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Title:
BED MATERIAL FOR BUBBLING FLUIDISED BED COMBUSTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/102310
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention is in the technical field of bubbling fluidized bed combustion and relates to the use of ilmenite particles with an average particle size between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm as bed material for a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler with an excess air ratio (λ) below 1.3 and to a method for operating a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler, comprising carrying out the combustion process with a bubbling fluidized bed comprising ilmenite particles as defined in any one of claims 1 and 4-5; and setting the excess air ratio (λ) to a value below 1.3.

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Inventors:
ANDERSSON BENGT-AKE (SE)
LIND FREDRIK (SE)
THUNMAN HENRIK (SE)
Application Number:
EP2015/080264
Publication Date:
June 30, 2016
Filing Date:
December 17, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
E ON SVERIGE AB (SE)
International Classes:
F23G5/30; F23C10/12; F23C10/18
Foreign References:
US6460472B12002-10-08
GB661560A1951-11-21
EP0185931A21986-07-02
EP2503239A22012-09-26
EP0152529A21985-08-28
Other References:
BIDWE A R ET AL: "Use of ilmenite as an oxygen carrier in chemical looping combustion-batch and continuous dual fluidized bed investigation", ENERGY PROCEDIA, vol. 4, 1 December 2011 (2011-12-01), pages 433 - 440, XP028212932, ISSN: 1876-6102, [retrieved on 20110401], DOI: 10.1016/J.EGYPRO.2011.01.072
THUNMAN HENRIK ET AL: "Using an oxygen-carrier as bed material for combustion of biomass in a 12-MWthcirculating fluidized-bed boiler", FUEL, vol. 113, 14 June 2013 (2013-06-14), pages 300 - 309, XP028698600, ISSN: 0016-2361, DOI: 10.1016/J.FUEL.2013.05.073
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GLAWE DELFS MOLLPARTNERSCHAFT MBB VON PATENT- UND RECHTSANWÄLTEN (Hamburg, DE)
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Claims:
Claims

Use of ilmenite particles with an average particle size <dp> between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm as bed material for a bub¬ bling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler with an excess air ratio (λ) below 1.3.

The use of claim 1, wherein λ is 1.25 or less, more pref¬ erably 1.2 or less, more preferably 1.1 or less, most preferably between 1.05 and 1.1.

The use of claim 1, wherein λ for the combustion of waste based fuel is 1.23 or less, preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably between 1.05 and 1.23, most preferably between 1.05 and 1.1; and/or wherein λ for the combustion of bio- mass fuel is 1.19 or less, preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably between 1.05 and 1.19, most preferably between 1.05 and 1.1.

The use of any one of claims 1-3, wherein i) the average particle size (<dp>) of the ilmenite par¬ ticles

- is at least 0.2 mm, preferably at least 0.3 mm, most preferably at least 0.4 mm; and

- not more than 1.8 mm, preferably not more than 1.0 mm, most preferably not more than 0.6 mm; and/or ii) the ilmenite particles have a particle size (dp) in the range from 0.1 mm to 1.8 mm, preferably in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm.

The use according to any of claims 1-4, characterized in that the ilmenite is crushed rock ilmenite.

A method for operating a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler, comprising: a) carrying out the combustion process with a bubbling

fluidized bed comprising ilmenite particles as defined in any one of claims 1 and 4-5; and b) setting the excess air ratio (λ) to a value below 1.3.

The method of claim 6, wherein λ is set to 1.25 or less, more preferably 1.2 or less, more preferably 1.1 or less, most preferably to a value between 1.05 and 1.1.

The method of claim 6, wherein λ for the combustion of waste based fuel is set to 1.23 or less, preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably to a value between 1.05 and 1.23, most preferably to a value between 1.05 and 1.1; and/or wherein λ for the combustion of biomass fuel is set to 1.19 or less, preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably to a value between 1.05 and 1.19, most preferably to a value between 1.05 and 1.1.

The method of any one of claims 6-8, wherein the bubbling fluidized bed further comprises silica sand particles, wherein preferably i) the silica sand particles have a particle size (dp) in the range from 0.25 mm to 2.0 mm, preferably in the range from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm; and/or ii) the silica sand particles have an average particle size (<dp>) between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm.

The method of any one of claims 6-9, wherein the amount of ilmenite particles as a proportion of the total bed mass is at least 10% by weight, preferably at least 20% by weight, more preferably at least 30% by weight, more pref¬ erably at least 40% by weight, more preferably at least 50% by weight, more preferably at least 60% by weight, more preferably at least 70% by weight, more preferably at least 80% by weight, more preferably at least 90% by weight, most preferably at least 95% by weight.

