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HEAT PROCESSES. HP10. Combustion and burners.

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heat processes


Combustion and burners

Combustion and burners (pulverized coal, biofuels, oil and gas burners, NOx reduction, CFD analysis of gas burner). Properties of fuels, reaction enthalpy, combustion heat. Enthalpy balances, adiabatic flame temperature. Heat transfer by radiation, emissivity and absorptivity of flue gases. Hottel’s diagram.

Rudolf Žitný, Ústav procesní a zpracovatelské techniky ČVUT FS 2010


Combustion and burners


  • Combustors, burners, boilers,
  • can be classified according to size of fuel particles
  • Large lumps (Stoker fired furnaces, bio-fuels, wastes)
  • Medium particles (fluidised beds)
  • Fine particles (conveying burners)
  • Liquid fuels (atomizers)
  • Gas burners



Stoker fired furnaces


Bio-fuels, wastes

Energy, Volume 30, Issue 8, June 2005, Pages 1429-1438

Moving horizontal grate with screw feeder for wood chips combustion with maximum power 240 kW. Two pass heat exchanger for heating water.

Optimisation of primary and secondary air streams, with the aim to minimise NOx emissions.

See also workshop Biomass combustion modelling, Sevilla, 2000 (interesting presentations TNO Netherlands,…, TU Graz - next slide)


Stoker fired furnaces


CFD analysisof stoker fired furnace (temperature and composition of flue gases)

Research group


Technical University Graz

CO [ppm]

Optimisation of Low-NOx BiomassGrate Furnaces with CFD Modelling

T [0C]


Stoker fired furnaces


Retrofittravelling grate stoker boilerALSTOM Power Inc.

Biomass Boiler Retrofit to Increase Capacity by 25% and Decrease Ash Carryover by 60%

Wood particle tracks colored by residence time for the retrofit case

Iso-surfaces of turbulence levels for the original and retrofit firing conditions

Arrangement of the Stoker (left) and computational mesh Fluent (right)


Cigar burner - boiler


Concept of „cigar burner“was devoped in Denmark for combustion of straw bales.

Bales are fed into the furnace with a hydraulic piston, and only the forehead (top) of the bale combusts in the furnace. Bales are being dried while entering the furnace, and after that devolatilisation occurs, while char combustion is done on a movable water-cooled grate. Furnace temperature should not exceed 900C, and water-cooled furnace walls or flue gas re-circulation are necessary.

R. Mladenovic et al. : The boiler concept for combustion of large soya straw bales. Energy 34 (2009) 715–723


Fluidised bed combustion


Fluidized beds suspend solid fuels on upward-blowing jets of air during the combustion process. The result is a turbulent mixing of gas and solids. The tumbling action, much like a bubbling fluid, provides more effective chemical reactions and heat transfer. FBC plants are more flexible than conventional plants in that they can be fired on coal and biomass, among other fuels.

Combustion systems for solid fuels FBC reduces the amount of sulfur emitted in the form of SOx emissions. Limestone is used to precipitate out sulfate during combustion, which also allows more efficient heat transfer from the boiler to the apparatus used to capture the heat energy (usually water tubes). The heated precipitate coming in direct contact with the tubes(heating by conduction) increases the efficiency. Since this allows coal plants to burn at cooler temperatures, less NOx is also emitted. However, burning at low temperatures also causes increased polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emissions. FBC boilers can burn fuels other than coal, and the lower temperatures of combustion (800 °C / 1500 °F ) have other added benefits as well.


Fluidised bed combustion


Fluidised bed types


Fluidised bed boiler


Example: Babcock&Wilcox bubbled fluidised bed boiler


Rotational furnace


Rotational furnace with gas burner


Pulverised fuel


Upright tubular boilers

CFD simulation of a 180 MW coal fired boiler Video Youtube (Fluent)

Pulverised coal boiler

Bark combustion


Pulverised fuel


Example: Babcock&Wilcoxspiral wound universal pressure (SWUP™) boiler


Burner - Pulverised fuel

Control of secondary air

Primary air

Control of secondary air swirling



Liquid fuelsburners







Steam atomizer

Vortex chamber nozzle

Ultrasound atomizer

Rotating cup


A nice video: Boilers and Their Operation 1956 US Navy Instructional Film


COMBUSTION - fundamentals


  • Fuel composition and Heating value
  • Statics of combustion
  • Mass and enthalpy balancing
  • Heat transfer - radiation



