Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Wagner, John

Committee Member

Layton , Patricia

Committee Member

Ma , Lin


The compliance of coal-fired boilers with emissions regulations is a concern for many facilities. The introduction of biomass briquettes in industrial boilers can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and coal usage. In this research project, a thermodynamic chemical equilibrium model was derived and analytical simulations performed for a coal boiler system for several types of biomass fuels such as beech, hickory, maple, poplar, white oak, willow, sawdust, torrefied willow, and switchgrass. The biomass emissions were compared to coal and charcoal emissions. The chemical equilibrium analysis numerically estimated the emissions of CO, CO2, NO, NO2, N2O, SO2, and SO3. When examining the computer results, coal and charcoal emitted the highest CO, CO2, and SOx levels while the lowest (especially for SOx) were reached by the biomass fuels. Similarly, NOx levels were highest for the biomass and lowest for coal and charcoal. To validate these analytical results, a custom traveling grate furnace was designed and fabricated to evaluate different types of biofuels in the laboratory for operation temperatures and emissions. The furnace fuels tested included coal, charcoal, torrefied wood chips, and wood briquettes. As expected, the coal reached the highest temperature while the torrefied wood chips offered the lowest temperature. For CO and NOx emissions, the charcoal emitted the highest levels while the wood briquettes emitted the lowest levels. The highest SO2 emissions were reached by the coal while the lowest were emitted by the wood briquettes. When compared to the coal fuel, charcoal emissions for CO increased by 103%, NO and NOx decreased by 21% and 20% respectively, and SO2 levels decreased by 92%. For torrefied wood, emissions for CO increased by 17%, NO and NOx decreased by 58% and 57% respectively, and SO2 decreased by 90%. For wood briquettes, emissions for CO decreased by 27%, NO and NOx decreased by 66%, and SO2 levels decreased by 97%. General trends in emissions levels for CO, CO2, SO2, and SO3 among the various fuels were the same for the two methods. From the modeling and experimental results, it is clear that the opportunity exists to reduce boiler emissions using biomass materials.
In computer controlled systems, electric motor and connector arcing can cause operational difficulties such as reduced motor life, connector/cable failure, and VFD tripping. To better understand the behavior of electric motors in diverse environ- ments, experimental testing has been conducted on two different 230/460 V 3-phase AC brushless motors at unloaded and loaded conditions. The motors were driven with a 200 VAC or 400 VAC class Hitachi variable-frequency drive (VFD) and operated in air, argon, and helium environments for a duration of eight hours. Voltage transients and temperatures were monitored for these tests. The largest recorded voltage spike of 1,852 V occurred during 480 VAC start/stop tests. In addition, two different cable lengths between the VFD and motor terminals were tested. The experimental results demonstrated that the shorter cable produced smaller voltage spikes when compared to the longer electrical cable. For all tests, both motors operated coolest in the helium environment and warmest in the argon environment.



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