Solids Flow in Large-Scale Circulating Fluidized Bed Furnaces
Doktorsavhandling, 2021

The flow pattern of solids established in large-scale circulating fluidized bed (CFB) furnaces is of great importance for the performance of commercial CFB boilers, as it governs the heat transfer and mixing of the fuel and any other reactive solids. The solids flow pattern in the riser is crucial for the design and scaling up of large-scale CFB technologies for the thermochemical conversion of solids. The aim of this work is to acquire new knowledge and understanding of the solids flow patterns in CFBs that are representative of large-scale furnaces. The goal is to improve the reliability of predictive modeling tools and, thereby expand the development of new and existing CFB technologies within the energy field. The solids flow of a CFB furnace is characterized by a bottom region with a high concentration of solids, a splash zone with strong solids back-mixing, and a transport zone that covers the major height of the furnace and has a lower level of solids back-mixing, from the bottom and upwards.

This thesis uses experimental campaigns and various modeling tools to elucidate the CFB solids flow. The experimental work is carried out in two cold units: a pseudo-2-dimensional unit that allows visual observation of the flow; and a 3-dimensional unit that can be operated under fluid-dynamical scaling, which has been shown to reflect accurately the solids flow in an existing reference >200-MWth CFB boiler. Furthermore, the data derived from the different sizes and operational ranges of these experimental units are linked to previous measurements of large-scale CFB combustion. Examinations of the solids back-mixing phenomena are supported by different modeling tools, including Direct Number Simulations, semi-empirical modeling through the Finite Volume Method, and Monte Carlo modeling.

The results of this work show that: (i) the presence/absence of a dense bottom bed affects the extent of solids entrainment from the bottom region; (ii) a fluid-dynamical region similar to the splash zone is established even in the absence of a dense bottom bed; (iii) the rate of solids back-mixing in the splash zone can be predicted from modeling of the gravity-driven ballistic trajectories; (iv) the solids back-mixing in the transport zone is governed by the transfer of solids through the core-wall layer boundary, which is driven by turbophoresis (i.e., the migration of particles in the direction of increasing particle concentration), and for which a Sherwood number-based expression is proposed that improves on the former empirical expressions; and (v) the solids back-flow effect at the riser exit cannot generally be neglected when predicting the in-furnace back-flow, and is substantial at gas velocities that are typical for commercial CFB boilers. Validated expressions are proposed for the decay coefficients of the splash and transport zones and the solids entrainment from the bottom region. Taking together this collected knowledge, this thesis improves the reliability of semi-empirical modeling tools for the prediction of the solids flow patterns in large-scale CFB furnaces for a wide range of operational conditions.

Solids flow

Transport zone

Fluid-dynamical down-scaling

Splash zone

Circulating fluidized bed boilers

Dense bed

Digital presentation - Password: 575278
Opponent: Alberto Gómez-Barea, Chemical Engineering, University of Seville, Spain


Tove Djerf

Chalmers, Rymd-, geo- och miljövetenskap, Energiteknik

Solids circulation in circulating fluidized beds with low riser aspect ratio and varying total solids inventory

Powder Technology,; Vol. 316(2017)p. 670-676

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Bottom-bed fluid dynamics – Influence on solids entrainment

Fuel Processing Technology,; Vol. 173(2018)p. 112-118

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Solids back-mixing in the transport zone of circulating fluidized bed boilers

Chemical Engineering Journal,; Vol. 428(2022)

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Solids backmixing and entrainment in the splash zone of large-scale fluidized bed boilers

Powder Technology,; Vol. 404(2022)

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Much of today’s global supply of heat and power is covered by combustion. The need to transition from fossil to non-fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has promoted the use of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) furnaces. CFB, which is an established technology with high fuel flexibility and good emissions control, has the ability to provide Society with reliable heat and power.

Combustion in CFB furnaces involves several complex processes. Besides the reactions of the fuel and gas phase, it involves the flow of a large quantity of sand-like particles to smoothen the temperature field and ensure optimal combustion conditions throughout the furnace. To optimize the design and operation of CFB furnaces, a deeper understanding of particle flow is required, and should be implemented in modeling tools used by boiler manufacturing industries and operators.

This thesis studies the flow of particles in industrial-scale CFB furnaces through experiments in a down-scaled cold model designed to resemble the flow in an existing >200 MWth unit. This cold model bestows better measurement capabilities (higher spatial resolution with operational flexibility and direct measurement of the solids flow), enabling the acquisition of new knowledge. From this, new mathematical expressions of the solids flow in the furnace are proposed, making it possible to predict (without any need for site data) the solids flow in CFB furnaces over the entire size range of commercial units.

Modeling of large-scale circulating fluidized bed units

Valmet , 2014-01-01 -- 2016-12-31.


Hållbar utveckling



Havs- och vattendragsteknik




Grundläggande vetenskaper



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4978



Digital presentation - Password: 575278


Opponent: Alberto Gómez-Barea, Chemical Engineering, University of Seville, Spain

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