Fuels calorific value


  • qvhigh heating value HHVMJkg-1, heat released by by combustion of 1 kg fuel, when all products are cooled down to initial temperature and water in flue gas condenses (latent heat of evaporation is utilised).
  • qnlow heating value LHVMJkg-1, less by the enthalpy of evaporation

Element composition(C-carbon, atomic mass AC=12,01), (O-oxygen, AO=16), (H-hydrogen, AH=1,008), (N-nitrogen, AN=14,01), (S-sulphur, AS=32,06) and free water explicitly (W-water, MW=18,015 kgkmol-1, moisture is determined by drying of sample at 1050C) andash (A-ash, minerals).

Composition is expressed in mass fractions C (kg carbon in kg of fuel), O, … and these values enable to estimate LHVassuming prevailing chemical reactions

Enthalpy of evaporation

Jigisha Parikh, S.A. Channiwala, G.K. Ghosal:

A correlation for calculating HHV from proximate analysis of solid fuels. Fuel, Volume 84, Issue 5, March 2005, Pages 487-494.


Fuels air consumption-flue gas production


Consumption of oxygen necessary for combustion of 1 kg of fuel with known elemental composition (expressed as volume Nm3/kg)

12kg C requires 1 kmol of O2 (C+O2CO2)

4kg of H requires 1kmol of O2 (2H2+O22H2O)

Volume of 1 kmol of gas at normal conditions (0,1013 MPa and 00C) in m3

Consumption of pure oxygen can be easily recalculated to consumption of humid air ( is relative mumidity, p” pressure of saturated steam)

<1 lean fuel combustion =1 stoichiometric combustion >1 rich fuel combustion

In the same way production of flue gases can be expressed


Mass balancing


Example: Combustion chamber f-fuel, o-oxidiser, fg-flue gas streams

Mass flowrate [kg/s]. Streams are composed of O2,N2,CO2,CO,CH4,H2O

Combustion chamber

Mass balance of mixture

Mass balances of individual components (chemical compounds)

Mass balances of elements (C,H,O,N - four equations)


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Enthalpy balance of a combustion chamber

Boiler RUN video

Combustion chamber

mass flowrate of flue gas [kg/s]

relative flowrate of flue gas [dimensionless]

It would be heating value of fuel if the temperatures Tf,Tair,Tfg will be the same

Relative consumption of air

Relative production of flue gases


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


So that it could be possible to express enthalpies by temperatures it is necessary to modify the previous equation formally as

This term is heating value qn for Tf=Tair=Tfg=T0

qn is the low heating value as soon as the reference temperature T0 is above the temperature of condensationof water in flue gases

Pierre-Alexandre Glaude, René Fournet, Roda Bounaceur, Michel Molière: Adiabatic flame temperature from biofuels and fossil fuels and derived effect on NOx emissions. Fuel Processing Technology, Volume 91, Issue 2, February 2010, Pages 229-235.

Kubota, N. (2007) Thermochemistry of Combustion, in Propellants and Explosives: Thermochemical Aspects of Combustion, Second Edition, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527610105.ch2


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Adiabatic flame temperature is the temperature of flue gases for the case that the combustor chamber is thermally insulated (Q=0). This maximal temperature follows directly from the previous enthalpy balance


Specific heat capacities of fuel and air (cf,cair) can calculated easily, but the specific heat capacity cfg depends upon temperature and upon unknown composition of flue gases. Fortunately the product of density and specific heat capacity depends upon composition only weakly and can be approximated by linear function of temperature

c0=1300 [J.m-3.K-1] c1=0,175 [J.m-3.K-1]

Substituting this linear relationship results to a quadratic equation for adiabatic flame temperature with the following solution


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Actual flame temperature and actual temperature of flue gases cannot be calculated so easily. It is necessary to express the power Q in terms of mean temperature of flame TS and the temperature of wall Tw .


