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Wood Wood charcoal Peat

Wood is a domestic fuel used in tropical countries
- where forests are abundant and - other fuels are easily and cheaply


Main Combustible components of wood are Cellulose Lignin Minor combustibles Resin Waxes Major inflammable component of wood water present up to 25-50% in freshly cut wood

Calorific value
Ash content of wood is very low (<1%) Oxygen content is high (up to 45%)

Because of its high oxygen content the calorific value is very low. Calorific value of wood: 4000- 5000kcal/kg

Composition and properties of a typical air dried hardwood

Proximate Analysis
Lignin Resin + wax Moisture Ash Water solubles Density Calorific value

= 50 %
= 30 % = 2% = 15 % = 0.5 % = 2.5 % = 650 kg/m3 = 4500 kcal/kg

Ultimate analysis
Carbon Hydrogen = 50 % =6%


= 44 %

Burning characteristics of wood

It can be ignited easily Smaller pieces of wood burn more readily compared tom larger pieces It burns with a long non-smoky flame when burned in excess air. Wood fines saw dust burns quite easily and readily. Saw dust can be made into binderless briquettes at high pressure.

Uses of wood
It is used: As domestic fuel on large scale in India and for furniture making To produce wood charcoal by its carbonization or destructive distillation To produce producer gas by its gasification.

Wood charcoal simply called Charcoal. Charcoal is made by carbonization (destructive distillation) of wood i.e. heating of wood in the absence of air at 600 oC.

Physico-chemical changes during wood carbonization

Four stages involved in the wood carbonization are: 1. When the temperature reaches 100 120oC, the moisture of the wood is expelled first. 2. At 275oC, initial decomposition of wood takes place resulting in the formation of little distillate gas containing acetic acid and water.

3. Active distillation of wood takes place up to 350oC till the process is exothermic producing liquid products ( like acetic acid, methyl alcohol, pyroligneous acid, tar etc.) and gaseous products containing Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen, hydrocarbon etc. 4. From 350 to 600oC, slow evolution of residual volatile matters (i.e gases) from the wood /charcoal left in the third stage.

Typical product yield in Wood carbonization

Charcoal Pyoligneous acid: Acetic acid Wood spirit Water Wood tar Wood gas

Yield, % air dried

30 38 8 15 15 10 22

Uses of charcoal
Because of its large specific surface area (150-450 m2/gm) and light and porous nature, it is used for removal of obnoxious and coloring materials from solutions, gases, vapors, petroleum products etc. by adsorption on its surface. It can be used as a feedstock for gasification to make producer gas which is used for domestic and industrial heating

It is used as a clean and smooth burning fuel in domestic heating ovens but it is a costly fuel. It is used very widely as a fuel for blacksmiths and metal worker forge furnaces /ovens. It is a raw material for the manufacture of carbon disulphide. It is mainly used as a domestic fuel in India.

Composition of Charcoal
Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen and Nitrogen Ash = 80 % =2% = 15 % =3%

Merits of charcoal
It has a very high calorific specific surface area compared to coal (20 200 m2/gm coal Its ash content is very low (<3 %) Its calorific value is high (7500 8000 kcal/kg)

Demerits of charcoal as a fuel

Its mechanical strength is poor, hence it gets
crushed to powder in operation which is easily swept away in a current of gases and also it may prevent the proper flow of gases in the furnace.

Peat is the first stage in the formation of coal from wood (cellulose) It can be termed as the most immature coal It has been formed by gradual decaying of vegetable matter in moist places. It appears light brown and fibrous at the surface

But with increase in depth the color becomes

darker and the vegetable structure disappears.

Composition and properties of peat

It varies from place to place depending upon the nature of original vegetable matter, depth bin the deposit and age. Peat contains Moisture = 90 % Solids = 10 % It can be used as fuel after reducing the moisture content to 30 %.

Typical Composition of freshly mined peat

Volatile matter

= 85 %

Fixed carbon


Calorific value

= 650 kcal/kg

Typical composition of sun dried peat (on air dried basis)

Proximate analysis
Moisture Volatile matter Fixed carbon Ash Calorific value = 20 % = 50 % = 25 % =5% = 5000 kcal/kg


Ultimate analysis
Carbon Hydrogen Oxygen Nitrogen Sulphur Calorific value = 55 % =6% = 35 % =3% =1% = 5000 kcal/kg

Occurrence of Peat
Russia has the largest deposit of peat (60 % of the world reserve) I the world. Other Countries Germany, Finland, Poland, America, Sweden, Norway, Ireland etc. India has a very small deposit of peat in Nilgiri Hills and two sides of Hooghly river I and around Calcutta

Burning characteristics of Peat

It offers low furnace temperature and efficiency due to its low calorific value. Its bulk density is very low i.e. 300 kg/m3. Hence its transportation cost is high.

Its friable nature causes appreciable losses on handling prior to its burning.

Comparative analysis of peat charcoal and wood charcoal

Wood charcoal Carbon, % Hydrogen, % Oxygen and Nitrogen, % Ash , % Moisture, % Heating value, kcal/kg 85 3 3.5 2.5 6 7500 Peat charcoal 84 2 8 3 3 7000

Pulverised coal
Pulverising means powdering The rate of combustion of solid fuels is slow because of the difficulty of contact between the fuel and the oxygen. The combustion rate can be increased by Pulverising the fuel so that air and fuel come in close contact easily.

Advantages of pulverised coal

It can be intimately and uniformly mixed with air necessary for combustion and hence can be burnt completely. It can be handled with ease like a liquid fuel and can be transported through pipes. Furnace temperature can be easily controlled by increasing or decreasing the rate of burning through a valve just like liquid/gaseous fuel.

The atmosphere inside the furnace can be easily maintained as oxidizing or reducing which is of great advantage in metallurgical furnaces. Wide varieties of coals can be used. Low grade coals can be used taking precaution with high ash coals to avoid carrying dust and grit into atmosphere. Combustion is completed with low percentage of excess air, hence high flame temperature and high efficiency can be achieved.

Maximum efficiency is possible because of close regulation of rate of fuel and supply of air by automatic control. Labour charges are low and maintenance is largely exterior to the furnace It imparts greater flexibility of control. Besides banking and stand-by losses are minimum.

Disadvantages Pulverised coal

Cost of drying and grinding to fine size is relatively higher. Fine dust is discharged into atmosphere along with the chimney gas. There is a tendency for slagging on refractory walls and furnace linings. It requires larger combustion space to complete the combustion. Furnace stock/work can be contaminated by ash from coal.

Its use results in erosion of pressure boiler parts by fly ash entrained in flue gases resulting in reduced availability and high maintenance cost of boiler. Heavy erosion damage of induced draft (I.D) fan blades by entrained ash in the flue gas occurs. Operation and maintenance cost of pulveriser is high. Burning of anthracite poses difficulty

Pulverised coal combustion Mechanism

Pulverised coal undergoes complete combustion in three stages: 1. As the volatile matter is evolved some change in shape and size of particles occurs in the pre ignition stage. 2. Thereafter the ignition and combustion of volatile matter occurs. 3. Finally the combustion of carbonaceous residue occurs.

Elements of Fuels, Furnaces and Refractories O.P.Gupta Khanna Publishers