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Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725– 754

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Progress in Energy and Combustion Science

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Grate-firing of biomass for heat and power production

Chungen Yin , Lasse A. Rosendahl, Søren K. Kær
Institute of Energy Technology, Aalborg University, DK-9220 Aalborg East, Denmark

a r t i c l e in fo abstract

Article history: As a renewable and environmentally friendly energy source, biomass (i.e., any organic non-fossil fuel)
Received 20 December 2007 and its utilization are gaining an increasingly important role worldwide. Grate-firing is one of the main
Accepted 9 May 2008 competing technologies in biomass combustion for heat and power production, because it can fire a
Available online 27 June 2008
wide range of fuels of varying moisture content, and requires less fuel preparation and handling. The
Keywords: basic objective of this paper is to review the state-of-the-art knowledge on grate-fired boilers burning
Biomass biomass: the key elements in the firing system and the development, the important combustion
Grate-fired boiler mechanism, the recent breakthrough in the technology, the most pressing issues, the current research
Pollutant emission and development activities, and the critical future problems to be resolved. The grate assembly (the
Particulate matter
most characteristic element in grate-fired boilers), the key combustion mechanism in the fuel bed on
Deposit formation
the grate, and the advanced secondary air supply (a real breakthrough in this technology) are
CFD highlighted for grate-firing systems. Amongst all the issues or problems associated with grate-fired
Fluidized bed boilers burning biomass, primary pollutant formation and control, deposition formation and corrosion,
modelling and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are discussed in detail. The literature
survey and discussions are primarily pertaining to grate-fired boilers burning biomass, though these
issues are more or less general. Other technologies (e.g., fluidized bed combustion or suspension
combustion) are also mentioned or discussed, to some extent, mainly for comparison and to better
illustrate the special characteristics of grate-firing of biomass. Based on these, some critical problems,
which may not be sufficiently resolved by the existing efforts and have to be addressed by future
research and development, are outlined.
& 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 726
2. Biomass as a fuel for grate-fired boilers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 727
3. Grate-firing: a suitable technology for biomass combustion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 728
3.1. Fuel-feeding system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 729
3.2. Grate assembly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 729
3.3. Primary air and traditional combustion mechanism in the fuel bed on the grate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 730
3.4. Advanced secondary air supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 731
3.5. A comparison between grate-firing and FBC for biomass combustion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 732
4. Key issues associated with grate-firing biomass: R&D in progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 733
4.1. Primary pollutant formation and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 733
4.1.1. Pollutants from incomplete combustion and the control. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 733
4.1.2. NOx emissions and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 734
4.1.3. HCl and SOx emissions and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 735
4.1.4. PCDD/PCDF emissions and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 736
4.1.5. Particulate matter and heavy metals emissions and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 736
4.2. Deposit formation and corrosion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 738
4.2.1. Deposition indices based on fuel properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 738
4.2.2. Mechanisms of deposit formation and high temperature corrosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 739

 Corresponding author. Tel.: +45 9940 9279; fax: +45 9815 1411.
E-mail address: (C. Yin).

0360-1285/$ - see front matter & 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

726 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

4.2.3. Possible solutions to the problems of deposition and high-temperature corrosion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 740
4.3. Modelling and CFD simulations for diagnosis, optimization, and new design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 742
4.3.1. Modelling of biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 742
4.3.2. CFD modelling of the mixing and combustion in the freeboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 747
4.3.3. Modelling of NOx formation and emissions from grate-fired boilers burning biomass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 748
4.3.4. Modelling of deposit formation in grate-fired boilers burning biomass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 748
4.3.5. Modelling or assessing of the discontinuous effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 748
5. Future R&D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 748
5.1. Mechanism study of combustion chemistry for grate-firing of biomass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 748
5.2. Advanced monitoring, testing, and experimentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 749
5.3. General and comprehensive model for biomass conversion in the fuel bed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 749
5.4. Advanced CFD modelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 749
5.5. Optimization and modernization for better performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 750
6. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 750
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 751
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 751

1. Introduction deposition and corrosion. The efforts in the area of grate-firing

of biomass may be grouped as follows:
The worldwide concern with global warming, because of the
emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and the limited  Pollutant emissions: The incomplete combustion gives rise to
availability of fossil fuels, has spurred interest in using biomass as higher emissions of CO, hydrocarbons (CxHy), tar, poly aromatic
a fuel for energy production. The agreements, signed up by the hydrocarbons (PAH) and incompletely burned char from
European Union (EU) in March 2007, to a binding EU-wide target biomass combustion in grate-fired boilers. The relatively high
to source 20% of the energy needs from renewables such as contents of specific elements (e.g., Cl, S, and heavy metals) in
biomass, hydro, wind, and solar power by 2020 (8.5% in 2007) [1], some biomass fuels may aggravate the pollutant emissions by
will further boost the use of biomass in power production. emitting HCl, SOx, polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins (PCDD),
Grate firing is one of the main technologies that are currently polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF), and heavy metals. Fuel
used in biomass combustion for heat and power production. NOx is the major source of NOx from biomass combustion in
Grate-fired boilers can fire a wide range of fuels of varying grate-fired boilers. The important NOx precursors (e.g., NH3,
moisture content and show great potential in biomass combustion HCN, and NO) released from the fuel bed on the grate, which
[2–4]. Though grate firing of biomass has been tried and tested are directly related to the atmosphere and the propagation
over many years, there are still some problems to be further speed of the ignition front in the fuel bed, play a vital role in
studied, for instance, conversion of biomass in the fuel bed on the NOx emissions from grate-fired boilers.
grate, mixing in both the fuel bed and the freeboard, deposit  Deposit formation and corrosion: Grate-firing of some biomass
formation and corrosion and their control, pollutant formation fuels with a high Cl content (e.g., straw) may suffer from severe
and control, modelling and simulations for a better understanding deposition and corrosion problems. Deposits reduce both the
of the details in grate-fired boilers. heat transfer ability of combustor surfaces and the overall
There are some review papers in the literature in which process efficiency, while corrosion reduces the lifetime of the
biomass combustion is covered to different extents. For example, a equipment. Deposition and corrosion depend not only on fuel
comparison was made of the combustion of coal and municipal properties but also on combustion environments (e.g., atmo-
solid waste (MSW), in terms of fuel characteristics, combustion sphere, temperatures, and mixing).
technology, emissions, and ash utilization and disposal [5]. The  Modelling and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simula-
combustion of sewage sludge [6] and agricultural residuals [7] tions, which could represent the majority of the design efforts
was reviewed, and the important issues of fuel processing, devoted to grate-firing of biomass: Basically, the modelling can
combustion, and emission characteristics, as well as the handling be split into two parts: modelling of biomass conversion in the
of solid by-products, were discussed. Knowledge, mainly on fuel bed on the grate and modelling of the mixing, combustion,
suspension co-firing coal with biomass, was summarized [8]. deposit, and pollutant formation in the freeboard. In the fuel
The understanding of the combustion of pulverized coal and bed, the propagation of the flame fronts is of practical interest,
biomass from the viewpoint of computer modelling was reviewed as it determines the releases of volatiles, and affects the heat
[9]. The chlorine-associated, high-temperature corrosion and the output from a given grate area and the stability of combustion.
potential corrosion problems associated with burning biomass The flame propagation also plays an important role in the
fuels were discussed [10]. The understanding of fuel nitrogen release of NOx precursors, particulate matter formation pre-
conversion in solid fuel (mainly coal, but also biomass) fired cursors, and other pollutant formation precursors. So knowl-
systems was reviewed. The effect of parameters that possibly edge of the combustion in the fuel bed is important for
affect the oxidation selectivity towards NO and N2 was empha- optimizing the gas-phase combustion above the bed. The
sized [11]. Combustion characteristics of different biomass fuels, modelling efforts on the combustion in the freeboard have
the potential applications of renewable energy sources as the mainly focused on how to optimize the mixing in order to
prime energy sources in various countries, and the problems improve burnout and lower the emissions.
associated with biomass combustion in boiler systems were  Experimental work is another important contributor to the
discussed [12,13]. study of biomass combustion: Experimental results provide
The objective of this paper is to provide a state-of-the-art not only valuable insights into the combustion process, but
overview of the grate-firing of biomass for heat and power also the necessary input for modelling, as well as the data for
production. Grate-fired boilers are often labelled ‘‘high carbon-in- the validation of models. Comparatively, the experimental
ash, low efficiency and high emissions’’. Firing of biomass could facilities or techniques are more general for any kind of
also bring new problems to the combustion systems, e.g., combustors. Moreover, the experimental studies are spread

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 727

throughout all different issues or problems. Therefore, the e.g., short-rotation woody crops like hard-wood trees and
experimental efforts are not highlighted explicitly as a separate herbaceous crops like switchgrass. These crops have very fast
subject in this review. However, it never means there is a lack growth rates and can therefore be used as a regular supply of fuel.
of experimental efforts in the grate-firing of biomass. In fact, Biomass fuels are one of the most important energy resources.
the three issues to be highlighted in this review, i.e., pollutant Biomass constitutes 14% of the global primary energy, the fourth
emissions, deposition and corrosion, modelling and CFD largest following coal, oil, and natural gas. Biomass is the most
simulations, are all related to experimental efforts to different important source of energy in developing countries, providing
extents. Pollutant formation and control, particularly the about 35% of their energy demand [12]. The potential, on a global
release of the inorganic elements under grate-firing conditions, basis, to supply biomass for the production of renewable energy is
the particulate matter and heavy metals emissions from grate- assessed and reviewed in [15].
fired boilers, and some of the emission control techniques Biomass fuels are also considered environmentally friendly.
applicable for grate-fired boilers, are heavily based on experi- Firstly, there is no net increase in CO2 for combustion of biomass if
mental studies. Deposit formation and corrosion in grate-fired it is replanted. Biomass consumes the same amount of CO2 from
boilers, as well as their control, are almost exclusively derived the atmosphere during growth as is released during combustion.
from experimental results. Some measures, which have been Secondly, firing biomass brings additional greenhouse gas mitiga-
successfully tested for other combustion technology (e.g., tion, by avoiding CH4 release from the otherwise landfilled
fluidized bed combustors) to mitigate deposition and corro- biomass. CH4 is 21 times more potent than CO2 in terms of global
sion, are not necessarily applicable to grate-fired boilers, due to warming, based on mass and a 100-year period [8,16]. Thirdly,
the substantially different mixing, stoichiometric conditions most biomass fuels have very little or no sulphur and, therefore,
and time–temperature inside the fuel bed. Modelling and CFD net SO2 emissions can be reduced if high-sulphur coal is replaced
simulations are also closely related to experiments, for the with low-sulphur biomass. When co-firing with high-sulphur
purpose of validation. Almost all the modelling works on coals, the alkaline ash from biomass can also capture some of the
biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate are validated, SO2 produced during combustion [17,18]. Fourthly, some of the
to different degrees, by experiments. biomass fuels, e.g., wood and paper, typically contain much less
nitrogen on mass basis as compared to coal, and for biomass,
This review paper is organized as follows. Firstly, biomass fuels significant amounts of NH3 may be released directly from the
are briefly introduced: the advantages of firing biomass, the solid matrix during devolatilization [11]. Ammonia helps to
properties of biomass, the considerations for biomass power reduce NO to N2, which essentially provides an in-situ thermal
projects, as well as a list of reported examples of biomass fuels DeNOx source. Lastly, soil and water contamination due to
fired in grate boilers. Then, grate-firing technology is presented. landfilled or stockpiled biomass can be mitigated by firing
Amongst the key elements of a modern grate-fired boiler, the biomass fuels.
grate assembly and advanced secondary air system are high- The physical and chemical properties of biomass span over a
lighted. The traditional combustion mechanism in the fuel bed on very broad range. All biomass is composed of three main
the grate is also highlighted, followed by a comparison with components (i.e., cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin) [9], and a
fluidized bed combustion (FBC) of biomass. After that, the three number of minor components (e.g., lipids, proteins, simple sugar,
issues are surveyed and discussed, primarily pertaining to grate- starches, water, ash) [19]. The fractions of each class of component
fired boilers burning biomass: (1) primary pollutant formation vary depending on species, type of plant tissue, stage of growth,
and control, (2) deposit formation and corrosion, and (3) and growing conditions. The fuel properties (e.g., proximate
modelling and CFD simulations for the diagnosis and optimization analysis, ultimate analysis, ash analysis, and trace elements) of
of existing grate-fired boilers and design of new grate-fired different biomass have been widely reported or reviewed in the
boilers. Combustion chemistry and physics constitute the founda- literature, for example, [7,8,12,18–28]. Biomass contains carbon
tions of all the issues or problems. Pollutant emissions, as well as (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), sulphur (S), and
deposit formation and corrosion, are more related to combustion chlorine (Cl), as well as major ash-forming elements (Al, Ca, Fe, K,
chemistry, whilst modelling and CFD simulations may be more Mg, Na, P, Si, Ti) and minor ash-forming elements (As, Ba, Cd, Co,
related to combustion physics, particularly the mixing (fluid Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Tl, V, Zn). Among the ash-forming
mechanics), thermodynamics, and heat transfer in the freeboard, elements, Ca and Mg usually increase the ash melting point, while
and development of physical models (including sub-grid model). K decreases it significantly. Chlorides and low melting alkali- and
Both combustion chemistry and physics will be discussed aluminosilicates may also significantly decrease the ash melting
throughout the different sections rather than highlighted as a point [27–29]. The fractions of the different elements vary from
separate issue. Experimentation, more combustion physics-based, one biomass fuel to another. Generally speaking:
is also discussed throughout the different sections. Finally, a few
critical problems in grate-firing of biomass, which may be (1) the C contents of wood fuels (including bark) are higher than
addressed by further research and development (R&D), are those of herbaceous biomass;
suggested on the basis of the discussions. (2) coniferous and deciduous wood, and paper have the lowest N
contents, while grains and grasses usually contain the highest
N contents;
2. Biomass as a fuel for grate-fired boilers
(3) the Cl content of wood is generally very low, while
significantly higher amounts of Cl are present in herbaceous
In general, any organic non-fossil fuel can be considered a
biomass, grains, and fruit residues;
biomass fuel. Biomass for grate-firing can be mainly grouped into
(4) straw, cereal, grass, and grain have low contents of Ca and
waste products and dedicated energy crops [8,14]. Waste products
high contents of K and Si in ash.
include wood materials (e.g., saw dust, wood chips, wood logs,
and bark), crop residues (e.g., wheat straw, rice straw, corn husks),
and municipal and industrial wastes of plant origin (e.g., MSW, The different properties of biomass fuels in comparison with
refuse-derived fuel (RDF), manure). Dedicated energy crops are solid fossil fuels result in different reactivities, combustion,
agricultural crops that are solely grown for use as biomass fuels, deposition and emission behaviours, as studied and concluded

728 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

in, for example, [30–37]. The differences may be summarized as and power production, e.g., leaching, drying, or pelletization.
follows: Moreover, biomass fuels are generally bulky and therefore the
availability of biomass feedstocks in close proximity to a biomass
 Biomass fuels generally have higher volatile contents, less power project is a critical factor in their efficient utilization. The
carbon and more oxygen, and lower specific heating value in primary reasons for the failure of biomass power projects are
kJ/kg than coal. changes in fuel supply or demand (wrongly estimated during the
 Pyrolysis starts at a lower temperature for biomass fuels. planning stage) and changes in fuel quality [38].
 The fractional heat contribution by volatiles in biomass is of Amongst the numerous biomass fuels given in literature,
the order of 70% compared to 36% for coal. Table 1 lists some of those which are reported to have been fired
 Biomass fuels, for example, straw, have more free alkali in ash, in grate boilers or tested for grate-firing. The original data
which may aggravate the slagging and fouling problems. collected from the literature, which are not necessarily complete,
 Compared to coal chars, biomass chars have higher oxidation are converted into the same basis to ease the comparison, i.e., as-
reactivity, probably as a result of the presence of alkalis received basis for proximate analysis and dry-ash-free basis for
(catalytically active) in the char matrix [32]. ultimate analysis. Not surprisingly, they show great variations in
their chemical properties. Even for the same type of biomass fuels,
All these have significant influence on the thermal utilization of their chemical properties may also differ greatly, depending on
biomass fuels and the choice of the appropriate combustion the growing conditions (e.g., the place and the season). One can
technology. also observe from the table the diversity of the biomass fuels
For biomass conversion, a correct evaluation of available currently fired in grate boilers.
combustion technology options is not sufficient to ensure a
successful biomass power project. A number of other considera-
tions, some of which may be even more crucial, are required to 3. Grate-firing: a suitable technology for biomass combustion
turn biomass into productive heat and/or power, such as
evaluating the availability of suitable biomass resources and The two most common types of boilers for biomass combus-
determining the economics of collection, storage, and transporta- tion are grate-firing systems and fluidized bed combustors, both
tion. Some biomass fuels may be available for a few weeks per of which have good fuel flexibility and can be fuelled entirely by
year, and therefore have to be stored for use throughout the year, biomass or co-fired with coal. Suspension burners are often used
which is clearly different from fossil fuels. Some biomass fuels to co-fire milled biomass pellets or raw biomass with pulverized
may need pre-handling before being fed to combustors for heat coal or natural gas, in which the air-dried biomass fuels (with

