Research Papers: Energy Systems Analysis

Investigation of Effect of Biomass Torrefaction Temperature on Volatile Energy Recovery Through Combustion

[+] Author and Article Information
Oladapo S. Akinyemi

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: osa4975@louisiana.edu

Lulin Jiang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Energy Institute of Louisiana,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: lljiang@louisiana.edu

Prashanth R. Buchireddy

Department of Chemical Engineering,
Energy Institute of Louisiana,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: pxb5173@louisiana.edu

Stanislav O. Barskov

Department of Chemical Engineering,
Energy Institute of Louisiana,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: stan_barskov@yahoo.com

John L. Guillory

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Energy Institute of Louisiana,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: jlg7703@louisiana.edu

Williams Holmes

Department of Chemical Engineering,
Energy Institute of Louisiana,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Lafayette, LA 70504
e-mail: williams.holmes@louisiana.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received November 17, 2017; final manuscript received May 3, 2018; published online June 12, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Yaning Zhang.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 140(11), 112003 (Jun 12, 2018) (11 pages) Paper No: JERT-17-1652; doi: 10.1115/1.4040202 History: Received November 17, 2017; Revised May 03, 2018

Biomass torrefaction is a mild pyrolysis thermal treatment process carried out at temperatures between 200 and 300 °C under inert conditions to improve fuel properties of parent biomass. Torrefaction yields a higher energy per unit mass product but releases noncondensable and condensable gases, signifying energy and mass losses. The condensable gases (volatiles) can result in tar formation on condensing, hence, system blockage. Fortunately, the hydrocarbon composition of volatiles represents a possible auxiliary energy source for feedstock drying and/or torrefaction process. The present study designed a low-pressure volatile burner for torrefaction of pine wood chips and investigated energy recovery from volatiles through clean co-combustion with natural gas (NG). The research studied the effects of torrefaction pretreatment temperatures on the amount of energy recovered for various combustion air flow rates. For all test conditions, blue flames and low emissions at the combustor exit consistently signified clean and complete premixed combustion. Torrefaction temperature at 283–292 °C had relatively low volatile energy recovery, mainly attributed to higher moisture content evolution and low molecular weight of volatiles evolved. At the lowest torrefaction pretreatment temperature, small amount of volatiles was generated with more energy recovered. Energy conservation evaluation on the torrefaction reactor indicated that about 27% 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 around 19% of the total energy was recovered at the intermediate and highest torrefaction temperatures, respectively. The energy recovered represents about 23–45% of the energy associated with NG combustion in the internal burner of the torrefaction reactor, signifying that the volatiles energy can supplement significant amount of the energy required for torrefaction.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Milne, J. L. , and Field, C. B. , 2012, “Assessment Report From the GCEP Workshop on Energy Supply With Negative Carbon Emissions,” Stanford University, Stanford, CA, accessed Jan. 31, 2017, https://gcep.stanford.edu/pdfs/rfpp/Report%20from%20GCEP%20Workshop%20on%20Energy%20Supply%20 with%20Negative%20Emissions.pdf
Swithenbank, J. , Chen, Q. , Zhang, X. , Sharifi, V. , and Pourkashanian, M. , 2011, “Wood Would Burn,” Biomass Bioenergy, 35(3), pp. 999–1007. [CrossRef]
Van der Stelt, M. J. C. , Gerhauser, H. , Kiel, J. H. A. , and Ptasinski, K. J. , 2011, “Biomass Upgrading by Torrefaction for the Production of Biofuels: A Review,” Biomass Bioenergy, 35(9), pp. 3748–3762.
Ciolkosz, D. , and Wallace, R. , 2011, “A Review of Torrefaction for Bioenergy Feedstock Production,” Biofuels Bioprod. Biorefin., 5(3), pp. 317–329. [CrossRef]
Chew, J. J. , and Doshi, V. , 2011, “Recent Advances in Biomass Pretreatment—Torrefaction Fundamentals and Technology,” Renewable Sustainable Energy Rev., 15(8), pp. 4212–4222. [CrossRef]
Browne, F. L. , 1958, Theories of the Combustion of Wood and Its Control, Forest Products Laboratory, Universtity of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
Dudynski, M. , Van Dyk, J. C. , Kwiatkowski, K. , and Sosnowska, M. , 2015, “Biomass Gasification: Influence of Torrefaction on Syngas Production and Tar Formation,” Fuel Process. Technol., 131, pp. 203–212. [CrossRef]
Chen, D. , Zheng, Z. , Fu, K. , Zeng, Z. , Wang, J. , and Lu, M. , 2015, “Torrefaction of Biomass Stalk and Its Effect on the Yield and Quality of Pyrolysis Products,” Fuel, 159, pp. 27–32. [CrossRef]
