Numerical study of the influence of particle size and packing on pyrolysis products using XDEM

Amir Houshang Mahmoudi*, Florian Hoffmann, Bernhard Peters, Xavier Besseron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Conversion of biomass as a renewable source of energy is one of the most challenging topics in industry and academy. Numerical models may help designers to understand better the details of the involved processes within the reactor, to improve process control and to increase the efficiency of the boilers. In this work, XDEM as an Euler-Lagrange model is used to predict the heat-up, drying and pyrolysis of biomass in a packed bed of spherical biomass particles. The fluid flow through the void space of a packed bed (which is formed by solid particles) is modeled as three-dimensional flow through a porous media using a continuous approach. The solid phase forming the packed bed is represented by individual, discrete particles which are described by a Lagrangian approach. On the particle level, distributions of temperature and species within a single particle are accounted for by a system of one-dimensional and transient conservation equations. The model is compared to four sets of experimental data from independent research groups. Good agreements with all experimental data are achieved, proving reliability of the used numerical methodology. The proposed model is used to investigate the impact of particle size in combination with particle packing on the char production. For this purpose, three setups of packed beds differing in particle size and packing mode are studied under the same process conditions. The predicted results show that arranging the packed bed in layers of small and large particles may increase the final average char yield for the entire bed by 46 %.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-34
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomass
  • Numerical study
  • Parameter study
  • Particle size
  • Pyrolysis
  • Validation
  • XDEM

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