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Combustion and emission characteristics of a domestic boiler red with pellets

of pine, industrial wood wastes and peach stones


M. Rabaal, U. Fernandes, M. Costa
*
Technical University of Lisbon, Mechanical Engineering Department, Instituto Superior Tcnico, Avenida Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 19 March 2012
Accepted 23 September 2012
Available online 23 October 2012
Keywords:
Domestic boiler
Pellets
Industrial wood wastes
Peach stones
Thermal efciency
Emissions
a b s t r a c t
This study evaluates the combustion and emission characteristics of a domestic boiler red with pellets
of pine, industrial wood wastes and peach stones. Initially, the boiler performance, ring pine pellets,
was evaluated as a function of the thermal input. Subsequently, the inuence of the pellets type on boiler
performance was also examined. The results reveal that the type of pellets affects signicantly the boiler
emissions characteristics, with the pine pellets performing signicantly better than the pellets of
industrial wood wastes and peach stones. The boiler thermal efciency is not negatively affected when
red with the pellets of industrial wood wastes and peach stones. Typical operating conditions of the
boiler are not suitable for the use of wood wastes and peach stones pellets as CO and HC emissions are
superior. The pellets of industrial wood wastes and peach stones have, however, an attractive potential
for use in domestic boilers, through the optimization of the boiler operating conditions, being this
a sustainable means of energetic valorisation of residues with no specic use.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
In recent years, the use of pellets in the domestic space and
water heating market has increased rapidly driven by the growing
maturity of the technology and nancial incentives for the acqui-
sition of heating systems. Currently, this market is already well
established in countries such as Germany, Sweden, Austria,
Switzerland and Italy [1]. Domestic pellet fuelled boilers typically
use wood derived pellets, but the limited availability of wood
biomass for energy purposes [2], along with its high demand from
other industrial sectors, is putting an enormous pressure on the
forest resources. Under these circumstances, it is important to
broaden the raw materials for pellet production in order to secure
pellet supply, particularly to small-scale customers, and to ensure
price stability in the future [3]. Agricultural and industrial waste
residues have the potential to be used in domestic boilers in the
form of pellets; however, these raw materials often have charac-
teristics that may compromise the combustion conditions and the
operation and maintenance of the boiler [4]. Therefore, it is
important to evaluate the combustion behaviour of pellets
produced with different raw materials in order to assess their
effective potential.
Related previous studies [5e17] showed that the characteristics
of the boiler, the fuel properties and the operating conditions affect
signicantly the combustion process and the pollutant emissions.
The emissions of products fromincomplete combustion frompellet
boilers, in particular CO and unburned hydrocarbons (HC), are
lower when combustion conditions that promote the oxidation of
the unburned species leaving the fuel bed are fullled. Mixing
limitations and low temperatures inhibit oxidation leading to
increased emissions of CO [5,7,10,13,15]. Disturbances of the fuel
bed, occurring during intermittent operation and in top-fed
burners, deteriorate combustion conditions temporarily, origi-
nating peaks of CO and HC emissions [10,13]. Pellets produced from
different sources and in different making conditions have distinct
chemical and physical characteristics and their combustion
behaviour will differ at identical operating conditions. These
characteristics affect strongly the pollutant emissions, although the
effect on boiler thermal efciency is small [5e7,9]. In small
domestic boilers, the temperature in the combustion chamber is
typically below 1300

C and, therefore, NO formation via the fuel
mechanism is expected to be the main source of NO
x
emissions
[10]. It is well established [5,9e11] that NO
x
emissions are strongly
dependent of the fuel nitrogen content, conrming the importance
of the fuel-NO mechanism. Furthermore, the specic combustion
conditions may have an effect on the conversion of HCN and NH
3
released during devolatilizaton to NO, particularly the excess air
level, mixing, turbulence and temperature, inuencing the total
* Corresponding author. Tel.: 351 218417186.
E-mail address: mcosta@ist.utl.pt (M. Costa).
