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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Does Mechanical Screening of Contaminated Forest Fuels Improve Ash Chemistry for Thermal Conversion?

Bozaghian, Marjan; Strandberg, Anna; Thyrel, Mikael; Bergström, Dan; Larsson, Sylvia


The effect of mechanical screening of severely contaminated forest fuel chips was investigated, focusing on main ashforming elements and slagging tendency and other properties with relevance for thermal conversion. In this study, screening operations were performed according to practice on an industrial scale by combining a star screen and a supplementary windshifter in six different settings and combinations. Mechanical screening reduced the amount of ash and fine particles in the accept fraction. However, the mass losses for the different screening operations were substantial (20−50 wt %). Fuel analyses of the non-screened and the screened fuels showed that the most significant screening effect was a reduction of Si and Al, indicating an effective removal of sand and soil contaminations. However, the tested fuel’s main ash-forming element’s relative concentration did not indicate any improved combustion characteristics and ash-melting behavior. Samples of the accept fractions and non-screened material were combusted in a single-pellet thermogravimetric reactor, and the resulting ashes’ morphology and elemental composition were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy−energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry and the crystalline phases by powder X-ray diffraction. Results from both these analyses confirmed that screening operations had no, or minor, effects on the fuels’ ash chemistry and slagging tendencies, i.e., the fuels’ proneness to ash melting was not improved. However, the reduction of ash and fine particles can reduce slagging and other operational problems in smaller and more sensitive combustion units.

Published in

Energy and Fuels
2020, Volume: 34, number: 12, pages: 16294-16301