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Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

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Combustion characteristics of dierent biomass materials


Hanzade Haykr-Acma *
Department of Chemical Engineering, Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Faculty,
Istanbul Technical University, 80626 Maslak, Istanbul, Turkey
Received 27 June 2001; accepted 26 November 2001

Abstract
In this study, the combustion characteristics of some biomass samples, such as sunower shell, colza
seed, pine cone, cotton refuse and olive refuse, were investigated. Non-isothermal thermogravimetry, where
the sample was heated in air and the temperature of which increased at a linear rate of 20 K/min to 1273 K,
was used to investigate the combustion characteristics of the biomass samples. The burning proles of the
samples were derived by applying the derivative thermogravimetry technique. The dierences in the DTG
curves of the samples were determined and discussed in detail. It was observed that the investigated biomass
materials showed dierent combustion characteristics.
2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Biomass; Combustion; Thermogravimetry

1. Introduction
Biomass has either been burned directly in furnaces or processed to increase its energy content.
Some processes such as pyrolysis, gasication, anaerobic digestion and alcohol production, have
been widely applied to biomass in order to increase its energy content [1,2].
Energy produced from biomass or its conversion products represents an important part among
todays energy sources. As biomass is renewable, abundant and has domestic usage, the sources of
biomass can help the world reduce its dependence on petroleum products and natural gas. Biomass can be converted into liquid, solid and gaseous fuels with the help of some physical, chemical
and biological conversion processes [15]. The conversion of biomass materials has a precise
objective to transform a carbonaceous solid material, which is originally dicult to handle, bulky

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E-mail address: hanzade@itu.edu.tr (H. Haykr-Acma).

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H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

and of low energy concentration, into fuels having physico-chemical characteristics that permit
economic storage and transferability through pumping systems.
The use of biomass products provides substantial benets as far as the environment is concerned. Biomass absorbs carbon dioxide during growth and emits it during combustion. Therefore, biomass helps the atmospheric carbon dioxide recycling and does not contribute a net
greenhouse eect.
In this study, the combustion characteristics of dierent biomass samples, such as sunower
shell, colza seed, pine cone, cotton refuse and olive refuse, were investigated. Non-isothermal
thermogravimetry was applied to determine the combustion characteristics of these samples.

2. Experimental
In the experiments, ve biomass samples were used, namely, sunower shell, colza seed, pine
cone, cotton refuse and olive refuse. Olives and cotton are the most valuable agricultural products
of Mediterranean countries. Sunower and colza are widely used to produce vegetable oil in the
west part of Turkey.
Analyses of these biomass samples were conducted according to ASTM standards [69], and
the results are given in Table 1. The biomass samples were initially ground and sieved to a powder
with a particle size <0.250 mm. Thermogravimetric analysis was performed using a Shimadzu TG
41 analyzer. 40 mg samples were spread uniformly on the bottom of the crucible made of alumina.
The samples were oxidized in a dynamic dry air atmosphere of 40 ml/min. The temperature was
raised from ambient to 1273 K and held for 30 min to constant weight.

3. Results and discussion


Isothermal and non-isothermal thermogravimetric techniques have commonly been used to
investigate the reactivities of carbonaceous materials [1014]. A plot of the rate of weight loss
against temperature while burning a sample under an oxidizing atmosphere is referred to as the
burning prole [15]. The burning proles of the biomass samples are shown in Figs. 15. The
rst peak observed on the burning proles of the biomass samples corresponds to their moisture
release. After releasing the moisture, some small losses in the mass of the sample occurred due to
desorption of the adsorbed gases. A sudden loss in the mass of the samples started at the temTable 1
Analyses of the samples
Sample

Moisture
(wt.%)

Volatile matter
(wt.%)

Fixed carbon
(wt.%)

Ash
(wt.%)

Gross caloric
value (MJ/kg)

Sunower shell
Colza seed
Pine cone
Cotton refuse
Olive refuse

8.1
8.4
9.4
5.4
15.6

76.4
70.0
69.0
75.8
56.0

12.2
15.8
20.9
12.3
8.1

3.3
5.8
0.7
6.5
20.3

16.12
19.38
18.65
18.83
15.77

H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

157

Fig. 1. Burning prole of sunower shell.

