Systematic study of selected sorbents available in South Africa for desulphurisation of flue gas during in-bed fluidised bed combustion of coal.
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Sulphur dioxide (S02) is an atmospheric pollutant that has the ability to negatively impact on local vegetation, farming activities and human health. South Africa's coal fired power stations release this pollutant into the atmosphere during the combustion of coal. Current coal fired power stations operating in South Africa are not required to install any form of S02 removal equipment however, the new Air Quality Act to be implemented in South Africa could change this situation. The use of Fluidised Bed Technology with the addition of limestone or dolomite (sorbent) has the ability to absorb and convert S02 from a gaseous phase into a solid phase for easy disposal. The objective of this study was to evaluate potential commercial sorbent sources in South Africa that could potentially be used for the reduction of S02 released into the atmosphere during fluidised bed combustion of coal. Eight commercially mined sorbents within a two hundred kilometre radius of large economically mineable coalfields were selected. The study was divided into two parts in order to identify any possible links between the physical and chemical composition of the sorbents and their performance under fluidised bed combustion conditions. In Part 1, the chemical composition of the sorbents was determined by X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis. The sorbents hardness property was determined by Hardgrove Grindability Index (HGI) testing. The physical structure of the sorbent was analysed by both Petrographical and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) analysis of the original/parent sorbents. In Part 2, S02 absorption capability by the sorbents was determined through batch tests conducted in a 1.6m high stainless steel, 10kW electrically heated Atmospheric Fluidised Bed Reactor (AFBR). Three different bed temperatures (800, 850 and 900°C) and three different particle size ranges (425-500, 600-710 and 850-lOOOllm) were tested for each of the eight sorbents. The highest Maximum Sulphur Retention for all of the sorbents was found to occur at a temperature of 850°C and at the smallest particle size tested, 425-500llm. The best desulphurisation sorbent of the eight sorbents tested was found to be Sorb1 with a S02 Maximum Sulphur Retention of 92.30% and a Removal Efficiency of 84.54%. Additional tests were also performed on the sorbents to get a better understanding of their desulphurisation ability. For the area calculation on the performance test graphs, it was found that the sorbent that produced the best S02 removal efficiency was not necessarily the sorbent that had the highest maximum sulphur retention. For varying quantities of sorbent added to the AFBR, it was found that each sorbent had an optimum quantity that produced the best removal efficiency. However, for desulphurisation beyond certain limits any further increase in the amount of sorbent added to the AFBR resulted only in a marginal increase in the sorbent's S02 removal. The calcium and magnesium composition of the sorbents was found to have no noticeable influence on the sorbents ability to reduce S02. The silica and inherent moisture content of the sorbent showed signs whereby an increase in their compositions produced an increase in desulphurisation. The Hardgrove Grindability Index of the sorbents indicated that the softer the sorbent, the better the S02 reduction. The petrographical analysis performed on the eight sorbents showed no obvious reason for the difference between the sorbents ability to remove S02.