Table 1
Compositions and heating values for selected biomass fuels fired in grate boilers or tested for grate-firing

Type of biomass fuels (country) Reference Proximate analysis (wt%, as received) Ultimate analysis (wt%, dry and ash-free) Calorific value (MJ/kg)

Moisture VM FC Ash C H O N S Cl Gross CV LCV

Bark (Sweden) [39] 50.00 1.70 51.88 6.10 41.71 0.31 9.00
Bark (the Netherlands) [40] 52.16 6.00 41.59 0.25
Brassia carinata (Spain) [41] 8.88 4.75 48.23 6.32 44.01 1.12 0.32
Coconut shell (India) [42] 6.50 48.15 38.85 6.50 53.21 6.20 39.25 1.28 0.05
Dried sewage sludge (Poland) [43] 3.00 50.00 10.00
Fibreboard (Austria) [44] 10.60 1.48 47.54 6.15 43.19 3.11 15.52
Grape waste (Spain) [45] 11.45 62.51 20.74 5.30 49.87 6.68 40.80 2.50 0.15 16.37
Miscanthus (UK) [46] 6.10 67.90 13.10 12.90 49.26 7.78 42.96 15.40
MSW (UK) [47,48] 36.00 32.00 8.20 23.80 50.20 5.80 42.30 0.97 0.73 7.66
MSW (75%) and RDF (25%) (Germany) [49] 29.00 39.41 4.97 26.63 41.75 5.80 52.45 8.30
Olive husk (Spain) [45] 12.20 64.77 15.87 7.16 50.80 6.05 38.14 4.83 0.18 15.58
Pine (UK) [46] 5.50 81.20 12.10 1.20 53.38 8.68 37.94 18.30
Pine wood (Korea) [50] 25.00 10.00 48.04 7.13 44.84 10.03
RDF (Italy) [51] 20.00 60.77 8.18 11.05 58.28 5.07 33.04 1.42 0.88 1.31 15.00
RDF (UK) [46] 1.90 69.60 9.80 18.70 55.79 7.93 36.27 22.30
Reed canary grass (UK) [52] 8.05 83.87 3.75 4.33 50.45 6.52 42.24 0.80 0.00 16.41
Rice (sic) straw (Denmark) [41] 7.40 7.04 47.46 6.36 45.31 0.68 0.18
Straw (the Netherlands) [40] 48.52 5.70 45.17 0.61
Straw (Poland) [43] 10.70 4.30 15.25
Straw (UK) [52] 7.88 80.08 6.76 5.28 50.18 6.31 42.38 0.69 0.44 16.36
Sugarcane trash (India) [42] 4.00 55.98 38.27 1.75 49.87 5.99 44.13
Switchgrass (UK) [52] 6.43 82.84 7.24 3.49 48.33 6.07 44.55 0.48 0.57 17.26
Waste wood (the Netherlands) [40] 49.90 5.73 42.93 1.45
Wheat straw 2000 (Spain) [41] 7.48 4.70 49.08 6.48 43.60 0.63 0.20
Wheat straw 2005 (Denmark) [53] 12.00 69.52 14.39 4.09 49.24 6.40 43.90 0.46 15.21
Wheat straw (UK) [54] 16.00 63.50 15.00 5.50 49.17 6.50 42.93 0.76 0.13 0.51 14.58
Willow (UK) [46] 7.20 78.10 13.70 1.00 50.00 7.19 42.81 17.8
Wood (Poland) [43] 35.00 4.00 10.90
Wood (Sweden) [55] 10.00 76.23 13.50 0.27 49.30 6.30 44.40 16.51
Wood chips (Austria) [44] 38.70 0.53 49.07 6.09 44.33 0.50 10.21
Wood chips (Finland) [56] 45.00 46.75 7.15 1.10 50.00 6.12 43.88 10.45
Wood chips (India) [42] 7.00 54.52 38.11 0.37 49.01 6.40 44.59
Wood chips (the Netherlands) [40] 50.87 5.96 43.05 0.12
Wood chips (Sweden) [57] 30–40 52.00 6.00 41.00 0.60

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 729

Fig. 1. Examples of grate-fired boilers burning biomass. (a) MSW-fired reciprocating-grate boiler [59]. (b) Straw-fired vibrating-grate boiler [53].

relatively low moisture content, e.g., o25 wt%) must be finely Table 2
pulverized (e.g., particle feed size o6 mm) and have a relatively Different types of grates and their main characteristics
low share (e.g., less than 25% on energy basis) [3,4,7,38].
Type of grate The major features
Suspension-fired burners are also more sensitive to changes in
fuel quality: firing off-specification fuels can significantly influ- Stationary sloping The grate does not move. The fuel burns as it slides down the
ence the performance of the boilers [58]. Moreover, suspension- grate slope under gravity. The degree of sloping is an important
fired burners require more fuel-handling and preparation equip- characteristic of this kind of boiler. Disadvantages: (1) difficult
control of the combustion process; (2) risk of avalanching of
ment, especially when firing pulverized biomass pellets. the fuel.
Grate-firing is the first combustion system used for solid fuels. Travelling grate The fuel is fed on one side of the grate and is burned when the
Now it is used mainly for burning biomass, but also for smaller grate transports it to the ash pit. Compared to stationary
coal furnaces. Capacities of grate-fired boilers range from 4 to sloping grate, it has improved control and better carbon
burnout efficiency (due to the small layer of fuel on the grate).
300 MWe (many in the range of 20–50 MWe) in biomass-fired
Reciprocating The grate tumbles and transports fuel by reciprocating
combined heat and power (CHP) plants. The heat release rate per grate (forward or reverse) movements of the grate rods as
grate area may be up to about 4 MWth/m2 as a result of high combustion proceeds. Finally, the solids are transported to the
volatile and low ash characteristics of typical biomass fuels [38]. ash pit at the end of the grate. Carbon burnout is further
Fig. 1 shows two modern grate-fired boilers, giving an overall view improved due to better mixing.
Vibrating grate The grate has a kind of shaking movement that spreads the fuel
of the typical arrangement of grate-fired boilers. Basically, modern evenly. This type of grate has less moving parts than other
grate-fired boilers consist of four key elements: a fuel feeding moveable grates (and thus lower maintenance and higher
system, a grate assembly, a secondary air (including over-fire air reliability). Carbon burnout efficiency is also further improved.
or OFA) system and an ash discharge system.
Here, the key elements in grate-fired boilers are discussed first,
and the grate assembly and the advanced secondary air system are
highlighted. The former represents the most specific component primary air. The remaining heavier and bigger pieces fall and
in grate-fired boilers, whilst the latter is one of the real burn on the grate surface [60].
breakthroughs in grate-firing technology. The traditional combus-
tion mechanism in the fuel bed on the grate is also highlighted.
This is followed by a comparison between grate-firing and FBC of 3.2. Grate assembly
biomass, and then a conclusion.
The grate, which is at the bottom of the combustion chamber
in a grate-fired boiler, has two main functions: lengthwise
3.1. Fuel-feeding system transport of the fuel, and distribution of the primary air entering
from beneath the grate. The grate may be air-cooled or water-
Typical fuel-feeding systems used in biomass-fired grate cooled. The water-cooled grate requires little air to cool (primary
boilers are mechanical stokers, as shown in Fig. 1. For biomass air confined to combustion requirement) and is flexible with the
fuels that are very heterogeneous in size and contain a relatively use of an advanced secondary air system. The grates are mainly
big mass fraction (30% or higher) of fine particles (i.e., a few classified into stationary sloping grates, travelling grates, recipro-
millimetres and smaller), a spreader is needed to reduce the cating grates, and vibrating grates, the major characteristics of
tendency for fuel size segregation since the grate is typically only which are summarized in Table 2.
suitable for coarse particles. The finer biomass particles combust Table 3 lists a few examples of grate-fired boilers equipped
in suspension when they fall against the upwardly flowing with the different types of grates for biomass combustion, from

730 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Table 3
Grate-firing of biomass: some examples

Type of grate Fuel fired Grate-fired boilera Reference

Stationary sloping grate Wet wood chips 40 MW industrial boiler [61]

Martin-type moving grate MSW 12 T/h MSW incinerator [47,48]
Inclined moving grate Waste 4 T/h industrial boiler [62]
Travelling grate Coal/biomass blends (bagasse, wood chips, sugarcane trash, coconut 18.68 MWe power plant boiler [42]
Travelling grate Bagasse, wood chips, rice husk 120 T/h, 87 kg/cm2, 515 1C industrial boiler [4]
Travelling grate Wood chip, rice husk, bark, sugar cane trash, cotton stalks, groundnut 35 T/h, 66 kg/cm2, 495 1C industrial boiler [4]
Travelling grate Bagasse 90 T/h, 45 kg/cm2, 480 1C industrial boiler [4]
Travelling grate Wood VU-40 industrial boiler [63]
Air-cooled travelling grate Blends of urban waste, natural wood waste, agricultural waste 20 MWe industrial boiler [3]
Reciprocating grate Wood chips, bark, sawdust, pellets of sawdust 150 reciprocating grate boilers (45 MWth each) [64]
Forward reciprocating MSW 25 MWe utility boiler [65–67]
Vibrating grate Wheat straw 33 MWe utility boiler [54]
Water-cooled vibrating Wood pellets 500 kW laboratory-scale [68]
Water-cooled vibrating Straw 105 MWth boiler [69,70]
Water-cooled vibrating 20% wood chips and 80% straw 33 MWfuel CHP unit (producing 8.3 MWe and 20.8 MJ/s [71]
grate heat)
Water-cooled vibrating Wheat straw 108 MWfuel CHP unit (producing 35 MWe and 50 MJ/s [53]
grate heat)

A unified description of the boiler capacity would be more helpful. Different descriptions (e.g., main steam parameters, feeding rate of biomass, thermal megawatts or
electrical megawatts) are used here due to the lack of the unified information in the references.

Fig. 2. A laboratory-scale water-cooled vibrating grate [59].

which one can also see the capacities of the grate-fired boilers as grate system, which was built into a brand new grate-fired boiler
well as the biomass fuels fired. burning MSW in 2006 [72].
Amongst the different types of grates, vibrating gates may have
the longest life and highest availability. Fig. 2 shows a laboratory-
scale water-cooled vibrating grate [59]. The grate is made of panel 3.3. Primary air and traditional combustion mechanism in the fuel
walls with drilled holes in the fins for the primary air. The grate is bed on the grate
part of the boiler pressure system and connected to furnace
walls by flexible connection pipes, designed for the vibrations. The design of air supply system (primary air and secondary air)
Instead of a continuous ash discharge in a travelling grate, a plays a very important role in the efficient and complete
vibrating grate utilizes an intermittent ash removal system combustion of biomass. For grate-firing, the overall excess air
where the grate surface vibrates at high frequency and low for most biomass fuels is normally set to 25% or above. The split
amplitudes for about 2% of the time to move the solids forward ratio of primary air to secondary air tends to be 40/60 in modern
and discharge the ash at the end of the grate. As can be seen from grate-fired boilers burning biomass, instead of 80/20 in older
the figure, this type of grate uses very few moving parts and units, which leaves much more freedom to advanced secondary
the drive mechanism is outside the heat and flame, which air supply.
increases grate life, reduces maintenance costs and results in The primary air distribution, together with the movement of
high equipment availability. the grate, affects significantly the mixing and biomass conversion
The grate assembly can be optimized to significantly improve in the fuel bed. Though some grate-fired boilers burning biomass
the boiler performance, for instance, by allowing a better under- may have a low buildup of materials on the bed, the majority of
grate primary air distribution, by enhancing the mixing of the biomass-fired grate furnaces in the literature, for example
biomass fuels on the grate, and by improving fabric seal of the those as listed in Table 3, may be interpreted as a cross-flow
system to lower air leakage. Fig. 3 shows a close view of a modern reactor, where biomass is fed in a thick layer perpendicular to the

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 731

Fig. 3. A brand new grate-fired boiler burning MSW [72].

primary air flow. The bottom of the biomass bed is exposed to the modern grate-fired boilers burning biomass, the biomass combus-
preheated primary air while the top of the bed is within the tion in the fuel bed is more likely under substoichiometric
furnace. The fuel bed consists of a huge number of solid particles conditions (i.e., fuel-rich), because biomass fuels have typically
that are piled up on the grate with a characteristic porosity. The higher volatiles content on a dry basis. Moreover, the multiple
fuel bed is heated by over-bed radiation from flames and zones of under-grate primary air are often used, which can help to
refractory furnace walls until it ignites on the top surface of the achieve a more favourable temperature distribution, high ash
fuel bed. The propagation of the ignition front in the bed is of burnout, and low emissions.
practical interest, as it determines the releases of volatiles, and
affects the heat output from a given grate area and the stability of
combustion. It is also directly related to the release of volatile 3.4. Advanced secondary air supply
nitrogen species (NH3 and HCN) and NO formed from volatiles. So
knowledge of the factors influencing the speed of the ignition Advanced secondary air supply system is one of the most
front is important for optimizing gas-phase combustion in the important elements in the optimization of the gas combustion in
freeboard. the freeboard, for complete burnout and lower emissions, e.g., by
The generally accepted combustion mechanism of cross- forming local recirculation zones or rotating flows and by forming
current units may be described as follows [73–76]. After ignition, different local combustion environments (e.g., fuel-rich or oxy-
a reaction front propagates from the surface of the bed down- gen-rich). It is probably the most flexible way to retrofit the old
wards to the grate against the direction of the primary air. grate-fired boilers for a better burnout and lower pollutant
The heat, generated in the reaction front, is transported against emissions [63]. The gases released from biomass conversion on
the combustion air flow and dries and devolatilizes the raw the grate and a small amount of entrained fuel particles continue
fuel. This allows the reaction front to propagate. Due to the to combust in the freeboard, in which the secondary air supply
opposing directions of the heat flow and the air flow, the plays a significant role in the mixing, burnout, and emissions.
heat is not transported downwards far from the position Advanced secondary air-staging is also often used in modern
where it is released, and the reaction front is narrow. The heat biomass-fired grate boilers. The basic idea of air-staging is to
generated in the reaction front originates from oxidation reduce NOx formation by reducing oxygen availability in the flame
of fuel and, if not all oxygen is consumed in the narrow reaction and by lowering flame temperature peaks. In air-staged combus-
front, a char layer will be formed above the reaction front. tion process, the first air-deficient (i.e., fuel-rich) zone reduces
When the reaction front reaches the surface of the grate, a NOx formation, and the complete combustion is achieved only
secondary reaction front (i.e., a char burnout front), propagating after the addition of OFA in the second zone (i.e., the burnout
upwards to the surface of the bed, burns the char layer previously zone).
formed. As an example, Fig. 4(a) shows the advanced secondary air
This traditional combustion behaviour in the fuel bed on the supply in the straw-fired vibrating-grate boiler [53], from which
grate may not always be observed. Fuel properties (e.g., moisture, one can see the enhanced air-staging in the lower furnace. Fig.
heating value, and particle size) and operating conditions (e.g., 4(b) gives a close-up view of the secondary air nozzles on the
primary air flowrate) have significant influence on the combustion front wall in the lower furnace. The nozzles have different
behaviour in the fuel bed [74–78]: the main findings will be diameters, spacing, and orientations. The eight secondary air
summarized later in the modelling and simulation section. In nozzles on the top level (i.e., OFA), four on the front wall and four
some extreme cases, different combustion behaviour may be on the rear wall, are staggered. The staggered arrangement of OFA
observed. For instance, in the combustion process of wet biofuels jets can provide an effective curtain of combustion air, and can
(50 wt% moisture content, which was 5–15% beyond the limiting also form a double rotating flow on the horizontal cross-sections
moisture content corresponding to the primary air flowrate) in a in the burnout zone, as shown in Fig. 4(c), which prolongs the
31 MW reciprocating grate furnace (a cross-current flow combus- residence time of the combustibles, distributes the temperature
tor), the ignition was found to occur close to the grate, followed by more evenly, and leads to a better burnout. The characteristics of
a reaction front propagating from the grate upwards to the surface the combustion air supply and the combustion zone in such a
of the bed, which is opposite to the traditional mechanism [75]. grate-fired boiler is sketched in Fig. 5. The majority of the
Depending on the primary air supply rate, three modes of combustibles are released into the freeboard from the first half
combustion in the biomass bed were identified [79]: oxygen- grate and the enhanced air-staging forms a local fuel-rich
limited combustion under low air supply rate, reaction-limited combustion environment in the front-bottom part. The air jets,
combustion when increasing primary air supply, and extinction by located on the rear wall in the lower furnace, form a local air-rich
convection if the primary air flowrate is increased further. In environment and a stable recirculation zone in the rear-bottom

732 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Fig. 4. The advanced secondary-air staging system in a biomass-fired grate boiler [53].

