Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ratner, Albert

First Committee Member

Lin, Ching-Long

Second Committee Member

Udaykumar, H S


Accurate models and realistic simulations are essential in developing cleaner and more efficient coal- and biomass-fired boilers. Using the CFD simulation software Fluent The University of Iowa created a model of an industrial boiler that adequately compares the practice of co-firing biomass and coal against firing only coal. The simulations used in this comparison, show significant circulation zones and an unrealistic temperature profile inside the boiler heat exchanger region. This model is effective for comparing the relative decrease in emissions when co-firing with biomass versus exclusively coal combustion, but it does not present a realistic simulation of biomass or coal combustion.

The purpose of the current work is to develop a more realistic baseline coal combustion model. Calculations for the proximate and ultimate analysis of coal, as well as properties necessary for energy and mass flux computations, have been updated in the current model. The fuel bed model - a simple two-dimensional distribution of energy and mass fluxes from the grate - was kept the same due to the complexities of fuel bed modeling. Simulation boundary conditions and flow models were tested and modified to determine the most realistic model settings. The geometry and mesh grid of the boiler model were also varied in an attempt to fix problematic areas.

Several approaches were implemented in an effort to reduce the circulation zones and generate a realistic temperature profile. The negative energy source term in the boiler representing the energy removed by the water pipes in the heat exchanger was analyzed, and different configurations of this sink were tested. Finally, the heat exchanger models built in to Fluent were studied and implemented. These models proved to be the most effective in reducing recirculation zones and decreasing high temperature gradients. While the current model of the coal-fired boiler has a higher overall temperature than the previous one, circulation zones are almost completely eliminated, the flow path has been improved, and the temperature profile in the boiler is more realistic.


Boiler, CFD, Combustion, Fluent, Modeling


viii, 86 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 85-86).


Copyright 2014 Albert Depman