fuel characteristics when comparing regular
biomass with torrefied biomass.

2.3 Mass and energy yield

When the preservation of mass and energy in the solid product is considered, besides the
solids, water is produced mostly in torrefaction. The amount of solid residue remaining and
the volatile and gaseous products produced during torrefaction are mainly impacted by
torrefaction operating conditions and biomass properties. Because of this reason the results
for solid, volatiles and gas analysis differ from one study to another. The results would not be
exactly the same (JS Tumuluru, 2011). When agricultural residues like rice straw and woody
biomass are compared, it has been found out that the solid-to-liquid conversion of the
agricultural residue is much higher than that of the woody biomass under the same
torrefaction conditions. The reason was explained as due to the higher volatile matter content
in the agricultural residues, the main fraction of mass decomposed in the torrefaction
temperature range.

2.4 Torrefaction process efficiency

By torrifying biomass, energy density of biomass is increased and also the overall fuel
properties of the torrefied product are improved. This is a process where high temperatures
are used and so that this can be identified as an energy intensive process. If torrefaction is
done in industrial scale, the overall efficiency of the system can be improved by reusing the
excess heat generated in the process. Through innovative technologies it is possible to
increase efficiency by capturing excess heat and volatile energy.

2.5 Torrefied biomass properties

Through torrefaction, the characteristics of biomass such as moisture content, density,


grindability, pelletability, hydrophobicity, calorific value, proximate and ultimate
composition, and storage behaviours in terms of off-gassing, spontaneous combustion, and
self-heating. If physical properties are compared, when moisture content is considered,
according to literature the feedstock moisture content ranges from 1050%. By torrefaction,

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moisture content is reduced to 13% on a weight basis and that may vary according to the
torrefaction conditions provided. Overall mass reduction is generally in between 20-30% that
that is primarily because of water, carbon monoxide and volatile mater release.

With the loss in the forms of solid, liquid and gases, the raw biomass becomes more porous
with the torrefaction. So the volumetric density significantly changes but the energy density
increases. When the grindability is considered, raw biomass is highly fibrous and also is
tenacious in nature. By torrefaction, biomass losses this tenacious nature whiles the particle
length decreases. Biomass shrinks and become fragile since it loses its mechanical strength. If
the calorific value is considered, when biomass is torrefied, it loses more hydrogen and
oxygen when compared to carbon. That increases the calorific value of product. This energy
and mass content of the torrefied product is found to be preserved in the solid product for a
long time and that material will not degrade over time.

According to the research findings of Biomass Torrefaction (R Zanzi, 2005) , pelletized


biomass produce more solid and less gas than raw biomass. When temperature increases,
yield of gas, tar and water increases and solid torrefied product decreases. Since they have
found that the torrefied product has hydrophobic properties, it confirms that during storage,
regaining humidity from air would be minimum. So compared to raw biomass, moisture
content is much less in torrefied product in storages.

The research paper Torrefaction for biomass co-firing in existing coal-fired power stations
(Bergman PCA B. A., 2005) concluded that the grindability of biomass (woodcuttings,
willow, demolition wood, paddy husk and ect.) can be improved to the level of coal or more
in the temperature range used, with applying a relevant reaction time. Through this process
high-calorific dry torrefied biomass (19-22MJ/kg ar) were obtained. The research obtained
96% of thermal efficiency (including penalties for power consumption thermal efficiency
reduces to 92%). Torrefaction process consists of pre-drying, torrefaction and product
cooling. Exhaust gas from torrefaction can be used in pre-drying of raw biomass (pre-dried
biomass moisture <10-15%).

In the research paper on Influence of torrefaction on the grindability and reactivity of woody
biomass (Arias B, 2007) they have mainly studied on how to improve properties of torrefied
biomass for pulverized systems. By the studies they have identified that there is an
improvement in grindability characteristics in torrefied product compared to raw biomass.
Reactivity of torrefied product in air also has experimentally tested by using thermo

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gravimetric analysis. When raw biomass is considered, it is difficult to grind if fine particles
have to be obtained from lignocellulose materials. When applied in coforing systems with
coal, when raw biomass is applied to pulverizer, many drawbacks may occur. Main objective
of this research paper is to study the grindability characteristic changes and combustibility
behaviors from torrefaction. They have used a cutting mill and then the particle size
distribution also was determined.

When evaluating grindability characteristics compared to the original material, cutting mill
with a bottom sieve of 2mm was used. Then the ground samples were sieved in to 4 size
fractions >425, 425 150, 150 75, and <75 m. For untreated biomass, only 29% passes
through the 425m sieve. When torrefied, for all the cases grindability improvement has been
there. Raw biomass has a highly fibrous nature and the links formed from fibers between
particles make it hard to handle raw biomass. But in torrefied samples, they identified that
there are no fibrous links and the particles were isolated. With the temperature and residence
time, particle size reductions were observed. According to this research paper, during the
torrefaction process particles become more spherical. They identified that this decrease of
particle size was mainly due to the length reduction and not majorly on particle diameter.

For evaluating combustibility changes, they have used non isothermal thermo gravimetric
tests in air and the rate of mass loss curve was drawn. They have identified that the mass
yield decreased rapidly during first hour of treatment and after that, decreasing was slow with
the residence time. The combustibility curves presented two well defined peaks. Those two
peaks were due to combustion of cellulose and lignite.

