Due to the liberalization of the energy markets and the globalization of coal procurement, fuel management became of substantial importance to power plant operators, which are faced with new challenges when operating with coal types different from the originally designed ones for the specific boiler. Environmental regulations, combustion behavior, possible malfunctions and low operation, and maintenance cost became of essential importance. Fouling is one of the major challenges when new coals are being used. For that purpose we initiated a comprehensive study of fouling on the water-wall tubes in a 575 MW tangential-fired pulverized-coal utility boiler. We developed a methodology to evaluate fouling propensity of coals and specifically tested two bituminous South African coals: Billiton-Prime and Anglo-Kromdraai. The methodology is based on the adherence of ash particles on the water walls. Adherence of the ash particle depends on the particle properties, temperature, and velocity vector at the boundary layer of the water walls. In turn, the flow and temperature fields were determined by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations. For CFD simulations we also needed the combustion kinetic parameters, emissivity, and thermal resistance, and they were all determined experimentally by a 50 kW test facility. Using this methodology we mapped off the locations where fouling is mostly to occur. It was found that our results fitted with the experience from the data obtained for these two coals in the Israel Electric Corporation utility boilers. The methodology developed was shown to be able to provide the fouling propensity of a certain coal, and yielded good prediction of the fouling behavior in utility boilers. Therefore, the methodology can assist in the optimization of the soot-blowing regime (location and frequency).

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