Chen, D. Y. , Zhou, J. B. , Zhang, Q. S. , Zhu, X. F. , and Lu, Q. , 2014, “Upgrading of Rice Husk by Torrefaction and Its Influence on the Fuel Properties,” Bioresources, 9(4), pp. 5893–5905.
Kreitzberg, T. , Haustein, H. D. , Govert, B. , and Kneer, R. , 2016, “Investigation of Gasification of Reaction of Pulverized Char Under N2/CO2 Atmosphere in a Small-Scale Fluidized Bed Reactor,” ASME J. Energy Resour., Technol., 138(4), p. 042207. [CrossRef]
Mayor, J. R. , and Williams, A. , 2010, “Residence Time Influence on the Fast Pyrolysis of Loblolly Pine Biomass,” ASME J. Energy Resour., Technol., 132(4), p. 041801. [CrossRef]
Chen, Q. , Zhou, J. S. , Liu, B. J. , Mei, Q. F. , and Luo, Z. Y. , 2011, “Influence of Torrefaction Pretreatment on Biomass Gasification Technology,” Chin. Sci. Bull., 56(14), pp. 1449–1456. [CrossRef]
Chen, W. H. , Lu, K. M. , and Tsai, C. M. , 2012, “An Experimental Analysis on Property and Structure Variations of Agricultural Wastes Undergoing Torrefaction,” Appl. Energy, 100, pp. 318–325. [CrossRef]
Broströma, M. , Nordina, A. , Pommera, L. , Brancab, C. , and Blasi, C. D. , 2012, “Influence of Torrefaction on the Devolatilization and Oxidation Kinetics of Wood,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 96, pp. 100–109. [CrossRef]
Strandberg, M. , Olofsson, I. , Pommer, L. , Wiklund-Lindström, S. , Åberg, K. , and Nordin, A. , 2015, “Effects of Temperature and Residence Time on Continuous Torrefaction of Spruce Wood,” Fuel Process. Technol., 134, pp. 387–398. [CrossRef]
Chiou, B.-S. , Valenzuela-Medina, D. , Bilbao-Sainz, C. , Klamczynski, A. P. , Avena-Bustillos, R. J. , Milczarek, R. R. , Du, W.-X. , Glenn, G. M. , and Orts, W. J. , 2016, “Torrefaction of Almond Shells: Effect of Torrefaction Conditions on Properties of Solid and Condensate Products,” Ind. Crops Prod., 86, pp. 40–48. [CrossRef]
Chen, Y. , Cao, W. , and Atreya, A. , 2016, “An Experimental Study to Investigate the Effect of Torrefaction Temperature and Time on Pyrolysis of Centimeter-Scale Pine Wood Particles,” Fuel Process. Technol., 153, pp. 74–80. [CrossRef]
Dhungana, A. , Basu, P. , and Dutta, A. , 2012, “Effects of Reactor Design on the Torrefaction of Biomass,” ASME J. Energy Resour., Technol., 134(4), p. 041801. [CrossRef]
Lee, S. M. , and Lee, J. W. , 2014, “Optimization of Biomass Torrefaction Conditions by Gain and Loss Method and Regression Model Analysis,” Bioresour. Technol., 172, pp. 438–443. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Chen, W. H. , Peng, J. , and Bi, X. T. , 2015, “A State-of-the-Art Review of Biomass Torrefaction, Densification and Applications,” Renewable Sustainable Energy Rev., 44, pp. 847–866. [CrossRef]
Eseyin, A. E. , Steele, P. H. , and Pittman, C. U., Jr. , 2015, “Current Trends in the Production and Applications of Torrefied Wood/Biomass—A Review,” Bioresources, 10(4), pp. 8812–8858. [CrossRef]
Arias, B. , Pevida, C. , Fermoso, J. , Plaza, M. G. , Rubiera, F. , and Pis, J. J. , 2008, “Influence of Torrefaction on the Grindability and Reactivity of Woody Biomass,” Fuel Process. Technol., 89(2), pp. 169–175. [CrossRef]
Prins, M. J. , Ptasinski, K. J. , and Jansen, F. J. J. G. , 2006, “Torrefaction of Wood—Part 2: Analysis of Products,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 77(1), pp. 35–40. [CrossRef]
Lu, K. M. , Lee, W. J. , Chen, W. H. , Liu, S. H. , and Lin, T. C. , 2012, “Torrefaction and Low Temperature Carbonization of Oil Palm Fiber and Eucalyptus in Nitrogen and Air Atmospheres,” Bioresour. Technol., 123, pp. 98–105. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Chen, W. H. , and Kuo, P. C. , 2011, “Torrefaction and Co-Torrefaction Characterization of Hemicellulose, Cellulose and Lignin as Well as Torrefaction of Some Basic Constituents in Biomass,” Energy, 36(2), pp. 803–811. [CrossRef]
Almeida, G. , Brito, J. O. , and Perre, B. , 2010, “Alterations in Energy Properties of Eucalyptus Wood and Bark Subjected to Torrefaction: The Potential of Mass Loss as a Synthetic Indicator,” Bioresour. Technol., 101(24), pp. 9778–9784. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Peng, J. H. , Bi, X. T. , Sokhansanj, S. , and Lim, C. J. , 2013, “Torrefaction and Densification of Different Species of Softwood Residues,” Fuel, 111, pp. 411–421. [CrossRef]
Tran, K. Q. , Trinh, T. N. , and Bach, Q. V. , 2016, “Development of a Biomass Torrefaction Process Integrated With Oxy-Fuel Combustion,” Bioresour. Technol., 199, pp. 408–413. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Burhenne, L. , Messmer, J. , Aicher, T. , and Laborie, M. P. , 2013, “The Effect of the Biomass Components Lignin, Cellulose and Hemicellulose on TGA and Fixed Bed Pyrolysis,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 101, pp. 177–184. [CrossRef]
