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XI.

SOLID FUEL BURNING SYSTEMS

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Contents
1.

INTRODUCTION

2.

WHAT ARE THE SUB-SYSTEMS

3.

AIR HANDLING

4.

FUEL HANDLING SYSTEM

5.

IGNITION ENERGY SYSTEM

6.

PRODUCTS OF COMBUSTION SYSTEM

7.

MAIN BURNERS AND BOILER FURNACE

8.

MAINTENANCE

9.

CONCLUSIONS

FIG.XI-I

COLD PRIMARY AIR SYSTEM

FIG.XI-2 AIR FLOW CONTROL CHARACTERISTICS


FIG.XI-3 DRIFTING AS FRICTION FACTOR IN 300mmCOAL PIPE
FIG.XI-4 WINDBOX ASSEMBLY-TYPICAL CUT-AWAY VIEW
FIG.XI-5 AUXILIARY AIR COMPARTMENT IN WINDBOX
ASSEMBLY - TYPICAL
FIG.XI-6 AUTOMATIC WINDBOX DAMPER CONTROL SETTING
FUEL AIR DAMPERS
FIG.XI-7 WIND BOX TO FURNACE DIFFERENTIAL Vs LOAD
FIG.XI- 8 IGNITION

ENERGY

REQUIREMENT

FIG. XI-9 VIEWS OF TANGENTIALLY FIRED FURNACE SHOWING


NOZZZLE TILTS

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XI. SOLID FUEL BURNING SYSTEMS


1.

INTRODUCTION
The primary function of fuel burning system in the process of steam generation is to provide
controlled, efficient conversion of the chemical energy of the fuel into heat energy. Satisfactory
boiler operation requires that the four ingredients viz., air, fuel, ignition energy and products
of combustion be properly ratioed, directed and sequenced so that the furnace never can contain
an explosive mixture. Basically the fire side safeguard system supervises the flow and
processing of fuel, air, ignition energy and the products of combustion. In the following
paragraphs we shall see the system requirements for air, fuel (solid fuel), ignition energy and
products of combustion for control purposes. The discussions are mainly confined to the
tangentially fired furnaces which are being supplied by us for most of the utility and industrial
boilers.

2.

WHAT ARE THE SUB-SYSTEMS


The fuel burning system should function so that the fuel and air input is ignited,
continuously and immediately upon its entry into the furnace.
The total fuel burning system required to do this consists of sub-systems for
(a) Air handling
(b) Fuel handling
(c) Ignition
(d) Combustion product removal
(e) Main burners and boiler furnace.

3.

AIR HANDLING
This sub-system should be capable of supplying properly air to the main burners on a continuous
and uninterrupted basis. It should be capable of providing the required air fuel ratio over the
entire range of the burning.
The total air required for combustion is divided into primary air and secondary air. The primary
air is that portion of the total air which is sent to the mill. The air dries the coal in the mill as
the coal is getting pulverised, transports the acceptable coal particles to the furnace, and supplies
oxygen for the combustion of volatiles. The secondary air otherwise also known as auxiliary
air helps complete combustion.

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3.1 Primary Air Handing System


Though various types of air systems are adopted in boiler designs, the cold primary air system
shown in Figure XI-1 is the one which is offered for our present utility boilers. As the name
implies, the primary air fan handles clean cold air. The fan is located upstream of the air
preheater and a separate primary air system is maintained through the airheater. An approximate
thumb rule is that the percentage of volatiles is equal to the percentage of primary air in the
total air.
3.2

Controls

Factors governing the control of the primary air are :


a)

Coal drying requirement

b)

Fuel pipe velocities to ensure that particles remain air borne

c)

Aerodynamic flow pattern within the mill

d)

Proper air fuel ratio.