The method of any one of claims 6-10, characterized by setting the fluidizing gas velocity to at least 0.03 m/s, preferably at least 0.13 m/s, more preferably at least 0.19 m/s, more preferably at least 0.25 m/s, more prefera¬ bly at least 0.28 m/s, more preferably to a value between 0.3 and 2.0 m/s, most preferably to a value between 0.3 and 1.5 m/s.

The method according to any one of claims 6-11, character¬ ized by providing at least 50%, preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, most preferably all of the combustion air as primary fluidizing air.

The method according to any one of claims 6-12, characterized by a sooting interval of at least 2 days, preferably at least 3 days, more preferably at least 5 days, more preferably at least one week, more preferably at least two weeks, most preferably at least three weeks.

14. The method according to any one of claims 6-13, wherein fuel and/or the ilmenite particles are continuously sup¬ plied to the BFB boiler.

15. The method according to any one of claims 6-14, wherein the ilmenite particles are supplied to the BFB boiler

- at a rate of less than 3 kg/MWh thermal output, prefer¬ ably at a rate of 1.5 kg/MWh thermal output or less, when biomass fuel is used; and

- at a rate of less than 6 kg/MWh thermal output, prefer¬ ably at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output, when waste based fuel is used.

Description:
Bed material for bubbling fluidised bed combustion

The invention is in the technical field of bubbling fluidized bed combustion and relates to the use of ilmenite particles in a bubbling fluidized bed boiler and to a method for operating a bubbling fluidized bed boiler.

In fluidized bed combustion (FBC) the fuel is suspended in a hot fluidized bed of solid particulate material. In this tech ¬ nique a fluidizing gas is passed with a specific fluidization velocity through a solid particulate bed material. At very low gas velocities, the bed remains static. Once the velocity of the fluidization gas rises above the minimum fluidization velocity (u mf ) at which the force of the fluidization gas bal ¬ ances the gravity force acting on the particles, the solid bed material behaves in many ways similar to a fluid and the bed is said to be fluidized. Two major types of fluidized bed com ¬ bustion systems which are in practical use are bubbling fluid ¬ ized bed (BFB) boilers and circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boilers . BFB combustion has been developed as an alternative to grate boilers and is by now a mature technique for combusting a broad range of fuels. Grate boilers can exhibit comparatively large variations in temperature and fuel distribution. In the BFB technique a bed material, typically silica sand, is ap- plied as a heat carrier to create a more even distribution of heat and fuel in the devolatilization and the char conversion zone. In BFB combustion, the fluidization gas velocity is above the minimum fluidization velocity and below the entrain- ment velocity at which the bed particles become entrained in the fluidization gas and are carried away by the fluidization gas stream. These fluidization gas velocities lead to the for ¬ mation of bubbles in the bed, facilitating the transport of the gas through the bed material and allowing for a better control of the combustion conditions (better temperature and turbulence control) when compared with grate combustion. The technique is especially advantageous when combusting very moist fuels as the well-mixed bed material works as a heat magazine to even-out local cold zones arising from the conver ¬ sion of wet fuel. In BFB combustion, unburned fuel can be comprised in the fly ash which rises with the flue gas. This issue was addressed by the development of CFB boilers, which allow to recirculate un ¬ burned fuel. In CFB combustion the fluidization gas is passed through the bed material at a fluidization velocity above the entrainment velocity so that the solid particles are carried away by the fluidization gas stream. The particles are then separated from the gas stream and circulated back into the furnace by means of a loop seal. Usually air is used as the fluidizing gas (so called primary air) and passed from below the bed through the bed material, thereby acting as a source of oxygen required for combustion. Even though fluidized beds are seen as systems providing good mixing between solid fuels and the bed material, in particular when compared to grate boilers, mixing is not perfect. Uneven mixing conditions with respect to fuel and oxygen in the fur ¬ nace can arise for example due to streaking (the appearance of distinct gaseous streams in the furnace which are high in oxy ¬ gen and have poor or no contact with the combustibles) . To compensate for uneven mixing conditions, it is necessary to supply oxygen in excess of the amount required by stoichiome- try in order to achieve essentially complete combustion. The excess air ratio depends on the heterogenicizy of the fuel and typically is 1.3. To this end, secondary and often tertiary air ports are distributed in strategic areas of the boiler (generally in the freeboard of the furnace) in order to ensure complete fuel combustion.

However, the supply of excess air to the boiler results in a reduction of boiler efficiency and can also lead to undesired environmental effects, such as, e.g., increased emission of carbon monoxide (CO) , unburned hydrocarbons or nitrogen oxides (NOx) .

