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Heating values of wood pellets from different


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Article in Biomass and Bioenergy May 2011
Impact Factor: 3.39 DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2011.02.043

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Heating values of wood pellets from different species


C. Telmo a,*, J. Lousada b
a
University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD), Forestry Department, Quinta dos Prados Apartado 1013-5001-801 Vila Real,
Portugal
b
CITAB, Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environment and Biological Sciences, UTAD, Quinta dos Prados Apartado
1013-5001-801 Vila Real, Portugal

article info

abstract

Article history:

The calorific values of wood pellets from different wood species were determined using

Received 11 March 2009

a Parr 6300 bomb calorimeter, following the CEN/TS 14918:2005. The aim of this study was

Received in revised form

the thermo characterization of the wood pellets. Softwoods had a high calorific value

15 February 2011

between 19660.02 and 20360.45 kJ/kg, and the hardwoods had a ranging interval between

Accepted 22 February 2011

17631.66 and 20809.47 kJ/kg, in accordance to Phyllis distribution of HHV. The highest HHV

Available online 8 April 2011

(Higher Heating Value) and LHV (Low Heating Value) were obtained by Bowdichia nitida

Keywords:

(20360.45 kJ/kg). Pinus pinaster was the softwood with the highest LHV (16935.72 kJ/kg).

Higher Heating Value

Fagus sylvatica was the National hardwood with the highest HHV (19132.47 kJ/kg). Fraxinus

Low Heating Value

angustifolia was the National hardwood with the highest LHV (16450.82 kJ/kg). Eucalyptus

Moisture

globulus obtained the lowest HHV and LHV (17631.66e14411.54 kJ/kg).

(20809.47e17907.85 kJ/kg). Cedrus atlantica was the softwood with the highest HHV

2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Wood pellets
Linear regression

1.

Introduction

The amount of land area covered by forest in Portugal is 38% of


the total land area of the country Table 1, the forest area
increased 2% between 1995 and 2006 to a total of 3,136,800 ha
according to the National Forest Inventory 2006. These area is
occupied mainly by Quercus suber 736700 ha, Pinus pinaster
710600 ha and Eucalyptus globulus 646,700 ha Table 2. The most
important forest products are cork, wood pulp, paper pulp,
paper board, cellulose and wood (furniture; construction).
Portugal is the premier producer of cork in the world about
50% of the total cork production, and the fifth producer of pulp
and paper in Europe. In this sense, the forest sector, as
generator of great amounts of residues assumes an important
role respecting the use of biomass for energy.
In the future, biomass has the potential to provide a costeffective and sustainable supply of energy, while at the

same time aiding countries in meeting their GHG reduction


targets [1]. In the short to medium term, biomass is expected
to dominate energy supply. For the generation of electricity
and heat, while using advanced combustion technology,
organic wastes can be used as modern biomass [2]. Also,
a number of crops and crop residues may fit modern bioenergy chains [3,4]. In addition, biomass production can create
employment and if intensive agriculture is replaced by less
intensively managed energy crops, there are likely to be
environmental benefits, such as reduced leaching of fertilizers
and the use of pesticides [5].
In Portugal, there is currently an energy density growing,
pelletizing of biomass as biofuels increases energy density,
improves storability and reduces handling and transport
costs. This process is a major key factor in the transition from
fossil fuels to renewable biomass refined as solid biofuels. The
fast growing pellet industry is today producing more than

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 351 914165175; fax: 351 259350859.


E-mail address: telmimore@hotmail.com (C. Telmo).
0961-9534/$ e see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2011.02.043

b i o m a s s a n d b i o e n e r g y 3 5 ( 2 0 1 1 ) 2 6 3 4 e2 6 3 9

Table 1 e Area by soil use in Portugal (IFN 2005/6).


Soil use
Forest
Bushes
Agriculture
Social areas
Water (inside)

Area (103 ha)


3136.8
1898.6
3028.3
413.5
143.8

1.7 Gj wood pellets in Sweden e one of the leading nations to


utilize bioenergy in its energy blend.