Fig. 6. Different options of advanced secondary air supply in grate-fired boilers. (a)
Static mixing devices with or without air injections. (b) Tangentially arranged SA

big NOx reduction in different grate-fired boilers burning biomass

[39,80]. Tangential arrangement of SA jets, as shown in Fig. 6(b),
may also be a good option for grate-fired boilers. The tangentially
arranged air jets form a strong rotating flow on the horizontal
cross-sections, which can not only result in a good burnout but
also mitigate the deposit formation and corrosion on the furnace
Fig. 5. Sketch of the air supply and the resulted different zones in a grate-fired
boiler burning biomass. walls as a result of the local oxidative conditions and the air
curtain formed close to the furnace walls [81].

corner, both of which help stabilize the combustion on the last 3.5. A comparison between grate-firing and FBC for biomass
section of the grate and reduce the incompletely burned char in combustion
the bottom ash.
During the advanced air-staged combustion process, the FBC is also a competing technology in biomass combustion for
mixing, temperature, residence time, and local-stoichiometry heat and power production. Examples of biomass-fired FBC
play key roles. Besides the optimization of the SA jets (e.g., in projects can be seen in, for example, [82], including both
terms of amount, momentum, diameter, location, spacing, circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) and bubbling
orientation), the static mixing devices with or without air fluidized bed combustion (BFBC). A general evaluation of BFBC
injections, as shown in Fig. 6(a), may be an effective option to and CFBC for biomass combustion is that BFBC is good enough
enhance the mixing [2] in biomass-fired grate boilers. Actually, for firing biomass alone; when biomass is co-fired with coal,
the ‘Eco’-tube air system is just such a device with air injection, CFBC may be needed to guarantee proper char burnout.
which generates a considerable improvement in efficiency and a Table 4 gives a brief comparison of the main characteristics of

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 733

Table 4
A comparison of grate-firing systems and fluidized bed combustors

Water-cooled moving-grate systems Fluidized bed combustors

Fuel flexibility They can fire heterogeneous fuels with large particle They can combust a wide range of fuels having different sizes,
sizes, and high moisture contents (up to 65%). shapes, moisture (up to 65%) and heating values [3].
Comparatively, a grate needs more adjustments to fit a
particular fuel than an FBC.
Solid mixing and combustion Average for travelling grates; good for reciprocating or Very intense solid (bed materials and solid fuels) mixing, leading to
intensity in the fuel bed vibrating grates. Very common combustion instabilities very uniform temperature distribution and higher combustion
in the fuel bed [53,64]. intensity in the fuel bed.
Bed agglomeration Quite many biomass fuels have the low melting point
characteristics (because of the high content of
potassium in ash) [83].
Grate-firing systems are insensitive to fuel bed Very sensitive to bed agglomeration, leading to de-fluidization and
agglomeration. unscheduled shut-down [84]. Using silica sand as bed materials, bed
defluidization is experienced when firing coffee husks, sunflower
husks, cotton husks/stalk, mustard stalk, soya husks, pepper waste,
groundnut shell and coconut shell [85], wheat straw [83]. The
problem may be mitigated by special additives or bed materials
[86]. No such problem exists in firing rice husk [87,88], wood chips
[86], wood waste [89], palm fibre [85].
Wear to bed components Little Extensive wear to bed components due to high solid velocity [3].
Emissions They can achieve low NOx emission by using advanced Very low NOx emission from CFBC, mainly due to the char inventory
SA (including OFA) system. in the circulating bed materials: char efficiently reduces NOx. In
BFBC, NOx is more difficult to control and requires sophisticated air
systems and also often selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR).
Very low SOx emission from both CFBC and BFBC due to sulphur
capture by addition of limestone into bed materials.
Fly ash Very low dust load in flue gas; high levels of Solid load in CFBC is at least 100 times higher than in grate-fired
incompletely burned carbon in fly ash [13,90]. systems because the bed materials follow the flue gases to a large
extent. Solid separation equipment is required. Good burnout of fly
ash. Some toxic materials are bound in fly ash, which is one of the
main challenges in fluidized bed combustion of some biomass fuels,
e.g., MSW.
Partial load operation Good operation is possible at partial loads. Partial load operation requires special technology.
Capital cost Medium to low High for CFBC. BFBC is less expensive than CFBC.
Operation & maintenance Medium for travelling grates, and very low for vibrating CFBC has high operating costs due to higher pressure drop over the
costs grates. dense bed, and high maintenance costs due to, e.g., the extensive
wear (erosion).

grate-fired boilers and fluidized bed combustors when they are Table 5
used for biomass combustion. Some of these points may be found Pollutant emissions from biomass combustion
in [7].
Origin Pollutant emissions Typical biomass fuels
In conclusion, grate-firing systems, particularly modern grate-
fired boilers, are one of the combustion technologies suitable for Group 1—from combustion process
biomass combustion for heat and power production. Grate-firing Incomplete CO, CxHy, tar, PAH, All biomass fuels
systems are concluded as a good or even the preferred technology combustion unburnt char
Oxidization NOx, N2O All biomass fuels
for biomass-to-energy conversion in many applications, e.g.,
[2,45]. Group 2—from inorganic species in biomass fuel
Ash Particulate matter All biomass fuels
Cl and S HCl, SOx, salts (KCl etc.) Waste wood, straw, grasses, fruit
4. Key issues associated with grate-firing biomass: R&D High Cl fraction PCDD, PCDF MSW, waste wood, straw, cereals
in progress etc.
Heavy metals Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu, Cr, Hg etc. Urban waste wood, sludge
R&D activities on biomass combustion are progressing rapidly,
partly because of the similarities with coal combustion and the
many years’ experience and knowledge in coal combustion. For 4.1. Primary pollutant formation and control
instance, the mechanisms of pollutant formation, ash formation,
deposition, and corrosion during biomass combustion can all be Primary pollutants from combustion include NOx, SOx, CO,
traced to some extent to the corresponding mechanistic study in CxHy, tar, HCl/Cl2, PAH, PCDD/PCDF, heavy metals, particulate
coal combustion. However, biomass fuels fall over a very broad matter, and incompletely burned char particles [27,91,92]. These
range and have quite different chemical and physical properties, pollutants can be classified into two groups: one from the
which not only result in different combustion and emission incomplete combustion or oxidation and the other from the
characteristics but also cause some practical problems during inorganic species in the biomass fuel, as listed in Table 5.
combustion in different plants. In this section, the three key
issues, primary pollutant emissions and control, deposit forma- 4.1.1. Pollutants from incomplete combustion and the control
tion and corrosion, and modelling efforts for design and Incomplete combustion is, most likely, a big problem or
troubleshooting, are highlighted and discussed, primarily related challenge for grate-fired boilers, particularly old units, compared
to grate-fired boilers burning biomass. to FBC or suspension-fired boilers. So the pollutant emissions due

734 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

to incomplete combustion tend to be a more prominent topic

associated with grate-fired boilers. These emissions may also
aggravate the formation of other pollutants. For instance, the
incompletely burned char in fly ash, together with the relatively
high excess air in grate-fired boilers, may also lead to high
emissions of PCDD/PCDF when firing some biomass fuels (e.g.,
wastes or wood).
The comparatively poor mixing, both in the fuel bed and in the
freeboard, is the main reason for the incomplete combustion in
grate-fired boilers. Advanced air supply systems and optimized
grate systems can significantly enhance the mixing, reduce the
excess air, improve the combustion process, and lower the
pollutants. For instance, a 1975 vintage travelling grate stoker
Fig. 7. The fuel-N conversion pathways.
boiler in a paper mill in Louisiana, USA, was retrofitted, mainly by
improving air supply system and fabric stoker seal. CO levels were
reduced from over 1000 ppm to 260 ppm after the retrofit as a the yields of thermal NOx can be considered to be small or
result of the improved mixing and combustion. A net reduction of negligible, and fuel NOx is the major source of NOx [11,95].
60% in the pre-retrofit fly ash disposal rates was also observed Fuel-N in biomass or coal is released in three stages
[63], which could be due to the reduced char particles elutriated [94,96–99], as depicted in Fig. 7. In the first stage, the volatile-N
from the fuel bed, or the reduced unburnt char in the fly ash, or a is released in the primary pyrolysis together with the majority of
combination of the both. volatiles. The major NOx precursors during biomass pyrolysis
Sufficient residence time of the combustibles in the combus- include NH3, HCN [100], and HNCO [101,102]. Due to the high O/N
tion zone is also an important factor for complete combustion in ratio in biomass fuels, part of fuel-N is found to be directly
grate-fired boilers. A 20 MWe air-cooled travelling grate combus- converted to NO during primary pyrolysis stage [103]. In the
tion system was commissioned in 2003 in Germany, which second stage, the thermal cracking and combustion of volatiles
utilizes a combination of urban waste, natural wood waste, and (mainly tar) provides additional sources of HCN and NH3. In the
agricultural waste, with a combined fuel moisture content of third stage, during combustion of the char residue the char-N
35–40%. Due to the relatively high contaminants contained in the mainly forms NO while the rest is converted to N2. The NO formed
fuel(s), the regulators directed that considerations of incineration may be effectively reduced to N2 over biomass char as a result of
and reduction of ash disposal take a higher priority, compared to its catalytic effect on NO formation and reduction [104,105].
the gaseous emissions. The design for the boiler, grate, secondary, Therefore, the partitioning of fuel-N between the volatiles and
and primary air should be capable of meeting the required CO the remaining char during devolatilization is potentially impor-
regulations and, more importantly, should ensure all particles tant for final NOx formation. The split between the volatile-N and
would obtain 850 1C for a minimum of 2 s for the design char-N is roughly proportional to the volatile matter in the fuel
composite fuel [3]. These requirements are exactly the same as [7]. Because biomass fuels have higher yields of both light gases
the EU directive on waste incineration [2,93]. and tar, and lower char yields, a comparatively larger fraction of
Since grate-firing systems have relatively low combustion the fuel-N may be released with the volatiles. Latest experiments,
temperatures, good mixing and sufficient residence time of the for a broad range of woody biomass fuels (sawdust, bark, waste
combustibles at high temperatures are particularly crucial to wood, and MDF board) in a lab-scale packed bed batch reactor,
improve the combustion. In water-cooled grate boilers, the grate indicates the fraction of the volatile-N increased with increasing
requires little primary air to cool. As a result, the flue gas leaves fuel-N content [95].
the fuel bed at a lower superficial velocity and carries away less The mass ratio of the released NOx precursors (e.g., NH3, HCN,
combustible particles from the fuel bed. Water-cooled grate HNCO, NO, N2O, and NO2) from the biomass bed under grate-firing
boilers are also flexible with the use of advanced secondary air conditions depends on, for example, the type of the biomass fuels
system, which can be optimized to enhance the mixing and [95,101], pyrolysis temperatures [102], fuel N content, stoichio-
improve the combustion in the freeboard and, therefore, lower the metric air ratio, particle sizes, and moisture contents [95]. The
pollutants from incomplete combustion. For instance, a measure- most relevant NOx precursors may include NH3, HCN, HNCO, and
ment campaign was done on a 108 MWfuel straw-fired water- NO, amongst which NO is the major NOx precursor from the fuel
cooled vibrating grate boiler built in 1999. The CO measured in the bed under air-rich conditions, while NH3 is the most important
flue gas at the boiler exit and the boiler efficiency are about NOx precursor under fuel-rich conditions [11,95,106]. Table 6 lists
150 ppm and 91.7%, respectively, at 100% load. The performance of some of the latest efforts involving NOx precursors released from
this boiler could have been further improved to achieve even biomass bed on the grate: either experimental study of the release
lower pollutant emissions due to incomplete combustion and a characteristics of NOx precursors from the biomass bed, or
higher efficiency [53]. modelling of NOx formation and emissions from fixed-bed or
So the pollutant emissions due to incomplete combustion from grate-fired boilers on the basis of a certain NOx precursors. For the
grate-fired boilers can be effectively controlled by an optimized latter, good agreements between the prediction and the measure-
combustion process, i.e., enhanced mixing, sufficient residence ment were reported [54,57,107].
time (at least 41.5 s) at high temperatures (4850 1C), and low The experimental results showed the conversion of fuel-N to
total excess air [27], as well as the appropriate choice of grate gaseous N species was strongly dependent on the stoichiometric
assembly. air ratio in the fuel bed lfuel bed, the fuel-N content, and the kind of
biomass fuels. In the experimental data, conversion rates of NO,
NH3 and HCN were correlated to different values of lfuel bed [95]:
4.1.2. NOx emissions and control ui ¼ ki lfuel þ di ½ (1)
NOx emissions from combustion systems can be formed from
different mechanisms [11,94]. As a result of the comparatively low in which ui represents the conversion rate of i-th N species (e.g.,
combustion temperatures in grate-fired boilers burning biomass, NO, NH3 and HCN). ki is the slope, and di the y-intercept. lfuel bed is

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 735

Table 6
NOx precursors released from biomass bed under grate-firing conditions

Subject NOx precursors released from the fuel bed on a grate

Modelling of NOx formation from fix-bed combustion of straw [99]. (1) The fuel-N released into volatiles, char and directly converted to NO was
estimated to be 71/25/4 based on [101].
(2) The volatile-N was assumed to form NH3/HCN/HNCO with the mass ratio of
90/5/5 based on [100]. (3) All the char-N was converted to NO.

Modelling of NOx formation from an industrial wet wood chips-fired grate boiler (1) All the fuel-N was assumed to be released into the volatiles. None of it was in
[57] and a small-scale wood pellet grate boiler [107]. char or directly converted to NO.
(2) The volatile-N was assumed to be released in the form of NH3 and HCN with
a molar ratio of 50/50.

Modelling of straw combustion in a 38 MWe grate boiler, with NO emission as a (1) Fuel N was split into volatiles and char.
main issue [54]. (2) NH3 was assumed to be the only precursor for the volatile-N.
(3) Char-N was oxidized to NO.

Experimental study of N species release from a broad range of woody biomass (1) NO2 and N2O had very low concentrations. HNCO was not studied due to the
fuels in a lab-scale packed bed batch reactor, in order to provide a lack of reference data for the FTIR equipment. The main NOx precursors were
subsequent CFD gas phase combustion model with the boundary conditions NH3, HCN and NO.
required for NOx emission prediction and reduction [95]. (2) A release model was derived as shown in Eq (1).
(3) The total conversion rates of the different N species were predicted
accurately by the model. Most importantly, the major release zone (pyrolysis
& gasification) of the biomass fuel bed was well predicted.

Table 7 the submicron ash (dpE100 nm) [71,109–111]. Co-firing biomass

Derived parameters for the release functions of the relevant N species [95]
(bagasse, wood chips, sugarcane trash, and coconut) with
Fuel Fuel-N (wt% Mean dp kNO dNO kNH3 dNH3 kHCN dHCN bituminous coal in a 18.68 MWe travelling grate boiler was found
d.b.) [mm] to have the capability to reduce both NOx and SO2 from the
existing coal-fired power plants [42,112], in which the biomass
Sawdust 0.06 0.3 3.30 1.88 0.62 0.91 0.49 0.49 ash could play some roles in the NOx reduction. The spraying of an
Bark 0.27 3.0 0.85 0.44 2.12 1.94 0.15 0.12
aqueous solution of sulphate, (NH4)2SO4, into the hot flue gases
Waste 1.00 2.8 0.90 0.70 0.91 1.20 0.03 0.04
wood upstream of the superheaters, which was originally proposed to
MDF board 6.87 2.7 0.15 0.10 0.94 0.94 0.06 0.03 reduce the deposition rates and the corrosion rates for super-
heater tubes, can also drastically reduce the NOx emissions
the local stoichiometric air ratio in the fuel bed and is given by
lfuel bed ¼ ½ (2) 4.1.3. HCl and SOx emissions and control
During grate firing conditions, the Cl contained in the biomass
where nO,available and nO,stoichiometric represent the local amount of mainly forms gaseous HCl, or alkali chlorides (e.g., KCl and NaCl),
total oxygen available in the fuel bed and the oxygen needed for a and S forms mainly gaseous SO2 and alkali as well as alkali earth
complete combustion of the fuel, respectively. The coefficients (ki sulphates [27,117]. Due to the subsequent cooling of the flue gas in
and di) for the NOx precursors NO, NH3, and HCN, together with the boiler, a large part of the Cl condenses as salts on the heat
the fuel-N content and the mean particle size of the biomass fuels exchanger surfaces or on fly ash particles in the flue gas. The main
investigated, are given in Table 7. effects of Cl are the corrosive effect of chloride salts and HCl on
These kinds of models are useful in providing the subsequent the metal surfaces in the boiler [10,118–120], acidic pollutant
freeboard CFD modelling with the boundary conditions required emissions (e.g., HCl) and particulate emissions, and the effect of
(i.e., the profiles of the NOx formation precursors, e.g., NO, NH3, HCl on the formation of PCCD/PCDF [121]. SOx forms sulphates
and HCN) for the predictions of NOx emission from industrial and condenses also on the heat transfer surfaces or forms fly ash
grate-fired boilers burning biomass as well as for the development particles, or reacts directly with fly ash particles deposited on heat
of design guidelines for low-NOx biomass grate furnaces. exchanger surfaces (sulphation) [27]. In short, the release of the
The primary measure for NOx reduction is air-staged combus- relevant inorganic elements (e.g., S, Cl, and K) is not only
tion, which has also proven to be useful for grate-fired boilers important for direct pollutant emissions (e.g., HCl and SOx), but
burning biomass [108]. Unlike char-N, volatile-N is amenable to also very closely related to the deposition, corrosion, and erosion
reduction to N2 through inexpensive techniques such as burner problems. The experimental studies, conducted at conditions that
and air flow configuration modifications, which can reduce NOx resemble the local conditions on the grate in biomass-fired grate
emission by 50–80%. The most economical combustion modifica- boilers [117,122–127], indicated that the detailed release char-
tion, to reduce NOx, is air staging. Staged combustion limits the O2 acteristics of the inorganic elements depended on the type of the
availability in the flame and reduces peak flame temperatures to biomass, the combustion temperatures, the ash composition, the
some extent to reduce NOx formation, and produces a fuel-rich/ biomass char matrix, and so on.
fuel-lean sequence which is favourable to the conversion of fuel-N The emissions of HCl and SO2 from biomass grate-firing can be
to N2. The secondary measures for NOx control, e.g., selective controlled by different means. The most common measure used in
catalytic reduction (SCR), could be less attractive for grate-firing of power plants is the post-combustion flue gas cleaning systems,
some biomass fuels, because of the accelerated deactivation of the e.g., by scrubbing the flue gas with limestone or by dry-sorption
catalysts caused mainly by the potassium salts that are present in with Ca(OH)2. HCl and SO2 emissions can also be reduced, to a

