Design and operation of a multistage pressurized fluidized bed combuster.
Eleftheriades, Christos Mimi.
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A three-stage Pressurized Fluidized Bed Combustor (PFBC) of principal dimensions, O,4Sm internal diameter by4m high was designed and fabricated to burn South African coals, with particular reference to coals unsuitable for burning in conventional boilers. The combustor which is the first of its kind and probably one of very few operational PFBCs in the world, was made of three jacketed sections positioned vertically one above the other and bolted together at the flanges. Distributor plates were located at the flanges which gave the combustor a multistage capability. A three, two, or one deep Fluidized Bed (FB) configurations were possible by removing the interstage distributors. Interstage solids circulation was made possible by the use of downcomers transporting solids downwards between the FBs. The solids were returned to the top FB using a pneumatic conveyor. The design of the PFBC was a sequence to a series of experimental and theoretical investigations which were carried out in order to provide us with the necessary PFBC design parameters. These investigations dealt with the following areas of research: (a) the development of a new type of cyclonic tuyere capable of transmitting through it high quantities of solids with the fluidizing gas, without choking, (b) the transfer and control of the downward flow of solids through downcomer pipes, (c) the control of the circulation of solids in a Circulatory system using a non-mechanical solids flow control valve, (d) the development of a new type of start up burner which could operate immersed under the solids, and (e) the combustion of coal in a small FB under batch conditions and the study of reaction kinetics of South African coals. On the basis of the results of the investigation in these research areas and the findings of research of individuals and of .organizations working in the field of fluidization technology the PFBC was designed, built, and successfully commissioned. A series of 12 runs, with each run lasting between 2 and 8 days, totalling more than 1500 hours, were carried out on the PFBC. Char and coal with ash content between 30 and 70 per cent were burnt in the combustor using various combinations of feeding ports and number of FBs. System pressures ranged between atmospheric and 6 bar(abs). For some of the runs the reactor was operated in a counter-current mode with solids and combustibles descending against the upflowing fluidizing air in order to study the effect that counter-current flow had on the efficiency of combustion. The combustion trials showed that the two-FB combustor, operated preferably without solids circulation, with the bottom FB acting as the main combustion cell and the top FB as a smuts burn-out cell, proved to be the most practical and most suitable combustor for burning South African high ash coals and fines or, in general, any low-grade carbonaceous materials of any size. With this configuration combustion efficiencies of up to 99 per cent, based on the combustibles in the feed and the ash, were achieved. The department computer (COC1700) was successfully linked with the PFBC for real time data logging and data processing. A mathematical model which was based on our research findings and the work of T.P. Chen and S.C. Saxena, C. Fryer and O.E. Potter, and D. Levenspiel was successfully developed and applied to the twoFB PFBC. The model describes the devolatilization and combustion of coal particles in the FB in accordance with a shrinking core type model and uses a population balance over all particles for the overall mass balance. The results from this model, which was put onto the computer, compared favourably with the experimental results and the model can be confidently used to predict the behaviour of the PFBC. It can also be easily adapted for use on any other single or multifluidized bed reactors provided that the assumptions made for the derivation of this mathematical model still hold. A mathematical model based on the work of H.C. Hottel and A.F. Sarofim, and L. Wender and G.T. Copper was also developed. This model describes the transfer of heat from the FB to the cooling coils using a stepwise heat and mass balance along the length of the cooling coil. Although this mathematical model was developed specifically for the cooling coils of our combustor it is strongly believed that it can also form the basis of a general purpose model.