2.

Higher and Low Heating Value

The most important parameter to characterize a substance as


combustible is the calorific value. The number of units of
energy produced by the combustion of a unit mass of a fuel is
termed calorific value. The calorific value of wood can be
expressed as follow:
 Higher Heating Value at constant volume (dry basis)
 Low Heating Value at constant pressure (dry basis)
 Low Heating Value at constant pressure (wet basis or as
received)
The Higher Heating Value is the absolute value of the
specific energy combustion, in joules for unit mass of a solid
biofuel burned in oxygen in a calorimetric bomb under specified conditions. Combustion products consist of oxygen,
nitrogen, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide of liquid water [6].
Condensing the water vapour increases the amount of
energy recovered from the wood. The water vapour can arise
from two sources: the moisture content of the wood and the
formation of water from the hydrogen in the wood. There is
little difference in the Higher Heating Values of oven dry wood
from different tree species. Bark does have lower energy
content than stem wood.
The Low Heating Value is the absolute value of the specific
energy of combustion, in joules, for unit mass of the biofuel
burned in oxygen under conditions of constant volume and
such that all the water of reaction products remains as water
vapour [6]. The Low Heating Value in wet basis, is perhaps the
most practical measure of energy content. The moisture

Table 2 e Forest species in Portugal (IFN 2005/6).


Species
Eucalyptus globulus
Pinus pinaster
Quercus suber
Quercus ilex
Quercus spp
Pinus pinea
Castanea sativa
Softwood (others)
Hardwood (others)
Other wood formation
Young formation
Total

Area (103 ha)


646.7
710.6
736.7
388.3
117.9
83.9
28.2
14.2
96.8
18.0
295.5
3136.8

2635

content of wood fuel is evaporated as it burns, that process


requires energy.
The most common methods currently being practiced to
evaluate the heating of biomass are by using the equation
derived by Dulong, or experimentally, by using the bomb
calorimeter. There have been numerous other mathematical
equations, which where created based on the data from
physical composition, proximate or elemental analysis of
biomass [7e9]. The calculation of HHV available in literature
was based on correlations for a wide range of coals as well as
other fuels and have drawn the attention of many
researchers. Selvig and Gibson [10], Strach and Lant [11], Steuer [12], Vondracek [13], Sumegi [14], Mott and Spooners [15].
Others have estimated the calorific power as in Refs. [7,16,17]
and created more mathematical models like in Refs. [8,18].
It has been given a great contribution by Demirbas [19e21]
in thermal studies of biomass fuels, a unified correlation for
estimating HHV of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels was developed by Channiwala and Parikh in 2001. More recently they
created new correlations for calculating HHV from proximate
analysis of solid fuels [9].
The aim of this study was the thermo characterization of
the wood pellets from different species.

3.

Materials and methods

Twelve of the main wood species in Portugal and five industry


wood tropical residues have been studied. The main species
were: Castanea sativa; E. globulus; Fagus sylvatica; P. pinaster;
Quercus robur; Fraxinus angustifolia; Prunus avium; Pseudotsuga
menziesii; Salix babilonica; Populus euro-americana (cl. I-214); Acer
pseudoplatanus; Cedrus atlantica. The wood industry residues
were: Chlorophora excelsa; Entandrophragma cylindricum; Gossweilerodendron balsamiferum; Bowdichia nitida; Hymenaea courbaril. The samples were prepared according to the general
analysis test sample CEN/TS 14780 [22]. For the determination
of moisture used technical specification CEN/TS 14774-3:2004
e Solid biofuels e Methods for the determination of moisture
content e Oven dry method Part 3: Moisture in general analysis sample [23].
After oven-dried to constant weight at 105  C and weighed
to determine the dry weight the determination of the moisture
as a percentage by mass, was calculated using the formula
according to [23]:
Mad

m2  m3
 100
m2  m1

where m1 is the mass of the empty weighing dish plus lid in


grams; m2 is the mass of the weighing dish plus lid plus
sample before drying in grams; m3 is the mass of the weighing
dish plus lid plus sample after drying in grams.
The calorific value was measured using an Automated
Isoperibol Fixed Bomb Parr 6300 bomb calorimeter, following
the CEN/TS 14918:2005 [6], in an atmosphere of O2 that assures
the complete combusting of the sample. To begin a test:
1. Weigh the sample 0.5e0.6 g.
2. Tap the capsules that contain powdered samples to
compact the material.

