Computational Assessment of Biomass Dust Explosions in the 20L Sphere

by   A. Islas, et al.

Determination of the explosion severity parameters of biomass is crucial for the safety management and dust explosion risk assessment of biomass-processing industries. These are commonly determined following experimental tests in the 20L sphere according to the international standards. Recently, CFD simulations have emerged as a reliable alternative to predict the explosion behavior with good accuracy and reduced labor and capital. In this work, numerical simulations of biomass dust explosions are conducted with the open-source CFD code OpenFOAM. The multi-phase (gas-solid) flow is treated in an Eulerian-Lagrangian framework, using a two-way coupling regime and considering the reactions of biomass conversion (moisture evaporation, devolatilization, and char oxidation), the combustion of volatile gases, and convective and radiative heat transfer. The model is validated with pressure-time and concentration-dependent experimental measurements of two biomass samples. Results suggest that the characteristics of the cold-flow (ı.e. turbulence levels, actual dust concentration, spatial distribution of the dust cloud, and turbophoresis effect) govern the course of the explosion process, and depend strongly on particle size, dust concentration, and ignition delay time effects. These findings may be relevant in the design of better dust explosion testing devices and to the reexamination of the guidelines for the operation of the experiment. Finally, a thorough discussion on the explosion pressures, degree of biomass conversion, flame temperature, flame propagation patterns, and the dust agglomeration effect is presented.


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