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Renewable Energy
j ournal homepage: www. el sevi er. com/ l ocat e/ renene
0960-1481/$ e see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2012.09.020
Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226
NO
x
emissions [9,16]. Biomass has generally a low content of xed
carbon, and, thus, NO
x
emissions fromchar-nitrogen reaction paths
from the fuel-NO mechanism are minimal [18].
The main objective of the present article is to evaluate the
potential of using industrial wood wastes and peach stones as raw
materials for pellet production by examining its combustion and
emission characteristics in a domestic boiler. To accomplish this
goal, initially, we examined the performance of a domestic boiler
ring pine pellets, which are currently available in the market.
Subsequently, we evaluated the performance of the same boiler
ring the industrial wood wastes and peach stones pellets, which
were made specically for this study. Finally, to broaden the
assessment to other raw materials originated from residues, data
selected from the open literature from similar studies was
compared to the present results in order to assess the potential of
using pellets from sustainable origin in domestic boilers.
2. Experimental
2.1. Boiler description
The present tests have been performed in a domestic wood
pellet-red boiler with a maximum thermal capacity of 22 kW,
with forced draught. Fig. 1 shows a schematic of the experimental
set-up. The pellets are manually loaded into a hopper with
a capacity of 45 kg and are fed to the burner through a screwfeeder
that works by impulses. The feeding rate of the pellets is regulated
by the boiler load and the pellets consumption rate is measured
with the aid of a loss-in-weight technique. The ow rate of
combustion (primary secondary) air is automatically regulated
by the boiler control system.
The combustion of the pellets takes place within a hemi-
spherical basket (brazier) with a diameter of 120 mm. The basket is
top-fed with pellets by the screw. Ignition is accomplished with the
aid of an electrical resistance placed close to the basket and the
primary air is supplied by a dedicated fan to the basket through
several small orices located across the basket bottom (see Fig. 1).
The secondary air is supplied through a vertical tube, located
slightly above the basket, which injects the air in the same direction
as the exiting ow of the basket. It should be pointed out that
a short cleaning period of the basket is programmed to occur once
every 11.5 min. During the cleaning process the fuel supply
decreases and the air supply increases during few minutes in order
to remove the ashes accumulated at the bottom of the basket
(bottom ashes). The resulting hot gases from the combustion
exchange heat with the circulating water in a heat exchanger at the
top of the combustion chamber. The heat transferred to the water in
the boiler is dissipated through a plate heat exchanger with the aid
of an external water circuit.
Currently, the present type of boilers have design, manufacturing,
safety, performance and emissions requirements that are subject to
the EN 14785 approved by the European Committee for Standardi-
zation (CEN) in 2006 [19]. Specically, the standard limits the CO
emissions to 400 ppm@13%O
2
for nominal boiler thermal inputs and
600 ppm@13% O
2
for reduced boiler thermal inputs. These regula-
tions are necessary to protect inhabitants from negative health
impacts and to encourage the manufacturers to optimize their
products for the lowest possible emissions.
2.2. Pellet fuels
Three types of pellets were used in this study, namely, pellets of
pine, industrial wood wastes and peach stones. The pellets of pine
are currently manufactured and commercialized in Portugal, while
the pellets of industrial wood wastes and peach stones were made
specically for this study by a Portuguese company named Casal &
Carreira Biomassa, Lda, located in Alcobaa, Portugal. The pine
pellets are made of sawdust residues from the Portuguese wood
industry and the industrial wood wastes pellets are made of resi-
dues from Portuguese wood products at the end of their life cycle,
mainly pallets, furniture and construction work residues. Peach
stones are residues produced by the Portuguese fruit trans-
formation industry.
The pelletization process of the industrial wood wastes and
peach stones followed the same steps as the typical pine pellets
manufacturing process in the following order: milling, decontam-
ination, drying and pelletization. The peach stones were pulverized
to a mean diameter of 0.6 mm and did not require any further
treatment, proceeding immediately to the drying stage. In contrast,
the industrial wood wastes required a pre-treatment step of
Fig. 1. Schematic of the experimental set-up.