736 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

smaller extent, by dry-sorption with fly ash on baghouse filter effective mode of control may be to limit the temperature
surfaces. entering the particulate control device to values lower than the
Pre-treatment of the biomass fuels before being fed to the optimal formation window [131,133,134].
boiler, for instance removal of most Cl and K and some S by
aqueous leaching process [128], can reduce HCl and SO2 emissions
and mitigate the deposition and Cl-associated corrosion. However, 4.1.5. Particulate matter and heavy metals emissions and control
leaching process would add moisture to the biomass fuels, which Formation and emissions of particulate matter from biomass
may cause feeding or other operating problems that could be combustion have drawn considerable attention because of the
equally onerous. Such a process will also increase overall costs for concern that they may contain toxic elements or species of
fuel handling and fuel preparation. relatively high concentrations, and have been a key research area
The sulphur-retention promotion by in situ sorbent addition in biomass combustion; for example, under the EU-supported
for biomass combustion was found to be possible: placing the projects BIOASH and BIOAEROSOLS [126,135]. The main focus of
sorbent on top of the fuel bed on the grate, in the path of the the current R&D activities on this issue includes the following
evolving SO2, was sufficient to get much of the effect obtained aspects: (1) characterization of aerosols and ash particles (e.g.,
when the fuel and sorbent were well-mixed. However, the rule of chemical composition, size distribution and morphology, concen-
thumb developed for optimum sorbent addition for in situ coal tration in flue gas), which may depend on the type of biomass
combustion desulphurization, Casorbent/Sfuel ¼ 2, was found to be fuels, firing technology, operation conditions; (2) fundamental
insufficient for biomass fuels [41]. This high Casorbent/Sfuel required mechanisms of the formation and growth of fly ash particles and
may be expected. Most probably, it is because of the reducing aerosols including the release behaviour of ash-forming elements,
conditions in the fuel bed on the grate, which do not really favour and how fly ash particles and aerosols contribute to deposition
calcium-sulphur reactions. A fine control of the pyrolysis and corrosion; (3) how to effectively reduce their emissions, for
temperatures on the grate may also reduce the Cl and S released instance, by improving aerosols separation efficiencies of flue gas
into the gas phase [122]. cleaning devices, and by using certain additives into biomass-fired
boilers; and (4) the partition and distribution of metals in bottom
ash and fly ash.
4.1.4. PCDD/PCDF emissions and control The existing data, concerning ash formation and emissions
PCDD/PCDF can be formed in very small amounts from all from biomass combustion under grate-firing conditions or fixed-
biomass fuels containing Cl. An estimation of the emissions of bed conditions, are comparatively limited [110,126,135–143]. Most
PCDD/PCDF into the air for Austria, Germany, Japan, the Nether- of the knowledge is retrieved from measurements in large-scale
lands, UK, and USA shows that the major contributors are circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers, some of which are briefly
incineration of municipal, hazardous, and hospital wastes [129]. reviewed in [110]. The biomass fuels fired in a CFB boiler and a
The formation mechanisms and the control of PCDD/PCDF grate-fired boiler have substantially different time-temperature
from biomass combustion are well elaborated elsewhere [130]. histories. Because of the intensive mixing in the dense bed in a
There are probably three primary routes for PCDD/PCDF forma- CFB boiler, the biomass fuels will be quickly dried, heated, and
tion: gas-phase reactions involving chlorinated precursors; con- combusted. The bed temperature in CFB combustion is relatively
densation reactions involving gas-phase precursors and fly ash; low, about 800–900 1C. This is very different with biomass
and solid-phase reactions on the surface of fly ash involving metal conversion process in a grate-fired boiler, where biomass fuels
chlorides and fly ash carbon (i.e., the so-called de NOVO are slowly heated, dried, and pyrolysed as they are transported on
synthesis). However, PCDD/PCDF formation is predominantly the grate, and finally the char will be combusted at high
associated with heterogeneous reactions involving fly ash. These temperatures, about 1000–1100 1C (see Fig. 5 for this process).
low-temperature synthesis reactions can occur downstream of the These differences will significantly affect the volatilization of
combustor at temperatures ranging from approximately particle-forming precursors.
250–600 1C [130], or only in an even narrower temperature The ash formation during biomass combustion under grate-
window of 250–350 1C since the dioxins can be destroyed at firing conditions is illustrated in Fig. 8. Part of the inorganic
higher temperatures [131,132]. In addition to chlorine (Cl), elements contained in the fuel may be released and form
activated carbon, oxygen, and catalysts (e.g., CuCl2, CuO, CuSO4, inorganic gas species and particulate matter (fly ash particles
Fe2O3, ZnO, NiO, Al2O3, amongst which CuCl2 is the most reactive and aerosols), whilst the remaining part forms bottom ash. It can
one) are necessary for PCDD/PCDF formation [27,130]. be seen, from the figure, that the particulate matter can be formed
The primary measures to control PCDD/PCDF emissions are by two different modes, which lead to a characteristic bimodal
from combustion technology effects. Combustion conditions and particle size distribution [110,136,137,142,144–146]. One is the fine
the time/temperature profile in the cooling zones downstream of mode, in which the main route of particle formation is nucleation
the combustor determine the potential for PCDD/PCDF formation and condensation from the gas phase. The fine mode usually
within the devices. The PCDD/PCDF emissions can be significantly consists of aerosols with particle diameters between 30 and
lowered by reducing the entrainment of incompletely burned fly 300 nm. The other is the coarse mode, which mainly consists of
ash particles, by ensuring a complete combustion of the flue gas non-volatilized ash residuals and results in fly ash particles with
and a complete burnout of the fly ash particles (o0.5% carbon diameters of 1 mmodpo10 mm. Similar ash formation mechanisms
content preferred) at low excess air ratios, as well as by lowering could also be found in [135,145–151].
heavy metal contents in the fly ash particles. For instance, a linear Amongst all the ash streams, bottom ash represents the
increase in the grate/lower furnace temperature was found to majority, in terms of mass fractions, for grate-fired boilers burning
produce an exponential decrease in PCDD/PCDF emissions from biomass. The mass fraction of the bottom ash varies with different
salt-laden wood waste-fired grate boilers [121], which could factors, e.g., the type of grate-fired boilers, the operation, and the
partly be attributed to the effects of the increased combustion fuel properties. In a 10.7 MWfuel grate-fired boiler burning straw
temperatures on flue gas combustion and fly ash particle burnout. which produces 2.3 MWe and 7 MJ/s heat, it was estimated that
Other measures include dry sorption with activated char or approximately 80% of the ash ended up as bottom ash [152]. In a
catalytic converters [6,27]. The field experience in the MSW, 108 MWfuel grate-fired boiler burning wheat straw equipped with
cement, and hazardous waste industries shows that the most water-cooled vibrating grates, the bottom ash amounted about

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 737

Fig. 8. Schematic illustration of ash formation routines during grate-firing of biomass.

85–90% of the total ash as a result of reduced primary air flowrate are shown to have adverse health effects on humans. For instance,
[53]. Bottom ash and fly ash were sampled from 19 MSW-fired it was found that inhaling aerosols emitted from biomass
grate boilers, whose capacities ranged from 60  2 to 500  3 ton/ combustion causes significantly more lung damage in mice than
day. The mean mass fraction of bottom ash for the 19 boilers is do aerosols from coal, probably because of the zinc content in the
about 77% (with 60% as the minimum and 88% as the maximum) aerosols from biomass combustion, from which it was even
[138]. Concerning the mass split between the aerosols and fly ash, suggested the environmental advantages of biomass combustion
there are also some investigations, for instance [110,150]. The may be tempered by the risk to respiratory health [153]. The
experiments on two moist forest residue-fired grate boilers (1 and formation mechanism of aerosols and fly ash particles under
6 MWth in capacity, respectively) show that small changes in the grate-firing conditions may be referred to Fig. 8. The character-
boiler operating parameters can have a large influence on the izations of the aerosols and fly ash particles from grate-fired
mass split between aerosols and fly ash. For instance, PM110 (i.e., boilers burning representative biomass fuels, e.g., woody biomass,
particulate matter with diameters in the range of 1–10 mm) mass agricultural residues (straw), and MSW, are given in Table 8. It
concentrations increased by more than one order of magnitude should be emphasized that these measured data from field studies
when the boiler load was increased from 50% to 75%. The coarse are just for reference. These data are quite dependent on the
(41 mm) and fine mode (o1 mm) masses were of equal magnitude capacity, type and operation of the boiler, the physical and
downstream of the cyclone when the boilers were operated at chemical properties of the biomass fuel fired, and the detailed
higher load. At lower load, PM1 (o1 mm) dominated PM10 combustion control technology (e.g., temperature, turbulence, and
(o10 mm) [110]. residence time).
Under grate-firing conditions, the most volatile metals con- There are also some modelling efforts in examining possible
tained in biomass fuels (e.g., Hg, Th, and Se) are completely practical influences on aerosol formation in biomass-fired boilers
vaporized and then may be released into the atmosphere with the and determining the amount and chemical composition of
flue gas or condensed on the surfaces of aerosols and fly ash particle emissions, such as the model proposed for the formation
particles. Measurement data from 19 grate-fired incinerators of gaseous alkali sulphates [154] or model for aerosol formation
burning MSW showed that lithophilic metals such as Fe, Cu, Cr, [135,139].
and Al remained mainly in bottom ash whilst volatile Cd Since aerosols contribute to the ambient air pollution level of
transferred to fly ash. Two-thirds of Pb and Zn remained in particles and may contain toxic elements, the effective reduction
bottom ash despite their relatively high volatility [138]. The in aerosols emission is necessary in order to boost biomass
generally non-volatile compounds (consisting mainly of refractory combustion. There are some commercially available dust-pre-
species such as Ca, Mg and Si) and some bound volatile cipitation technologies, as seen, for example, in [155], which
compounds (e.g., K, Na) usually remain on the grate and form include cyclones, multi-cyclones, flue gas condensation units,
the usable bottom ash [26,27]. So, the bottom ashes from grate- electrostatic precipitators (ESP) (including wet ESP and dry ESP),
fired boilers burning biomass are comparatively less problematic and baghouse filters. In general, baghouse filters have the best
in terms of the leaching concentration of toxic elements and may precipitation efficiency for aerosols; wet ESP and dry ESP also
be directly used on agricultural land or in forests as secondary raw have good precipitation efficiencies; scrubber condensers are less
materials with fertilizing and liming effects, or landfilled [27]. efficient in capturing aerosols; and cyclones are suitable only for
Compared to the bottom ash, the aerosols and fly ash particles coarse fly ash particles. Besides the dust precipitation, reduction
are more likely to cause some problems. Firstly, they have a in aerosols emission may also be achieved from their formation
considerable influence on the formation of slagging and fouling routines. The influence of six sorbents on the formation of
deposits on heat transfer surfaces in grate-fired boilers, which aerosols during straw combustion in a 100 MWfuel grate-fired
lead to reduced heat transfer and corrosion. Secondly, the aerosols boiler was studied in full-scale. The observations show a
contribute to the ambient air pollution level of particles, which significant reduction in the aerosols formation by using five of

738 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Table 8
Characterization of aerosol particles (o1 mm) in flue gas or fly ash particles

Grate-fired boilers Sampling point Concentration of Particle size distribution of Composition of aerosol particles
aerosols in flue gas aerosols (or fly ash particles) (or fly ash particles)

25 MWfuel wheat straw- The flue gas particles are The concentration of the The number geometric mean of the The aerosol particles mainly
fired grate boiler sampled upstream the aerosols is 300–480 mg/ submicron peak is 0.19–0.30 mm. consist of KCl and K2SO4 with
[136] electrostatic precipitator N m3 (cascade impactor) Small particles (0.1–0.3 mm) are minor amounts of P. Elements Ca,
(ESP), where gas or close to spherical. Large particles Mg and Si are detected in larger
temperature is 120 1C 2  106–1.8  107 N cm3 (0.3–0.8 mm) vary from almost particles only (41 mm).
and O2 concentration (scanning mobility spherical to aggregates consisting
fluctuates 8%. particle sizer). of 5–10 distinct primary units with
dp 0.1–0.2 mm.
6 MWth moist forest The flue gas particles The concentration of the Bimodal particle size distribution is The dominant species (mass ratio
residue-fired grate were sampled aerosol particles is close detected: aerosol particles have a 410%) in the aerosol particles are
boiler at 85% load downstream the cyclone to those of the coarse peak at about 0.2 mm; while coarse K, S, and Cl. Minor elements are Zn
(The dominant and upstream the ESP, particles (1–10 mm): both particles are peaked at 2 mm. and Ca. Cr, Fe, Ag, Cd, Mn, P, etc. are
species of the fuel where the gas are 79 mg/N m3 present as traces. The dominant
are spruce and pine. temperature is about (related to 13% CO2 dry species in the coarse particles are
The moisture content 190 1C. gas). Ca, K, and S.
is 40%.) [110,137]
Waste wood fired grate From the flue gas duct The mean concentration The aerosol particles are mainly in The aerosols mainly consist of Cl, K,
boiler (nominal behind the economizer of aerosols is 84.2 mg/ the range of 0.088–0.707 mm with and Pb. Ca, Na, S, Si, and Zn are
capacity 40 MWth) (mean flue gas N m3 (related to 13 vol.% the peak at 0.354 mm. present in minor amounts. Fe, Mn,
[135] temperature 178 1C). O2 and dry gas). and P are present as traces.
450  2 tonnes/day MSW Fly ash was sampled No particle Over 95% of the fly ash particles The fly ash has highly complex
(90% household from the ash pit under concentration data. were o149 mm, in which 49.4% mineralogy. The main crystalline
waste and 10% the bag filter, which is were in between 53–75 mm. The fly compounds detected include KCl,
business waste) located just before the ash is characterized by a more NaCl, and SiO2. The fly ash requires
grate incinerator stack. uniform distribution of concaves further treatment before final
[140] and agglomeration on its surface. disposal since the leaching
concentration of Pb exceeds the
regulatory level.

In this table, N m3 and N cm3 mean m3 and cm3 under normal conditions (1 atm and 273 K), respectively.

Fig. 9. Deposits on super-heaters during firing straw or straw/coal in boilers. (a) Deposits on superheater in upper furnace during firing straw at Masnedø CHP plant [146].
(b) Deposit build-up on superheaters after 1 week of co-firing coal and straw at Amager power plant [156].

the six sorbents studied, i.e., bentonite, ICA5000, clay, mono- deposition problems during combustion of solid fuels. There are
calcium phosphate, and ammonium sulphate [143]. many deposition indices for the prediction or estimation of the
ash deposition tendency, which are based on the fuel properties,
particularly the fuel ash chemistry. The commonly used deposi-
4.2. Deposit formation and corrosion
tion indices include base/acid ratio (B/A ¼ (Fe2O3+CaO+MgO+
K2O+Na2O)/(SiO2+Al2O3+TiO2)), iron index (Fe2O3  (B/A)), slagging
Deposition (i.e., slagging and fouling) and corrosion problem is
factor (dry S%  (B/A)), silica ratio (100SiO2/(SiO2+Fe2O3+CaO+
one of the major issues that play an important role in the design
MgO)), critical viscosity at 1426 1C (CV1426 1C in the unit of poise),
and operation of a combustion system. In solid fuel combustion,
estimated ash temperature corresponding to an ash viscosity
the particulate matter formed during combustion may be
of 250 poise (T250 in the unit of 1C), alkali index—the ratio
deposited on furnace walls and heat-exchanger tubes, which will
of the total amount of sodium and potassium expressed as
reduce the heat transfer and could also give rise to corrosion
their corresponding oxides to the heating value of the fuel
problem. Biomass-fired furnaces, in particular straw-fired fur-
(ðY aK2 O þ Y aNa2 O Þ=Q F in the unit of kg/GJ), chloride–sulphate molar
naces, are often reported to have severe deposition and corrosion
ratio ((Cl+2S)/(K+Na)), multi-fuel fouling index—the percentage of
problems compared to coal-fired boilers (see Fig. 9 for examples).
water-soluble alkali and alkaline-earth metals (given as oxides),
ash melting points (initial deformation temperature, hemisphe-
4.2.1. Deposition indices based on fuel properties rical temperature and flow temperature) [157]. Most of these
Deposition indices are always an important concept when indices were originally proposed for coals, and different limits
evaluating the deposition potential of a solid fuel or handling are suggested for coal quality parameters relating to deposition

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 739

potential. As an example, the coal slagging potentials can be

evaluated online by calculating some of the above deposition
indices from its ash analysis [158]. Care must be taken with these
indices and their application.

