• Article

The behavior of inorganic material in biomass-fired power boilers: Field and laboratory experiences

This paper highlights some of the major findings of the Alkali Deposits Investigation, a collaborative effort to understand the causes of unmanageable ash deposits in biomass-fired electric power boilers. A group of interested industrial institutions and the US DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office's Biomass Power Program through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory jointly sponsored the project. The industries contributed both funding and, in most cases, use of facilities to the project and included Mendota Biomass Power and Woodland Biomass Power (both associated with Thermo Electron Energy Systems), CMS Generation Operating (formerly Hydra-Co Operations), Wheelabrator, Shasta and Hudson Energy, Sithe Energy, Delano Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, Foster Wheeler Development, and Elkraft Power of Denmark. Research contracts with Thomas R. Miles Consulting Design Engineers, Sandia National Laboratories, and The National Renewable Energy Laboratories provided the government portion of the funding. In addition, the University of California at Davis and the Bureau of Mines performed significant work in close collaboration with the other researchers. This summary highlights the major findings of the project more thoroughly discussed in a recent report [2]. We highlight fuel properties, bench-scale combustion tests, a framework for considering ash deposition processes, pilot-scale tests of biomass fuels, and field tests in commercially operating biomass power generation stations. Detailed chemical analyses of 11 biomass fuels representing a broad cross-section of commercially available fuels reveal their properties that relate to ash deposition tendencies. The fuels fall into three broad categories: (1) straws and grasses (herbaceous materials); (2) pits, shells, hulls and other agricultural by-products of a generally ligneous nature; and (3) woods and recycle fuels of commercial interest. Woods and wood-derived products represent the most commonly used biomass fuels. Herbaceous fuels contain silicon and potassium as their principal ash-forming constituents. They are also commonly high in chlorine relative to other biomass fuels. These properties portend potentially severe ash deposition problems at high or moderate combustion temperatures...


Baxter, LL., Miles, TR., Miles, J., Jenkins, BM., Milne, T., Dayton, D., ... Oden, LL. (1998). The behavior of inorganic material in biomass-fired power boilers: Field and laboratory experiences. Fuel Processing Technology, 54(1-3), 47-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-3820(97)00060-X