Ash formation under pressurized pulverized coal combustion conditions

Date of Completion

January 2005


Engineering, Chemical|Energy




Coal combustion is a source of inorganic particulate matter (ash), which can deposit in boilers and also be emitted into the atmosphere becoming part of ambient fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). In order to decrease coal combustion emissions per unit of power produced, higher efficiency systems have been proposed, including systems operating at elevated pressures. These new operating conditions will affect pollutant formation mechanisms, particularly those associated with the conversion of mineral matter to ash. Ash particle formation mechanisms are particularly sensitive to changes in pressure as they are related to the structure of coal char particles at early stages of combustion. ^ To assess the importance of pressure on ash particle formation, pyrolyzed chars and ash particles from pressurized pulverized combustion of two bituminous and one subbituminous U.S. coals at operating pressures up to 30 atm were studied. Pressure changes the distribution of char particle types, changing the spatial distribution of the minerals during the combustion process and therefore affecting particle formation mechanisms. Chars were examined by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and classified into two different types (cenospheric and solid) depending on porosity and wall thickness. A correlation for estimating the amount of these cenospheric char particles was then proposed for bituminous coals based on the operating conditions and coal maceral analysis. ^ The ash particle size distribution of the coals combusted at different operating pressures was measured using Computer Controlled Scanning Electron Microscopy (CCSEM). The results of the char characterization and ash particle size distribution measurements were then incorporated into an ash particle formation algorithm that was proposed and implemented. The model predicts ash particle size and composition distributions at elevated pressures under conditions of complete char burnout. Ash predictions were calculated by first developing char structure distribution functions based on coal characteristics. To obtain an ash particle size distribution, carbon is then allowed to react away while following coalescence, fragmentation and other transformation processes as combustion proceeds. Particle size distributions calculated with this model showed qualitative agreement with the trends identified in the experimental portion of this research. ^