Secondary air induced flow structures and mixing in a fixed bed combustor
Air staging features widely in biomass combustion from small space heaters to industrial-scale moving grate systems. Whilst studies have been conducted into the impact of air staging on emissions and combustion performance, there is little or no insight into the exact flow dynamic and physical mechanisms that are induced by secondary air under such conditions. This paper uses experimental data to validate numerical predictions before investigating the flow field structures and mixing characteristics in a fixed bed air staged combustor. The study utilizes Constant Temperature Anemometry (CTA) experiments to establish boundary conditions for a lab-scale fixed bed combustor. Results from numerical simulations obtained using l-𝜔 model were in good agreement with experimental data. Conditions tested cover five different secondary to total air ratios (Qs/Qt) and two different locations of secondary air injection. Results show that at Qs/Qt = 0.50, 0.25 and 0.18 one strong recirculation zone is induced upstream of the secondary air injection and one downstream. Varying the point of injection of secondary air from h/D = 0.64 to h/D = 0.40 also had an effect on the size of the upstream recirculation zone. Qs/Qt = 0.50 had the highest values of mixing index among all spatially located planes at the upstream of secondary air injection. The overall findings shed light on the possible flow interactions between secondary air and the top layers of fuel bed. They also highlight the significance of secondary air on inducing both upstream and downstream flow structures.