Single particle ignition and combustion of anthracite, semi-anthracite and bituminous coals in air and simulated oxy-fuel conditions

A fundamental investigation has been conducted on the combustion behavior of single particles (75–150 μm) of four coals of different ranks: anthracite, semi-anthracite, medium-volatile bituminous and high-volatile bituminous. A laboratory-scale transparent laminar-flow drop-tube furnace, electrically-heated to 1400 K, was used to burn the coals. The experiments were performed in different combustion atmospheres: air (21%O2/79%N2) and four simulated dry oxy-fuel conditions: 21%O2/79%CO2, 30%O2/70%CO2, 35%O2/65%CO2 and 50%O2/50%CO2. The ignition and combustion of single particles was observed by means of three-color pyrometry and high-speed high-resolution cinematography to obtain temperature–time histories and record combustion behaviors. On the basis of the observations made with these techniques, a comprehensive examination of the ignition and combustion behaviors of these fuels was achieved. Higher rank coals (anthracite and semi-anthracite) ignited heterogeneously on the particle surface, whereas the bituminous coal particles ignited homogeneously in the gas phase. Moreover, deduced ignition temperatures increased with increasing coal rank and decreased with increasing oxygen concentrations. Strikingly disparate combustion behaviors were observed depending on the coal rank. The combustion of bituminous coal particles took place in two phases. First, volatiles evolved, ignited and burned in luminous enveloping flames. Upon extinction of these flames, the char residues ignited and burned. In contrast, the higher rank coal particles ignited and burned heterogeneously. The replacement of the background N2 gas of air with CO2 (i.e., changing from air to an oxy-fuel atmosphere) at the same oxygen mole fraction impaired the intensity of combustion. It reduced the combustion temperatures and lengthened the burnout times of the particles. Increasing the oxygen mole fraction in CO2 to 30–35% restored the intensity of combustion to that of air for all the coals studied. Volatile flame burnout times increased linearly with the volatile matter content in the coal in both air and all oxygen mole fractions in CO2. On the other hand, char burnout times increased linearly or quadratically versus carbon content in the coal, depending on the oxygen mole fraction in the background gas.