2636

b i o m a s s a n d b i o e n e r g y 3 5 ( 2 0 1 1 ) 2 6 3 4 e2 6 3 9

Table 3 e Mean SD (CV %) of Higher and Low Heating values, moisture content (Mar) of the samples.
Species

HHV (kJ/kg)

LHV (kJ/kg)

Mar (%)

Pinus pinaster
Pseudotsuga menziesii
Cedrus atlantica
Castanea sativa
Eucalyptus globulus
Fagus sylvatica
Quercus robur
Fraxinus angustifolia
Prunus avium
Salix babilonica
Populus euro-americana.
Acer pseudoplatanus
Chlorophora excelsa
Entandrophragma cyli.
Gossweilerodendron b.
Bowdichia nitida
Hymenaea courbaril

20237.89  374.12 (1.849)


19660.02  32.29 (0.164)
20360.45  187.30 (0.920)
18754.86  218.64 (1.166)
17631.66  326.53 (1.852)
19132.47  231.97 (1.212)
18696.82  47.00 (0.251)
19090.90  306.18 (1.604)
18256.48  120.86 (0.662)
18279.41  348.08 (1.904)
18791.20  248.45 (1.322)
18637.91  152.15 (0.816)
20314.74  378.88 (1.865)
19053.87  113.65 (0.596)
20499.80  338.74 (1.652)
20809.47  354.05 (1.701)
19296.38  187.61 (0.972)

16935.72  335.46 (1.981)


16704.30  29.46 (0.176)
15629.71  154.00 (0.985)
15468.56  194.33 (1.256)
14411.54  289.03 (2.006)
15818.67  206.36 (1.304)
15361.13  41.63 (0.271)
16450.82  283.92 (1.726)
15552.33  111.18 (0.715)
15372.32  316.07 (2.056)
16130.08  229.78 (1.424)
15615.05  137.43 (0.880)
17287.67  345.38 (1.998)
15691.61  100.73 (0.642)
17170.12  303.73 (1.769)
17907.85  325.83 (1.819)
16183.69  169.18 (1.045)

10.3
8.8
17.8
11.1
11.5
11.0
11.4
7.3
8.0
9.2
7.5
9.7
8.8
11.4
10.3
8.0
9.8

Sample
P4
P8
P12
P1
P2
P3
P5
P6
P7
P9
P10
P11
P13
P14
P15
P16
P17

3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Carefully place the capsule into the capsule holder.


Attach 10 cm of ignition thread.
Install bomb head in calorimeter.
Close calorimeter cover making certain the latch is engaged
Select determination on Operating Mode, heater and pump
on.
8. Press START to begin the test. Calorimeter will prompt
operator for Cal ID number, Sample ID numbers and
weights.
The 6300 Isoperibol Calorimeter System requires availability of Oxygen, 99.5% purity, with CGA 540 connection,
2500 psig, maximum. Approximately 4 L of tap water, with
a total hardness of 85 ppm or less, are required for filling the
calorimeter jacket reservoir. The inlet pressure should be in
the range of 20e60 psi. The required flow rate is on the order of
0.5 L/min. The temperature of the water should not exceed
25  C.
The 6300 Isoperibol Calorimeter automatically makes all the
calculations necessary to produce a gross heat of combustion for
the sample. Corrected temperature rises reading automatically,
the fuse correction would be (42 j) from electrical heating, (50 j)
from burning thread. A mass of 1 mg per centimetre of the thread
results in a total fuse correction (209 j) in which test thermochemical corrections set on for all the tests used this value [24].
Precise temperature measurements are made with
thermistor thermometry providing 0.0001  C resolution over
the operating range of the calorimeter. This system differs
from adiabatic operation in which the jacket temperature
must be adjusted continuously to match the bucket temperature in an attempt to maintain a zero temperature differential with no heat leaks between the bucket and its
surroundings. Higher Heating Value in dry basis calculated by
the equation according to Ref. [6]:
qv;gr;d qv;gr x

