Recently there has been interest in extending the application of fluidized bed combustors (FBCs) to fuels with difficult handling properties or ones that are associated with non-conventional air pollutant problems. These fuels, such as biomass, plastic wastes, black liquors and heavy liquid fuels, have very high volatiles contents and, because they are often treated as easily-burned materials, they have received much less attention than has been given say to the combustion processes for char in FBCs. Understanding their gas-phase chemistry is helpful in optimizing their combustion. This paper describes the study of natural gas combustion in a fluidized bed as a simple model for studying gas-phase reactions involving C/H/N/O chemistry in the absence of char. The experimental work was conducted using a pilot-scale CFBC unit. Combustion characteristics and emissions were investigated by varying the operating conditions and in particular the combustion temperature, fluidizing velocity and bed material. The results indicated that fluidized bed combustion chemistry is associated with superequilibrium free radical processes, similar to high-temperature flame systems. In this system, prompt-NO mechanisms are the only routes for NO formation and this work shows that they can lead to significant NOx production.

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