Characteristics of smoldering combustion of sawdust
MetadataShow full item record
This report is a study on the smoldering combustion of natural sawdust from untreated woods. The objective was to develop and test an experimental technique to study the fundamental behavior of sawdust smolder. The experimental setup was an annulus cookstove packed with sawdust between the inner and outer radii creating a central hollow core. The sawdust was ignited by a heating coil wrapped around the inner radius. Thermocouples were embedded in the sawdust bed fanning out in the radial direction, and temperature was recorded throughout the smolder process. Consistent with the literature, the experimental results indicate that wood smolder consists of three pathways, 1) sawdust to char, 2) sawdust to volatiles, and 3) char to ash. Pathways 1 and 3 can be clearly characterized by the temperature profile of the smolder; however, pathway 2 often involves flaming of the sawdust and is beyond the scope of this study. Pathway 1, sawdust to char, is an endothermic reaction that results in a clearly defined char front that propagates across the sawdust bed in the radial direction. As smolder proceeds, the char continues to oxidize and breaks down into non-volatile products such as water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO₂) in further exothermic reactions. Pathway 2, char to ash, is an exothermic reaction that can lead to glowing combustion when exposed to sufficient amounts of oxygen and results in spikes in temperature. In contrast to the clearly defined char front, the ashing zone traces cracks in the sawdust where air can penetrate through, and has no discernible front. Section 1 discusses the motivation behind the study of sawdust cookstoves in third world countries, in particular Ghana, to replace wood with sawdust as a cheap alternative for household fuel. Section 2 details the experimental setup of the cookstove rig and the methodology of the experiments conducted. Section 3 reports the results of the experiments and analyzes the temperature profiles in relation to the three types of chemical reactions as noted above. Section 4 concludes with a summary of the results and discusses efforts in measuring emissions from the smolder and future work to be done.