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Complex Efficiency of Using Wood Pellets in Power Plants

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V.K. Lyubov, A.M. Vladimirov

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In advanced countries, the dramatic impact of greenhouse gases on the global climate is reduced by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels. This method is being actively encouraged. However, by-products of logging, processing and conversion of wood are classified as difficult to burn fuels due to their high moisture content, low energy density and extremely heterogeneous granulometric composition. A promising direction to increase the energy density and transportability of the timber industry by-products is their granulation. Wood pellet fuel burning in heat-generating plants results in significant increase in their energy and environmental performance. The purpose of the paper is an experimental and calculation study of the energy and environmental performance of 4 MW hot water boilers produced by Polytechnik Luft- und Feuerungstechnik GmbH in the process of burning pine and spruce wood pellets obtained from by-products woodworking. When performing studies, the components of the boiler’s heat balance, gas release, and particulate emissions were determined. Numerical modeling of thermochemical and aerodynamic processes taking place in the boiler combustion chamber was carried out by using the Ansys Fluent three-dimensional simulation software. Together with industrial-operational tests it showed the possibility to reduce the total share of flue gas recirculation into combustion chambers of boiler units to values not exceeding 0.45, in providing an acceptable temperature of combustion products at the combustion chamber outlet and maintaining minimum emissions of carbon and nitrogen monoxides. At the same time, the share of gases fed by recirculation smoke exhausters to the over-bed area of the burner should have higher values than under the reciprocating grates of boilers. Guidelines for comprehensive improvement of wood pellet combustion efficiency in combustion chamber of 4 MW hot water boilers have been developed and implemented. The priorities are: using the air passed through the cooling channels of the setting as secondary air; reducing the rarefaction in the combustion chambers to 30–70 Pa; optimizing the ratio of primary and secondary air, herewith, the share of primary air in the total flow should be 0.26–0.35. Implementation of the developed guidelines allowed to increase the boiler gross efficiency by 0.5–1.8 %, to reduce the aerodynamic resistance of the gas path by 15–20 % and to ensure consistently low emissions of carbon and nitrogen monoxides and soot particles. When designing boiler units for burning wood pellet fuel it is advisable to place heating surfaces in the combustion chamber, included in the circulation circuit of the boiler. This will increase the efficiency and life cycle of the boiler unit.


Victor K. Lyubov1, Doctor of Engineering, Prof.; ResearcherID: AAF-8949-2019,
Aleksandr M. Vladimirov2, Engineer; ResearcherID: AAB-8889-2021,


1Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M.V. Lomonosov, Naberezhnaya Severnoy Dviny, 17, Arkhangelsk, 163002, Russian Federation; e-mail:
2Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill, ul. Mel’nikova, 1, Novodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, 164900, Russian Federation; e-mail:


boiler, wood pellet fuel, harmful substances, numerical modeling, heat losses, efficiency

For citation

Lyubov V.K., Vladimirov A.M. Complex Efficiency of Using Wood Pellets in Power Plants. Lesnoy Zhurnal [Russian Forestry Journal], 2021, no. 1, pp. 159–172. DOI: 10.37482/0536-1036-2021-1-159-172


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