100
100  Mad

where: qv,gr,d is the Higher Heating Value at constant volume


of the dry (moisture-free) fuel, in joules per gram; Mad is the

moisture in the analysis sample, in percentage by mass. qv,gr is


the Higher Heating Value at constant volume of the fuel as
analysed, in joules per gram.
The Low Heating Value can be determined at constant
pressure or at constant volume. The Low Heating Value at
constant pressure is however the generally used, since it is the
one that is usually used in combustion. His determination is
fundamental at the time of evaluating a substance and also
gives an idea of the potential to generate and propagate fires
[25]. The Low Heating Value at constant pressure for a dry
sample is derived from the corresponding Higher Heating
Value according to equation in Ref. [6]:


qp;net;d qv;gr;d  212; 2  wHd 0; 8  wOd wNd
where: qp,net,d is the Low Heating Value in dry basis at constant
pressure (MJ/kg); qv,gr,d is the Higher Heating Value in dry basis
(MJ/kg); w(H )d is the hydrogen content, in percentage by mass,
of the moisture-free (dry); w(O)d is the oxygen content, in

Table 4 e TukeyeKramer HSD test to HHV.


Level
Bowdichia nitida
Gossweilerodendron b.
Cedrus atlantica
Chlorophora excelsa
Pinus pinaster
Pseudotsuga menziesii
Hymenaea courbaril
Fagus sylvatica
Fraxinus angustifolia
Entandrophragma cyli.
Populus euro-americana.
Castanea sativa
Quercus robur
Acer pseudoplatanus
Salix babilonica
Prunus avium
Eucalyptus globulus

Mean (kJ/kg)
A
A
A
A
A

B
B
B
B

C
C
C
C
C

D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D

E
E
E
E
E
E

F
F
F
F
F
F

G
G
G

20809.47
20499.80
20360.45
20314.74
20237.89
19660.02
19296.38
19132.47
19090.90
19053.87
18791.20
18754.86
18696.82
18637.91
18279.41
18256.48
17631.66

2637

b i o m a s s a n d b i o e n e r g y 3 5 ( 2 0 1 1 ) 2 6 3 4 e2 6 3 9

Table 5 e TukeyeKramer HSD test to LHV.


Level

Mean (kJ/kg)

Bowdichia nitida
A
Chlorophora excelsa
A B
Gossweilerodendron b.
B
Pinus pinaster
B C
Pseudotsuga menziesii
B C D
Fraxinus angustifolia
C D E
Hymenaea courbaril
D E F
Populus euro-americana.
D E F G
Fagus sylvatica
E F G H
Entandrophragma cyli.
F G H
Cedrus atlantica
F G H
Acer pseudoplatanus
F G H
Prunus avium
F G H
Castanea sativa
G H
Salix babilonica
H
Quercus robur
H
Eucalyptus globulus
I

17907.85
17287.67
17170.12
16935.72
16704.30
16450.82
16183.69
16130.08
15818.67
15691.61
15629.71
15615.05
15552.33
15468.56
15372.32
15361.13
14411.54

percentage by mass of the moisture-free biofuel; w(N )d is the


nitrogen content, in percentage.
Note: (H ), (O), (N ) content (% dry basis) used in these
calculations are the default values of most used biofuels
according to Ref. [6], wood without bark, needles and leaves.
The Low Heating Value (as received) calculated according
to Ref. [6]:
qp;net;m qp;net;d 

100  Mar
 0; 02443  Mar
100

where: qp,net,m is the Low Heating Value (at constant pressure)


as received (MJ/kg); qp,net,d is the Low Heating Value (at
constant pressure) in dry basis (MJ/kg); Mar is the moisture
content as received [w%]; 0, 02443 is the correction factor of
the enthalpy of vaporization (constant pressure) for water
(moisture) at 25  C [MJ/kg per 1 w% of moisture].
TukeyeKramer test (HHV; LHV) used in conjunction with
an ANOVA (One way), done with JMP 7.0, to find which group
of means is significantly different from one another. Levels
not connected by the same letter are significantly different
Tables 4 and 5.