From the prior art it is known to use ilmenite as fluidized bed material in the CFB process (H. Thunman et al . , Fuel 113 (2013) 300-309) . The natural occurring mineral ilmenite is an iron titanium oxide (FeTiOs) which can be repeatedly oxidized and reduced and thus acts as a redox material. Due to this reduc- ing-oxidizing feature of ilmenite, the material can be uti ¬ lized as an oxygen carrier in circulating fluidized bed (CFB) combustion. The investigation of ilmenite in CFB combustion was inspired by studies of ilmenite as solid oxygen carrying material in chemical-looping-combustion (CLC) , where the solid oxygen carrying material is looped between oxygen rich and oxygen depleted environments. In the CFB process the ilmenite particles experience reducing conditions in the furnace and oxidizing conditions upon recirculation into the furnace. The object of the invention is to provide means for efficient and cost effective bubbling fluidized bed combustion, in par ¬ ticular for continuously operated BFB boilers. This object is solved by the use of claim 1 and the method of claim 6. Advantageous embodiments are defined in the dependent claims .

In particular, the invention has recognized that on the one hand the use of ilmenite particles with an average particle size <dp> between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm as bed material for a bub ¬ bling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler with an excess air ratio (λ) below 1.3 and on the other hand a method for operating a bub ¬ bling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler, comprising: a) carrying out the combustion process with a bubbling

fluidized bed comprising ilmenite particles with an av ¬ erage particle size <dp> between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm; and b) setting the excess air ratio (λ) to a value below 1.3, allow to carry out the bubbling fluidized bed combustion process with less excess air and thus closer to stoichiometric combustion, leading to an increase in efficiency.

The solution was unexpected, since a common feature of the prior art CLC and CFB processes is that there are separate zones where enriching/depleting oxygen conditions prevail.

This therefore allows effective cycling of ilmenite in sepa- rate and delimited zones with clearly different combustion/re ¬ action conditions. By contrast, bubbling fluidized bed combus ¬ tion lacks these separate and delimited zones and it seemed counterintuitive that the oxygen supply capabilities of ilmen ¬ ite could be exploited for BFB combustion. The invention is based on the surprising discovery that in bubbling fluidized bed combustion the variation of the combus ¬ tion parameters in situ is sufficient to take advantage of the ilmenite oxygen supply capability effectively equalizing out variations in air supply and combustion material. This makes it possible to reduce the excess air ratio (λ) , which increases the efficiency and reduces emission problems, in particular the emission of CO, NO x and unburned hydrocarbons. The inven- tion therefore allows to exploit the reducing-oxidizing effect of ilmenite in a single bubbling fluidized bed under continu ¬ ous operation.

First, several terms are explained in the context of the in- vention.

The invention is directed to the use of ilmenite particles with an average particle size <dp> between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm as bed material for a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler with an excess air ratio (λ) below 1.3.

In the context of the invention, the term bed material de ¬ scribes material intended to create the fluidized bed in the BFB system. It should be noted that fuel is no bed material. The term fuel describes the material that is to be combusted and comprises any fuel known to be combustable in BFB boilers, in particular biomass and waste-based fuel. Typical fuel mate ¬ rials are wood, agricultural biomass or sludge. The invention is not limited to the combustion of a particular type of fuel and encompasses the combustion of mixtures of different fuels.

The excess air ratio lis a common parameter in the operation of BFB boilers and is defined as the mass ratio of air to fuel ( MR ai r /f U ei = m a i r /m fue i ) actually present in the combustion pro ¬ cess divided by the stoichiometric mass ratio of air to fuel.

That is, λ = ( MR ai r / fue i ) actual / ( Rair/fuei ) stoichiometric - The mass ratio of air to fuel actually present in the boiler is determined by the amount of fuel and air supplied to the boiler. The stoi ¬ chiometric mass ratio of air to fuel is the mass ratio re ¬ quired by stoichiometry for complete combustion of the provided fuel and can be calculated for any given fuel composi ¬ tion.

The invention has recognized that the use of the inventive il- menite particles as bed material in bubbling fluidized bed boilers allows for effective combustion at air to fuel ratios closer to the stoichiometric ratio, leading to a more effi- cient combustion process and less environmentally undesired emissions. According to the invention, the ilmenite particles are used as bed material for a BFB boiler with λ below 1.3.

In preferred embodiments, λ is 1.25 or less, more preferably 1.2 or less, more preferably 1.1 or less, most preferably be ¬ tween 1.05 and 1.1. Preferably, for the combustion of waste- based fuel, λ is 1.23 or less, more preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably between 1.05 and 1.23, most preferably between 1.05 and 1.1. For the combustion of biomass fuel, λ preferably is 1.19 or less, more preferably 1.1 or less, more preferably between 1.05 and 1.19, most preferably between 1.05 and 1.1.

The ilmenite particles used in the invention can for example be ilmenite sand, providing that the ilmenide sand particles meet the particle size requirement. Preferably, the ilmenite particles are crushed ilmenite. In the context of the invention particle size (dp) can be measured by mechanical sieving. The mass captured on each sieve is weighed and the average particle size (<dp>) iscalcu- lated as mass weighted average value.

