Use of artificial intelligence techniques for optimisation of co-combustion of coal with biomass

CK Tan, Steven Wilcox, John Ward

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The optimisation of burner operation in conventional pulverised-coal-fired boilers for co-combustion applications represents a significant challenge This paper describes a strategic framework in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques can be applied to solve such an optimisation problem. The effectiveness of the proposed system is demonstrated by a case study that simulates the co-combustion of coal with sewage sludge in a 500-kW pilot-scale combustion rig equipped with a swirl stabilised low-NOx burner. A series of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations were performed to generate data for different operating conditions, which were then used to train several Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) to predict the co-combustion performance Once trained, the ANNs were able to make estimations of unseen situations in a fraction of the time taken by the CFD simulation. Consequently, the networks were capable of representing the underlying physics of the CFD models and could be executed efficiently for a large number of iterations as required by optimisation techniques based on Evolutionary Algorithms (EAs). Four operating parameters of the burner, namely the swirl angles and flow rates of the secondary and tertiary combustion air were optimised with the objective of minimising the NOx and CO emissions as well as the unburned carbon at the furnace exit. The results suggest that ANNs combined with EAs provide a useful tool for optimising co-combustion processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-25
    JournalJournal of the Energy Institute
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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