Stefan Boltzman



Heat transfer by radiation dominates at high temperatures. In this case the heat flux is proportional to 4th power of thermodynamic temperature and

-emisivity A-absorptivity

Irradiated heat transfer surface

Heat flow emitted by hot gas and absorbed by wall

Heat flow emitted by wall and absorbed by molecules of gas


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures

Photons emmited at high temperature TS (short wavelength)

Photons emmited at low temperature Tw (long wavelength)


Photon absorbed by opposite wall – no contribution to Q

Photon absorbed by molecule of water

Photon is not absorbed by oxygen




Most photons emitted by gas are absorbed by wall

Photon absorbed by CO-no net contribution to Q

Wall of combustor chamber is almost “black body”, therefore all photons impacting to wall are absorbed and not bounced off. On the other hand the photon emitted by wall has only limited probability to be absorbed by a heteropolar molecule (H2O, CO2, homeopolar molecules like O2,N2 are almost transparent for photons). The probability of absorption is proportional to density of heteropolar molecules (to their partial pressure) and to the length of ray L. Probability of catching depends also upon the photon energy (wavelength), the greater is energy the lower is probability of absorption.


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Let us return back to the expression for resulting power exchanged between the hot gas and the wall of combustion chamber

Absorptivity of gas corresponding to wall temperature Tw

Emissivity of gas corresponding to temperature of gas Ts

According to Kirchhoff’s law Emissivity=Absorptivity (g = Ag ) but this equivalence holds only at the same wavelength (monochromatic radiation). Emissivity and absorptivity of photons depends upon their wavelength (frequency, energy). The first term (g) should be evaluated for high energy photons emitted by hot gas, while the second term (Ag) for photons emitted by colder wall.


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Hottel’s diagram for emissivity of CO2 and H2O as a function of temperature and pL (partial pressure pCO2 is calculated from composition of flue gas, and length of ray L=3.5V/S – empirical approximation)

Instead diagrams this approximation can be used


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


Subtractinq equations (enthalpy balance for real and insulated combustors)

we arrive to the equation for two unknown temperatures Tfg and TS

The flame temperature TS must be somewhere between Tfg and Tfg,max and can be approximated by geometric average of these two temperatures, giving

Quadratic equation for flue gas temperature


Enthalpy balancing, temperatures


The solution of quadratic equation for flue gas temperature can be expressed in terms of Boltzmann criterion (ratio of overall transferred heat to the heat transferred only by radiation)

Remark: this formula is only a rough approximation. Its application will be demonstrated on the following example.


Example: steam reforming (1/2)


Reaction mixture

Natural gas

Flue gas


Furnace for steam reforming (reaction proceeds inside a set of vertical tubes) makes use a row of gas burners, consuming natural gas as fuel.

For given mass flowrate of fuel

It is possible to evaluate consumption of air and production of flue gases

For temperature of methane and preheated air TCH4=291 K, Tair=573 K, and for heating value of methane qn=49,9 MJkg-1it is possible to evaluate temperature of adiabatic flame


Example: steam reforming (2/2)


The relative emisivity g(TS) is calculated for estimated flame temperature TS2000 K

The relative absorptivity Ag=g(Tw) is calculated for estimated temperature of wall Tw1200 K.

Mean path of ray L is estimated from geometry of combustion chamber (rectangular channel of height 10.8 m a width 2.5 m) as L=3,5 V/S=3,5(10,8.2,5)/(2.10,8)=4,4 m

Partial pressures are determined by composition of flue gas composed of H2O, CO2,a N2. This calculation follows from previously evaluated relative volume of air VO2=2,9 (m3 oxygen/kg methane) and stoichiometry of reaction

VH2O= VO2=2,9

VCO2=0,5 VO2=1,45

VN2= Vvz-VO2=11

Corresponding ratio of partial pressures is


and because sum of pressures is atmospheric pressure p=pH2O+pCO2+pN2 the partial pressures of heteropolar gases are

pH2O=0,0192 MPa, pCO2=0,0096 MPa.

Using these values in Hottel’s diagrams (or using mentioned correlation for relative emissivity follows

g(TS)=0,258 and Ag=g(Tw)=0,49, and final result (flue gas temperature)

check Vfg= VH2O+ VCO2+VN2