Experimental investigation of wood combustion in a fixed bed with hot air

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Waste combustion on a grate with energy recovery is an important pillar of municipal solid waste (MSW) management in the Netherlands. In MSW incinerators fresh waste stacked on a grate enters the combustion chamber, heats up by radiation from the flame above the layer and ignition occurs. Typically, the reaction zone starts at the top of the waste layer and propagates downwards, producing heat for drying and devolatilization of the fresh waste below it until the ignition front reaches the grate. The control of this process is mainly based on empiricism. MSW is a highly inhomogeneous fuel with continuous fluctuating moisture content, heating value and chemical composition. The resulting process fluctuations may cause process control difficulties, fouling and corrosion issues, extra maintenance, and unplanned stops. In the new concept the fuel layer is ignited by means of preheated air (T > 220 °C) from below without any external ignition source. As a result a combustion front will be formed close to the grate and will propagate upwards. That is why this approach is denoted by upward combustion. Experimental research has been carried out in a batch reactor with height of 4.55 m, an inner diameter of 200 mm and a fuel layer height up to 1 m. Due to a high quality two-layer insulation adiabatic conditions can be assumed. The primary air can be preheated up to 350 °C, and the secondary air is distributed via nozzles above the waste layer. During the experiments, temperatures along the height of the reactor, gas composition and total weight decrease are continuously monitored. The influence of the primary air speed, fuel moisture and inert content on the combustion characteristics (ignition rate, combustion rate, ignition front speed and temperature of the reaction zone) is evaluated. The upward combustion concept decouples the drying, devolatilization and burnout phase. In this way the moisture and inert content of the waste have almost no influence on the combustion process. In this paper an experimental comparison between conventional and reversed combustion is presented
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-62
JournalWaste management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-301458
  • IR-90960

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