M. Rabaal et al. / Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226 221
decontamination in order to remove contaminants such as metals
and plastics. The raw material was initially shredded to a course
granulometry, between 10 mm and 50 mm, and proceeded to
decontamination. Magnets were used to separate the ferrous
metals from the raw material and a Foucault current separator was
used to remove the non-ferrous metals. A pneumatic system was
used to extract plastic contaminants. Finally, the raw material was
subjected to ne milling before proceeding to drying. Before
pelletization, the rawmaterial was dried until reaching a maximum
moisture content of 10%. Similar operating conditions were used for
both types of raw materials. The pelletizer comprises four rotating
rollers that press the raw material into press channels of a at die.
The channels have a conical shape entry section of 5 mm, followed
by a compression section of 6 mmin diameter and 30 mmin length,
and nally a cooling section with a diameter of 7 mm and a length
of 35 mm. The same die and compression load was used for both
raw materials. The operating temperatures ranged from 80

C
to 90

C.
Table 1 presents the main characteristics of the pellets used in
this study. The proximate and ultimate analyses and the determi-
nation of the heating values of the biomass fuels used herein were
carried out following the procedures specied in the standards
ASTM-E-870, CEN/TS 14918 and CEN/TS 14775 and the chemical
composition of the ashes of all biomass fuels was determined by
use of X-ray uorescence spectroscopy. Table 1 reveals that both
the pellets of industrial wood wastes and peach stones have an
attractive heating value, superior to that of the pine pellets. All
pellets have similar moisture contents. The pellets of industrial
wood wastes present some less attractive characteristics, particu-
larly the higher nitrogen content. The peach stones pellets,
however, present a lower nitrogen content, although still higher
than that of the pine pellets. The sulphur content of all pellets is
negligible.
The slagging and fouling indexes included in Table 1 were
calculated based on the fusibility correlations proposed by Pronobis
[20] as follows:
S
R
SiO
2
100=SiO
2
Fe
2
O
3
CaO MgO (1)
F
u
B=ANa
2
O K
2
O (2)
where B/A is the ratio between the basic compounds (B) and acidic
compounds (A):
B=A Fe
2
O
3
CaO MgO Na
2
O K
2
O P
2
O
5
=
SiO
2
Al
2
O
3
TiO
2
(3)
The correlations between the values of S
R
and F
u
and the
tendency for the occurrence of slagging or fouling are as
follows [20]:
S
R
> 72 indicates lowslagging tendency, S
R
between 65 and 72
medium slagging tendency and S
R
65 high slagging
tendency;
F
u
0.6 indicates low fouling tendency, F
u
between 0.6 and 40
medium fouling tendency and F
u
> 40 high fouling tendency.
Based on the above correlations, the pine and industrial wood
wastes pellets present high tendency to cause fouling and slagging,
while the peach stones pellets present a high tendency to cause
fouling, but a low tendency to cause slagging.
Despite the limitations of these correlations to estimate deposits
formation with high accuracy, they are used widely for fuel speci-
cation, boiler design and combustion operational purposes [21].
The present calculated pine slagging index (Table 1) is somewhat
unexpected, as pine pellets have been always considered of high
quality to produce certicated pellets. This widely accepted fact is
based on the much lower ash content generally present inpine than
in raw materials originated from agricultural or industrial activities
[19,21]. However, in the present study the total amount of ashes of
all types of pellets are comparable (Table 1). Therefore, a reasonable
prediction of the tendency of the present pellets to form deposits
can be based on the composition of the ashes. Looking at the fouling
and slagging indexes listed in Table 1, the latter shows higher
difference between the pellets studied. The SiO
2
content of the
ashes along with the alkali species have a major importance on the
process of slag formation. Although wood derived pellets have
typically a lowcontent of SiO
2
[22e24], high amounts of SiO
2
can be
present in this type of pellets [25]. This occurs mainly due to
mineral contamination of the raw material used during storage and
handling that leads to formation of deposits even in the case of
wood pellets [26]. The ash analysis showed in Table 1 appears to
support the above considerations. Taking into account that none of
the pellets complies fully with the more strict standards for quality
of pellets for domestic use in Europe [27], deposit formation issues
may occur. In this specic case, it may be anticipated, with
reasonable justication, that the use of pine pellets, under long
continuous operation, may result in higher slag formation than that
from the use of peach stones or industrial wood wastes pellets.