The average particle size of the ilmenite particles is prefer ¬ ably at least 0.2 mm, more preferably at least 0.3 mm, most preferably at least 0.4 mm. Preferably, the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is not more than 1.8 mm, more preferably not more than 1.0 mm, most preferably not more than 0.6 mm. In the context of the invention, each lower limit can be combined with each upper limit to define an average parti ¬ cle size range. Preferred ranges for the average ilmenite par ¬ ticle size are 0.2-1.8 mm, 0.3-1.0 mm and 0.4-0.6 mm, wherein the range of 0.4-0.6 mm is particularly preferred.

Preferably, the particle size of the ilmenite particles can be in the range from 0.1 mm to 1.8 mm, more preferrably in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm. In the context of the invention, any particle size range can be combined with any range for the average particle size. The above particle size ranges are par ¬ ticularly advantageous if the ilmenite particles are utilized with BFB boilers which have been designed for conventional bed materials, such as e.g. silica sand. Ilmenite is a denser ma- terial then the normally used silica sand, which affects the fluidization properties. Typically, the size of the silica sand particles in BFB systems can be in the range from 0.25 mm to 2.0 mm, preferably in the range from 0.5-1.2 mm, which corresponds to a particle size range from 0.1 mm to 1.8 mm and 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm for ilmenite particles, respectively. With the stated ilmenite particle size ranges the fluidization air/gas flow in the BFB boiler can be maintained similar to that used with silica sand. It is even more preferred, if in addition to these particle size ranges, the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is between 0.4-0.6 mm, since this range correspond to the preferred average particle size range for silica sand particles in BFB boilers (0.6-0.8 mm) . In a particularly advantageous embodiment, the particle size of the ilmenite particles is in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm and the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm. In an advantageous embodiment the ilmenite particles have been screened to exclude particles with a particle size too large to be fluidized or too small to be retained in the system. This improves the efficiency of the combustion process. Pref ¬ erably, the screening comprises sieving off particles which are too small or too big.

In the context of the invention the ilmenite particles can be used as the only bed material in the furnace. However, it is also possible that the ilmenite particles are used in conjunc- tion with one or more other bed materials. Conventional bed materials for BFB combustion are described in the prior art and known to the skilled person. A preferred bed material to be used in conjunction with the inventive ilmenite particles is silica sand. Preferably the size of the silica sand parti- cles is in the range from 0.25 mm to 2.0 mm, more preferably in the range from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm and/or the average particle size of the silica sand particles is between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm. If the ilmenite particles are used in conjunction with the silica sand particles it is preferred that the particle size of the ilmenite particles is in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm and that the average particle size of the ilmenite parti ¬ cles is between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm while the particle size of the silica sand particles is in the range from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm and the average particle size of the silica sand particles is between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm.

Preferably the ilmenite particles are used in an amount of at least 10% by weight, preferably at least 20% by weight, more preferably at least 30% by weight, more preferably at least 40% by weight, more preferably at least 50% by weight, more preferably at least 60% by weight, more preferably at least 70% by weight, more preferably at least 80% by weight, more preferably at least 90% by weight, most preferably at least 95% by weight of the mass of the total bed material.

In one advantageous embodiment the ilmenite particles are used as bed material for a bubbling fluidized bed boiler with con- tinuous fuel supply. In another advantageous embodiment the inventive ilmenite particles are used as bed material for a bubbling fluidized bed boiler with batch fuel supply.

The fluidizing gas velocity is generally adjusted to accommo- date the fluidizing properties of the bed material and the load range. In a preferred embodiment the inventive use com ¬ prises setting the fluidizing gas velocity to at least 0.03 m/s, preferably at least 0.13 m/s, more preferably at least 0.19 m/s, more preferably at least 0.25 m/s, more preferably at least 0.28 m/s, more preferably to a value between 0.3 and 2.0 m/s, most preferably to a value between 0.3 and 1.5 m/s.

A particularly preferred embodiment is directed to the use of ilmenite particles with a particle size (dp) in the range from 0.3 to 1.0 mm and/or an average particle size (<dp>) between

0.4 mm and 0.6 mm as bed material for a bubbling fluidized bed boiler, wherein the use comprises setting the fluidizing gas velocity to a value between 0.3 m/s and 1.5 m/s. This use is particularly preferred if it is intended to replace the silica sand particles in a conventional BFB boiler either entirely or partially with the ilmenite particles of the invention. Conventional bed particles such as silica sand particles are prone to agglomerate when exposed to alkali-containing fuels. This may lead to boiler shutdown if no additional sand is added. The inventive ilmenite, however, absorbs alkali which reduces the risk of agglomeration and requires less frequent exchange of the bed material when, e.g., compared with silica sand. In a preferred embodiment, the inventive use comprises supplying the ilmenite particles to the boiler at a rate of less than 3 kg/MWh thermal output, more preferably at a rate of 1.5 kg/MWh thermal output or less, when biomass fuel is used and at a rate of less than 6 kg/MWh thermal output, more preferably at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output or less, when waste-based fuel is used. If the ilmenite particles are used in conjunction with silica sand, the inventive use can preferably comprise supplying the silica sand particles to the boiler at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output when biomass fuel is used and at a rate of 6 kg/MWh thermal output when waste- based fuel is used.