Bates, R. B. , and Ghoniem, A. F. , 2012, “Biomass Torrefaction: Modeling of Volatile and Solid Product Evolution Kinetics,” Bioresour. Technol., 124, pp. 460–469. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Nocquet, T. , Dupont, C. , Commandre, J. M. , Grateau, M. , Thiery, S. , and Salvador, S. , 2014, “Volatile Species Release During Torrefaction of Wood and Its Macromolecular Constituents—Part 1: Experimental Study,” Energy, 72, pp. 180–187. [CrossRef]
Arteaga-Perez, L. E. , Segura, C. , Bustamante-Garcia, V. , Capiro, O. G. , and Jimenez, R. , 2015, “Torrefaction of Wood and Bark From Eucalyptus Globulus and Eucalyptus Nitens: Focus on Volatile Evolution vs Feasible Temperatures,” Energy, 93(Pt. 2), pp. 1731–1741. [CrossRef]
Prins, M. J. , Ptasinski, K. J. , and Janssen, F. J. J. G. , 2006, “More Efficient Biomass Gasification Via Torrefaction,” Energy, 31(15), pp. 3458–3470. [CrossRef]
Lasode, O. , Balogun, A. O. , and McDonald, A. G. , 2014, “Torrefaction of Some Nigerian Lignocellulosic Resources and Decomposition Kinetics,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolysis, 109, pp. 47–55. [CrossRef]
Chen, W.-H. , Liu, S.-H. , Juang, T.-T. , Tsai, C.-M. , and Zhuang, Y.-Q. , 2015, “Characterization of Solid and Liquid Products From Bamboo Torrefaction,” Appl. Energy, 160, pp. 829–835. [CrossRef]
Thanh, K. L. , Commandre, J. M. , Valette, J. , Volle, G. , and Meyer, M. , 2015, “Detailed Identification and Quantification of the Condensable Species Released During Torrefaction of Lignocellulosic Biomasses,” Fuel Process. Technol., 139, pp. 226–235. [CrossRef]
Mei, Y. , Che, Q. , Yang, Q. , Draper, C. , Yang, H. , Zhang, S. , and Chen, H. , 2016, “Torrefaction of Different Parts From a Corn Stalk and Its Effect the Characterization of Products,” Ind. Crops Prod., 92, pp. 26–33. [CrossRef]
Koppejan, J. , Sokhansanj, S. , Melin, S. , and Madrali, S. , 2012, “Status Overview of Torrefaction Technologies,” International Energy Agency, Paris, France, Enschede, The Netherlands, IEA Bioenergy Task 32 Report. http://www.ieabcc.nl/publications/IEA_Bioenergy_T32_Torrefaction_review.pdf
Uslu, A. , Faaij, A. P. C. , and Bergman, P. C. A. , 2008, “Pre-Treatment Technologies, and Their Effect on International Bioenergy Supply Chain Logistics. Techno-Economic Evaluation of Torrefaction, Fast Pyrolysis and Pelletisation,” Energy, 33(8), pp. 1206–1223. [CrossRef]
Pereira, E. G. , Da Silva, J. N. , de Oliveir, J. L. , and Machado, C. S. , 2012, “Sustainable Energy; a Review of Gasification Technologies,” Renewable Sustainable Energy Rev., 16(7), pp. 4753–4762. [CrossRef]
Sarvaramini, A. , and Larachi, F. , 2014, “Integrated Biomass Torrefaction—Chemical Looping Combustion as a Method to Recover Torrefaction Volatiles,” Fuel, 116, pp. 158–167. [CrossRef]
Wang, C. , Shao, H. , Lei, M. , Wu, Y. , and Jia, L. , 2016, “Effect of the Coupling Action Between Volatiles, Char and Steam on Isothermal Combustion of Coal Char,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 93, pp. 438–445. [CrossRef]
Akinyemi, O. S. , Jiang, L. , Buchireddy, P. R. , Barskov, S. O. , Guillory, J. L. , and Holmes, W. , 2017, “Investigation of Effect of Biomass Torrefaction Temperature on Volatiles Energy Recovery Through Combustion,” ASME Paper No. GT2017-64941.
Daugaard, D. E. , and Brown, R. C. , 2003, “Enthalpy for Pyrolysis for Several Types of Biomass,” Energy Fuels, 17(4), pp. 934–939. [CrossRef]
Dupont, C. , Chiriac, R. , Gauthier, G. , and Toche, F. , 2014, “Heat Capacity Measurements of Various Biomass Types and Pyrolysis Residues,” Fuel, 115, pp. 644–651. [CrossRef]
Buchireddy, P. R. , Guillory, J. L. , and Zappi, M. E. , 2016, “Pilot Scale Investigation of Biomass Torrefaction Technology Using an Indirectly Heated Reactor,” LA Board of Regents—Industrial Ties Research Subprogram, Baton Rouge, LA, Annual Progress Report No. 3-2016.
United States Department of Labor, 2006, “Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limits (PELS) From 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table,” United States Department of Labor, Washington, DC, accessed Feb. 27, 2018, https://www.osha.gov/dsg/annotated-pels/tablez-1.html
Schorr, M. M. , and Chalfin, J. , 1999, “Gas Turbine NOx Emissions Approaching Zero—Is it Worth the Price?,” GE Electric Power System, Schenectady, NY, Report No. GER-4172. https://www.ge.com/content/dam/gepower-pgdp/global/en_US/documents/technical/ger/ger-4172-gas-turbine-nox-emissions-approaching-zero-worth-price.pdf
Turns, S. R. , 2011, An Introduction to Combustion: Concepts and Applications, 3rd ed., McGraw-Hill Education, New York. [PubMed] [PubMed]
Cengel, Y. A. , and Ghajar, A. J. , 2003, Heat and Mass Transfer Fundamentals and Applications, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York.
Whitaker, S. , 1972, “Forced Convection Heat Transfer Correlations for Flow in Pipe, Past Flat Plates, Single Cylinders, Single Spheres, and for Flow in Packed Beds and Tube Bundles,” AIChE J., 18(2), pp. 361–371. [CrossRef]
Omega, 2018, “Omega Table of Total Emissivity for Metals and Non-Metals and Common Building Materials,” Omega™, Stanford, CT, accessed Feb. 20, 2018, https://www.omega.com/temperature/Z/pdf/z088-089.pdf


