Biomass has received wide attention as a substitute for fossil fuel in the generation of energy because of its renewability and carbon neutrality. However, raw biomass combustion is hindered by physical properties such as low energy density and high moisture content. Biomass torrefaction is a mild pyrolysis thermal treatment process carried out at temperature of 200 to 300°C under inert conditions to improve the fuel properties of parent biomass. This yields a higher energy per unit mass product but releases non-condensable and condensable gases which results in energy and mass losses. The condensable gases (volatiles), can result in tar formation on condensing hence, system blockage. Fortunately, the hydrocarbon composition of volatiles also represents a possible auxiliary energy source for torrefaction. The present study investigated energy recovery from volatiles through clean co-combustion with NG for feedstock drying and/or the thermal treatment process of pine wood chips. The research also studied the effect of torrefaction pretreatment temperatures on the amount of energy recovered for various combustion air flow rates. For all test conditions, blue visual flames and low CO and NOx emissions at the combustor exit consistently signified clean and complete premixed combustion. Torrefaction temperature at 283–292 °C had relatively low energy recovered from volatiles, mainly attributed to higher moisture content evolution and low molecular weight of volatiles evolved. At lowest torrefaction pretreatment temperature, smaller amount of volatiles was generated with most energy recovered from the volatiles. Energy conservation evaluation on the torrefaction reactor indicated that about 40% of total energy carried by the exiting volatiles and gases has been recovered by the co-fire of NG and volatiles at the lowest temperature while 20% and 22% of the total energy were recovered at the intermediate and highest torrefaction temperature respectively.

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