Fluidized bed combustion (FBC) technology was commercialized in the 70s. Both bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) and circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology are capable of handling a wide variety of solid fuels. Natural sand is typically used as the fluidizing material. However, the properties and behavior of some solid fuel ash may limit the use of these fuels due to bed agglomeration problems. Natural sand contains several minerals, typically mainly consisting of 20–50 wt.-% of plagioclase (NaAlSi3O8 + CaAlSi3O8), 10–30 wt.-% of potash feldspar (KAlSi3O8), and 25–100 wt.-% of quartz (SiO2). Biomass based fuels contain high amounts of alkali. Ash high in alkali may react with the free quartz of the natural sand, producing an alkali silicate mixture with low melting point. This mixture may act as an adhesive between fluidized bed particles and may, in the worst-case, result in serious fluidization problems. This problem can be avoided by using AGGLOSTOP™ quartz-free bed material. Four different bed materials were tested in a 15 kW laboratory-scale FBC test rig with plywood residue, which is known to cause severe fluidization problems in FB boilers. Two of the tested bed materials were quartz-free. When quartz-free bed materials were used, no signs of bed agglomeration were observed. The other two bed materials containing free quartz caused total defluidization at a temperature of around 750°C after about half an hour of operation. The concept of using AGGLOSTOP™ quartz-free bed material with high alkali fuels has been successfully applied in two industrial scale BFB boilers (15 and 74 MWth). The use of AGGLOSTOP™ fluidized bed material enables energy production in FB boilers based on high alkali fuels, which were earlier impossible to utilize due severe bed agglomeration problems. This paper focuses on the bed agglomeration phenomenon by discussing the results from laboratory and industrial-scale boilers and presents a new solution to extend the use of high alkali fuels in FB boilers.

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