 The capability and accuracy in predicting ash deposition

potential. The fuel properties represent only half the deposition
story, and the boiler design also plays a large part in
the occurrence of ash deposition problems. Generally, if the
combustion temperatures in the furnace are high, or the
aerodynamics encourage flame impingement, then the potential
for ash deposition problems will be high. On the other hand, if
the fuel ash chemistry is conducive to the formation of sticky
compounds at the prevailing furnace temperatures, then the
potential for deposition problems will also be high [157]. So the
different indices only indicate an ash deposition tendency. In Fig. 10. Schematic presentation of solid-phase reactions involving Cl-species in
deposits [172].
addition, the limits for the deposition indices, suggested in the
literature, are not necessarily valid for all fuels. For a specific fuel,
one may have to experimentally determine the limits.
4.2.2. Mechanisms of deposit formation and high temperature
 The different indices could lead to inconsistent deposition
tendencies for a same fuel. The alkali index and multi-fuel
To probe into the fundamental mechanisms of fly ash and
fouling index, both of which have been suggested to be also
deposit formation and corrosion in grate-fired boilers burning
applicable to biomass fuels and biomass mixture, were
typical biomass fuels (straw, as well as woody biofuels and MSW),
calculated for rice husk, rice straw, and eucalyptus bark
a significant amount of full-scale measuring campaigns, as well as
samples, as well as for some other husks and hulls, straws,
a few lab- or pilot-scale studies have been conducted, for example,
and Scandinavian barks. The calculated indices showed
[69,70,164–171]. Generally speaking, both the volatile (alkali)
different deposition risks, in particular for rice husk: the alkali
inorganic vapours and the inert non-volatile mineral matter can
index indicated a certain risk of deposition whilst the multi-
contribute to the formation of deposit on heat transfer surfaces in
fuel index showed a low or non-fouling risk. The measure-
the boiler, in which they may play different roles in the build-up
ments showed that rice husk was a non-fouling fuel [159].
of the deposit, to be discussed later. The corrosion mechanisms in
 The correct understanding and use of the ash melting points.
combustion systems include gaseous Cl-species induced corro-
Biomass fuels contain a relatively high content of K and Na,
sion, solid-phase reactions involving Cl-species in deposits,
which are believed to significantly lower the melting points of
reactions involving molten Cl-species, molten sulphate corrosion,
ash, and hence may increase ash deposition and fouling
and so on, as reviewed in [10]. Which mechanism dominates will
tendency [13,23]. However, in many cases the standard melting
depend on the combustion environment, combustion tempera-
point measurements have resulted in findings that do not
ture, metal temperature, and also the presence of elements such
directly correlate with the ash behaviour in full-scale combus-
as alkali metals, sulphur, silicon, and aluminum. Fig. 10 sketches
tors [159]. One of the possible reasons could be the measure-
the in-deposit sulphation corrosion mechanism occurring in a
ments or the understanding of the melting point. Inorganic
waste incineration plant [172]. Potassium species are supposed to
mixtures such as fuel ashes do not have one sharp melting
behave similarly to the sodium species. This mechanism was also
point. Instead, they melt stepwise in a temperature range
believed to be responsible for the most severe corrosion problems
where the difference between the temperature of the first
on the superheater tubes in grate-fired boilers burning some other
appearance of melt (T0) and the temperature of complete
biomass fuels (e.g., straw) [10,119]. Molten phases increase the
melting (T100) can be several hundred degrees. It was found
corrosion rate because of the faster chemical reactions in a liquid
that the amount of a melt present in the condensed phases,
phase and the electrolyte or pathway provided by the liquid phase
rather than the composition of the ash itself, was the main
for the electrochemical attack [173].
reason for ash deposition problems. In order to deposit on a
The following sections briefly describe the deposition forma-
surface, an ash particle should contain a certain amount of
tion and high-temperature corrosion in grate-fired boilers burning
liquid melt. Based on experience with different kinds of boilers
a few representative biomass fuels, i.e., straw, woody biofuels, and
or combustors, it was suggested that an amount of 15 wt% of
MSW, respectively.
the condensed phases molten at a certain temperature enabled
deposit formation in the flue gas channel [160–162]. The
melting curves (i.e., the melt portion as a function of the  Straw-fired grate boilers: The findings are summarized in [119].
temperatures) can be used to determine the characteristic
temperatures: the sticky temperature (T15), i.e., the tempera- Composition of fly ash and deposits: The fly ash and deposits
ture below which the salt mixture contains less than 15 wt% are rich in KCl (40–80 wt%).
molten phase, and the flow temperature (T70), i.e., the Deposit formation: Initially on the clean tube, inorganic
temperature above which the share of the liquid phase is vapours and fine particles that arrive at tube surface in a sticky
larger than 70 wt%. With this approach, it was assumed that condition contribute to the initial deposit formation, and they
the material did not stick on surfaces at flue gas temperatures deposit on the entire circumference of the tube. After that, inertial
below the sticky temperature of the depositing material [163]. impaction of big fly ash particles contributes to the deposit build-
This approach was used to predict the fly ash deposition (bed up, but mainly on the upstream side of the tube. So the deposit
sintering tendencies as well) for different solid fuels (coal and formed consists generally of a white dense inner layer covering
biomass), and good agreement between the predictions and the entire circumference of the tube and an ellipse-shaped deposit
the measurements was found [162]. on the upstream side, as sketched in principal in Fig. 11. The main

740 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

 Woody biofuels-fired grate boilers: three different aerosol

formation processes are active, depending on the woody fuels
fired [119,150], which can also be seen in Fig. 8.

When firing chemically untreated wood chips, aerosol forma-

tion is comparable with aerosol formation in straw combustion:
Nucleation and condensation of alkali-salts and subsequent
coagulation of particles are the dominating mechanisms.
When firing waste wood, Zn becomes more important. Under
reducing conditions in the fuel bed, Zn is released to the gas phase
and oxidized to ZnO, which then forms the first nuclei. This is
supposed to happen right after the flue gas leaves the fuel bed.
Fig. 11. Principal sketch of the wheat straw-derived deposits formed on top of the Subsequently, further nucleation of alkali metal and heavy metal-
probe [69,119]. salts is suppressed by condensation on the large specific surface
provided by a high number of ZnO nuclei, and particles grow due
to condensation and coagulation.
deposit on the upstream side consists of fly ash particles and large When firing bark, the aerosol formation process is somewhere
amounts of condensable salts, forming a matrix that glues the fly in between the two mechanisms mentioned above. The sub-
ash particles together. The deposit is quite porous, which makes it micron Ca-particles entrained from the fuel and ZnO-particles
an effective insulator [156]. In the deposit the fly ash particles are formed according to the mechanism mentioned above normally
dominated by K and K–Ca silicates. do not provide the specific surface area needed to suppress
High-temperature corrosion: the relatively high partial pres- nucleation, so that K-salts still form new particles. Subsequently,
sure of HCl in the bulk gas in a furnace will probably not cause the particles grow by condensation and coagulation.
severe gas-phase corrosion attacks [10] under oxidative condition.
Instead, the corrosion of superheater tubes is closely connected to  MSW-fired grate boilers: The findings of mature deposits in
the deposit chemical composition, in particular the composition MSW-fired grate boilers are summarized [119]. When going
of the inner part of the deposit. A characteristic feature found in from the outer to the inner deposit layers, a decrease in [Ca],
deposits is the presence of a dense inner layer of KCl or K2SO4 with [Cl] and [Si] and a simultaneous increase in [S], [K] and [Zn] are
a structure of iron oxide (FexOy) in it. A suggested corrosion observed. The chlorine is responsible for the most serious
mechanism for chlorine corrosion is based on gaseous Cl attack, corrosion, and the decrease in Cl in the inner layer is because
where Fe and Cr in the metal react with gaseous Cl, forming the chlorides are converted to sulphates. The in-deposit
volatile metal chlorides. The high partial pressure of chlorine close corrosion mechanism [172] suggested is sketched in Fig. 10.
to the metal is believed to be caused by a rapid sulphation of KCl Stronger sintering in the outer deposit layers is observed and
to K2SO4 in a melt, formed adjacent to the metal surface, as significant porosity is found in the inner deposit layer.
depicted in Fig. 10, by replacing the sodium species with the
potassium species. This mechanism can explain the shift in
corrosion behaviour with temperature observed in full-scale 4.2.3. Possible solutions to the problems of deposition and high-
corrosion tests (i.e., selective corrosion: negligible at steam temperature corrosion
temperatures of 450 1C, significant if the metal temperature is Both high-temperature corrosion and deposit formation during
raised above 520 1C). At low metal temperatures, the solid-phase biomass combustion can be mitigated by using additives, or by co-
sulphation is slow, and the metal suffers only from general firing with, for instance, coal, peat or sludge. The high-tempera-
oxidation. When the KCl/K2SO4/Fe system becomes molten, the ture corrosion can also be mitigated by using new alloys or new
KCl sulphates quickly in the melt, thereby generating a high forms of ceramic composite coating, or by reducing the surface
partial pressure of Cl2/HCl. Subsequently, this causes accelerated temperatures of super-heaters.
oxidation and possible internal corrosion of the metal. The K2SO4 The first solution is the use of additives, to raise the melting
found in deposits in straw-fired boilers is believed to originate temperatures of the ash formed during biomass combustion, or to
mainly from deposition of gaseous KCl, followed by a subsequent prevent the release of gaseous KCl, or react with KCl to form less
slow sulphation of KCl in the solid phase [119]. corrosive components, or to combine the effects. The lower the
However, this suggested corrosion mechanism may not be melting temperatures of the ash and/or the more vaporizable the
universal, particularly for the initiation of the corrosion. There are alkali or chlorine compounds, the higher will be the risk for ash-
quite some recent results indicating that sulphation is not needed related problems. Raising the ash melting temperatures can
for the chloride corrosion to be initiated in the super-heaters and largely increase the potentials for the use of the biomass fuels.
that pure KCl will also cause heavy corrosion even in a gas The materials that have been found to raise the melting
atmosphere with no SO2. For example, the influence of KCl on the temperatures of ash, to temperatures higher than those normally
oxidation of the 304-type (Fe18Cr10Ni) austenitic stainless steel encountered in boiler furnaces, include Al2O3, CaO, MgO,
at 600 1C in 5%O2 and in 5%O2+40%H2O is investigated in the CaCO3  MgCO3 and kaolin [7,175]. The effect of the additives is
laboratory. Based on the observations, it was proposed that the to enrich the ash formed during combustion with non-potassium/
rapid corrosion was initiated by the reaction of potassium chloride sodium compounds. For example, addition of 3 wt% of kaolin to
with chromium oxide in the scale, forming potassium chromate chopped oats straw can raise the deformation temperature of the
and Cl2 or HCl [174]: ash from 700 to 1200–1280 1C [176]. However, one could argue in
a different way, as to how the additives raise the melting or
Cr2 O3 ðsÞ þ 4KClðsÞ þ 52O2 ðgÞ32K2 CrO4 ðsÞ þ 2Cl2 ðgÞ (3) deformation temperatures. Additives do not change the first
melting temperature (T0) at all. They may dilute the ash and thus
decrease the percentage of the molten phase in the mixture,
Cr2 O3 ðsÞ þ 4KClðsÞ þ 2H2 OðgÞ þ 32O2 ðgÞ
which could show as an increase in the measured empirical
32K2 CrO4 ðsÞ þ 4HClðgÞ (4) temperature for the radical deformation of a standard body

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 741

pressed from the ash particles. Different additives have been  The additives can also be added with the fuel onto the fuel bed.
applied, either to the flue gas or with the fuel, and proven useful in However, the effects may be less general: they are more
commercial biomass-fired boilers. For instance, dependent on combustion technologies. Different combustion
technologies, e.g., FBC and grate-firing, have very different
 ChlorOut (ammonium sulphate), a concept developed and mixing, temperatures and combustion environments (i.e.,
patented by Vattenfall AB [177], may be one of the most oxidizing or reducing) in the fuel beds, which significantly
attractive methods for different combustion technologies, affect the effectiveness of the additives. One has to keep this in
since the additive is added to the flue gas in a certain mind when trying an additive in grate-fired boilers which has
temperature window. An aqueous solution of ammonium been tested and proven efficient in other combustion technol-
sulphate, (NH4)2SO4, is sprayed into the combustion zone at ogies (e.g., FBC or suspension combustion). A test programme
temperatures around 800–900 1C upstream of the superhea- in a grate-fired boiler at a CHP plant showed that it was
ters. It effectively converts alkali chlorides (e.g., KCl) into alkali possible, from an operational, corrosion, and depositional
sulphates (e.g., K2SO4). These sulphates are much less corrosive point-of-view, to co-fire Danish wheat straw with shea nuts,
than the chlorides and therefore the overall corrosion rate is wood chips, and olive stones on a grate, at the actual energy
reduced. The spraying of ammonium sulphate can also reduce shares, i.e., 25–30% on an energy base. In the short-term, full-
NOx formation. The main reactions involved in ChlorOut scale experiments, no serious operational problems related to
process include ash and deposit formation or corrosion of superheater tubes
were observed [119]. Adding kaolin to biomass particle seal
ðNH4 Þ2 SO4 ðaqÞ ! 2NH3 ðgÞ þ SO3 ðgÞ þ H2 OðgÞ (5) under CFB combustion conditions was found to have the
following effects: Kaolin could capture potassium and form
potassium aluminium silicates which have high melting points
2KClðgÞ þ SO3 ðgÞ þ H2 OðgÞ ! K2 SO4 ðsÞ þ 2HClðgÞ (6) and were unlikely to become liquid and stick to the surface of
super-heaters; less potassium would be available for the
reaction in the furnace [86]. Since the contact between the
4NH3 ðgÞ þ 4NOðgÞ þ O2 ðgÞ ! 4N2 ðgÞ þ 6H2 OðgÞ (7) additive particles and flue gas potassium compounds in grate-
fired boilers is less efficient than in a CFB, one may not expect
the same effects if kaolin was used under grate-firing
ChlorOut has been successfully tested in a number of biomass- conditions. When firing pulp sludge with pine bark or with
fired fluidized bed boilers. The results showed that ammonium pine bark/agricultural waste mixture under FBC conditions,
sulphate reduced the KCl levels in the flue gases, removed the aluminium silicate formation was found to dominate over
chlorides from the deposits and the metal/oxide interfaces, greatly sulphation in the reduction of Cl concentration in deposits,
reduced the deposition rates and halved the corrosion rates for which then reduced the chlorine-induced corrosion of heat
superheater materials [114,115]. ChlorOut has also been tested in transfer surfaces [118]. Again, one has to be aware of the
grate-fired boilers burning biomass [113,116]. The tests in the difference between FBC and grate-firing if the same method
grate-fired boiler at the waste incineration plant Müllverwertung was used in grate-firing boilers. Coal ash could also be used as
Borsigstraße (MVB) in Hamburg, within an EU co-financed project a kind of additives. It was found that during co-firing of straw
NextGenBioWaste, showed a marked reduction of the corrosive and coal there seemed to be a significant capture of K from the
alkali chlorides when ammonium sulphate was injected. The straw, by the coal ash, which was observed in different utility
amount of deposit build-up was halved and the corrosiveness of boilers. Due to the capture of K in the coal ash, only low
the deposits was reduced. There were also some environmental concentrations of KCl (o5 wt%) were observed, in the fly ash
benefits to using the additive: the level of NOx in the flue gas was and deposits, from the plants. It was concluded that ash
drastically reduced and a reduction in the amount of dioxins in deposition and/or corrosion would not, most likely, be the
the fly-ash was also detected. The results from the tests were used major problems during coal-straw co-firing in suspension-fired
for designing a permanent ChlorOut system in the waste-fired boilers provided that a high-quality coal was applied for the
grate boiler at MVB. The permanent installation was planned for co-firing [179]. Under grate-firing conditions, the capture of K
the end of 2007 [116]. In the light of the idea of ChlorOut, two from the straw, by the coal ash, may also occur to some extent.
different reagents, Al2(SO4)3 and Fe2(SO4)3, were tested as
slagging and corrosion control techniques for biomass firing
[178]. It was concluded that in the following reaction (where M The second solution is to use new alloys or ceramic tiles that are
stands for K or Na), resistant towards chlorine corrosion [166,180], especially for
2MClðgÞ þ SO3 ðgÞ þ H2 OðgÞ ! M2 SO4 ðsÞ þ 2HClðgÞ (8) modern large-scale biomass-fired grate boilers. There are some
preliminary tests on this subject. For instance, various austenitic
the effectiveness of the reagents with constant sulphur mass flow was and ferritic steels are exposed in a water-cooled probe in the
superheater area of a straw-fired CHP plant. The temperature of
Al2 ðSO4 Þ3 4Fe2 ðSO4 Þ3 bðNH4 Þ2 SO4 (9)
the probe ranges from 450 to 600 1C and the period of exposure is
This order is directly proportional to the temperature needed 1400 h. The rate of corrosion is assessed based on unattacked
for thermal destruction. (NH4)2SO4 probably decomposes faster metal remaining. A clear trend has been observed that selective
than the other sulphates, which then produce fresh SO3 over a corrosion increases with respect to the chromium content of the
longer furnace zone. Complete decomposition to SO3 over a short alloy [166]. Various forms of coating aimed at preventing
furnace zone leading to high local SO3 concentration may enhance corrosion have been tested at the Siekierki CHP station in
other SO3-consuming reactions than sulphation and reduce alkali Warsaw, Poland. A new form of ceramic composite coating is
sulphation selectivity to SO3. With the new reagents, sulphation of effective in preventing corrosion and has been installed in
alkali chlorides dominates strongly over the other SO3-consuming different boilers [180].
reactions, which is a significant advantage: chemicals can be The third solution is to keep the surface temperatures low.
used with low dosages with small or insignificant increase of SO2 New biomass-fired grate boilers are often characterized by high
emissions [178]. steam parameters (temperature and pressure) for high plant