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Schematic of the rotary drum reactor

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

(a) Schematic of the pilot burner configuration and (b) a typical pilot burner

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Schematics of experimental setup of external burner

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

CO emissions from the co-fire of NG and volatile for torrefaction pretreatment temperatures at (a) 255–270 °C, (b) 283–292 °C, and (c) 310–320 °C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

NOx emissions from the co-fire of NG and volatile for torrefaction temperatures at (a) 255–270 °C, (b) 283–292 °C, and (c) 310–320 °C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Minimum NG flow rate for all test cases

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Flame images of the co-fire of NG and volatiles for (a) 100 LPM, (b) 115 LPM, and (c) 130 LPM of air flow rate at 283–292 °C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Measured temperature profiles of (a) combustor outside wall surface and (b) product gas at different air flow rates for torrefaction temperature at 283–292 °C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 9

(a) Heat release rate of combustion of volatiles and NG, (b) percent energy of volatiles in total HRR, and (c) percent energy recovered from torrefaction off-gases, for torrefaction temperature at 283–292 °C

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 10

Measured temperature profiles of (a) combustor outside wall surface and (b) product gas at different torrefaction temperatures for air flow rate at 100 LPM

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 11

(a) Heat release rate of volatiles, (b) percent energy of volatiles in total HRR, and (c) percent energy recovered from volatile, for all torrefaction temperatures




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In