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Modeling Fume Particle Dynamics and Deposition with Alkali Metal Chemistry in Kraft Recovery Boilers

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages63
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-3436-2
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-3433-1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2015
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
PublisherTampere University of Technology
ISSN (Print)1459-2045


The kraft recovery boiler is the largest single unit in the pulp-making process, which makes its reliable operation important. However, the fuel of the recovery boiler, black liquor, contains large quantities of ash-forming elements that pose challenges to the efficient operation of the boiler. A fraction of these elements vaporizes in the recovery boiler and condenses to form submicron-sized particles, called fume. The fume particles may form fouling deposits on the heat transfer surfaces, cause plugging of the flue gas channels, and even expose the surfaces to corrosion. These problems often lead to unscheduled shutdowns of the boiler, which are expensive due to the large size of the modern pulp mills. Significant savings could be achieved if the behavior of the ash-forming elements could be better predicted. The objective of this thesis is to develop a CFD-based (computational fluid dynamics) model for the alkali metal chemistry, fume particles, and fume deposits in the kraft recovery boiler, and to use the model to simulate real recovery boilers. The model combines 3-dimensional CFD, fine particle dynamics, and equilibrium chemistry in a novel way, and solves the fume particle and deposit composition at different locations in the superheater area of the boiler. The model contains certain limitations, such as the steady-state approximation because a compromise has to be made between accuracy and computational cost, which is a significant factor when developing tools for industrial use. The model has been partially validated with measurements in an operating recovery boiler, and the modeling results are in good qualitative agreement with the measurements. Furthermore, the modeling results suggest that deposition through thermophoresis is the main mechanism of fume deposit formation in a recovery boiler, but also that the direct condensation of alkali chloride vapors to heat transfer surfaces can be significant if the black liquor chlorine content is high. According to the model sensitivity analysis, fume deposit growth seems to be a self-limiting process, since an increase in the deposit thickness lowers the rate of deposition by thermophoresis. Another important result is that chlorine enriches in the deposit layers closer to the tube surfaces, which is a result of the high temperature dependence of alkali chloride condensation. The CFD-based model developed here improves understanding of the fume formation mechanisms, shedding light on processes that would be difficult to investigate through experimental methods alone in the corrosive boiler environment. In particular, the model can simulate how certain operational changes, such as increasing boiler load or steam temperatures, affect the alkali metal and fume behavior. In the future, the model can be utilized in the industry to support the engineering of new recovery boilers, and minimize fouling, plugging, and corrosion problems.

Field of science, Statistics Finland

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