Furthermore, the absorption of alkali by the ilmenite parti- cles decreases the risk for fouling and slagging on heat ex ¬ changer surfaces. This, together with the more efficient com ¬ bustion due to the use of ilmenite particles makes it possible to use a wider fuel span. During combustion in a BFB boiler, air is usually supplied both as primary fluidizing air via nozzles below the bed and as secondary (and possibly tertiary) air in the freeboard of the furnace. The invention has recognized that by exploiting the oxygen supply capabilities of ilmenite particles it is possible to achieve complete combustion with less or no sec ¬ ondary or tertiary air supply. A preferred embodiment is di ¬ rected to the use of ilmenite particles in a BFB boiler, wherein at least 50%, preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, most preferably all of the combustion air is provided as primary fluidizing air . A common problem with BFB boilers is the build-up of soot and/or deposits formed by inorganic material from the fuel and/or bed material in the system, in particular in the convection path. This requires sooting measures, i.e. measures to remove soot from the system, at regular intervals. It is not uncommon to have a sooting interval (interval between two sooting measures) of up to three times a day. That is, soot has to be removed daily. Preferably this is done via soot blowing. The invention has recognized that the use of the in ¬ ventive ilmenite particles as bed material in a BFB boiler leads to a reduced build-up of soot in the system, in particu ¬ lar in the convection path. This means that the sooting interval can be extended. The frequency of soot removal, e.g. via soot blowing can be reduced. With the inventive ilmenite par ¬ ticles, the sooting interval is preferably at least 2 days, more preferably at least 3 days, more preferably at least 5 days, more preferably at least one week, more preferably at least two weeks, most preferably at least three weeks.

A particularly preferred use is with a continuously operated BFB boiler.

The invention is also directed to a method for operating a bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) boiler, comprising: a) carrying out the combustion process with a bubbling fluidized bed comprising ilmenite particles with an av ¬ erage particle size <dp> between 0.1 mm and 1.8 mm; and b) setting the excess air ratio (λ) to a value below 1.3.

The features of the inventive method and the advantages of us ¬ ing ilmenite particles in the operation of a BFB boiler have already been discussed in the context of the inventive use, above. These features and advantages also apply to the in ¬ ventive method discussed below.

In particular, the ilmenite particles comprised in the bed can for example be ilmenite sand, providing that the ilmenide sand particles meet the particle size requirement. Preferably, the ilmenite particles are crushed ilmenite.

The average particle size of the ilmenite particles is prefer ¬ ably at least 0.2 mm, more preferably at least 0.3 mm, most preferably at least 0.4 mm. Preferably, the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is not more than 1.8 mm, more preferably not more than 1.0 mm, most preferably not more than 0.6 mm. In the context of the invention, each lower limit can be combined with each upper limit to define an average parti ¬ cle size range. Preferred ranges for the average ilmenite par ¬ ticle size are 0.2-1.8 mm, 0.3-1.0 mm and 0.4-0.6 mm, wherein the range of 0.4-0.6 mm is particularly preferred.

Preferably, the particle size of the ilmenite particles can be in the range from 0.1 mm to 1.8 mm, more preferrably in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm. In the context of the invention, any particle size range can be combined with any range for the average particle size. The above particle size ranges are par ¬ ticularly advantageous if the method is directed to the opera ¬ tion of BFB boilers which have been designed for conventional bed materials, such as e.g. silica sand. Ilmenite is a denser material then the normally used silica sand, which affects the fluidization properties. Typically, the size of the silica sand particles in BFB systems can be in the range from 0.25 mm to 2.0 mm, preferably in the range from 0.5-1.2 mm, which corresponds to a particle size range from 0.1 mm to 1.8 mm and 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm for ilmenite particles, respectively. With the stated ilmenite particle size ranges the fluidization air/gas flow in the BFB boiler can be maintained similar to that used with silica sand. It is even more preferred, if in addition to these particle size ranges, the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is between 0.4-0.6 mm, since this range corresponds to the preferred average particle size range for silica sand particles in BFB boilers (0.6-0.8 mm) . In a particularly advantageous embodiment, the particle size of the ilmenite particles is in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm and the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm.