The paper done by Torrefaction for biomass upgrading (Bergman PCA K. J., 2005) has
discussed and analyzed about the torrefaction process for biomass. According to them, during
torrefaction the properties of biomass are changed in a way that it will obtain better fuel
quality and characteristics for combustion and gasification purposes. And it also solves or
reduces the issues associated with logistics when handling untreated biomass. This confirms
the facts which were stated earlier and justifies the torrefaction process rather than the use of
regular biomass.

In the doctoral dissertation of Jun Li (JunLi, 2014) determining devolatalization kinetics and
char oxidation kinetics, performing a CFD modelling using kinetic parameters of torrefaction,
flame property determination of torrefied product by a numerical investigation and finally

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cofiring coal and this torrefied product at varying ratios in a coal fired boiler were the
objectives.

In a diploma project report on Torrefaction of biomass a comparative and kinetic study of


thermal decomposition for Norway spruce stump, poplar and fuel tree chips (XunLuo, 2011)
they have demonstrated that fuel properties like heating values and grinderbility has been
improved by torrefaction. The thermal decomposition process was affected by the heating
rate. Through performing a SEM analysis, according to this report they have identified that
the surface structure of wood was broken and destroyed. According to Xun Luo, three phases
of products are obtained from torrefaction; liquid, solid, gas where solid is the main product
having low moisture and a high calorific value. He has cooled the exhaust gas from the
torrefier and obtained a yellowish liquid which is formed from condensable gases. But non
condensable gases like CO2, CO and little amount of Methane leave the system. Even though
testing the exhaust gas is not an objective of us, the findings of them are important in
continuing our research to the next phases. When considering energy densification, 70% of
mass is retained as solid product which contained 90% of initial energy. In this case they
have considered for this report, the energy density of the torrefied biomass has increased by a
factor of 1.3.

2.6 Torrified biomass applications

In coal powered power stations as well as in entrained flow gasificatins, biomass is used for
cofiring but has to be fed in power form which is a hard task and costly. That is achievable
only for small scale applications. So to overcome this problem, currently wood pellents are
used mostly with the aim of supplying sufficiently small particles. But wood pellets too have
some drawbacks in moisture uptake and energy content.When torrefied biomass
characteristics are compared, since it is energy-dense and hydrophobic in nature, can be a
good replacement for wood pellets in cofiring and gasification plants. Because of the high
calorific value content and high fuel quality, torrefied biomass makes it very attractive.

Common torrefied biomass applications include, (JS Tumuluru, 2011)

high-quality smokeless solid fuels for industrial, commercial, and domestic


applications
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solid fuel for cofiring directly with pulverized coal at electric power plants
an upgraded feedstock for fuel pellets, briquettes, and other densified biomass fuels
high-quality biomass solid fuel for advanced bioenergy application

2.7 Experimental Set up for torrefaction


For the research Biomass Torrefaction (R Zanzi, 2005), they have used a reactor tube of
length 0.5m and inner diameter of 0.04m. Biomass sample size was 65g for each experiment
and torrefaction was done under atmospheric pressure. To maintain inert conditions, a
nitrogen flow of 5litre/hour was used. After the required final temperatures were achieved
(230oC, 250oC, 280oC), the apparatus was kept at the same temperature for the required
residence time and then the heater was switched off and kept to cool down. Before each
round of experiment a nitrogen flow of 12 litres were let through the system to remove air. In
paper they have recommended to continue these studies to pilot scale torrefaction plant.

A paper on Torrefaction of agricultural and forest residues (Ferro DT, 2004) discusses
about the experiments done on various types such as pine, lucern, sugar cane bagasse, wood
pellets, straw pellets etc. The biomass torrefaction was performed using a reactor tube of a
length of 0.5m and an inner diameter of 0.04m (laboratory unit). This reactor was heated for a
selected temperature of either 230C, 250C or 280C and the final temperature was
maintained for a period of 1, 2 or 3 hours. Then they have gone on to study the effect of raw
material. The type of biomass has influenced the product distribution.

In a diploma project report on Torrefaction of biomass a comparative and kinetic study of


thermal decomposition for Norway spruce stump, poplar and fuel tree chips (XunLuo, 2011)
they have developed a fixed bed reactor for performing torrefaction and then a TGA has
performed. When the experimental setup they have used is considered, we could identify that
they have used a tubular reactor placed in an electric muffle furnace. For supplying inert
conditions, nitrogen is supplied with a preheating setup. Since they need to test the exhaust
gas product they have included a condenser also to the outlet. The reactor is constructed of
stainless steel and could be inserted in to the designed furnace. A removable sample cup and
a thermocouple equipped with a digital thermometer are main parts in this set up.

This report is helpful in designing the torrifier we need to perform the reactor. The conditions
to be considered and other set up parameters are clearly presented in this report when
compared to others.

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2.8 Biomass Torrefaction Experiment

In the research paper Biomass Torrefaction (R Zanzi, 2005) biomass product property
variations with factors; temperature of the reactor, raw material, residence time are
considered. In this research they have specifically determined more specific raw biomass,
temperature and residence time for torrefaction process. This research has performed inside a
laboratory unit with a reactor tube. First different types of biomass (miscanthus, birch, salix
wood and straw pellets) were selected and those were heated to selected temperature (230oC,
250oC or 280oC) and kept under different residence time (1, 2 or 3 hours). Then the torrefied
biomass properties were measured through ultimate and proximate analysis. Also the energy
contents, moisture content, ash content and volatile fraction were characterized.

Furthermore, they recommend further evaluating the potential of torrefaction with


densification which can be obtained by pelletizing. Also, it suggested paying more attention
in process and material characteristics such as dust collecting, hydrophobic nature of torrefied
biomass and etc.

