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[en] More than seventy district heating (DH) plants based on biomass are operating in South Tyrol (Italy) and most of them supply heat to residential districts. Almost 20% of them are cogenerative systems, thus enabling primary energy savings with respect to the separate production of heat and power. However, the actual performance of these systems in real operation can considerably differ from the nominal one. The main objectives of this work are the assessment of the energy performance of a biomass boiler coupled with an Organic Rankine Cycle (i.e. ORC) generator under real operating conditions and the identification of its potential improvements. The fluxes of energy and mass of the plant have been measured onsite. This experimental evaluation has been supplemented with a thermodynamic model of the ORC generator, calibrated with the experimental data, which is capable to predict the system performance under different management strategies of the system. The results have highlighted that a decrease of the DH network temperature of 10 °C can improve the electric efficiency of the ORC generator of one percentage point. Moreover, a DH temperature reduction could decrease the main losses of the boiler, namely the exhaust latent thermal loss and the exhaust sensible thermal loss, which account for 9% and 16% of the boiler input power, respectively. The analysis of the plant has pointed out that the ORC pump, the flue gases extractor, the thermal oil pump and the condensation section fan are the main responsible of the electric self-consumption. Finally, the negative effect of the subsidisation on the performance of the plant has been discussed. - Highlights: • Energy performance of a biomass boiler coupled to an ORC turbine in real operation. • Potential improvements of a CHP plant connected to a DH network. • Performance prediction by means of a calibrated ORC thermodynamic model. • Influence of the DH temperature on the electric efficiency. • Impact of the subsidisation regime on the energy performance
[en] This paper presents the energy and the environmental impact analysis of an innovative system based on the pyrolysis of MSW which produces solid (char), liquid (tar) and gas (syngas) fuels used in a combined cycle for electric power generation. The syngas, after filtration and compression, feeds two gas turbines. In turn, the exhaust from the gas turbines, after post-combustion with char and tar, drives a steam turbine power plant. Before being discharged, the flue gas is processed in a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) unit to reduce CO, VOC and NOx content and is filtered to remove particulate matter. This innovative approach to energy recovery from MSW combines high energy efficiency with a low level of polluting emissions. The estimated global efficiency of the plant, referred to the LHV of the MSW, is around 28-30%, a much higher value than ordinarily obtained in traditional waste incineration plants. The environmental analysis includes a study of the polluting emissions and the simulation of their concentration in the area surrounding the plant: the emissions of the plant have a negligible influence on the original polluting levels of the settlement area
[en] There is a growing market demand for small-scale biomass gasifiers that is driven by the economic incentives and the legislative framework. Small-scale gasifiers produce a gaseous fuel, commonly referred to as producer gas, with relatively low heating value. Thus, the most common energy conversion systems that are coupled with small-scale gasifiers are internal combustion engines. In order to increase the electrical efficiency, the operators choose dual fuel engines and mix the producer gas with diesel. The Wiebe function has been a valuable tool for assessing the efficiency of dual fuel internal combustion engines. This study introduces a thermodynamic model that works in parallel with the Wiebe function and calculates the emissions of the engines. This “vis-à-vis” approach takes into consideration the actual conditions inside the cylinders—as they are returned by the Wiebe function—and calculates the final thermodynamic equilibrium of the flue gases mixture. This approach aims to enhance the operation of the dual fuel internal combustion engines by identifying the optimal operating conditions and—at the same time—advance pollution control and minimize the environmental impact.
[en] Wastewater sewage sludge was co-pyrolyzed with a well characterized clay sample, in order to evaluate possible advantages in the thermal disposal process of solid waste. Characterization of the co-pyrolysis process was carried out both by thermogravimetric-mass spectrometric (TG-MS) analysis, and by reactor tests, using a lab-scale batch reactor equipped with a gas chromatograph for analysis of the evolved gas phase (Py-GC). Due to the presence of clay, two main effects were observed in the instrumental characterization of the process. Firstly, the clay surface catalyzed the pyrolysis reaction of the sludge, and secondly, the release of water from the clay, at temperatures of approx. 450-500 deg. C, enhanced gasification of part of carbon residue of the organic component of sludge following pyrolysis. Moreover, the solid residue remaining after pyrolysis process, composed of the inorganic component of sludge blended with clay, is characterized by good features for possible disposal by vitrification, yielding a vitreous matrix that immobilizes the hazardous heavy metals present in the sludge.