4.

Fig. 1 e High and Low calorific value by species.

Table 4 is an arrangement of different species, according to


descending values of Higher Heating Values. Levels not connected by the same letter are significantly different. Letter
A corresponds to the 5 higher HHV where C. atlantica and
P. pinaster were included. B. nitida had the highest HHV
(20809.47 kJ/kg), C. atlantica was the softwood with the highest
HHV (20360.45 kJ/kg). F. sylvatica was the National hardwood
with the highest HHV (19132.47 kJ/kg). E. globulus had the
lowest value of HHV (17631.66 kJ/kg), as well as P. avium
(18256.48 kJ/kg) and S. babilonica (18279.41 kJ/kg), but the
differences in this three HHV were not statistically significant.
The existing Higher Heating Values in the Phyllis Database [28]
for softwood ranging from 18,398 to 20,519 kJ/kg and for
hardwood ranging from 17,384 to 23,052 kJ/kg. According to
our study, the softwoods had a high calorific value between
19660.02 and 20360.45 kJ/kg and the hardwoods had a ranging
interval between 17631.66 and 20809.47 kJ/kg, in accordance to
Phyllis distribution of HHV.
In what concerns to Low Heating Values, the softwoods
ranging from 15629.71 to 16935.72 kJ/kg and hardwoods
ranging from 14411.54 to 17907.85 kJ/kg.

18000

Results and discussion


NCV ( K j/ k g) w. b.

17500
The Table 3 shows mean; standard deviation; coefficient of
variation of HHVeLHV and moisture content (Mar) for all the
samples. There are differences between the Higher Heating
Values and Low Heating Values for the different species. The
HHV is greater since it is the sum of the LHV and the heat
released by the condensation of water vapour. With exception
of B. nitida and Hymenea courbaril (Tropical residues), the mean
HHVeLHV corresponding to softwood are higher than the
other Fig. 1, as a consequence of oil and resins production [26].
Their study has the same result. Also Demirbas [27] says that
softwoods are considered to have greater HHVs because of
their resin or extractive contents. Variation among the
samples (reflecting intraspecific variation and measurement
error) was relatively low with an average variation of 1.2%.

r=0.386 (n.s.)

17000
16500
16000
15500
15000
14500
14000
6

10

12

14

16

18

Mar(%)
Fig. 2 e Linear fit of Low Heating Value (LHV) by moisture
(Mar).

2638

b i o m a s s a n d b i o e n e r g y 3 5 ( 2 0 1 1 ) 2 6 3 4 e2 6 3 9

Table 6 e Mean, SD in brackets, TukeyeKramer test of


calorific values and moisture contents (Mar) of wood.
Species
Hardwoods (H)
Softwoods (S)
Hardwoods National (HN)
Softwoods National (SN)
Hardwoods National (HN)
Hardwoods Tropical (HT)

HHV (kJ/kg) LHV (kJ/kg) Mar (%)


19089.0
(889.9)
20086.1
(374.1)
18585.7
(468.0)
20086.1
(374.1)
18585.7
(468.0)
19994.9
(773.7)

a
a
a
b
a
b

16030.1
(919.6)
16423.2
(696.9)
15575.6
(568.8)
16423.2
(696.9)
15575.6
(568.8)
16848.2
(894.3)

a
a
a
a
a
b

9.6 a
(1.5)
12.3 a
(4.8)
9.6 a
(1.7)
12.3 a
(4.8)
9.6 a
(1.7)
9.7 a
(1.3)

a: There are statistically no significant differences. b: There are


statistically significant differences.