742 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Fig. 12. Grate-firing of biomass and modelling methodology. (a) Biomass conversion in fuel bed, gas combustion in freeboard and their interaction. (b) Modelling concept:
coupling CFD and bed model.

efficiencies. The increased steam temperatures raise concerns of However, there are different modelling methodologies for
high-temperature corrosion as a result of increased tube surface grate-firing systems, for instance [3,63,181], in which the whole
temperatures. A modified Rankine steam cycle is presented as a fuel bed is included as a part of the CFD simulation domain and
solution for a biomass-fired boiler of small or medium sizes, to there is no need for a separate bed model to provide inlet
prevent the chlorine-induced high-temperature corrosion without conditions. In this methodology, the precise size distribution of
loss of efficiency in the steam cycle by fully utilizing the the biomass particles fed into the boiler plays a decisive role in
permissible wall temperature limits [120]. final CFD simulation results.
Other measures against corrosion include co-flow superheaters Because it is difficult and expensive to carry out comprehen-
(i.e., superheater tubes are placed with axis parallel to particle- sive experimental studies on grate-fired boilers, many modelling
laden gas flow in order to minimize the possibilities of particle and CFD simulation efforts have been made instead. Table 9 lists
accumulation) and optimized combustion and process-control some of the representative modelling works on grate-firing of
technologies. Automatic heat exchanger cleaning systems, e.g., biomass in the literature, in which the main purposes and findings
soot blowers, are often used to mitigate the deposits on super- of the works are highlighted. As shown in the table, the modelling
heater tubes. However, they could make the high-temperature and simulation works can be classified into five groups and the
corrosion even worse by effectively removing the corrosion first two groups’ efforts dominate. Most of the modelling and CFD
products from the tubes while exposing them to new corrosive works have been validated, to different extents, by experimental
fly ash deposits. results, particularly the modelling works on biomass conversion
in the fuel bed on the grate.

4.3. Modelling and CFD simulations for diagnosis, optimization, and

new design 4.3.1. Modelling of biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate
The processes in the biomass bed on the grate may be the most
Not all the relevant phenomena in a combustion system are grate-specific area for grate-fired boilers. The behaviour of
described and understood in full details, but CFD calculations give biomass conversion on the grate significantly affects the incom-
an impression of reciprocal relationships. Mathematical model- pletely burned char in the bottom ash, the distribution of the
ling and CFD simulations form a helpful tool to improve the combustibles released into the freeboard, and the precursors of
understanding of the details, probe the problems, and optimize NOx, SOx, PCDD/PCDF, and particle formation. Therefore, biomass
the plant operation, as well as aid in a new design. Compared to conversion on the grate affects not only the combustion efficiency
modelling of pulverized coal boilers, CFD modelling of biomass- of the grate-fired boiler but also the deposition and corrosion
fired grate furnaces is inherently more difficult due to the complex tendency and pollutant emissions from the boiler. As seen in Table
biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate, the turbulent 9, there are quite some efforts on this issue, mainly by modelling.
reacting flow in the freeboard, and the intensive interaction Three different approaches on how to model the fuel bed may be
between them. Fig. 12(a) sketches the sub-processes in grate-fired found in literature.
boilers, i.e., thermal conversion of biomass in the fuel bed, and Approach I. Fluent’s porous-media model is used to investigate
primary combustion and burnout in the freeboard, which interact the solid-refuse bed on top of a roller grate. The results obtained
with each other. Fig. 12(b) shows the most popular methodology from this modelling are used as the inlet conditions for the
in modelling of grate-firing biomass, in which a separate model modelling of the freeboard region [201,202].
is used to solve the thermal conversion of biomass in the fuel Approach II. More typically, freeboard modelling treats the fuel
bed, CFD is used for the freeboard simulation, and they are bed by using inlet conditions based on experience or measure-
coupled by the heat and mass transfer at the interface (i.e., the top ments. When the combustion rate is prescribed as a function of
surface of the fuel bed). More precisely, the bed model provides the position on the grate, inlet conditions (e.g., temperature,
the inlet conditions (e.g., distribution of gas species concentration, velocity and individual species concentration) can be calculated
velocity, and temperature along the grate) for freeboard simula- from the overall heat and mass balances of fuel components and
tion, whilst the freeboard simulation returns the heat flux primary air, see, for example, [39,57,61,80,95,106,192,194,195,203].
released from the flame and furnace walls onto the fuel layer to The experience- or measurements-based bed models have been
the bed model. proven to be quite robust and useful in studying biomass

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 743

Table 9
Summary of the modelling of grate-firing of biomass: the main purpose and the main findings

Purpose of work Main conclusions or findings Reference

Group 1—Modelling of biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate

Aerodynamics study of chain link stoker mats by CFD, CFD is used to aid in redesign of a traditional link design which shows [182]
visualization and tests to improve the under-grate primary air improvement in PA distribution. Pollutant emission from chain grate
(PA) distribution. furnaces may be mainly attributed to poor PA distribution.
To develop a model to characterize and quantify the mixing of (1) The existing grate systems do not mix the refuse sufficiently. (2) Model [183]
biomass fuels on a grate. predictions show good agreement with measurements from three 1/15
scaled models of industrial grates.
To derive methods on a statistical basis to describe quantitatively (1) Two methods are introduced, based on particles’ velocities and [184]
the mixing process of a packed bed on a forward acting grate. trajectories, to quantify the mixing process. (2) The trajectory-based method
is believed to be more accurate and suitable.
To study the effect of fuel mixing on waste bed combustion in (1) Improvement of the combustion intensity by fuel mixing is observed. (2) [185]
MSW grate incinerators by model development and Control of the primary air supply could further enhance the waste
experiments. combustion.
To study the effect of particle mixing caused by grate movement (1) Increasing bed mixing from low to medium level significantly increases [186]
on the ignition, burning rate, unburnt carbon (UBC) in ash, the burning rate and reduces UBC in ash. (2) Excessive mixing may cause
and so on. significant delay in ignition or even extinction.
To evaluate the residence time of a moving bed on a forward- Discrete element method is applied to describe the motion of a moving bed [187]
acting grate by numerical approaches. (e.g., its particles). Tracking particles can obtain better predictions of the
residence time of a moving bed.
To understand MSW combustion in a grate incinerator by (1) A 1D bed model is developed. (2) Radiation in fuel bed is important in [79]
modelling and tests of wooden particles combustion in a initiating flame front and transferring heat to the cold bed. (3) Air supply
fixed bed testrig. rate, LHV, and particle size are important parameters.
To develop a fuel bed model and incorporate it in CFD for (1) The properties of different bed zones determine the conditions in the gas [188]
modelling of coal combustion in 60 MWfuel grate boiler. phase above the bed. (2) The channelled flows in furnace do not seem to be
sensitive to the details of bed model.
To develop a bed model on a travelling grate by incorporating (1) A 2D bed model (FLIC) is developed. (2) Model predictions without [189]
sub-process models and solving governing equations for gas considering channelling effect agree with experiments in total mass loss but
and solid. show big discrepancy in temperature and gas composition.
To study the effect of air preheating on fuels combustion on a (1) Preheating of PA acts as a catalyst for the ignition on a grate rather than [190]
grate by pot fixed-bed experiments and real-scale MSW plant only drying of the waste; (2) pot furnace experiments have only a limited
observations. value in studying grate boiler combustion.
To study numerically the effects of fuel properties (i.e., LHV, (1) Average burning rate is mostly affected by fuel particle size. (2) [78]
density, particle size, and packed bed porosity) on biomass Combustion stoichiometry is equally affected by LHV and particle size. (3)
combustion characteristics on a grate. Density has the strongest effect on solid temperature. (4) LHV and particle
size have the strongest effect on CO; LHV and density have the dominant
effect on CH4; and particle size has the greatest effect on H2 concentration at
the bed top.
To investigate the importance of particle size and density of fuel (1) Particle density has a very small effect on the conversion rate in a packed [55]
on biomass conversion in a packed bed by a 1D model and bed. (2) Particle size has a significant influence on the conversion of a packed
tests. bed. In a bed of large particles (30 mm  30 mm  30 mm), a clear
temperature difference exists between gas and solid. In a bed of small
particles (3 mm  3 mm  3 mm), the temperature difference is small and
could be neglected in modelling.
To study the conversion of biomass on the grate of a 25 MWe (1) By varying grate speed to obtain constant bed height, the furnace can [65]
forward reciprocating grate boiler by modelling and achieve 499% of conversion efficiency with 40–50% of normal PA supply. (2)
experiments. Char conversion is much slower than devolatilization.
A sensitivity analysis of the uncertainty of model parameters (1) Prediction of ignition rate and temperature peak is relatively insensitive [191]
related to heat and mass transport, reaction rates, and to the uncertainty in the parameters; (2) composition of volatiles affects
composition of volatiles. greatly gas concentration in the bed and gas ignition.

Group 2—CFD modelling of mixing and combustion in the freeboard

To study the effect of advanced secondary/over-fire air Ecotube New Ecotube air system generates a considerable improvement in efficiency [80]
system in a 15 WMth biomass waste-fired grate boiler using for biomass combustion in the grate boiler.
To model and validate a 50 MWth wood chips-fired grate boiler, With an improved SA supply (by ‘ECO’-tubes), 30% NOx reduction can be [57]
and then to predict the effect of an ‘ECO’ air system on NOx achieved.
To evaluate the effect of an ‘Ecotube’ air supply system on The new SA system can result in a higher furnace flame occupation [39]
combustion and emission from a 25 MWth biomass-fired coefficient, a more uniform heat release, a longer life of combustion
grate boiler using CFD. chamber, a lower level of pollutant emissions, and combustion noise.
To investigate the effect of air staging and flue gas recirculation Appropriate air staging and flue gas recirculation have a considerable [192]
on flue gas burnout, mixing, and temperature distribution potential to optimize the mixing and improve the temperature distribution
using CFD. and control to prevent slagging in biomass grate boilers.
Combined simulation of a 1 MWth wood chips-fired sloping grate (1) The predicted results of the fuel bed model are rather insensitive to the [56]
hot-water boiler by interactively employing a 1D bed model freeboard conditions and more likely to be affected by fuel bed properties.
and CFD. (2) Minor changes in SA largely reduce CO emission.
To study a 12 T/h MSW-fired grate boiler by FLIC/fluent combined (1) MSW on the grate is ignited at 1.8–2.0 m away from the waste entrance; [48]
simulation, as well as measurements. the measured maximum bed temperature is 1000–1128 1C with big
fluctuations up to 800 1C. (2) Improving SA is necessary to reduce particle
carry-over to boiler tubes and to increase the heat transfer.
To evaluate MSW combustion process in a pilot grate furnace (1) CFD and experiments show good agreement on flue gas burnout in [49]
using CFD and experiments, under centre-flow operation. combustion chamber. (2) CFD is a valuable tool for further study on the
effect of PA supply, fuel mass flow, and grate movement.
To present a CFD analysis of a 33 MWfuel straw-fired grate boiler. (1) Model predictions show a good agreement with available measurements [193]
(temperature and species). (2) Poor mixing between bulk flow and SA jets is
partly responsible for high CO and UBC in fly ash.

744 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Table 9 (continued )

Purpose of work Main conclusions or findings Reference

CFD study of the dynamics of particles (spatial distribution, By changing the air supply configuration (to form stronger recirculation [61]
residence time, momentum at outlet) in a 40 MW wood zones and higher level turbulence), the residence time of particles could be
chips-fired grate furnace. prolonged.
Combined simulation of a 150 tons/day waste-fired grate boiler. (1) A strategy of combining CFD of gas flow field with waste bed combustion [50]
is presented and tested. (2) More realistic submodels of waste bed
combustion would be helpful in this method.
To model and validate biomass combustion in a semi-industrial (1) By modifying the heat release profile over the grate and the split [194]
grate boiler (firing 0.2 T/h biomass) and a full-scale grate assumption for C and H in the calculation of the species released from the
boiler (firing 13 T/h biomass), and then to optimize them fuel bed, the waste incineration model is very capable of predicting biomass
through modelling. combustion in a grate boiler. (2) Boiler performance can be improved by
optimizing the ratio of PA/SA and the ratio of front wall SA to rear wall SA.
To model and optimize a 25 MWe MSW-fired reciprocating-grate In the design case, there exists a large flow recirculation zone in the [67]
boiler using CFD coupled with fuel bed model (FLIC). radiation pass, which is not good for mixing and combustion, and can be
avoided by changing the distribution of SA jets.
Using CFD as a tool to upgrade grate-firing systems for improved (1) Multiple rows of small OFA ports result in poor mixing with channelling [181]
boiler operation and reduced emissions. of gas up the boiler centre. (2) Poor combustion is overcome by upgrading
OFA system, a consistent conclusion from 30 boilers.
To investigate by using CFD the important parameters relevant (1) The designs of flue gas recirculation nozzles, SA nozzles, air staging and [195]
for design of a multi-fuel low-NOx grate furnace and to derive combustion chamber geometry are investigated. (2) Injection of recycled
guidelines for design of grate furnaces of 0.5–10 MWth flue gas above the fuel bed is good for lower CO and NOx. (3) SA staging is
capacity. good for CO reduction. (4) The size and location of recycled flue gas nozzles
and SA nozzles and the jet speeds are important for mixing, combustion and
To retrofit a 1975 vintage travelling grate stoker boiler in a paper Simulations suggested the new air system and fabric stoker seal be installed. [63]
mill in Louisiana, USA, using CFD. The boiler was finally retrofitted on the basis of CFD indications.
To study how to improve air/gas mixing in a waste incinerator to SA nozzle configuration is important: (1) mixing can be improved by [196]
reduce incomplete combustion and lower emissions. selecting larger inter-jet spacing, stronger jet speed; (2) staggered
arrangement of two opposite nozzle arrays is more effective.
To model a biomass grate boiler and locate the reasons for the (1) Turbulence at grate inlet makes no difference to CFD results; (2) over- [197]
always over-predicted temperature in primary combustion predicted temperature is not due to the bed model; (3) mixture fraction/PDF
zone. is better than eddy-dissipation but still over-predicts gas temperatures in
the primary combustion zone.
To introduce grate firing and also to present a CFD modelling of a (1) Care must be taken with SA systems to ensure radial and axial speeds of [3]
20 MWe renewable energy, air-cooled travelling grate boiler. SA jets match bulk gas velocity in furnace for proper mixing. (2) Balancing of
SA & PA is also important.
To establish a reliable baseline CFD model for a 108 MWfuel straw- (1) Raw input data and mesh are important in modelling of grate boilers, [53]
fired grate boiler for the purpose of optimizing design and even more important than the bed model in terms of overall CFD results. (2)
operation, using a thorough sensitivity analysis in CFD and a Mainly due to the raw inputs (e.g., the conditions of the walls and air-jets
2-day measuring campaign on the boiler. under irregular deposits, the non-continuous biomass feeding and grate
movement and the combustion instabilities in the fuel bed), it is not that
easy to establish a reliable baseline model. (3) Staggered OFA jets are
favourable for forming double rotating flow in horizontal cross-sections in
burnout zone. However, the jets momentum and spacing could be further

Group 3—Modelling of NOx formation and emissions from biomass-fired grate boilers
To develop a model for NOx emissions from biomass grate (1) A new flamelet combustion model is developed. (2) The preliminary [198]
furnaces. results by applying the model to a 2D biomass-fired grate boiler are
To improve the understanding of combustion and NO emission (1) Biomass combustion in grate boiler can be effectively controlled by SA [107]
characteristics by studying numerically and experimentally and OFA jets. (2) The burnout zone is not sensitive to the bed combustion
the related processes in an 8–11 kW updraft wood pellets- process due to the high-speed flow from SA and OFA jets. (3) The rather high
fired furnace. flame temperature (1800 K) in this furnace leads to high NO emission from
thermal-NO mechanism. (4) In air-rich burnout zone, N2O-intermediate
mechanism dominates.
Combined simulation of a 38 MWe straw-fired grate boiler to (1) Most of the NO is formed in the downstream combustion chamber. (2) [54]
study its performance and the effect of variation in operation Fuel moisture content is limited to below 25% to prevent excessive CO
conditions. emission without compromising the plant performance.
To model SNCR application to a full-scale MSW-fired grate boiler. (1) The model is successfully evaluated against operational data [62]
(temperature, NO and gas velocity). (2) The appropriate injection port of
reduction material for maximum NO reduction could be determined.
To propose a thermochemical model for the simulation of the flue The model simulates operation of flue-gas treatment section (NOx reduction, [51]
gas cleaning system of an RDF incineration plant. SO2 and HCl scrubbing) and combustion section (grate incinerator, post-
combustion chamber) by using a simplified approach. The simulation results
are validated with operating data, indicating the model can be a practical

Group 4—Modelling of deposit formation in biomass-fired grate boilers

To examine possible practical influences on aerosol formation in A plug flow model is developed, considering gas-phase modelling by means [135,139]
biomass-fired boilers and to determine the amount and of thermodynamic equilibrium calculations and a kinetic approach for
chemical composition of particle emissions. modelling gaseous sulphate formation. The main particle formation and
precipitation mechanisms are considered.
To model the gaseous sulphation of alkali hydroxide and alkali (1) A reaction mechanism for sulphation of alkali metals is proposed. (2) [154]
chloride since the formation of gaseous alkali sulphates may Modelling predictions are not sensitive to the estimated properties in the
yield aerosols and also contribute to deposition and alkali subset. (3) The predicted degree of sulphation is affected mainly by
corrosion. the rate of SO2 oxidation and the production of chain carrier in the system.