Since it is required for us to design and construct a torrefaction reactor, there methodology
and the facts they have considered in constructing the equipment set up is important. The
objectives of this research are mostly similar to the objectives of our research. Since our
objective is to determine the property changes in biomass after torrefaction, the experimental
methods used in the paper has an important relationship with our project. According to the
research paper researchers have conducted torrefaction experiment in the range of 250oC-
300oC and the reaction time was varied from 7.5mins to 30mins. Further the paper considered
the combustion and gasification characteristics of torrefied product. The research paper
concluded that the volatile matter content decreases and the ash and fixed carbon content
increases by the torrefaction process. In addition, at the lower temperatures and short
residence times the changes in proximate and ultimate analyse are not significant. But in high
temperatures changes in proximate and ultimate compositions are significant (When
temperature>280oC the proximate and ultimate composition is sensitive to reaction time and
temperature). Different biomass types would be selected according to the availability in Sri
Lanka.

The paper on Torrefaction of agricultural and forest residues (Ferro DT, 2004) discusses
about the experiments done on various types such as pine, lucern, sugar cane bagasse, wood
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pellets, straw pellets etc. They have heated the sample for a selected temperature of either
230C, 250C or 280C and the final temperature was maintained for a period of 1, 2 or 3
hours. Then they have gone on to study the effect of raw material. The type of biomass has
influenced the product distribution. And the torrefied products were characterized based on
following conditions,

Elemental composition
Energy content
Moisture content
Ash content
Volatile fraction

After the elemental analysis, it has been identified that the carbon content increases at higher
temperatures while the hydrogen and oxygen content decreases (mainly due to the formation
of water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide during the torrefaction).

Calorific value has been calculated using the following equation.


CV = 0.34%C + 1.40%H 0.16%O (MJ/kg)
The calorific value has also increased with residence time.
These types of studies can be undertaken in order to identify the most suitable type of
biomass to be used.

2.9 Torrefaction to the industrial scale

A reactor based on moving bed principles was suggested in the research paper Biomass
Torrefaction (R Zanzi, 2005) since the process will be more efficient by that. The paper
estimated the 5 to 7.5 million euros as the capital investment to 60 kton/a production plant
and production costs estimated in the range of 40 to 56 euros /ton. Base on the cost
calculation and efficiency calculation the researchers have concluded that the torrefied
biomass cofiring with coal can be an efficient technology.

The paper done by Torrefaction for biomass upgrading (Bergman PCA K. J., 2005)
discusses the economics side of things were also discussed under this paper. Just to give an
example, a dramatic cost reduction has been observed due to the large reduction of the
logistics costs. This whole process as a pre-treatment is applicable and interesting only if it
leads to a cost reduction especially because it still hasnt reached a commercial status.

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Department of innovation, Utrecht University conducted a research to predict the techno-
economic status and future prospects of biomass torrefaction technology in 2013. Above
research papers discussed about the process of torrefaction, cofiring methods and raw
material selection. This study improves the available knowledge on torrefaction by providing
the details of the commercial utilization of torrefaction technology over time, for both short
and long term. Based on existing torrefaction process the process performance characteristics
were recognized. Performance characteristics such as thermal efficiency and mass yield were
evaluated to the existing process by performing mass and energy balances. This paper
explores the development of torrefaction technology and discusses key technical aspects of
torrefaction, energy and mass balance modeling and lastly evaluates the short and long term
economic performance of torrefaction concept.

2.10 Cofiring Torrified product with coal

According to the research paper Torrefaction for biomass co-firing in existing coal-fired
power stations (Bergman PCA B. A., 2005) , they have conducted a research on cofiring
torrefied biomass for existing coal power plant. The paper says that the Dutch government
was targeting on reducing CO2 reduction in coal fired power plants by 2008-2012. Half of
this reduction which is around 475MW or approximately 13% of coal replacement was done
by cofiring raw biomass in the existing power stations. But the cofiring was limited by the
property differences of biomass and coal. In nature biomass are fibrous and tenacious which
may not be effectively utilize in coal mills. This report targets to measure the effectiveness of
cofiring torrefied biomass as a replacement for the biomass.

In this research (Bergman PCA B. A., 2005), main target was to develop the cofiring of
existing power station by torrefied biomass. It was done through characterization of
torrefaction process; The effect of torrefaction process on biomass in different conditions,
optimization of process conditions(recognized the type of raw materials, process temperature
and ect.), identification and evaluation of torrefication concepts (recognized the properties of
torrefied biomass with compare to raw biomass and coal), process and reactor design
(calciner to process biomass to torrefied biomass) and development of measurement
techniques and thecnical-economical values (evaluate the effect of cofiring on the process
efficency and the economic profit from the process).
18
According to the report of Department of innovation, Utrecht University (2013) since the
calorific value of torrefied biomass is lower than coal, coal cofiring with biomass can have a
massive impact in combustion in the furnace. When discussing the cofiring of torrefied
biomass with coal techno-economic facts plays major role. Replacing coal with torrefied
biomass can be economical or not.

In the doctoral dissertation done by Jun Li in 2014 on Volumetric combustion of torrefied


biomass for large percentage biomass co-firing up to 100% fuel switch, Jun Li has presented
various aspects of torrefaction (JunLi, 2014). According to him keeping the same steam
parameters, a high boiler efficiency and a stable operation condition are the main challenges
in cofiring biomass over 20% energy basis in the pulverize coal boilers. This paper is mainly
focused on finding the outcomes in cofiring in large percentages of fuel switch; up to 100%.
Through this replacement of coal with biomass, increased combustion efficiency and process
efficiency, reduced CO2 and NOx emissions are obtainable while having a same steam
parameter. Volumetric combustion method was used for his design of apparatus used for the
research. The process was involving intense mixing and recirculation of flue gas in the
combustion chamber. From then Jun Li has needed to achieve an increased residence time
and a more uniform gas concentration and temperature in the chamber.

