PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF A SMALL SCALE PALM FRUIT BIOMASS FIRED BOILER
Keywords:fire-in-tube, water-in-tube, inlet air preheat chamber, fuel material, firing time, efficiency
This study evaluated a boiler designed for small scale palm fruit processing for its performance. The boiler was evaluated for its fuel consumption, steam production rate and efficiency using 100 kg of different fuel samples (shell, palm fibre, empty fruit bunch (efb) and wood) with known calorific value and their combinations for a period of 60 minutes firing time. The rate of fuel consumption by the furnace differs with the type of fuel materials as 100 kg of shell and 100 kg of wood burnt within 55 minutes firing time while the combination of shell and wood was burnt within 60 minutes of its firing time under the same condition. Combination of shell and efb lasted for 50 minutes during firing while efb alone burnt completely within 35 minutes. The highest quantity of steam (17.99 kg/min) and maximum boiler efficiency (79.6%) were recorded when fired with efb only while 10.96 kg/min steam production rate and 76.4% efficiency were recorded when fired with shell and efb combination. Combination of shell and wood produced 10.31 kg/min of steam and 76.6% boiler efficiency while 11.31 kg/min of steam and 76.9 % boiler efficiency was obtained using wood only. Combination of shell, efb and fibre gave 15.28 kg/min of steam and 73.1 % boiler efficiency while 10.32 kg/min of steam and 76% boiler efficiency was obtained using shell only. The study concluded that the boiler developed using adequately-prepared locally-available materials has the potential to be incorporated into the small scale palm fruit processing technology profile and has the capacity to supply the steam requirement in the plant, thereby bridging the identified gap in the small scale palm oil process line.