The optimum air flow characteristics as shown in Figure X1-2 are chosen for control
purposes so that the correct air fuel ratio along with non-drifting flow (Refer Figure X1-3) is
maintained through the pulverlsed fuel pipes.
Since the moisture content of the coal received in the power plant varies, controls are to be
provided for adjusting the air temperature at the inlet of the mill so as to get an optimum air
fuel mixture temperature at the outlet of the mill. The mill outlet temperature varies between
60 and 800 C depending on the rank of the coal. Dampers are provided in the air ducting so as
to achieve the above control. Should the mill outlet temperature reach a value of 90 0C or
above, provision is also made to suddenly shut off the hot air supply. Thus the various
requirements enumerated above for the primary air are met with.
3.3. Secondary Air System
The secondary air which is handled by the FD fan passes through the regenerative airheater
and to the windbox connecting duct which supplies the secondary air to a pair of windboxes.
The secondary air is divided into two parts, namely, fuel air and auxiliary air. Fuel air is that
air which immediately surrounds the fuel nozzles. Since this air provides a covering for the
fuel nozzles it is also called mantle air. Auxiliary air is admitted through compartments above
and below the fuel nozzles (Refer Figures X1-4 and XI-5). Dampers are provided in the
windbox compartments so that the correct quantities of air to the individual compartments
can be modulated to achieve better combustion in the furnace.
3.4 General
In order to ensure safe light off condition the preoperational purge air flow (at least 30% of
the full load air flow) is maintained during the entire warm up period until the unit load has
reached a point where the air flow must be increased to accommodate further load increase.
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The 30% air flow is maintained in order to ensure an air rich furnace atmosphere with enough
excess air for good combustion. After the unit is online the total amount of air flow is a
function of the unit load. Proper air flow at a given load depends upon the characteristics of
the fuel fired and the amount of excess air required.
The function of the windbox compartment dampers is to proportion the amount of secondary
air admitted to an elevation of fuel compartments in relationship to that admitted to adjacent
elevation of auxiliary air compartments.
Windbox compartment damper positioning affects the air distribution as follows
Opening up the fuel air dampers or closing down the auxiliary dampers increases the air flow
around the fuel nozzle. Closing down the fuel air dampers or opening the auxiliary dampers
decreases the air flow around the fuel stream,
The correct proportioning of secondary air between the fuel compartments and auxiliary
compartments depends primarily on the burning characteristics of the fuel. It influences the
degree of mixing, the rapidity of combustion and the flame pattern within the furnace.
3.5 Fuel Air Damper Controls
All fuel air dampers are normally closed. They open at a definite time interval after the
associated feeders are started. These dampers are to be modulated with reference to the amount
of fuel fed to that elevation of fuel nozzles. The fuel air damper opening can be effectively
used for the control of flame front position. They are fully opened when both FD fans are off.
On coal fired jobs the characteristics of the fuel dictates the fuel air damper opening
characteristics.
3.5.1 Fuel Air Damper Setting
More fuel air shifts the flame front further away and makes the flame unstable and consequently
hazardous situations develop. Low to medium volatile coals require least fuel air to be supplied
while high volatile coals require larger quantity of fuel air to keep the coal flame away from
the nozzle tip at the desired distance, (vide Figure XI-6). Low fuel air results in burning
within the nozzles and hence overheating and deformation of the nozzle and the consequent
deteriorating of the combustion process and even impingement of flame, leading to failure of
the boiler tubing; the life of the burner nozzle is also considerably reduced.
3.6 Auxiliary Air Damper Controls
During the furnace purge period and initial operation of the unit (upto 30% loading) all
elevations of auxiliary dampers modulate to maintain a predetermined windbox to furnace
differential- All these dampers are modulatetd on elevation basis. When the unit load exceeds
30% loading, the windbox to furnace differential is changed to a higher value. At this point
the auxiliary air dampers which are associated with non-operating compartments are closed
in time sequence, starting with upper elevations and progressing to the lowest elevation.
These damper controls are done to achieve the windbox to furnace differential as shown in
Figure XI-7. The optimum windbox damper settings for a particular unit depends on the
conditions that are present on the particular unit. In general the factors which determine the
setting are:
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a) Ignition stability
b) Ignition point relative to fuel nozzles
c) Overall combustion condition in furnace.

4.