Our objective of the research is to obtain the most suitable torrefied biomass product for
cofiring purposes. Cofiring would not be performed experimentally but experimentally doing
the torrefaction of biomass was an objective. Even though cofiring would not be actually
performed, findings of Jun Li with relevant to cofiring is important for us to determine the
characteristics that the torrefied product should have. Since the efficiency and the effluents of
cofiring vary according to the torrefied product, the results of Jun Lis cofiring experiments
are important. The impact of cofiring ratios and the degree of torrefaction were determined
and the pollutants emitted were also studied using Aspen plus.

The results of Jun Lis experiment were

when high heating rates are provided the yields of the volatiles are enhanced for
biomass devolatilization processes with the same final temperature
the enhanced drag force on the biomass particles causes a late release of volatile
matter and delays the ignition of the fuel-air mixture
larger flame volumes, lower peak flame temperatures and lower NO emission are
generated by oxidizers with lower oxygen concentrations

19
the co-firing simulation reveals that a boiler load reduction of less than 10% is
observed when firing 100% torrefied biomass
When considering deep torrefaction, it is not recommended since the energy saved
during biomass grinding is lower than that consumed for the additional torrefaction
process. When increasing the degree of torrefaction or the substitution ratio, the
electrical efficiency of power plant is reduced
the amount of flue gas that needs to be recycled for NOx reduction decreased when
the percentage of co-fired biomass increased

From the thesis of Jun Li, he has proposed a solution for co firing with large percentage of
biomass up to 100% fuel switch. He has proposed to study more on matters such as fouling,
corrosion in the boiler, ash utilization and flue gas cleaning which are common issues in
biomass combustion. He has suggested to perform combustion in a larger furnace understand
the cofiring in real conditions. When using torrefied product, more attention should be paid to
the power consumption for the torrefaction, power requirement for grinding, problems
encounter in biomass transporting and the boiler characteristics; energy consumption and
thermal efficiency. When torrefaction is considered, efficiency, large scale application ability
and product quality are major factors. Even though the CFD simulation was done for identify
flame characteristics, it is needed to experimentally investigate it for ensuring combustion
behaviors. And also before applying torrefaction application in industrial scale, doing an
economic evaluation is needed to ensure the sustainability.

2.11 Sri Lankan Scenario and the research

Lakvijaya coal power station in Norochcholai is the core of power generation in Sri Lanka. It
adds 900MW to the national grid which is 62-47% of national demand. Coal is imported from
South Africa, Indonesia which is a costs the government heavily. So substituting a part of
coal with a suitable material is appropriate for this case. When considering Norochcholai
power station, a current problem occurring there is that in furnaces fuel rich combustion takes
place. The reason for this problem is that the fixed carbon composition in coal is high and
because of that all carbon does not get converted in to CO2 completely. Since a complete
combustion does not happen, several drawbacks take place. For mitigate this problem too,
cofiring torrefied product with coal can be suggested and the process can be optimized by
this.

20
Many researches have been conducted to find the effect of torrefaction on biomass and
changing of properties in biomass with compared to raw biomass and coal. This paper
expected to compare the research work done by other researchers and recognize the perfect
methodology to the torrefaction process and cofiring.

CHAPTER 3.MATERIALS AND METHODS

3.1 Biomass selection for raw material


In Sri Lanka, there are different types of wood used in various purposes. Teak wood, jack
wood, rubber wood, finus wood, albesea wood etc are use in building construction and
furniture manufacturing which produces high amount of wastage during the processes. The
waste generated in these industries is not used in other major processes (only small amount of
wood waste is used domestically). Considering this scenario torrefaction is a reliable solution
for generated wood waste as mentioned above. Not only waste generated in construction and
furniture manufacturing but also a large amount of coconut shells is produced daily in Sri
Lanka. An objective of this research is to find the characteristics like energy density of
torrefied products with relevant to each biomass type. Eventhough the results would be taken
individually for each biomass, in industrial scale without preselection of wood, a mixture of
wood will be used for torrefaction to get an energy dense coal like material.

The raw biomass types selected for the research were rubber, pinus and albesia.

Why Rubber, pinus and albesia?

When Sri Lankan scenario is considered, rubber industry is at a high level and the life span
of a rubber tree is maximum 30 years. When the rubber tree get matures, the latex yield
obtainable would start to decrease at one point and so that periodically rubber trees are cut
down planting new trees. So that rubber is a biomass that would be used here. Even though
for furniture making rubber wood is used, the waste content is very high. So, we decided that
rubber is a good option to use in torrefaction if the energy density of the product is high.

In hill country, there are huge pinus plantations but pine plantations are considered as an
environmental hazard by many environmentalists. So that pinus trees are being cut down.
Considering the availability, we decided to do torrefaction for pine trees also to find out the
characteristics of it after torrefaction.

