This paper introduces a model for the description of the homogeneous combustion of various fuels in fluidized bed combustors (FBC) at temperatures lower than the classical value for solid fuels, i.e., 850 °C. The model construction is based on a key bubbling fluidized bed feature: A fuel-rich (endogenous) bubble is generated at the fuel injection point, travels inside the bed at constant pressure, and undergoes chemical conversion in the presence of mass transfer with the emulsion phase and of coalescence with air (exogenous) bubbles formed at the distributor and, possibly, with other endogenous bubbles. The model couples a fluid-dynamic submodel based on two-phase fluidization theory with a submodel of gas phase oxidation. To this end, the model development takes full advantage of a detailed chemical kinetic scheme, which includes both the low and high temperature mechanisms of hydrocarbon oxidation, and accounts for about 200 molecular and radical species involved in more than 5000 reactions. Simple hypotheses are made to set up and close mass balances for the various species as well as enthalpy balances in the bed. First, the conversion and oxidation of gaseous fuels (e.g., methane) were calculated as a test case for the model; then, n-dodecane was taken into consideration to give a simple representation of diesel fuel using a pure hydrocarbon. The model predictions qualitatively agree with some of the evidence from the experimental data reported in the literature. The fate of hydrocarbon species is extremely sensitive to temperature change and oxygen availability in the rising bubble. A preliminary model validation was attempted with results of experiments carried out on a prepilot, bubbling combustor fired by underbed injection of a diesel fuel. Specifically, the model results confirm that heat release both in the bed and in the freeboard is a function of bed temperature. At lower emulsion phase temperatures many combustible species leave the bed unburned, while post-combustion occurs after the bed and freeboard temperature considerably increases. This is a well-recognized undesirable feature from the viewpoint of practical application and emission control.
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