Study of flash pyrolysis and combustion of biomass powders using the Godbert-Greenwald furnace : an essential step to better understand organic dust explosions

Pietraccini, Matteo and Badu, Peter and Tait, Theo and Glaude, Pierre-Alexandre and Dufour, Anthony and Dufaud, Olivier (2023) Study of flash pyrolysis and combustion of biomass powders using the Godbert-Greenwald furnace : an essential step to better understand organic dust explosions. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 169. pp. 458-471. ISSN 0957-5820 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psep.2022.11.041)

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Abstract

An organic dust explosion is a heterogeneous system on a space and time scale. Predicting the parameters characteristic of its severity needs experimental and theoretical approaches to find the optimal compromise between consistency with reality and modelling time. A hybrid method is proposed to study flash pyrolysis and combustion of several organic powders (cellulose, wheat starch, oak wood, Douglas fir and olive pomace). A Godbert-Greenwald furnace was employed to perform the experiments to mimic the fundamental characteristics of a dust explosion: high particle heating rate, high reaction temperature and short residence times. At 973 K, the residence time is a critical parameter: the large particles of cellulosic compounds (wood, cellulose) do not reach their pyrolysis temperature and only fibres smaller than 20 or 30 µm are fully converted. As the particle size distribution of starch is smaller, heat transfer is not directly the limiting phenomenon but rather the strong tendency for powders to agglomerate during pyrolysis. At higher temperatures, secondary reactions of primary tars are evidenced, stressing the influence of the pyrolysis stage and leading to heterogeneous combustion. The composition of the pyrolysis gases as a function of the nature of the powder and the temperature was also determined. A lumped-kinetic model adapted to dust explosion was developed and validated for cellulose. The kinetics constants corresponding to levoglucosan to permanent gases and cellulose to char and water reactions are significantly different from those proposed by the literature, demonstrating that dust explosion kinetic parameters must be obtained under conditions consistent with such phenomenon.