FUEL HANDLING SYSTEM


The principal function of pulverised coal burners is to distribute fuel and air evenly in a
furnace. Even distribution of fuel and air means that every square of the crosssection of the
stream of burning mixture in the furnace gets its share of fuel and air, and this uniformity of
distribution is maintained along the full length of the path of the burning mixture through the
furnace. It the distribution is not uniform certain parts of the furnace get too much fuel and
too little air. In the parts of the furnace which get too much fuel the temperature is high and
there may be heavy deposit of slag in the furnace. Lack of air in one part of the stream causes
incomplete combustion even though high overall excess air is maintained at the furnace outlet.
It is comparatively easy to get a uniform distribution of coal and air in the furnace which is
equipped with corner firing. Bends in the fuel pipes may cause uneven distribution of coal
across the section of primary air stream. Replaceable kicker blocks are provided in the fuel
inlet bends so that they will redistribute the air fuel mixture in a uniform pattern before entry
to the furnace. The pressure loss in the fuel piping is equallsed., Optimum air coal ratio
required for adequate transport characteristics, ignition stability and flame propagation of the
air coal stream which Is delivered via the coal nozzle, are chosen during design stage Importance
is also given to the material selection, the layout of fuel handling system and to the easy
maintainability of the system components.

5.

IGNITION ENERGY SYSTEM


The functional requirement of a fuel burning system is to supply an uninterrupted flammable
furnace input and ignite it continuously as fast as it is introduced and immediately upon its
appearance in the furnace. Thus no explosive mixture can accumulate in the furnace since the
furnace input is effectively consumed and rendered inert. Ignition takes place when the
flammable furnace input is heated above the ignition temperature. Supply of correct ignition
energy for the furnace input is a substantial task. There are many factors which establish the
range of combinations of ignition energy quality, quantity and location that can provide a
satisfactory furnace input ignition rates at any instant.
5.1 Major Factors Deciding the Ignition Energy Requirements
Six major factors determine the total ignition energy required. They are :
a) Fuel quality
b) Fuel preparation
c) Air preparation
d) Burner product distribution
e) Total air fuel ratio
f) Main burner flow rate

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5.2 Supply of Ignition Energy


Ignition energy is usually supplied in the form of heat. Ignition energy is basically divided
into two parts namely inherent ignition energy and auxiliary ignition energy. Inherent ignition
energy is heat that a fuel burning system retrieves from the products of combustion and uses
to ignite the furnace input. This heat may be in the form of flame or recirculated product of
combustion.
Without ample ignition energy the flame will not be stable and combustion will not be complete.
At low loads the inherent ignition energy will be less and hence to get the optimum required
ignition energy additional ignition energy is introduced into the furnace. This additional ignition
energy is called the auxiliary ignition energy. Figure XI-8 brings out the requirements of
ignition energy.
5.3 P. F. Fired Boilers
In PF fired boilers auxiliary ignition energy is provided by oil guns and by ignitors. Since the
cost of these fuels are large, the system designs are made so as to provide adequate energy
with minimum use of premium fuel and for short period the operation of the system is dealt
separately.
The total ignition energy system should provide a reliable safe method for igniting and
stabilising each main flame envelope in a furnace without manual manipulation of the ignition
energy. Since various arrangements are possible in a furnace for the provision of ignition
energy, it is necessary to provide for in the control system to check the adequacy of the ignition
energy.

6.

PRODUCTS OF COMBUSTION SYSTEM


This sub-system should be capable of removing furnace gases over the entire operating range
of fuel burning system while maintaining the furnace pressure within design limitations. A
primary function is to remove inert combustion products so that the furnace fuel and air input
can be continuously and immediately ignited. Controls are provided in the fans for effectively
carrying out this function.
Also the analysis of CO2 ,O2 and CO in the products of combustion is very valuable in
determining the combustion efficiency and air infiltration. There is no perfectly reliable means
of measuring the air actually admitted to the furnace and the only means of determining the
amount of such air is from the analysis of products of combustion called flue gas.

7.