21
Albesia is a frequently used wood type in sri lanka and albesia trees are cut down majorly for
furniture manufacturing as well as for construction work. Most of the remainder of an albesia
wood will become waste. Since its availability is high, we chose albesia wood as another
choice for torrefacturing

3.2 Reactor Fabrication material selection


Reactor body and internals

The main task of this research was to design and fabricate the reactor which is used for
torrefaction. Torrefaction is a process which is done in temperature range of 200-300oC and
in atmospheric pressure. The next step of torrefaction is pyrolysis which is done using
temperatures up to 900oC. we decided to manufacture the reactor to be used up to pyrolysis
process as well for future experiments. So, we had to decide a suitable material to fabricate
the reactor. So, the most suitable material was decided to be stainless steel. Reactor body, lids
for the two sides were manufactured using steel. Inside the reactor we had to have a method
to keep the sample for torrefaction. For that, it was decided to include a tray inside and since
this also will be heated, tray also was made of stainless steel. But tray was fabricated using a
less thickness plate (2mm) compared to the reactor body (3mm). Nut and bolts also were
stainless steel. Since the stand of the reactor also gets contacted with reactor body directly,
the stand also was fabricated using stainless steel.

Pipe lines

Then we needed pipe lines for nitrogen supply and exhaust gas removal. For these purposes
copper pipes was selected. From the nitrogen tank, to take nitrogen out through a flow meter,
a plastic pipe has to be used. To avoid heating up of plastic pipe when its contacted with the
copper pipe, in between we had to cool down the cupper pipe using a water bath.

Heater

The heater was decided to be a nickel-chrome coil. Since this is a 3kW heater adding
insulation is a must. So we decided to have porcelain insulation around the heater.

22
3.3Analyzing raw biomass (proximate analyzing test methods)

Before analyzing the properties of torrefied biomass, properties of raw biomass should be
analyzed. In order to do that, 3 kinds of available raw biomass in Sri Lanka were collected.

Rubber

Pinus

Albizia

These samples were collected after visiting to a number of saw mills and timber shops around
the Moratuwa area.

The following test methods were carried out afterwards.

Moisture analysis of particulate wood fuels

Ash in wood

Volatile matter in the analysis of particulate wood fuels

3.3.1Test method for Moisture analysis of Particulate Wood Fuels

Moisture content is determined by establishing the loss in weight of the sample when heated
under controlled conditions of temperature, time, atmosphere, sample weight and equipment
specifications.

Apparatus;

Drying oven

Open containers

Desiccator

Analytical balance

23
Procedure which was undertaken;

Each type of woods was cut and samples were prepared having a maximum particle
volume of 1 in3 and a weight around 50g.

Sample container was dried and for 30 min at 103 1 C in the oven and then it was
cooled to the room temperature.

Weight was measured to the nearest 0.02g and recorded as the container weight, Wc.

Sample of minimum 50g was placed in the container and the weight of sample and
container was measured to the nearest 0.01g. It was recorded as initial weight, Wi.

Sample and container was placed in the oven for 16 hours at 103 1 C.

Sample and the container was removed from the oven and allowed to be cooled in the
desiccator to room temperature.

Sample and the container was removed from the desiccator and weighted immediately
to the nearest 0.01g. It was recorded as Wf.

[ ]

Where,

Wc = container weight (g)

Wi = initial weight (g)

Wf = final weight (g)

This procedure was repeated for all 3 types of wood.

24
Figure 3. 1 Moisture test samples

3.3.2Test method for Ash in Wood


The ash content gives an approximate measure of the mineral content and other inorganic
matter in wood.

Apparatus;

Crucibles, covers

Muffle furnace

Drying oven

Analytical balance

Procedure which was undertaken;

Each type of wood samples was taken and grinded.

The grinded wood samples obtained were passed through a 425 m sieve.

Test specimens were prepared for approximately 2g of wood.

Crucible and cover was allowed to be heated in a muffle furnace and cooled in a
desiccator. The weight was measured to the nearest 0.1mg.

2g specimen was placed in the crucible and weighted.

It was placed in the oven at 105C with the crucible cover removed.

25
After 1hr crucible cover was placed and the crucible was removed from the oven.

Crucible with the cover was placed in the desiccator to be cooled and weighted.

The drying and weighing was repeated until the weight is constant within 0.1mg.

Cooling and weighing were done with the crucible covered to prevent absorption of
moisture from air.

Weight of crucible plus specimen minus weight of crucible was recorded as the
weight of the oven-dry specimen.

Crucible and contents (with the cover removed) was placed in the muffle furnace and
ignited for a period of 30min at a temperature around 580C. (Maximum temperature
should be 600C)

Crucible with its contents was removed to a desiccator (with the cover replaced
loosely) and weighted after it was cooled.

[ ]

Where,

W1 = weight of ash (g)

W2 = weight of dry oven sample (g)

This procedure was repeated for all 3 types of wood.

26
Figure 3. 2 Ash Content Test samples

3.3.3Test method for Volatile Matter analysis of particulate wood fuels

This test can be used to determine the percentage of gaseous products, exclusive of moisture
vapor.
Apparatus;
Crucibles, covers
High temperature Furnace (at Material Department)
Analytical balance

27
Procedure which was undertaken;
Each type of wood samples was taken and grinded.
The grinded wood samples obtained were passed through a 1mm sieve.
Crucible and its cover were weighted to the nearest 0.01g and recorded as crucible
weight (Wc).
Approximately 1g of sample was placed in the crucible and the weight of crucible,
cover and sample was recorded to the nearest 0.01g. (initial weight- Wi)
Crucible with the sample and cover was introduced to a furnace which was
maintained around 950C.
Heating was done for 7 min and the crucible was removed from the furnace without
disturbing the cover.
It was allowed to cool in a desiccator and the covered crucible with sample was
weighted to the nearest 0.1mg and recorded as the final weight (Wf).