[en] Highlights: • Laboratory tests on two commercially available pellet boilers. • Steady state and a dynamic load cycle tests. • Pellet boiler model calibration based on data registered in stationary operation. • Boiler model validation with reference to both stationary and dynamic operation. • Validated model suitable for coupled simulation of building and heating system. - Abstract: Nowadays dynamic building simulation is an essential tool for the design of heating systems for residential buildings. The simulation of buildings heated by biomass systems, first of all needs detailed boiler models, capable of simulating the boiler both as a stand-alone appliance and as a system component. This paper presents the calibration and validation of a boiler model by means of laboratory tests. The chosen model, i.e. TRNSYS “Type 869”, has been validated for two commercially available pellet boilers of 6 and 12 kW nominal capacities. Two test methods have been applied: the first is a steady state test at nominal load and the second is a load cycle test including stationary operation at different loads as well as transient operation. The load cycle test is representative of the boiler operation in the field and characterises the boiler’s stationary and dynamic behaviour. The model had been calibrated based on laboratory data registered during stationary operation at different loads and afterwards it was validated by simulating both the stationary and the dynamic tests. Selected parameters for the validation were the heat transfer rates to water and the water temperature profiles inside the boiler and at the boiler outlet. Modelling results showed better agreement with experimental data during stationary operation rather than during dynamic operation. Heat transfer rates to water were predicted with a maximum deviation of 10% during the stationary operation, and a maximum deviation of 30% during the dynamic load cycle. However, for both operational regimes the fuel consumption was predicted within a 10% deviation from the experimental values
[en] During the last years, there was an increasing interest in small-scale biomass gasification system for combined heat and power (CHP) generation in South-Tyrol (Italy). The large number of plants based on various technologies and installed in a rather small area allowed carrying out a comparative study on a representative set of small-scale gasification-based commercial CHP unit. Each of the selected plants was monitored on-site for a time span of at least 5–6 h, measuring and quantifying mass and energy fluxes. The feedstock and the solid residue (char) have been characterized in terms of elemental composition, ash content and calorific value. The producer gas composition was measured, and tars collected in accordance with international sampling standard methodologies and analyzed. Moreover, environmental aspects have been taken into account, such as phytotoxicity levels in the char – the measurement of which has been performed by means of germination tests. This investigation resulted in a unique overview of the actual state-of-the-art of small-scale biomass gasification technology in Italy in terms of energy efficiency of the plants, effectiveness of the adopted solutions and characteristics of the products and by-products. - Highlights: • A representative set of small-scale gasification-based commercial CHP unit was selected. • Each of the selected plants was monitored on-site, measuring mass and energy fluxes. • All the gasification products and by-products were characterized. • The gasifier thermal loss is the main loss for all the investigated technologies. • Phytotoxicity tests on chars do not suggest they might be used as soil amendment.
[en] The energy policy of the European member States is promoting high-efficiency cogeneration systems by means of the European directive 2012/27/EU. Particular facilitations have been implemented for the small-scale and micro-cogeneration units. Furthermore, the directive 2010/31/EU promotes the improvement of energy performance of buildings and use of energy from renewable sources for the building sector. In this scenario, systems based on gasification are considered a promising technological solution when dealing with biomass and small scale systems. In this paper, an integrated approach has been implemented to assess the energy performance of combined heat and power (CHP) systems based on biomass gasification and installed in residential blocks. The space-heating loads of the considered building configurations have been simulated by means of EnergyPlus. The heat load for domestic hot water demand has been calculated according to the average daily profiles suggested by the Italian and European technical standards. The efficiency of the whole CHP system has been evaluated supplementing the simulation of the gasification stage with the energy balance of the cogeneration set (i.e., internal combustion engine) and implementing the developed routines in the Matlab-Simulink environment. The developed model has been used to evaluate the primary energy saving (PES) of the CHP system compared to a reference case of separate production of heat and power. Economic analyses are performed either with or without subsidizations for the generated electricity. The results highlight the capability of the integrated approach to estimate both energy and economic performances of CHP systems applied to the residential context. Furthermore, the importance of the generated heat valorisation and the proper system sizing have been discussed. - Highlights: • CHP system based on biomass gasification to meet household energy demand is studied. • Influence of CHP size and operation time on energy performance has been analysed. • The economic performance of a CHP systems have been investigated. • Effect of subsidisation regime on the economic analysis has been examined