MAIN BURNERS AND BOILER FURNACE


In tangential firing, the furnace constitutes the burner. Fuel and air admitting nozzles are
arranged in the four corners of the furnace so that they will direct the air fuel streams tangent
to an imaginary circle. The long flame corner mounted type of firing symbolises the single
flame envelope method of firing. The advantages of this type of firing are well known. Each
pulveriser supplies one elevation or tier of burners and the p.f. is on elevation basis. The
burners are designed to have adequate maintainability.

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7.1

Burner Tilt

An additional feature in the present wind boxes is the on-load tilting facility (See Figure
XI-9) of all the four corner windbox nozzles in the vertical plane. These nozzles can be tilted
up and down through 600 (i.e 300). The effect of tilting is a change in effective furnace size.
This feature helps in controlling the steam temperature and also aids in burning fuels with
wider variation in properties.
7.2

Flame Scanner

Flame sensing devices known as flame scanners are also provided in the corner windboxes.
Hydrocarbon fuels emit ultraviolet radiations basically because of the chemical oxidation of
the hydrogen atom. The flame scanners pick up these radiations and prove the presence of
flame. Cooling air is required for the operation of the scanners.
7.3

Special Coal Burner

High turn down split coal nozzles and riffled coal nozzles are being developed against future
requirements and desired improvements over existing coal burning equipment. The high turn
down split coal nozzle relies for its improved performance on :
i)

The hot gas recirculation zone created in between the two halves of the split coal nozzle.

ii)

the increased coal concentration on the upper half of the split coal nozzle due to the
centrifugal action of the fuel inlet elbow and

iii)

the deceleration of the pulverised coal particles on impingement on the walls of the
split coal nozzle tip.

It helps to reduce fuel oil consumption in boilers and thus reduce the operating cost. It is
possible to retrofit the split coal nozzle in place of existing standard coal nozzles The riffled
coal nozzle uses riffled splitter plates and nozzle tips. It relies for its improved performance
on (i) the local eddies formed on the primary air fuel stream and (ii) the increased mixing with
fuel and air close to the nozzle tip.
Direct Ignition of Pulverized Coal (DIPC) using Ultra High Energy Electric Arc (UHEA) and
Low Calorific Value Coal Gas Warmup and Stabilization System are under different stages of
development.

8.

MAINTENANCE
Unique feature in the present tilting tangential burners is the possibility of changing the coal
nozzle and nozzle tips from outside the furnace. The coal nozzle tip is not hinged with the
burner frame. This makes it possible to remove the coal nozzle and nozzle tips which are
more prone to maintenance from outside the furnace.
During every overhaul it is necessary to inspect the coal nozzle and tips before and after

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cleaning and the damaged parts are to e replaced. It is also advisable to check the free operation
of nozzle tilt arrangement and dampers with their drive mechanism during each overhaul.
In the fuel piping area in addition to replacement of bends and leaky parts, it is better to check
the orifice dimensions over a period of time and it is necessary to change the orifice for
optimum performance. Easy changing of wearing parts is accomplished by the provision of
fuel pipe couplings.

9.

CONCLUSIONS
Brief outlines of the requirements of the controls necessary for efficient usage of fuel are
dealt with in the above paragraphs. This treatment may aid in picturing the evolution of the
present day equipment and their requirement for better performance.

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FIG. XI-I COLD PRIMARY AIR SYSTEM

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FIG.XI-2 AIR FLOW CONTROL CHARACTERISTICS

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FIG.XI-3 DRIFTING AS FRICTION FACTOR IN 300mmCOAL PIPE

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FIG. XI-4 WINDBOX ASSEMBLY-TYPICAL CUT-AWAY VIEW

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FIG. XI-5 AUXILIARY AIR COMPARTMENT IN


WINDBOX ASSEMBLY-TYPICAL

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FIG. XI-6 AUTOMATIC WINDBOX DAMPER CONTROL SETTING


FUEL AIR DAMPERS

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FIG. XI-7 WIND BOX TO FURNACE DIFFERENTIAL Vs LOAD

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FIG. XI- 8 IGNITION

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ENERGY

REQUIREMENT

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FIG. XI-9 VIEWS OF TANGENTIALLY FIRED FURNACE SHOWING


NOZZZLE TILTS

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