[ ]

Where,
Wc = weight of crucible and cover (g)
Wi = initial weight (g)
Wf = final weight (g)

Where,
A = weight loss %
B = moisture % (determined earlier)
This procedure was repeated for all 3 types of wood.

28
Figure 3. 3 Volatile matter Test samples

3.4Designing process of the reactor


For torrefaction process to be carried out on a laboratory scale, our objective was to design a
torrefaction reactor. There were two types of laboratory reactors found in research papers.

One type of reactor consists of two cylinders which is heated by electric heaters (R. Zansi).
The sample is placed in the removable inner cylinder with net in the bottom.

29
Figure 3. 4 Reactor set up in literature

And the other one (Luo, 2011) was tubular reactor placed in an electrical muffle furnace.
After analyzing the available resources at the department, we came into conclusion that this
option is not possible given the types of available furnaces. It only can be opened from the
side so that there will be a number of issues when placing the reactor and connecting inlets
and outlets.

Figure 3. 5Reactor set up (Luo,2011)

30
After having discussions with research supervisor and Dr. Narayana, it was decided to make
our own design for the reactor to achieve biomass pyrolysis temperatures as well (for future
use).

*Pyrolysis is the thermal decomposition of biomass occurring in the absence of oxygen. A


temperature range around 500C to 1000C is required for that process compared to 200C to
300C range required for torrefaction.

3.4.1Basic design

Figure 3. 6 Drawing of the reactor

The Reactor needed for the experiment which is a cylindrical reactor with the capability of
supplying inert conditions (continuous N2 flow) was designed and the drawing created (using

31
AutoCAD) is shown in figure 3.6. One end of the reactor can be opened to insert the samples.
A tray was added insid the reactor to hold the samples and it is not shown in the drawing.

Based on the requirements mentioned earlier Stainless steel was selected as the material for
the reactor. A visit was paid to Nawajeevana Industries which is located near the university to
discuss the building work. After the agreeing to the price and conditions, the building work of
the reactor was done.

Figure 3. 7 Reactor fabricated

3.4.2 Heating element for the reactor


As the next stages of the building process heaters had to be designed and included outside of
the reactor to achieve the temperatures needed for the experiment.

32
Calculations and Values

N2 inflow N2 + CO2

Figure 3. 8 System (Reactor)

Mass Balance

( )

Volumetric rate of Nitrogen is taken as 0.1 l/min

Density of Nitrogen =

Energy balance

33
Table 3. 1Energy Balance calculation

Volume Molar Mass Heat of Kj/Kg Enthalpy change Enthalpy at Enthalpy


% of mass ratio formation from 27C to 1000C of 1 kg of
flue gas Hf (Kj/mol) 1000C mixture
V/V
CO 17.35 28 485.8 0.257872 -110 -3928.57143 1200.682 -2727.889429 -703.446
CO2 11.03 44 485.32 0.257617 -393.5 -8943.18182 1262.954 -7680.227818 -1978.56
H2 18.42 2 36.84 0.019555 0 0 15023.12 15023.12 293.7829
H2O 42.44 18 763.92 0.405504 -241.8 -13433.3333 2391.634 -11041.69933 -4477.45
CH4 7 16 112 0.059452 -74.8 -4675 4580.884 -94.116 -5.59536
Total 1883.88 -6871.27

Lets consider the final equation as (A) for future use.

Therefore,

Enthalpy of the pyrolysis reaction

Molar mass of charcoal = 12.46 g/mol

From (A);

34
Enthalpy of remaining charcoal = 115.4 kJ/initial biomass mol

Remaining Charcoal molar ratio from the biomass = 0.492

Therefore,

= 10.46 kJ/s

( )

4.54 kW

Considering pyrolysis also we made the heater for 3kW.

After some internet research and through contracts, a couple of heating element
manufacturers were found. A visit was paid to Mega Heaters (Pvt) Ltd which is located in
Kottawa to show them the designed reactor and discuss our requirement. After having a
thorough discussion with the staff as well as the managing director, a quotation was taken in
order to discuss the prices with the supervisors. On the second visit, after coming into an
agreement with the price and conditions, the reactor was handed over to Mega heaters.

Figure 3. 9 Body heating element

A cylindrical heating element similar to the one shown in the figure below was attached
around the reactor.

35
3.4.3 Adding pipes, pipe fittings
Pipes and pipe fittings needed in order to complete the reactor had to be bought. After
visiting to a couple of hardware shops around the Moratuwa area it was apparent that they do
not have pipes to achieve the temperatures needed for the experiment. Finally an Air
conditioner selling and repair shop was found in Moratuwa and they use copper pipes for
their applications.

Copper pipes were selected based on the following conditions;


Copper has a high melting point around 1085C
Copper is a good conductor of heat (so that it can be cooled down easily)
Cost
Pipe fittings needed according to the number of bends, joints were also bought.
Such as reducers, elbows etc.

3.4.4 Temperature controlling circuit

To control the temperature inside the reactor without extensive operator involvement, a
temperature control system was needed.

A temperature control system relies upon a controller, which accepts a temperature sensor
such as a thermocouple or RTD (Resistance thermometer) as input. The controller compares
the desired temperature (set point) with the actual temperature and provides an output. The
controller is only one part of the entire control system and the following items also had to be
considered when coming up with the controlling system.
Type of input sensor (thermocouple, RTD) and temperature range
Type of output required (electromechanical relay, SSR, analog output)
Control algorithm needed (on/off, proportional, PID)
Number and type of outputs (heat, cool, alarm, limit)

There are a few types of controllers available as follows.


