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Nikhil Vinay posted:

What are the challenges in using biomass for industrial and commercial heating? 2 years ago Like

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Narasimhan Santhanam Hi Nikhil, thanks for the question. While there are multiple challenges, the key challenge is the reliability (of lack of it) in the biomass supply chain. Lack of reliability in terms of quality of biomass supplied, consistency in biomass supply without disruption, and also sustainable/predictable prices for the biomass. Like

Vijay Wilfred Biomass has a number of characteristics that makes it more difficult to handle and combust than fossil fuels.

1) The low energy density is the main problem in handling and transport of the biomass,
2) Some types of biomass used contain significant amounts of chlorine, sulfur and potassium. The salts, KCl and K2SO4, are quite volatile, and the release of these components may lead to heavy deposition on heat transfer surfaces, resulting in reduced heat transfer and enhanced corrosion rates. Severe deposits may interfere with operation and cause unscheduled shut downs.
3)The release of alkali metals, chlorine and sulfur to the gas-phase may also lead to generation of significant amounts of aerosols (sub-micron particles) along with relatively high emissions of HCl and SO2.

Vijay Wilfred Also, the nature and severity of the operational problems related to biomass depend on the choice of combustion technique.

-> In grate-fired units deposition and corrosion problems are the major concern. In fluidized bed combustion the alkali metals in the biomass may facilitate agglomeration of the bed material, causing serious problems for using this technology for herbaceous based biofuels.

-> Fluidized bed combustors are frequently used for biomass (e.g. wood and waste material), circulating FBC are the preferred choice in larger units.

-> Application of biomass in existing boilers with suspension- firing is considered an attractive alternative to burning biomass in grate-fired boilers. However, also for this technology the considerable chlorine and potassium content in some types of biomass (e.g. straw) may cause problems due to deposit formation, corrosion, and deactivation of catalysts for NO removal (SCR).

Narasimhan Santhanam @Vijay Wilfred - thanks for your responses. I agree that biomass presents operational problems as well. But in my opinion, those who have been handling coal fired boilers should not have too much trouble working with biomass - it is not as if coal did not present any problems! To the extent that the problem has to do with engineering, I am fairly confident that it will either be controlled or overcome soon.

On the other hand, the supply side/supply chain problem is not purely one of science or engineering, but more an intersection of agricultural practices, market demand and to a certain extent individual psychology! A far more difficult challenge to tackle, what do you say?

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