In an advantageous embodiment the method comprises screening the ilmenite particles to exclude particles with a particle size too large to be fluidized or too small to be retained in the system before carrying out the combustion process. This improves the efficiency of the combustion process. Preferably, the screening comprises sieving off particles which are too small or too big.

In a preferred embodiment, the bubbling fluidized bed consists of ilmenite particles. In another preferred embodiment, the bubbling fluidized bed comprises ilmenite particles described above and further at least one other bed material. The at least one other bed material can be any onventional bed mate ¬ rial for BFB combustion known in the prior art. A preferred bed material is silica sand. Preferably the size of the silica sand particles is in the range from 0.25 mm to 2.0 mm, more preferably in the range from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm and/or the aver ¬ age particle size of the silica sand particles is between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm. If the bed comprises ilmenite particles and silica sand particles it is further preferred that the parti- cle size of the ilmenite particles is in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm and that the average particle size of the ilmenite particles is between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm while the particle size of the silica sand particles is in the range from 0.5 mm to 1.2 mm and the average particle size of the silica sand parti- cles is between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm.

Preferably the bubbling fluidized bed comprises ilmenite par ¬ ticles in an amount of at least 10% by weight, preferably at least 20% by weight, more preferably at least 30% by weight, more preferably at least 40% by weight, more preferably at least 50% by weight, more preferably at least 60% by weight, more preferably at least 70% by weight, more preferably at least 80% by weight, more preferably at least 90% by weight, most preferably at least 95% by weight of the mass of the to- tal bed material.

In a preferred embodiment the method comprises setting the fluidizing gas velocity to at least 0.03 m/s, preferably at least 0.13 m/s, more preferably at least 0.19 m/s, more pref- erably at least 0.25 m/s, more preferably at least 0.28 m/s, more preferably to a value between 0.3 and 2.0 m/s, most pref ¬ erably to a value between 0.3 and 1.5 m/s. A particularly preferred embodiment is directed to a method wherein the ilmenite particles have a particle size (dp) in the range from 0.3 to 1.0 mm and/or an average particle size (<dp>) between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm and wherein the method com- prises setting the fluidizing gas velocity to a value between 0.3 m/s and 1.5 m/s . This is particularly preferred for oper ¬ ating a BFB boiler designed to be used with conventional bed material, such as silica sand. In a preferred embodiment, the inventive method comprises sup ¬ plying the ilmenite particles to the BFB boiler at a rate of less than 3 kg/MWh thermal output, more preferably at a rate of 1.5 kg/MWh thermal output or less, when biomass fuel is used and at a rate of less than 6 kg/MWh thermal output, more preferably at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output or less, when waste-based fuel is used.

In an advantageous embodiment the method comprises continu ¬ ously supplying ilmenite particles to the BFB boiler.

In another advantageous embodiment the method comprises sup ¬ plying ilmenite particles in batches.

If the bed further comprises silica sand, the method can pref ¬ erably comprise supplying the silica sand particles to the BFB boiler at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output when biomass fuel is used and at a rate of 6 kg/MWh thermal output when waste- based fuel is used.

Preferably, the method comprises supplying at least 50 preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80 ~6 , more preferably at least 90%, most preferably all of the combustion air as primary fluidizing air. Preferably, the method provides for a sooting interval (inter ¬ val between two sooting measures) of at least 2 days, more preferably at least 3 days, more preferably at least 5 days, more preferably at least one week, more preferably at least two weeks, most preferably at least three weeks.

In an advantageous embodiment the method comprises continu ¬ ously supplying fuel to the BFB boiler. In another advantageous embodiment the method comprises supplying fuel in batches.

It is particularly preferred when the BFB boiler is operated continuously . As described above, the inventive method results in a more ef ¬ ficient combustion process, in particular when compared to silica sand particles as bed material. This means that while maintaining the flue gas velocity the fuel throughput can be increased, which also increases the thermal capacity. Alterna- tively, maintaining the heat and/or power output, the fuel in ¬ put can be decreased.

In the following, advantageous embodiments will be explained by way of example.

It is shown in

Fig. 1: a BFB boiler with a bubbling fluidized bed comprising ilmenite particles;

Fig. 2: fluidizing properties of silica sand and ilmenite in a bubbling fluidized bed; Fig. 3: a schematic drawing of the boiler and gasifier system used for BFB experiments;

Fig. 4: CO and CO 2 concentration versus fluidization velocity for BFB combustion with ilmenite and silica sand as bed mate ¬ rial ;

Fig. 5: CO and CO 2 concentration versus fuel load for BFB com ¬ bustion with ilmenite and silica sand as bed material.