Nevertheless, more studies are necessary to thoroughly assess the
deposit formation when using the pellets presented in Table 1.
2.3. Emission measurements
The sampling of the ue-gas for the measurement of O
2
, CO
2
,
CO, HC and NO
x
concentrations was achieved with the aid of
a stainless-steel water-cooled probe. The gas sample was drawn
through the probe and part of a sampling system by an oil-free
Table 1
Main characteristics of the pellets used.
Parameter Pine Industrial
wood wastes
Peach
stones
Proximate analysis
(% wt, as received)
Volatiles 80.5 76.9 75.6
Fixed carbon 10.9 15.0 15.9
Moisture 7.3 6.3 7.1
Ash 1.3 1.8 1.4
Ultimate analysis
(% wt, dry ash free)
Carbon 46.0 45.5 47.7
Hydrogen 6.2 5.9 5.9
Nitrogen 0.5 3.5 1.3
Sulphur <0.01 <0.01 <0.01
Oxygen 47.3 45.1 45.1
Ash analysis
(% wt, dry basis)
SiO
2
20.9 15.6 5.5
Al
2
O
3
6.2 7.4 2.3
Fe
2
O
3
21.6 3.7 6.0
CaO 26.2 40.6 12.1
SO
3
0.3 3.7 2.4
MgO 4.3 11.5 12.3
TiO
2
0.0 9.5 0.3
P
2
O
5
4.2 2.2 25.7
K
2
O 11.5 2.4 30.4
Na
2
O 2.5 2.1 1.9
Other oxides 2.3 1.3 1.1
Low heating value
(MJ/kg)
16.9 17.3 17.8
Average diameter (mm) 6 6 6
Average length(mm) 18 12 18
Fouling index (F
u
) 29 22 15
Slagging index (S
R
) 36 9 353
M. Rabaal et al. / Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226 222
diaphragm pump. A condenser removed the main particulate
burden and condensate. A lter and a drier removed any residual
particles and moisture so that a constant supply of clean dry
combustion gases was delivered to the analysers through a mani-
fold to give species concentration on a dry basis. The analytical
instrumentation included a magnetic pressure analyser for O
2
measurements, a non-dispersive infrared gas analyser for CO
2
and
CO measurements, a ame ionization detector for HC measure-
ments and a chemiluminescent analyser for NO
x
measurements.
Zero and span gas calibration with standard mixtures were per-
formed before and after each measurement session. At the boiler
exit, probe effects were negligible and errors arose mainly from
quenching of chemical reactions, which was found to be adequate.
The temperature of the ue-gas was measured using a thermo-
couple type K, T
3
in Fig. 1. The analogue outputs of the analysers
and of the thermocouple were transmitted via A/D boards to
a computer where the signals were processed and the values
stored every second.
The water ow rate circulating in the inner circuit of the boiler
was measured with a rotameter and the inlet and outlet tempera-
tures were measured with thermocouples type K, T
1
and T
2
in Fig. 1,
respectively.
2.4. Conditions studied
Table 2 summarizes the operating conditions used to examine
the boiler performance while burning pine pellets. The boiler
performance was evaluated as a function of the thermal input (or
pellets mass ow rate). Table 2 reveals that the ue-gas tempera-
ture increases from 127

C for a thermal input of 11.8 kW up
to z168

C for a thermal input of 17 kW, beyond which it remains
approximately constant. It should be stressed that the ue-gas
temperature does not reect the ame temperature or local
temperatures inside the combustion chamber; it simply gives an
indication of the global temperature within the combustion
chamber.
Table 3 summarizes the boiler operating conditions established
to examine the inuence of the pellets type on boiler performance.
Tests were conducted for pellets of pine, industrial wood wastes
and peach stones (see Table 1), each for two boiler thermal inputs.
