Development and characterization of SiC based field effect gas sensors and sensor systems for emissions monitoring and control of biomass combustion
Abstract: Increasing oil prices and environmental levies have reinforced the interest in biofuels for domestic and district heating, most commonly through combustion of solid biomass like wood logs, hog fuel and pellets in water based heating systems. The combustion process itself proceeds through three elementarysteps; drying, where fuel moisture is driven off, followed by pyrolysis and finally combustion of the remaining charcoal. Given the sufficient amount of air, good mixing and long enough residence time at elevated temperatures, the short-chained hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide formed during pyrolysis andchar combustion will burn to completion leaving only CO2 and H2O in the flue gases.In case of air deficiency, combustion will be incomplete, leaving noxious compounds, like certain hydrocarbons and CO, behind. Too much of excess air, on the other hand, will lower the temperature of the combustion chamber, giving rise to both emissions of unburned material and, due to the forcedconvection of heat out the chimney, an impaired boiler efficiency. The key to boiler operation, both from an environmental as well as a power to fuel economy point of view, is thus the careful adjustment of the airflows during combustion. The amount of air needed for complete oxidation of the fuel varies with the phase of combustion, fuel, fuel quality and load, however, why an active control of the airflows is considered a prerequisite. So far, nocontrol schemes have been applied to small- and medium-sized combustors, though, mainly dependent on the lack of cheap and simple means to measure basic flue gas parameters, like oxygen, hydrocarbons and CO.Here is reported about the possible use of a system comprising SiC based field effect sensors to monitor the state of combustion, applicable to domestic heating systems, where only a rough picture of the air to fuel relationship is needed. Furthermore, it has been shown possible to obtain a multivariate linear regression model for propene (a model hydrocarbon) by the application of an array of SiC field effect sensors in a varying background of typical flue gas constituents, as long as thevariation is not too large. This model could possibly be applied to a control scheme for medium sized boilers, where smaller variations of flue gas constituents are encountered, and the possibility of simultaneous ammonia estimations has also opened up the field of flue gas after-treatment controlapplications, monitoring ammonia slip from selective noncatalytic reduction of nitrogen oxides by ammonia. The quantitative estimation of hydrocarbons over a wider range of concentrations and backgrounds, as well as of minor flue gasspecies, NO and CO, is however not possible with the SiC sensors currently comprising the sensor system.
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