Example 1

Figure 1 shows a BFB boiler (1), with primary air supplies (2) and an air distributor (3) at the bottom of the furnace (4) and secondary air ports (5) and tertiary air ports (6) in the freeboard of the furnace (4) . Heat exchangers (7) and the flue gas cleaning line (8) are also shown. The fuel is fed, prefer ¬ ably continuously, through fuel ports (9) and is combusted in a bubbling fluidized bed (10) comprising ilmenite particles. Preferably, the bed material consists of ilmenite particles with a particle size dp in the range from 0.3 mm to 1.0 mm and an average particle size <dp> between 0.4 mm and 0.6 mm. The ilmenite particles can be crushed rock ilmenite, which, before carrying out the combustion process, has been screened to ex- elude particles with a particle size too large to be fluidized and too small to be retained in the system by sieving off par ¬ ticles which are too large or too small.

The use of the ilmenite particles allows to operate the boiler closer to stoichiometric combustion. In particular, the boiler (1) is operated with an excess air ratio (λ) below 1.3, for ex ¬ ample with 1.05 < λ < 1.23 for waste fuel and with 1.05 < λ < 1.19 for biomass fuel. Preferably λ is set to a value between 1.05 and 1.1 for both types of fuel. The majority (> 50%) of the combustion air is provided as primary air via the primary air supplies (2) and preferably all of the combustion air is provided as primary air. The boiler is operated with a fluid- izing gas velocity between 0.3 and 1.5 m/s .

The use of the ilmenite particles in bed (10) leads to a bet ¬ ter balanced oxygen distribution which enables a more complete combustion and reduces CO, No x and unburned carbon emissions in the flue gas line (8) .

The ilmenite particles in the bed can absorb alkali and are therefore less prone to agglomeration when compared with sil ¬ ica sand bed material. This allows to extend the exchange rate for the bed material. The ilmenite particles are supplied to the boiler at a rate of 1.5 kg/MWh thermal output or less when biomass fuel is used and at a rate of 3 kg/MWh thermal output when waste based fuel is used. Alternatively, boiler (1) is operated with a mixture of ilmen ¬ ite particles and silica sand particles as bed material with particle ratios disclosed in the general part of the descrip ¬ tion. In this case, it is preferred that the silica sand par ¬ ticles have a particle size dp in the range from 0.5mm to 1.2 mm and that the average particle size <dp> of the silica sand particles is between 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm.

Example 2 Particle size of bed material in a BFB boiler The particle size (dp) in a fluidized bed application should be determined to suit the purpose of the application. The par ¬ ticle size affects the fluid dynamics and also the amount of fluidizing media needed. The recommended average particle size of sand in a BFB-boiler is between 0.6 - 0.8 mm. The sand particle size distribution can be within the interval of 0.5 - 1.2 mm. Additional parameters that affect the fluid dynamics in a boiler are e.g.: solids density (p s ) , the sphericity (Φ 3 ) of the particles and the voidage (ε) created between the par- tides in the bed. It is possible to estimate the "behavior" for fluid dynamics of different bed materials, and one parame ¬ ter which is commonly used is the minimum fluidization velocity (u m f) . This velocity gives information about when the bed material starts to fluidize. There are three major paths to determine the u m f, 1), experimentally, 2), theoretical calcula ¬ tions or 3), semi-empiric calculations. Here, a semi-empirical calculation route has been used. The calculation is based on the Ergun equation (1) (Kunii D., Levenspiel 0., Fluidization Engineering, second edition Butterworth-Heinemann, 1991) :

Where Re m f is calculated according to Eq. 2, where Pf is the density of the fluid and v is the kinematic viscosity of the gas .

dp - u mf - p f

v (2)

The Archimedes number (AR) is calculated according to Eq. 3, where g is the gravimetric constant.

-P f (p s - p f - g

AR

(3)

The Φ 3 of the particles have been received but not the s m f num ¬ ber. The s m f number is here calculated via a semi-empiric cor- relation presented by Wen and Yu (Wen C.Y., Yu Y.H., A generalized method for predicting minimum fluidization velocity, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Vol. 12, Issue 3, May 1966, pages 610-622) according to Eq. 4

14 =-L-

Two different ilmenites have been considered, 1), one Norwe ¬ gian rock ilmenite with a Φ 3 of 0.7 on the fresh particles (which has been determined at the University of Chalmers), 2), one round ilmenite with a Φ 3 of 0.86 which corresponds to the Φ 3 of silica-sand. The results from the calculations are pre ¬ sented in Fig. 2 as u mf versus dp for the two ilmenites and the ordinary silica-sand. If the recommendation for silica-sand is considered to be the basis for the average particle size, and if the comparison is built on fulfilling the same u mf , then the corresponding average ilmenit dp is given in the blue shaded area of the plot. If keeping the same u mf as the basis for the heavier ilmenite then the same volume flow of fluidization media can be considered to be valid. There are two obvious ad ¬ vantages with this choice, 1), ordinary gas flows or even lower can be considered, which is positive as the volume flow of gases and fan capacity in a combustion system usually is a restriction, 2), a smaller particle size promotes the oxygen- carrying effects as more surface area is initiated and a bet ¬ ter gas/solid contact can be expected in the splash zone above the bed.