Table 3 includes the boiler thermal efciency, h, dened as the ratio
between the thermal energy supplied to the heating uid (water)
and the thermal input energy contained in the pellets:
h
_
Q
H2O
_
Q
TI

_ m
H2O
c
pH
2
O
T
out
T
in

_ m
pellets
LHV
pellets
(4)
where _ m
H2O
is the water mass ow rate, c
pH
2
O
is the water heat
capacity, T
out
and T
in
are the boiler outlet and inlet water temper-
atures, _ m
pellets
is the pellets mass ow rate and LHV
pellets
is the
pellets low heating value.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. Boiler performance ring pine pellets
Fig. 2 shows the inuence of the boiler thermal input on the
gaseous pollutant emissions for the conditions showed in Table 1.
The CO, HC and NO
x
emissions displayed in the gure were cor-
rected to 13% of oxygen in the exhaust gases and calculated for
standard conditions. It should be stressed that each data point in
the gure represents the average of, at least, three runs. The
duration of each run was, at least, 30 min. Data repeatability was,
on average, within 10% of the mean value. Fig. 2 includes also the
limits for the CO emissions established by the EN 14785 [19],
referred to earlier in Section 2.1. Note that the combustion air ow
is kept constant regardless of the pellets feed rate so that the O
2
ue-gas concentration decreases with the thermal input down to z
13% for the maximum boiler thermal input (Fig. 2). In spite of the
high availability of O
2
at low boiler thermal inputs, CO and HC
Table 2
Operating conditions used to examine the boiler performance ring pine pellets.
Test no. Pellets
type
Pellets
load
(kg/h)
Thermal
input
(kW)
Flue-gas O
2
(dry volume %)
Flue-gas
temperature
(

C)
1 Pine 2.5 11.8 16.70 127
2 2.8 13.1 16.04 140
3 3.0 14.0 15.50 150
4 3.3 15.8 14.93 162
5 3.6 17.3 14.25 168
6 3.7 17.6 13.55 167
7 4.4 20.9 13.22 168
Table 3
Operating conditions used to examine the inuence of the pellets type on boiler
performance.
Pellets type Thermal
input (kW)
Excess air
coefcient
Boiler thermal
efciency
Pine 13.8 3.86 0.83
17.3 2.84 0.86
Industrial
wood wastes
14.5 4.77 0.77
17.6 3.26 0.82
Peach stones 13.7 4.11 0.75
17.9 2.78 0.83
Fig. 2. Inuence of the boiler thermal input on the gaseous pollutant emissions.
M. Rabaal et al. / Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226 223
emissions present the highest values at these conditions. As the
thermal input increases and the excess air level decreases, the CO
and HC emissions decrease, indicating that enhanced combustion is
accomplished at higher boiler thermal inputs. The temperature has
an important inuence on the oxidizing reaction rates, acting as
limiting factor if too low [15,28]. In addition, low excess air levels
can also be a limiting factor leading to increased COemissions, even
at high temperatures [5,11,15], due to low oxygen availability.
Returning to Fig. 2, at lower thermal inputs, the higher excess air
levels cool down the combustion chamber, which reduce the
reactions rates, and the residence times, which are not enough to
ensure complete oxidation of the unburned species leading to
higher CO and HC emissions.
Fig. 2 also reveals that the NO
x
emissions have a marginal
dependence of the boiler operating conditions. Although the
operating conditions may affect the conversion of volatile-nitrogen
and char-nitrogen to NO and, consequently, the NO
x
emissions
[5,9,16], the nitrogen content of the present pine pellets is too low
to have a signicant contribution to the NO
x
emissions through the
fuel-NO mechanism.
3.2. Inuence of the pellets type on boiler performance
Fig. 3aeb shows the CO, NO
x
and HC emissions, corrected to 13%
of oxygen in the exhaust gases and calculated for standard condi-
tions, for the three types of pellets studied for a reduced and
a higher boiler thermal input, respectively. Again, each data point in
the gure represents the average of, at least, three runs, being the
duration of each run, at least, 30 min. It is observed that, at the
higher boiler thermal input, the performance of the pine pellets is
superior to the performance of both the industrial wood wastes and
peach stones pellets; specically, the pine pellets yield lower CO,
NO
x
and HC emissions (Fig. 3b) and presents a higher boiler
thermal efciency (Table 3). At the reduced boiler thermal input, it
is seen that, while the performance of the pine pellets is still
superior to the other two types of pellets, the differences are now
inferior (Fig. 3a and Table 3).