Table 5 shows an arrangement of different species


according to descending values of Low Heating Values. Results
show 9 groups from A to I. B. nitida had the highest LHV
(17907.85 kJ/kg), P. pinaster was the softwood with the highest
LHV (16935.72 kJ/kg). F. angustifolia was the National hardwood
with the highest LHV (16450.82 kJ/kg). E. globulus had the
lowest value of HHV (17631.66 kJ/kg), as well as P. avium
(18256.48 kJ/kg) and S. babilonica (18279.41 kJ/kg).
The descending in LHV of C. atlantica in Table 5, when
compared with the HHV in Table 4, is according to his higher
value of moisture. Maximum values of LHV correspond to
minimum moisture content, according to Ref. [29] as the higher
wood moisture content is lower than the Low Heating Value.
Linear Regression fit data points for LHV versus moisture.
Fig. 2 shows a descending tendency but totally not explained
by the moisture content. The species factor has a strong
influence on the calorific value variation, because the same
value of moisture corresponds a big dispersion of moisture
values.
According to Ref. [30] LHV behaviour is not as regular, as it
depends on moisture content which is different depending on
the season and the residue fraction. The interspecific variation in the LHV according to his moisture content was not
statistically significant (r 0.386), with Low Heating Values
ranging from 14411.54 to 17907.85 kJ/kg and moisture content
values of 7.3e17.8%. The influence of moisture content in
calorific value is great in all the species. This value can be
double when the samples are totally dry [3].
However measurements of the Higher Heating Values and
the calculations of Low Heating Values, gave a low error based
on the three repetitions by sample and mean determination
for which species value. The maximum error was 2% on the
calorific value determination.
In Table 6, based on the results, we have seen that although
the Higher and Low Heating Values, and moisture contents in
softwoods tend to be higher than hardwoods, the differences
are not statistically significant given the high variability found
within each group. However, when this comparison had only
National wood species, the tendency to softwoods had Higher
Heating Values than the hardwoods was more pronounced to
the extent of differences in Higher Heating Values already

being statistically significant ( p < 0.05). Concerning the


hardwoods, it was found that the tropical species had Higher
and Low Heating Values, being statistically significant differences in their Higher and Low Heating Values.

5.

Conclusions

The study showed differences in calorific values of wood


pellets from different species. Softwoods had Higher Heating
Value between 19660.02 and 20360.45 kJ/kg. The hardwoods
had HHV ranging between 17631.66 and 20809.47 kJ/kg, in
accordance to Phyllis distribution of HHV.
According to the amount of Low Heating Values, the softwoods ranging from 15629.71 to 16935.72 kJ/kg and hardwoods
ranging from 14411.54 to 17907.85 kJ/kg.
The highest HHV and LHV were obtained by B. nitida
(20809.47e17907.85 kJ/kg). C. atlantica was the softwood with
the highest HHV (20360.45 kJ/kg). P. pinaster was the softwood
with the highest LHV (16935.72 kJ/kg). F. sylvatica was the
National hardwood with the highest HHV (19132.47 kJ/kg). F.
angustifolia was the National hardwood with the highest LHV
(16450.82 kJ/kg). E. globulus obtained the lowest HHV and LHV
(17631.66e14411.54 kJ/kg).
The correlation between Low Heating Values and moisture
(LHV-Mar) was not statistically significant, but it can be seen
that it occurs as C. atlantica had Higher Heating Value than P.
pinaster but also the highest moisture contents, that is why
lower the Low Heating Value when compared with that pine
and other species.
Softwoods species have Higher and Low Heating Values
than hardwoods, statistically significant differences were
found in the case of the Higher Heating Values of National
wood.
Concerning the comparison between national vs tropical
hardwoods, it is concluded that tropical species have Higher
and Low Heating Values. The differences were statistically
significant in Higher and Low Heating Values.

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