Example 3

1) Setup used for BFB experiments

A 2 - 4 MW th gasifier system at Chalmers University of Technol ¬ ogy was used for BFB combustion experiments with ilmenite. It is of the type indirect gasification. In this technique, the actual gasification reactions are separated from the combus ¬ tion reactions and the heat needed for the endothermic gasifi ¬ cation reactions is supplied by a hot circulating bed mate- rial. The bubbling fluidized bed gasifier is connected to the 12 MW th circulating fluidized bed boiler and the two reactors are communicating via the bed material, see Fig. 3. Fuel is fed on top of the bed in the gasifier and the gasifier is flu ¬ idized with pure steam. Usually the system is operated with silica-sand and the gasifier is operated in the temperature interval of 750 - 830°C. Figure 2 shows the boiler and gasi ¬ fier setup, wherein the reference numerals indicate:

10 furnace

11 fuel feeding (furnace)

12 wind box

13 cyclone

14 convection path

15 secondary cyclone

16 textile filter

17 fluegas fan

18 particle distributor

19 particle cooler

20 gasifier

21 particle seal 1

22 particle seal 2

23 fuel feeding (gasifier)

24 fuel hopper (gasifier)

25 hopper

26 fuel hopper 1

27 fuel hopper 2

28 fuel hopper 3

29 sludge pump 30 hopper

31 ash removal

32 measurement ports 2) Ilmenite operation in the gasifier

Variations in fluidization velocity at constant fuel feed

With the aim of investigating gas/solid contact between the volatiles and the bed material, the gasifier was operated with 100 wt . % of ilmenite with an average particle size of 0.14 mm as bed material for a few days. The first experiment was con ¬ ducted at four different steam flows yielding a variety in gas velocities: 0.13, 0.19, 0.25 and 0.28 m/s, which corresponds to 5, 7, 9 and 11 times the minimum fluidization velocity of the ilmenite fraction. During this experiment the gasifier was continuously fed with 300 kg of fuel (wood-pellets) per hour and the bed temperature was kept at 820 - 830 °C. Figure 4 shows the analyzed gas components CO 2 and CO in the outlet of the gasifier during ilmenite operation. Data for ordinary silica-sand during normal gasification conditions (Ref, sand, marker color red) has been added in the figure for comparison with the ilmenite. As can be seen in Fig. 4, the CO concentra ¬ tion is clearly decreased and the CO 2 concentration is in- creased by almost a factor 4 when ilmenite is used in compari ¬ son to the silica-sand operation. As the gasifier is fluidized with pure steam all the extra oxygen supplied for the in ¬ creased oxidation of hydrocarbons and CO is coupled to the ox ¬ ygen-carrying properties of the ilmenite. This further shows the oxygen buffering effects that ilmenit possesses and the ability to transport oxygen from oxygen rich to oxygen depleted zones during fuel conversion. The fluidization conditions and gas solid contact in the gasifier can be compared to the conditions in a BFB-boiler and it is therefore likely that ilmenite will contribute with increasing oxygen transport also in a BFB boiler. Variation in fuel feed during constant fluidization velocity

The second experiment was conducted during a constant steam flow of 200 kg/h (yielding a gas velocity of 0.19 m/s, corre ¬ sponding to 7 times the minimum fluidization velocity) and a variation in fuel feed: 200, 300 and 400 kg fue i/hour (wood pel ¬ lets) . Figure 5 shows the measured gas concentrations of CO and CO 2 in the outlet of the gasifier. The trend is very simi ¬ lar to the one in Fig. 4, a clearly decreasing CO concentration as a function of the oxygen transport via the ilmenite. The CO 2 concentration also reveals that hydrocarbons are com ¬ busted and not only CO is oxidized. This result shows that even though the fuel feed is increased from 200 to 400 kg/h there is still oxygen enough to support the oxidation of CO and hydrocarbons .

During combustion in a fluidized bed boiler, air is usually supplied both as primary air via nozzles below the bed and as secondary air in the freeboard of the furnace. The experiments in the gasifier show that a high fuel conversion can be achieved via the buffered oxygen in the ilmenite bed, i.e. without any addition of air at all. This means that a high de ¬ gree of oxidation of the volatiles is conducted already in/or close to the bed and suggests the operation of a BFB boiler with less or no secondary air.

The preliminary tests indicate that an excess air ratio of 1.23 or less can be achieved for waste . It is suggested that an excess air ratio of 1.19 or less can be achieved for bio- mass fuel.