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 745

Table 9 (continued )

Purpose of work Main conclusions or findings Reference

To develop a model for predicting the formation of ash deposits in (1) It covers the release of fly ash particles and ash-forming vapours from [199]
biomass-fired plants and implement it in CFD. fuel bed, their transport and deposition on boiler walls. (2) The application
in a 440 kWth boiler shows plausible results.
To develop a model for predicting the formation of ash deposits in A deposition model is established and demonstrated, in which the deposits [146]
biomass-fired plants and demonstrate it in an industrial grate are built up from fly ash particles (2–250 mm) by inertial, turbulent, and
boiler. thermophoretic mechanisms and KCl vapours-formed particles (0.5 mm) by
diffusion, turbulent, and thermophoretic mechanisms.
To develop and validate a dynamic model of ash deposit growth (1) The model covers deposit growth, and also shedding by deposit surface [69]
and shedding on a horizontal probe in a straw-fired grate melting. (2) Model predictions agree with the measured evolutions of the
boiler. deposit weight, heat uptake and deposit shape. (3) KCl condensation
initiates the deposit formation and fly ash particle inertial impaction is the
main contribution to the deposit growth. (4) The deposit growth rate is
balanced by the shedding rate after 285 h in this study.

Group 5—Modelling or assessing of the discontinuous effects

To assess the effect of grate movement and waste feeding cycles Transient process is observed due to MSW feeding cycles and grate [47]
in full-scale MSW incinerator by modelling and tests. moving–rest cycles. In flue gas, O2 in flue gas varies in 6–12%, temperature in
850–1010 1C. Combustion in fuel bed is also dominated by big fluctuations in
temperature and O2: about 600 1C and 12% from the spikes to dips,
To model the discontinuous incineration process in reciprocating Discontinuous features (e.g., discontinuous feeding of MSW, discontinuous [200]
grate boilers for control purposes with the aim of reducing movement of the burning waste by reciprocating grates) are mainly
oscillations through a model-based control system. responsible for the high oscillations of process variables. The model
developed show good agreement with experiments and is used for the
specified control purposes.

combustion in industrial grate boilers, provided that the correct grate boilers. Some efforts were done directly for travelling grate,
amount of mass, elements, and heat is released from the fuel bed in which 2D bed models were developed.
into the freeboard. To have a better overview of the governing equations and to
Approach III. Recently, separate bed models have been devel- develop a more general computer code for biomass conversion in
oped to study biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate, for the fuel bed on the grate, MFIX (Multiphase Flow with Interphase
example, in the Sheffield University Waste Incineration Centre eXchanges) [204] could be one of the most useful sources. MFIX is
(SUWIC) chaired by Prof. Swithenbank and the group headed by a general-purpose computer code developed at the National
Prof. Choi at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for describing the hydro-
Technology (KAIST). The ignition front and the combustion front dynamics, heat transfer, and chemical reactions in fluid–solid
in fuel beds are tracked, and the temperatures, species, and systems. MFIX code is based on a generally accepted set of
velocity at the fuel bed top are also solved, which are used as inlet multiphase flow equations, which are summarized in [205], and
conditions for the freeboard modelling, see, for example, the source code is available through its website, http://
[48,50,54,56,67,193]. The sensitivities of biomass properties (e.g., [204]. MFIX calculations give transient data on
moisture content, particle size and density, solid conductivity, the three-dimensional distribution of pressure, velocity, tempera-
heating value) and process parameters (e.g., heat and mass ture, and species mass fractions. Though MFIX is mainly used for
transfer rates, bed porosity, devolatilization rate, primary air flow describing BFBs and CFBs and spouted beds, which are different
rate, heat capacity of both the gas and solid phases) on the from the fuel bed on a grate, the basic governing equations and
conversion rate, temperature, and gas compositions are also the programming techniques are still the same and useful for the
studied by using separate bed models [55,76–79,191]. development of bed models for grate-fired boilers.
Basically, approach III is to solve mass, momentum, energy, and The biomass bed on the grate can be viewed as a reacting
species balance equations for gas and solid phases, with necessary gas–solid system, which includes one gas phase and one solid
process rate equations and empirical correlations/sub-models phase. The gas phase has 6 or more different species, e.g., O2, N2,
used for the closure of the balance equations. However, one may CO, CO2, CmHn, and H2O vapour. The solid phase has 4
find huge inconsistencies in the sets of equations solved in the components, i.e., moisture, volatile matter, fixed carbon, and inert
different works, not only in forms (e.g., in divergence operators, in ash. For such an air–solid system, the general governing equations
Einstein convention, or in algebraic forms) but also in some of the for modelling can be summarized as follows.
terms (e.g., some terms may be solved in one application but
neglected in the other) or even in the inclusion of some transport  Continuity equations: The continuity equation for the gas phase
equations (e.g., the inclusion of momentum equations or not). The is
large diversity in the sets of equations could be understood due to
the complexity of the fuel bed on the grate or due to the specific qðfrg Þ
þ r  ðfrg ug Þ ¼ Sg ðfor gas phaseÞ (10)
subjects under different studies. For instance, quite some model- qt
ling efforts were done for fixed-bed combustion of biomass, in where f, rg, ug and Sg represent the volume fraction of the gas
which one-dimensional unsteady heterogeneous models were phase (i.e., void fraction in fuel bed), the material density of the
solved for the fixed bed and then the time elapsed since ignition in gas phase [kg/m3], the gas-phase velocity vector [m/s], and the
the fixed bed was mapped to the horizontal distance away from conversion rate from solid to gases due to evaporation, devola-
the start point on the travelling grate in industrial grate boilers. tilization, and heterogeneous reactions [kg/(m3 s)], respectively.
This kind of approximation may be acceptable for travelling grate The process rate equations for evaporation, devolatilization, and
combustion as a result of the relatively small horizontal gradients char oxidation can be found in the relevant literature (see Table 9)
in temperatures and species concentration in some industrial or in MFIX.

746 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

The continuity equation for the solid phase can be expressed as gas phase is
qðrs Þ qðfrg Y g;n Þ
þ r  ðrs us Þ ¼ Sg ðfor solid phaseÞ (11) þ r  ðfrg ug Y g;n Þ
qt qt
where e, rs, and us are the volume fraction of the solid phase, ¼ r  ðfrg Dg;n rY g;n Þ þ Rg;n ðfor gas phaseÞ (14)
e ¼ 1f, the material density of the solid phase [kg/m3], and the
solid-phase velocity vector [m/s], respectively. where Yg,n, Dg,n and Rg,n represent the mass fraction of the n-th gas
species, the diffusion coefficient of the n-th gas species [m2/s], and
 Momentum equations: In principle, momentum equations the rate of production of the n-th gas species due to evaporation,
represent, ‘‘mass times acceleration per volume equals to the devolatilization, and combustion [kg/(m3 s)], respectively.
sum of all the external forces per volume’’. Therefore, all the The conversion equation for the i-th solid-phase components
terms should have the unit N/m3. If neglecting the inter- (i.e., moisture, volatiles, fixed carbon, ash) can be expressed as
phase momentum transfer due to the inter-phase mass qðrs Y s;i Þ
transfer (e.g., heterogeneous reactions), which is accounted þ r  ðrs us Y s;i Þ ¼ r  ðrs Ds rY s;i Þ
for in MFIX, the momentum equation for the gas phase can be þ Rs;i ðfor solid phaseÞ (15)
expressed as
where Ys,i, Ds and Rs,i are the mass fractions of i-th particle
qðfrg ug Þ=qt þ r  ðfrg ug ug Þ ¼ frpg þ r  ðfsÞ compositions, the diffusion coefficient of the solid phase [m2/s],
|fflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl} |fflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflffl} |fflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflffl} and the rate of conversion of the i-th solid species due to
Pressure Viscous
Densityacceleration force force
evaporation, devolatilization, and heterogeneous combustion
þ frg g  bgs ðug  us Þ [kg/(m3 s)].
|fflffl{zfflffl} |fflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl}
Gravity Momentum
transfer due to
There are some uncertainties with the diffusion coefficients, in
interphase forces
particular, the solid-phase diffusion coefficient, Ds. The movement
þ fg (12) of a grate enhances the solid mixing in the fuel bed on the grate
due to porous
and may have important influence on biomass conversion on the
grate. Therefore, the solid-phase diffusion on different types of
where pg and s represent the pressure in gas phase [Pa] and the grates has been studied experimentally and correlations for the
viscous stress tensor for gas phase [Pa], respectively. bgs is the solid-phase diffusion coefficients have been proposed, see
coefficient for the inter-phase forces, mainly the drag force in [186,206].
most cases, [kg/(m3 s)]. Different correlations can be found in
MFIX for the calculation of the gas–solid momentum inter-phase  Energy equations: The energy equation for the gas phase can be
exchange. fg is the gas flow resistance due to the porous surfaces expressed as
[N/m3], which is usually calculated by a porous media model, for  
example as is done in MFIX. qT g
frg C pg þ ug  rT g ¼ r  ðlg rT g Þ
The momentum equation for the solid phase can be written as qt
þ hgs ðT s  T g Þ
qðrs us Þ=qt þ r  ðrs us us Þ ¼ rpg þ r  ðss Þ
ffl} |fflfflffl{zfflfflffl} |fflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflffl} þ DHg þ Q_ (16)
Densityacceleration Pressure Solid rad;g
force stresses

þ rg g þ bgs ðug  us Þ where Cpg, Tg, lg, hgs, DHg and Q_ rad;g represent the specific heat of
|ffl{zffl} |fflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflfflffl} the gas phase [J/(kg K)], gas-phase temperature [K], gas-phase
Gravity Momentum
transfer due to
interphase forces
conductivity [W/(m K)], gas–solid heat transfer coefficient cor-
þ fg (13) rected for inter-phase mass transfer phase [W/(m3 K)], heat of
|{z} reaction in gas phase [W/m3], and radiation heat source to the gas
gain from grate
phase [W/m3], respectively. The calculations of these terms are
relatively simple though different correlations may exist and be
where ss and fgrate represent the solid-phase stress (or granular
used in different efforts. One of the arguments could be on the
stress) tensor [Pa], and the momentum transfer from the
role of the radiation heat source. The radiation certainly plays an
mechanical movement of grate (e.g., travelling, vibrating, or
important role in initializing the ignition flame on the top of the
reciprocating movement) [N/m3], respectively. In MFIX, the
fuel bed. However, the heat of reaction could dominate over
granular stress equations are calculated on the basis of kinetic
radiation in the propagation of the flame in the fuel bed.
theory and frictional flow theory, and the resulting constitutive
Similarly, the energy equation for the solid phase can be
equations can be seen in detail in [205]. Since the constitutive
written as
relations contain granular temperature, a separate transport
equation for granular temperature or an algebraic granular energy qT s
rs C ps þ us  rT s ¼ r  ðls rT s Þ
equation is used in MFIX to solve the granular temperature. qt
Actually, the momentum equation for the solid phase has not  hgs ðT s  T g Þ
really been solved in any modelling effort for biomass conversion
þ DHs þ Q_ rad;s (17)
on the grate, probably due to the difficulty with the solid-phase
stress tensor, or probably due to insignificant movement of the where Cps, Ts, ls, DHs and Q_ rad;s represent the specific heat of the
solids in a fixed bed, or the assumption hereof. In some modelling solid phase [J/(kg K)], solid-phase temperature [K], solid-phase
efforts which are directly devoted to travelling grates, the conductivity [W/(m K)], heat of reaction in solid phase (including
horizontal solid-phase velocity is pre-defined, whilst the vertical the heat loss due to moisture evaporation and heat generation due
component of the particle velocity in the fuel bed is calculated to char oxidation) [W/m3], and radiation heat source to the solid
from the solid-phase continuity equation [65,189]. phase [W/m3], respectively. In this modelling framework, the
isothermal condition (i.e., Biot number less than 0.1) is assumed
 Species transport equations: The transport equation for the for biomass particles. However, some tests show that the
n-th species (e.g., O2, N2, CO, CO2, CmHn, and H2O vapour) in the temperature gradients may not be neglected for big particles, for

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 747

instance, thermally thick biomass fuels over 35 mm can develop a based, straw conversion rates along the grate and the primary air
temperature gradient over 400 1C in the particles at the flame distribution measured. For instance, biomass evaporation rates
front under ordinary combustion conditions [207]. 85%, 15%, 0% and 0% along the grate length mean that in this boiler
All the equations can be expressed in the standard form solved 85% of the moisture in the biomass is released in the first 14.6%
in finite volume method, of the grate length, the remaining 15% of the moisture is released
in the second 20% of the grate length, and no moisture is released
qðrFÞ in the last two grate sections (33.1% and 32.3% in length,
þ r  ðrFuÞ ¼ r  ðGrFÞ þ SF (18)
|fflffl{zfflffl} |fflfflfflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflfflfflffl} |fflfflfflfflfflffl{zfflfflfflfflfflffl} |{z} respectively). Based on the conversion rates and the primary
Convective Diffusion Source
Transient air distribution, heat and elements balance are used to derive
the species, velocity, and temperature of the combustion gas at
With basic programming skills and using the finite volume
the bed top: the results are shown in Fig. 14. Fig. 15 shows the
method, the modelling of biomass conversion on the grate may be
counterpart calculated by the third approach based on the same
done. It would be better to programme on the basis of the
data of straw and primary air. Some differences are observed from
complete equations, in which the uncertain process parameters
Figs. 14 and 15. However, they should result in the same amount
(e.g., the inter-phase heat transfer coefficient) may be calculated
of elements, mass, and heat flow into the freeboard. Please be
by separate subroutines or functions. 1D or 3D, and inclusion of
aware that the gas velocities, shown in Figs. 14 and 15, are not
part of the contributions or all the contributions in the source
the velocities of the primary air. The superficial velocity of the
terms do not really add big difficulties to the programming. With a
primary air at the bottom of the fuel bed is much lower, in the
general and structured computer code, it would be much easier
range of 0.21–0.65 m/s in this grate-fired boiler.
and more reliable to investigate the effects of some sub-models or
Besides the models for the biomass conversion on the grate,
correlations (i.e., the sensitivity analysis) by simply replacing the
some modelling work has also been done to investigate the effects
corresponding subroutine or function. Comparatively, there are
of grate components themselves or to characterize fuel particles
more uncertainties with the process parameters in the fuel bed in
mixing and residence time on the grate, as can be seen in Table 9.
grate-fired boilers, due to, for example, the relatively poor mixing
and the channel formation [208] and the very common combus-
tion instabilities [64] in the fuel bed on the grate. This also makes 4.3.2. CFD modelling of the mixing and combustion in the freeboard
it necessary to conduct the sensitivity analysis on the basis of a Compared to pollutant formation, deposition and corrosion,
reliable set of equations and a general computer code for the and biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate, the
modelling of biomass conversion in the fuel bed on the grate. combustion in the freeboard may be more related to combustion
As an example, the second and the third approach are physics. When the gases are released from the fuel bed, they mix
demonstrated for the straw-fired water-cooled grate boiler shown with the secondary air and combust in the freeboard. The gaseous
in Fig. 1(b) to show the differences. Fig. 13 shows the experience- combustion is generally fast compared to the rate of mixing.
Therefore, fluid mechanics (i.e., mixing) plays a very important
role in the combustion and pollutant formation in the freeboard,
particularly for grate-fired boilers which have relatively low
combustion temperatures.
The majority of the existing CFD modelling of grate-fired
boilers focuses on the mixing and the optimization, as can be seen
in Table 9. The poor mixing in grate-fired boilers could be in the
form of, for example, insufficient mixing between the bulk flow
and the SA jets, or insufficient occupation of the flue gas or flame
in the volume of the freeboard, or the formation of channelling
flow in the freeboard. The CFD modelling results show that the
mixing in the freeboard can be improved by, for example,
advanced air supply systems, optimized secondary air jets
(momentum, configuration, location, and spacing), or adjusted
split between secondary air and primary air (see Table 9 for
details). The basic ideas are to improve the momentum or
penetration of SA jets, form local recirculation zones, or form
rotating flows on horizontal cross-sections in the freeboard. The
mixing can also be improved through grate systems, for instance,
Fig. 13. The experience-based conversion rate as a function of position on the using good fabric stoker seal for low excess air or designing new
grate. grates for improved distribution of primary air.