On-off
Proportional
PID (ProportionalIntegralDerivative)

1) On/Off

36
This is the simplest type of temperature control device. There is no middle state for the output
other than either on or off. When the temperature goes above the set point the output will be
off and the output will be on when the temperature is below the set point.

Figure 3. 10 On/Off Temperature controlling action

2) Proportional
Theres a cycling nature associated with the on-off control and proportional controls are
designed to eliminate that. A proportional controller decreases the average power being
supplied to the heater as the temperature approaches set point. As a result, the heating will be
slowed down to not overshoot the set point and maintain a stable temperature around the set
point.
This proportioning action is achieved by turning the output on and off for short intervals.
Time proportioning varies the ratio of on time to off time to control the temperature.

Figure 3. 11Time proportioning controlling 37


3) PID
This controller combines proportional control with two additional adjustments, which helps
the unit automatically compensate for changes in the system.
The proportional, integral and derivative terms must be individually adjusted or tuned to a
particular system, using a trial and error method. It provides the most accurate and stable
control of the three controller types, and is best used in systems which have a relatively small
mass, those which react quickly to changes in energy added to the process.

Figure 3. 12 Temperature off-set controlling

(Omega, n.d.)
One of these types had to be selected for the experiment and it was apparent that the PID
controller is the most suitable type.

3.4.5The final setup

The temperature control system/ circuit used are similar to the circuit shown in the figure
below.

38
Figure 3. 13 temperature controlling system
Uses of a Solid State relay (SSR)
A solid state relay as the name indicates does an electrical switch comprise solid state or
electronic components. It contains no moving parts and mechanical contacts thus there is no
wear-out mechanism. As a result, SSRs can be used for millions of turn on/turn off cycles
with no deterioration in performance. Addition to that the acoustical noise is also eliminated.

The final setup of the reactor and the temperature control system is shown below.

Figure 3. 14 Final Set up

Inlet pipe for the Nitrogen (N2) flow was designed in a particular way so that it can be
cooled using a water bath before connecting to the Nitrogen tank.
K wool was used for the high temperature insulation purposes.

Figure 3. 15 inlet nitrogen pipe bend

39
CHAPTER 4.RESULTS AND DISUSSION

4.1 Proximate analysis results for raw biomass


First proximate was done for the selected biomass which we will use to obtain the torrified
product. The results we got for raw biomass samples are as follows.

Biomass
Proximate Albesia Finus Rubber
Analysis
Moisture Content 32.22% 14.63% 12.37%
Volatile Matter 55.54% 70.65% 79.92%
Fixed Carbon 9.87% 11.67% 6.92%
Ash 2.37% 3.05% 0.79%
Table 4. 1 Proximate analysis results (raw biomass)

According to literature moisture content, Fixed carbon and volatile matter is around 30-40%,
20-25% and 70-75%. Almost all obtained values from experiments are varying between these
values, but some values are deviated because the literature values cover vast range of wood
types.

Table 4. 2 Comparison of proximate analysis

The reactor we fabricated includes K type thermo couple sensor, temperature controller and
solid state relay as mentioned in the method section. Torrefaction should be done in a
controlled temperature which should maintain constant inside the reactor. While test run been
done an unexpected problem occurred in the sensing part. The temperature controller

40
switched off the SSR (solid state relay) when the internal temperature reached the required
value. But mounted heater was heated up to high temperature further temperature rise
occurred (We needed 200oC but the temperature increased passing 200oC). To overcome this
problem we have to use a cascade controlling system (use two temperature sensors in the
reactor surface and the inside of the reactor) which we hope to do within this week.

After installing the cascade temperature controlling system, torrefaction can be carried out in
the reactor for rubber, albesia and pine by varying residence time and reactor temperature.
Proximate analysis has to be carried out for the torrified products which will be obtained
from above experiments.

Fuel Specification of Norachcholai Power Plant

COAL GUARANTEE DESIGN RAINY


SEASON
TOTAL MOISTURE % 12.0 16.0 19.0
VOLATILE MATTER % 27.0 25.0 24.9
FIXED CARBON % 49.5 43.3 45.5
SULPHUR % 0.5 0.7 0.5
ASH % 11.0 15.0 10.1
Table 4. 3 Fuel Specs

According to the fuel specifications, proximate analysis should be around design values in a
way that fixed carbon and volatile matter has to be maintained in the range of 42-46% and
24-26% in supplied coal. The following table shows the percentages of fixed carbon and
volatile matter content of coal in arrived vessels during the period of 2015/2016.

41
Figure 4. 1 Unloaded coal vessels in 2015/16

Specially, South African vessels arrived in 2015/2016 have high amount of fixed carbon and
low amount of volatile matter when compared to design specifications. Although it increases
the calorific value of coal, the coal combustion is not efficient in the furnace due low amount

42
of volatile matter present in coal (to occur a sufficient ignition). Cofiring coal with bio mass
will be an appropriate solution to overcome this problem in the power plant.

4.2 Cofiring ratio


Table 4.3 shows the normal proximate analysis of torrefied biomass, and from fugure 4.1 we
can obtain the proximate design specification of the Norachcholai power plant furnace.