The higher emissions of CO and HC yield by the industrial wood
wastes and peach stones pellets, at both thermal inputs, indicates
poorer combustion conditions since these emissions are related
with incomplete combustion. Table 1 shows that the pine pellets
present the highest volatile content, which probably contributes to
its superior performance. In fuels with a high volatile content, the
volatile combustion phase is dominant, which is characterised by
a rapid and signicant heat release contrary to the long heteroge-
neous char phase [18], contributing to the temperature rise and
increase of the oxidizing reaction rates. It is interesting to note that
the pellets of peach stones have a contrary behaviour in relation to
the other two types of pellets, showing an increase of CO and HC
emissions with the increase of the thermal input. One possible
explanation might be related with the mechanical properties of the
pellets. It was observed that the pellets of industrial wood wastes
and, to a lesser extent, the pellets of pine showed an easier
tendency to break and that the bags containing them had relatively
high amounts of nes. In contrast, the amount of nes in the bags
containing the peach stones pellets was marginal, which indicates
that these pellets present high durability and mechanical strength.
During the operation of the boiler, these characteristics of the peach
stones pellets inhibited particle fragmentation, when compared
with the other two types of pellets. As a result, the peach stones
pellets kept their original size for longer time during the combus-
tion process. The particle size has a signicant inuence on the
conversion of a packed bed [29]. The conversion processes (drying,
devolatilisation and char combustion) are overlapped for large
particles, while they are sequential for small particles. The rate of
propagation of the reaction front through the fuel bed is slower for
larger particles since particles in the lower part of the bed consume
large amounts of oxidizer and limit its diffusion upwards causing
oxygen depletion in the top of the bed. Ultimately, this will lead to
higher CO emissions.
Fig. 3aeb also reveals that the NO
x
emissions are related with
the fuel nitrogen content (Table 1) as expected. Once more, there is
no clear indication of inuence of the operating conditions on the
NO
x
emissions.
Finally, it is interesting to note that the pellets of peach stones
and industrial wood wastes present a boiler thermal efciency
similar to that of the pellets of pine, at both thermal inputs, which
reveals their potential to be attractive alternative fuels for use in
domestic boilers, despite the signicantly higher CO and HC
emissions observed at higher boiler thermal input.
a
b
Fig. 3. CO, NO
x
and HC emissions for the three pellets studied. a) Reduced boiler
thermal input, b) Higher boiler thermal input.
Fig. 4. Emissions of CO and NO
x
from various residential boilers using different pellet
fuels.
M. Rabaal et al. / Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226 224
To assess further the potential of the raw materials studied here
as alternatives to conventional wood pellets, Fig. 4 shows
a comparison between the CO and NO
x
emissions from this study
and those available in the literature for comparable cases. For all
cases, both the CO and NO
x
emissions were corrected to 13% of
oxygen in the exhaust gases and calculated for standard conditions.
Table 4 summarizes the conditions for the literature cases and
includes data for pellets made from three types of wood, skins and
seeds of tomato, sorghum and citrus pectin wastes. Note that in the
case of the present tests only the data corresponding to the reduced
boiler thermal input is represented in Fig. 4 in order to compare
data for similar boiler thermal inputs. The thermal input of the
literature cases varies between 13.3 kW and 15.2 kW, while the
excess air coefcient varies from 1.6 to 2.56.