Fig. 2. Burning prole of colza seed.

peratures between 450 and 500 K, representing the release of some volatiles and their ignition. In
the rapid burning region, the rate of mass loss proceeded so rapidly that it reached its maximum
value. The rapid loss of mass immediately slowed at temperatures between 600 and 700 K. After
this point, the burning rate apparently decreased, and consequently, some small losses in the mass

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H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

Fig. 3. Burning prole of pine cone.

Fig. 4. Burning prole of cotton refuse.

of the sample continued as long as the temperature was increased up to 1273 K, indicating slow
burning of the partly carbonized residue. At the end of the hold time at 1273 K, the samples
reached constant weight after given periods. These periods were determined as 5 min for sunower
shell, 7.5 min for colza seed, 18 min for pine cone, 10 min for cotton refuse and 8.5 min for olive
refuse.

H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

159

Fig. 5. Burning prole of olive refuse.

The most important characteristic temperatures of a burning prole are ignition temperature
and peak temperature [1618]. The ignition temperature corresponds to the point at which the
burning prole underwent a sudden rise. The ignition temperatures of the samples were determined from their burning proles. These temperatures were determined as 475 K for sunower
shell, 423 K for colza seed, 475 K for pine cone, 423 K for cotton refuse and 473 K for olive refuse
(Table 2). It can be concluded that although the proximate analysis results dier considerably
(Table 1), the ignition temperatures of the biomass samples changed in a narrow interval.
The point on the burning prole at which the rate of weight loss due to combustion is maximum is called peak temperature. The burning prole peak temperature is usually taken as a
measure of the reactivity of the sample. These temperatures were found as 573 K for sunower
shell, 535 K for colza seed, 565 K for pine cone, 598 K for cotton refuses and 537 K for olive
refuse (Table 2). It has been observed that an increase in the volatile matter content of the biomass
sample causes, as a general tendency, seen especially in Fig. 6, an increase in the peak temperature.
The rate of weight loss at the burning prole peak temperature is called the maximum
combustion rate. The maximum combustion rates of the sunower shell, colza seed, pine cone,
Table 2
Combustion properties of the samples
Sample

Ignition temperature (K)

Maximum combustion rate (mg/min)

Peak temperature (K)

Sunower shell
Colza seed
Pine cone
Cotton refuse
Olive refuse

475
423
475
423
473

5.50
2.80
5.20
3.70
3.40

573
535
565
598
537

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H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

Fig. 6. Relation between peak temperature and volatile matter content.

cotton refuse and olive refuse were calculated as 5.5, 2.8, 5.2, 3.7 and 3.4 mg/min, respectively
(Table 2). The dierence between the maximum combustion rates of the samples can be attributed
to the dierences in their chemical and physical properties.
The weight loss percentages of the ve dierent biomass samples versus temperature are illustrated in Fig. 7. As can be seen from Fig. 7, the weight losses of the samples increased sharply

Fig. 7. Weight loss percentages of dierent biomass samples versus temperature: ( ) sunower shell, ( ) colza seed, ( )
pine cone, ( ) cotton refuse, ( ) olive refuse.

H. Haykr-Acma / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 155162

161

above 500 K. The weight loss dierences between olive refuse and the other samples started to
increase above 620 K. Olive refuse has the lowest volatile matter content and the highest ash
content. In other words, olive refuse has the lowest combustible part. The weight loss percentages
of the sunower shell, colza seed, pine cone, cotton refuse and olive refuse at 1273 K were 95.07%,
91.05%, 84.80%, 86.74% and 78.69%, respectively.

4. Conclusions
The conclusions of this work are summarized as follows:
1. It was observed that the investigated biomass materials showed dierent combustion characteristics.
2. Although the proximate analysis results dier considerably, the ignition temperatures of the
biomass samples changed in a narrow interval.
3. The ignition temperatures of the samples were determined from their burning proles. These
temperatures were determined as 475 K for sunower shell, 423 K for colza seed, 475 K for
pine cone, 423 K for cotton refuse and 473 K for olive refuse.
4. The burning peak temperatures were determined as 573 K for sunower shell, 535 K for colza
seed, 565 K for pine cone, 598 K for cotton refuse and 537 K for olive refuse.
5. The maximum combustion rates of the sunower shell, colza seed, pine cone, cotton refuse and
olive refuse were calculated as 5.5, 2.8, 5.2, 3.7 and 3.4 mg/min, respectively.
6. The weight loss percentages of the sunower shell, colza seed, pine cone, cotton refuse and olive
refuse at 1273 K were 95.07%, 91.05%, 84.80%, 86.74% and 78.69%, respectively.

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