Entrained Metal Aerosol Emissions from Air-Fired Biomass and Coal Combustion for Carbon Capture Applications

Materials (Basel). 2018 Sep 25;11(10):1819. doi: 10.3390/ma11101819.


Biomass energy with CO₂ capture could achieve net negative emissions, vital for meeting carbon budgets and emission targets. However, biomass often has significant quantities of light metals/inorganics that cause issues for boiler operation and downstream processes; including deposition, corrosion, and solvent degradation. This study investigated the pilot-scale combustion of a typical biomass used for power generation (white wood) and assessed the variations in metal aerosol release compared to bituminous coal. Using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, it was found that K aerosol levels were significantly greater for biomass than coal, on average 6.5 times, with peaks up to 10 times higher; deposition could thus be more problematic, although Na emissions were only 20% of those for coal. Transition metals were notably less prevalent in the biomass flue gas; with Fe and V release in particular much lower (3⁻4% of those for coal). Solvent degradation may therefore be less severe for biomass-generated flue gases. Furthermore, aerosol emissions of toxic/heavy metals (As/Cd/Hg) were absent from biomass combustion, with As/Cd also not detected in the coal flue gas. Negligible Cr aerosol concentrations were found for both. Overall, except for K, metal aerosol release from biomass combustion was considerably reduced compared to coal.

Keywords: alkali metals; bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS); biomass; metal aerosol emissions; transition metals.