Overall, it is observed that wood pellets yield signicantly lower
CO emissions than agricultural residues derived pellets. With the
exceptionof the pellets of woodA, there is a correlationbetweenthe
excess air coefcient and the emissions of CO. Fig. 4 and Table 4
evidence that there is an excess air level below which boiler oper-
ation yields high CO emissions. Note that sorghumyields higher CO
emissions than tomato skins and seeds although the excess air
coefcient is similar. This is presumably due to the very high
moisture content of the pellets of sorghum, which lowers the
combustion temperature. A comparison between pellets of wood B,
wood C and citrus pectin wastes, burned under similar conditions,
reveals that the latter yields slightly higher COemissions, which can
also be related to its higher moisture content. Finally, Fig. 5 shows
the inuence of the nitrogen content of the pellets on the NO
x
emissions. Note that this gure includes data fromthe present study
and from other authors (see Tables 3 and 4). As expected, the NO
x
emissions are related with the fuel nitrogen content, conrming the
importance of the fuel-NO mechanism to the global NO
x
emissions.
Tables 3 and 4 allow concluding that although agricultural
residues and waste pellets might present high CO emissions, the
boiler thermal efciency obtainable with these residues is generally
similar to the traditional wood pellets, and sometimes even higher,
supporting their potential. The main impact of the pellets type on
the performance of the boiler is more pronounced on pollutant
emissions and rather marginal on the boiler thermal efciency.
Note that the boilers are originally designed to be red with wood
pellets and their operating conditions are adjusted to these type of
pellets. As seen in this study, emissions originated fromincomplete
combustion could be easily minimized through the regulation of
the boiler operating conditions, in particular of the excess air level,
which would make the pellets of industrial wood wastes and peach
stones, and many other types of residues, suitable for use in
domestic boilers. The use of non-wood pellets may, however, face
some issues regarding the fullment of quality norms regarding
their physical and chemical properties [4]. Blending wood and
residues might be an interesting solution to the incorporation of
the residues while assuring that quality criteria are satised.
4. Conclusions
The combustion and emission characteristics of a domestic
boiler red with pellets of pine, industrial wood wastes and peach
stones have been examined. Initially, a study on the boiler perfor-
mance ring pine pellets as a function of the thermal input was
performed. Subsequently, the inuence of the pellets type on boiler
performance was studied and the potential of using non-traditional
wood pellets in domestic boilers was assessed. Finally, to broaden
the assessment to other raw materials originated from residues,
data selected from the open literature from similar studies was
compared to the present results in order to assess the potential of
using pellets from sustainable origin in domestic boilers. The
following main conclusions may be withdrawn from this study:
Boiler operating conditions have a pronounced effect on the CO
and HC emissions. The fuel-NO mechanism is the main source
of NO
x
emissions and does not seem to be affected by the
specic boiler operating conditions.
The type of pellets affects signicantly the boiler performance,
particularly the emission characteristics.
The use of pellets made fromindustrial wood wastes and peach
stones affects only marginally the boiler thermal efciency.
Industrial wood residues and peach stones have an attractive
potential to be used as sustainable alternative fuels in domestic
pellets-red boilers. The emissions originated by incomplete
combustion, especially the CO emissions, can be minimized
through the optimization of the boiler operating conditions, in
particular the excess air level.
Acknowledgements
We thank Rui Paulo Carreira from Casal & Carreira Biomassa,
Lda, Alcobaa, Portugal, for making the pellets of industrial wood
wastes and peach stones.
Table 4
Main characteristics of the pellets, boiler operating conditions and ue-gas data.
Pellets type Pellets main characteristics Operating conditions
Low heating
value (MJ/kg)
Nitrogen
(wt %)
Moisture
(wt %)
Ash
(wt %)
Thermal
input (kW)
Excess air
coefcient
Boiler thermal
efciency
Sorghum [7] 15.4 0.80 25.7 2.7 14.0 1.70 0.85
Skins and seeds
of tomato [8]
22.5 3.40 7.0 3.5 15.2 1.90 0.91
Wood A [14] 18.0 0.10 7.1 0.4 15.0 1.60 0.93
Citrus pectin
wastes [10]
14.6 0.90 13.6 1.6 14.2 2.56 0.90
Wood B [5] 16.9 1.60 6.8 0.7 13.3 2.25 0.91
Wood C [5] 16.4 < 0.3 9.3 0.4 13.8 2.56 0.85
Fig. 5. Inuence of the nitrogen content of the pellets on the NO
x
emissions.
M. Rabaal et al. / Renewable Energy 51 (2013) 220e226 225
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