In 100g of coal includes (according to design Specifications):

Volatile matter: 25.0g Fixed carbon: 43.3g

Fixed carbon/Volatile matter=43.3/25.0= 1.73

In 100g of South African coal includes (as an average):

Volatile matter: 24.75g Fixed carbon: 54.13g

Fixed carbon/Volatile matter=54.13/24.75= 2.187

In 100g torrefied biomass includes (used the literature values):

Volatile matter: 60g Fixed carbon: 31.5g

Fixed carbon/Volatile matter=31.5/60= 0.525

Considering the fixed carbon to volatile matter ratios,

Which means to obtain the design fixed carbon/ volatile matter ratio South African coal and
torrefied biomass should cofire in 1:0.379 ratio. Here for calculation purposes literature
values for torrefied biomass proximate analysis were used. The final objective of the research
was to find the cofiring ratio in the above method with respect to the experimental values
obtainable after conducting the torrefaction process from the reactor we fabricated.

43
4.2 Error discussion
We did the proximate analysis using ASTM standards. Here it was required to take
biomass from the loading point itself. But considering availability of material we had
to obtain from the saw mill
According to standards it is required to take a sample size 10kg has to be taken and
then mix it in a requires special way and then take a 50g of sample out of it. But
biomass availability was not as much as that.
While doind the testings the measuring equipments like balances were not located
near the testing point itself. So while taking the sample from the desicator to the
balance moisture can get added again which might have been error causing
We had to take small particle sizes like 1mm particles for the testing of volatile
matter. But for that we had to blend raw material in a blender which heated up the
biomass itself. It would have caused moisture removal.

44
CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In raw material selection, it would be more suitable if we selected coconut shells also. The
reason is because there are more than enough coconut shells being destroyed as waste daily in
Sri Lanka.

Results obtained from the proximate analysis of raw biomass were around the literature
values. Albesia contained 32% of moisture, 55% of volatile matter, 10% of fixed carbon and
2% of ash. Finus contained 15% of moisture, 71% of volatile matter, 11% of fixed carbon
and 3%of ash. In the same way, proximate analysis of rubber was around same values. Test
results shows that the raw wood have high amount of volatile matter and moisture. This high
amount of volatile matter shows the low calorific value of raw wood. Normally the torrefied
products have 3% of moisture, 50% of volatile matter and 38% of fixed carbon. Torrefied
pellets have calorific value of 22GJ/ton where the normal wood has only 9GJ/ton. These
values show the energy densification by torrefaction. Although the energy is densified by
torrefaction that amount is not as much as in coal. When we are replacing coal with the
torrefied biomass this comparatively low calorific value will be a disadvantage, but when it
comes to norachcholai power plant cofiring coal with torrefied biomass will give a huge
advantage on boiler efficiency. Calculated cofiring ratio was 1:0.379 which means we have to
cofire 0.379tons of torrefied biomass with 1ton of coal.

Energy balancing for the torrefaction reactor was critical in the development process.
The calculation was done in order to handle pyrolysis reaction too. So that the inside
temperature of the reactor was assumed as 1200oC (for pyrolysis). According to the
calculation 3kW heater was mounted in the reactor. The temperature controlling system has
to be modified using two temperature sensors and using lab-view programming. Our target is
to continue this research after installing the cascade controlling to the reactor. Torrefaction
for varying parameters can be done after installing the cascade system. Proximate analysis of
each torrefied product can be done in ASME standards.

45
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3. Bergman PCA, B. A. (2005). Torrefied biomass for entrained-flow gasification of


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7. JunLi. (2014). Volumetric combustion of torrefied biomass for large percentage


biomass co-firing up to 100% fuel switch. Stockholm.

8. R Zanzi, D. F. (2005). BIOMASS TORREFACTION. Barcelona.

9. XunLuo. (2011). Torrefaction of biomass a comparative and kinetic study of thermal


decomposition for Norway spruce stump, poplar and fuel tree chips.

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APPENDICES

Raw Biomass proximate analysis testing

Moisture test

initial total weight(g) weight after 16 hrs after 2 hrs Final weight moisture % Avg moisture %
Biomass sample weight(g)
Container 63.69
A 113.77 97.39 97.36 97.36 32.768
Sample 50.08
Albesia 32.22
Container 60.5
B 110.58 94.73 94.72 94.72 31.669
Sample 50.08
Container 65.73
A 115.33 108.09 108.09 108.09 14.597
Sample 49.6
Finus 14.63
Container 66.68
B 116.72 109.39 109.38 109.38 14.668
Sample 50.04
Container 66.63
A 111.21 105.74 105.74 105.74 12.270
Sample 44.58
Rubber 12.37
Container 62.73
B 108.01 102.36 102.36 102.36 12.478
Sample 45.28

Appendix 1 Moisture Test Results

Ash content

Moisture Removal 590C in furnace


Lid(g) Cruisible(g) cruisible+sample 1.5 hour(g)3hr(g) Dried weight 2nd time Ash content (%)
Albesia 10.9 20.2677 22.2682 32.9132 32.9102 32.9092 20.3151 2.37

Finus 10.916 20.5637 22.5691 33.2787 33.2759 33.2728 20.6248 3.05

Rubber 11.241 19.0593 21.0614 32.0954 32.0923 32.0916 19.0751 0.79

Appendix 2 Ash Content test results

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Volatile matter content

Before test After test

Sample+cruisible+cover
sample+cruisible+cover

sample remainder

moiture content
Cruisible+cover

volatile matter
Raw Material

volatile%
Albesia 41.451 42.6881 41.6024 0.1514 0.39857445 0.687126 55.54

Finus 39.549 40.854 39.7409 0.1921 0.19098365 0.922116 70.65

Rubber 42.38 43.7043 42.4823 0.1021 0.16384408 1.058156 79.92

Appendix 3 Volatile matter test results

48