Fig. 14. Approach II: the gas species (left), gas temperature, and velocity (right) at the fuel bed top.

748 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

Fig. 15. Approach III: the gas species (left), gas temperature, and velocity (right) at the fuel bed top, calculated by the model [76].

4.3.3. Modelling of NOx formation and emissions from grate-fired 5.1. Mechanism study of combustion chemistry for grate-firing
boilers burning biomass of biomass
The major source of NOx from biomass-fired grate boilers is
fuel NOx. Most of the existing understanding of fuel nitrogen Combustion chemistry and combustion physics are the two
conversion in solid-fuel-fired systems involves coal as a fuel. foundations of any combustion technology. Combustion physics,
Comparatively little is known about other fuels such as biomass, for instance, how to improve the mixing in the combustion
which limits the modelling capability of NOx formation and chamber, how to develop or improve the physical models to
emissions from grate-fired boilers burning biomass. The more extend their prediction capabilities, and how to make use of
crucial point may be the release of the NOx precursors from the experimental facilities or techniques (e.g., electric probes, optics,
fuel bed on the grate under different environments for different acoustics, spectroscopy and pyrometry) to measure or monitor the
biomass fuels. As shown in Table 9, there are some, but still combustion processes, may be more general for combustion
limited, efforts in the modelling of both NOx precursors released processes. For grate-fired boilers burning biomass, some of these
from the fuel bed and NOx formation in the freeboard. For the CFD have been extensively covered by current efforts, such as, mixing;
modelling of NOx formation in the freeboard, the NOx precursors some of these are in a great need of enhancement, such as,
released from the fuel bed on the grate, which are used as the comprehensive experimentation; some of these may be less
grate inlet boundary conditions, are mainly based on assumptions pertaining to grate-fired boilers burning biomass, for instance,
(as seen in Table 6). This could be improved for a better modelling improvement of some physical models including suitable sub-grid
of NOx emissions from grate-fired boilers burning biomass. models. Combustion physics has not been explicitly highlighted as
a separate issue throughout this paper.
Comparatively, combustion chemistry is more dependent on
4.3.4. Modelling of deposit formation in grate-fired boilers
the fuel and the combustion technology. Combustion of biomass
burning biomass
in grate-fired boilers has substantially different conversion
The modelling of deposit formation in grate-fired boilers
characteristics than those in other combustion technologies
burning biomass is very complicated, as a result of the complex
(FBC or suspension combustion). So far, the majority of the
mechanism of deposit growth and shedding. Alkali vapours, fly
mechanism studies of combustion chemistry in grate-fired boilers
ash particles, and aerosols all contribute to the deposit formation.
burning biomass go to the combustion characteristics, e.g.,
Modelling of deposit formation involves the release of the
ignition, devolatilization, char oxidation, reactivity of the released
precursors of formation of alkali vapours and particulate matter
volatiles, and char, as well as fuel nitrogen conversion. Some
from the fuel bed, the reaction and transport of the vapours and
efforts have also been made in the transformation of inorganic
particulate matter in the freeboard, the transport of the vapour
elements, e.g., K, Cl, and S, in grate-firing conditions, in order to
and particulate matter to the furnace walls, and their sticking
facilitate the study on the ash formation, deposit formation,
propensities. The existing efforts show an encouraging potential
and Cl-induced corrosion. The speciation and transformation of
in estimating the deposit formation in grate-fired boilers burning
heavy metals during grate-firing of biomass have also been
biomass; however, these efforts are still quite preliminary.
involved to a small extent, since they significantly affect the
formation of some toxic pollutants (e.g., PCDD/PCDF and heavy
4.3.5. Modelling or assessing of the discontinuous effects metals emissions) and the utilization and disposal of ash. These
Quite often, grate-firing of biomass is characterized by some existing mechanism studies are still far from being sufficient and
discontinuous effects, e.g., the discontinuous biomass feeding and may have to be strengthened by different extents. Without
the discontinuous grate movement. These discontinuous pro- sufficient and detailed knowledge of the combustion chemistry,
cesses certainly affect the plant operation and control, e.g., big it is less likely to build up a reliable CFD model, to correctly
fluctuations or oscillations in process variables. However, very optimize/design the combustion system, and to propose efficient
little work has been done on this aspect. measures to control pollutant emissions. For instance, a greater
part of heavy metals and chlorinated organic compounds (e.g.,
PCDD/PCDF) is bound in the fly ash during the combustion of
5. Future R&D some biomass fuels, e.g., MSW. In order to propose efficient
measures to control the concentration of the toxic components in
Based on the knowledge and achievements already acquired, the fly ash and to dispose of the fly ash, the transformation and
more efforts in biomass combustion are still needed to resolve the conversion characteristics of all the relevant elements (e.g.,
existing problems, particularly when we have to face the carbon, heavy metals and Cl) during biomass combustion, as well
increasing price of fossil fuels and the more stringent target to as more detailed gas-phase chemistry and how it participates in
utilize renewables. Further R&D related to grate-firing of biomass the heterogeneous chemistry, should be studied and well under-
may be suggested as follows. stood.

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 749

To meet the increasingly stringent target to utilize the Biomass combustion on the grate determines not only the main
renewables, more and more new biomass fuels will be exploited combustibles but also the formation precursors (e.g., of particu-
and fed into grate-firing systems for heat and power production. late matter, pollutants, deposition, and corrosion) released into
This also demands a significant amount of mechanism studies of the freeboard. So, grate and biomass combustion on the grate play
their combustion chemistry, in order to fire them efficiently and an important role in the overall performance of a grate-fired
cleanly. boiler.
The effects of different additives used in biomass-fired grate As discussed earlier, some efforts have been successfully made
boilers are also an important aspect in the mechanism study of to develop models for the biomass conversion in the fuel bed on
combustion chemistry which needs improvement. Additives could the grate, mainly to study the ignition and combustion character-
be used in grate-firing of biomass to achieve different purposes, istics of biomass in the fuel bed. However, the models need to be
for instance, to improve combustion or to mitigate some problems generalized, on the basis of a well-accepted set of multiphase flow
(e.g., emissions, deposition, and corrosion). equations and without introducing too many assumptions or
simplifications at the very beginning stage of the development of
5.2. Advanced monitoring, testing, and experimentation the model and the code. The models need also to be extended to
more topics, e.g., fuel nitrogen, fuel inorganic elements, and heavy
Some details of the grate-firing systems are not readily metals, to study the conversion and release characteristics of the
accessible. Older boilers are particularly troublesome since they relevant species in the fuel bed, as well as to provide reliable
even lack good flow measurement devices and monitoring precursors for freeboard modelling. These demand substantial
equipment. As discussed in [53], the uncertainties with the knowledge in combustion chemistry of biomass conversion under
details in biomass-fired grate boilers challenge the modelling, grate-firing conditions.
operation, and optimization, for instance: The models should satisfy some basic requirements. One of the
necessary conditions for the models is that the combustion gas
must carry the correct amount of mass, heat, and elements into
 In large-scale grate-firing systems, there is often more than one
the freeboard. Knowing the data of the biomass fuel, primary air,
grate between the two side-walls at the bottom of the furnace.
and external heat flux incident onto the fuel bed, the models will
Quite normally, the feeds onto the different grates are not
output the profiles of species concentration, temperature, and
identical. Moreover, the feeding of biomass is not necessarily in
velocity of the combustion gas, leaving the bed top into the
a continuous manner. The biomass feeding cycles, together
freeboard (see Fig. 14 or 15 for examples). An integral analysis
with the grate moving–rest cycles, may cause significant
must be carried out for the profiles of the species, temperature,
fluctuations in the combustion process in the grate boilers [47].
and velocity at the top of the fuel bed, to ensure the model itself
 The combustion instabilities in the fuel bed on the grate, e.g.,
conserves the elements, mass, and heat.
local burnouts, channelling formation, and spatially uneven
fuel-bed thickness [64].
 The uncertainties with the process parameters and physical 5.4. Advanced CFD modelling
properties of biomass in the fuel bed on the grate, e.g., the
mixing rate, the heat transfer and mass transfer rates, the size A reliable baseline CFD model is vital in CFD analysis, for
and shape distribution of biomass particles, the porosity of the instance, for the diagnosis and optimization of the existing grate-
fuel bed, and so on. firing plants, or for the design of new grate-firing systems.
 The uncertainties with wall conditions. The deposit formed on Different from modelling of suspension-firing systems, CFD
the furnace walls as well as on heat-exchangers makes it modelling of grate-fired boilers may have a separate bed model
difficult to estimate the right wall conditions. for biomass conversion in the fuel bed, as well as large gradients
 The uncertainties with air distribution and air-jet conditions. Air in species concentrations at the bed top. The reliability of a CFD
jets play a very important role in the mixing in the freeboard. Quite model depends heavily on the quality of the raw input data, the
often, in large-scale grate-fired boilers, there are a few different mesh, the models (including the separate bed model), and the
groups of air nozzles, and amongst each group there are several or numerical methods. However, these aspects may not be consid-
even many individual nozzles. Normally, only the total air flowrate ered equally in some of the existing CFD work. It is less likely to
to each group or even to a few groups is monitored in the plant. generate a reasonable CFD representation for grate-firing systems
The air flow through different individual nozzles in the same if over-highlighting one factor while neglecting others. As shown
group may be unevenly distributed and in some cases big in [53], in modelling of biomass-fired grate boilers, the main
deviations could exist. The deposit formed on the air nozzles effects of the models for biomass conversion in the fuel bed may
may give rise to an even bigger uncertainty with the conditions of only be restricted to the vicinity of the fuel bed. In terms of the
the air jets: the irregular deposit on the air nozzles not only overall flow and combustion patterns in the freeboard, the mesh
deflects the direction of the air-jets but also re-distributes the air could play an even more important role. In CFD modelling of
flowrates through individual nozzles [53]. grate-fired boilers, the raw input data could also be a challenge,
which demands advanced monitoring, tests, and experimentation
Without correct inputs, it is not possible to generate a reliable for the fuel properties in the fuel bed and the process parameters
model or CFD representation, from which suggestions/measures both in the fuel bed and in the freeboard.
on how to guide/improve the operation/design are often derived. Advanced CFD modelling of grate-fired boilers should also be
So, advanced monitoring, tests, and experimentation are needed extended from the mixing and combustion in the freeboard to
in order to obtain the necessary raw data as reliably as possible. other important topics. For instance:

5.3. General and comprehensive model for biomass conversion in the  Modelling of pollutant emissions (e.g., NOx, PCDD/PCDF, heavy
fuel bed metal, size and compositions of fly ash) will be helpful to
develop efficient emission control measures. However, it needs
Grate and biomass combustion in the fuel bed on the grate are sophisticated fundamental knowledge, for example, on the
the most specific topics in grate-fired boilers burning biomass. conversion of biomass fuel nitrogen, inorganic elements, and

750 C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754

heavy metals, more detailed gas phase chemistry, and how it The former represents the most specific component in grate-fired
participates in the heterogeneous chemistry. boilers whilst the latter is one of the real breakthroughs in grate-
 Modelling of deposit formation has gained some concerns. In firing technology. The grate assemble plays an important role in
biomass-fired grate boilers, the fly ash particles may dominate the gas–fuel mixing (and therefore biomass conversion) in the
in the total mass of the deposit on the tubes due to inertial fuel bed as well as the control of overall excess air in the boiler.
impaction mechanism. Biomass particles fired in grate boilers The key combustion mechanism (i.e., propagation of flame fronts)
are quite big and irregular (see [209] for reference). A reliable in the fuel bed on the grate is also discussed, which not only
estimate of the particles entrained into the freeboard (includ- determines the release of heat and combustibles into the
ing size, composition, and flow rate), the trajectories and freeboard but also affects the release characteristics of the
heterogeneous reactions of the entrained particles in the formation precursors of NOx, aerosol and ash particles, and
freeboard, the ‘‘stickness’’ of the particles when they are PCDD/PCDF. Advanced secondary air systems are widely used in
transported to the wall surfaces, and the wall conditions all modern grate-fired boilers in order to enhance the mixing and
play important roles in the prediction of deposit formation. Big combustion in the freeboard, lower the pollutant emissions, and
irregular particles of relatively low density have different fates mitigate other operational problems (e.g., deposition and corro-
than small (point) heavy particles, which may demand sion). Advanced secondary air systems may include air-staging for
advanced tracking methodology [210]. Big irregular particles favourable combustion environment sequences and optimized SA
are thermally thick, which could lead to different particle jets for enhanced mixing, for example, using staggered SA jets,
conversion process due to the big internal temperature tangentially arranged SA jets, or static mixing devices to form
gradients [207,211]. So, the modelling of deposit formation local recirculation zones or rotating flow or to increase the jet
may have to take these factors into account. penetration into the centre of the freeboard. Compared to air-
cooled grates, water-cooled grates are more flexible with the use
5.5. Optimization and modernization for better performance of advanced secondary air systems.
Amongst the issues associated with grate-fired boilers burning
Better performance includes higher combustion efficiency, biomass, primary pollutant formation and control, deposit
lower emissions (both gaseous and particulate pollutants), and formation and corrosion, modelling and simulations for diagnosis,
better reliability and availability. optimization, and new design are highlighted. Based on these, the
critical problems that may be addressed by further research and
 Advanced combustion air system is highly required in modern development are outlined. Combustion chemistry and combustion
grate-fired boilers burning biomass. The multiple zones of physics, the two foundations of all the issues or problems, are
under-grate primary air can help to achieve an optimum discussed throughout the different issues or problems.
temperature distribution and good ash burnout. Advanced
secondary air supply, for instance, the air staging, staggered SA
jets on the opposite furnace walls, static mixing devices, and  Primary pollutants formation and control: The pollutant emis-
tangentially arranged SA jets as discussed earlier, could be used sions due to incomplete combustion can be controlled by
to optimize the mixing and combustion in the freeboard and improved combustion, in grate-fired boilers, which mainly
then to improve the efficiency, reduce emissions, as well as means by improved mixing in the freeboard as well as
mitigate the deposition and corrosion in the boiler. increased residence time in the combustion zones. The
 Improved fuel-handling and feeding systems and advanced pollutant emissions from fuel properties (e.g., ash, heavy
combustion grates can enhance the gas–solid mixing on the metals, Cl, and S) can be reduced by pre-treatment of the
grate and reduce the excess air. For instance, the reciprocating biomass, well-controlled combustion process, or post-combus-
movements in a reciprocating grate or vibration frequencies/ tion systems. In order to develop efficient measures to control
amplitudes in a vibrating grate may be optimized to achieve a the pollutant emissions, it is crucial to understand their
good mixing in the fuel bed. Improved fabric seal of the grate formation routines or mechanisms under grate-firing condi-
system (including stokers) will result in a low excess air ratio. tions. More efforts need to be made in the fundamental
combustion chemistry to study the transformation, speciation,
Pre-combustion or post-combustion measures may also be used conversion, and reaction of the relevant elements (e.g.,
to lower pollutant emissions and mitigate the deposition or inorganic elements and heavy metals) in biomass fuels under
corrosion problems, as discussed earlier. grate-firing conditions.
 Deposit formation and corrosion: In grate-fired boilers burning
biomass, the volatile alkali inorganic vapours and fine particles
6. Conclusions may contribute to the initial deposit formation while the inert
non-volatile ash particles contribute to the build-up of the
Biomass combustion for heat and power production is deposit. The most severe corrosion is associated with the
progressing relatively fast, not only in research but also in deposits containing alkali chlorides mainly on the super-heater
commercialization. This review paper focuses on grate-firing of tubes in the boiler. However, different opinions may exist on
biomass: the main R&D activities, the progress, and the problems, the role of sulphation in the corrosion mechanism, as
all of which are primarily pertaining to grate-fired boilers burning discussed in the paper. Amongst all the measures to mitigate
biomass. Fluidized bed combustion of biomass is also discussed to or even eliminate the deposition and corrosion problems, the
some extent, mainly for comparison and for a better illustration of use of additives gets most of the current concern, which can
grate-firing of biomass. Both the technologies show great raise the melting temperatures of the ash formed during
competence in biomass combustion because they have good fuel biomass combustion, or prevent the release of gaseous KCl or
flexibility and can fire a wide range of fuels of varying moisture react with KCl to form less corrosive components, or a
and ash contents. The differences between the two technologies combination of these effects. Injection of additives into the
for biomass combustion are summarized. combustion gases in a certain temperature window upstream
Amongst the key elements of grate-fired boilers, the grate of the superheaters, e.g., ChlorOut (ammonium sulphate), may
assembly and the advanced secondary air supply are highlighted. be more attractive since it is less dependent on the combustion

C. Yin et al. / Progress in Energy and Combustion Science 34 (2008) 725–754 751

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