IEA Clean Coal Centre

Air staging for NOx control (overfire air and two-stage combustion)

Air staging or two-stage combustion, is generally described as the introduction of overfire air into the boiler or furnace. Staging the air in the burner (internal air staging) is generally one of the design features of low NOx burners.

Furnace overfire air (OFA) technology requires the introduction of combustion air to be separated into primary and secondary flow sections to achieve complete burnout and to encourage the formation of N2 rather than NOx. Primary air (70-90%) is mixed with the fuel producing a relatively low temperature; oxygen deficient, fuel-rich zone and therefore moderate amounts of fuel NOx are formed. The secondary (10-30%) of the combustion air is injected above the combustion zone through a special wind-box with air introducing ports and/or nozzles, mounted above the burners. Combustion is completed at this increased flame volume. Hence, the relatively low-temperature secondary-stage limits the production of thermal NOx. The location of the injection ports and mixing of overfire air are critical to maintain efficient combustion. Retrofitting overfire air on an existing boiler involves waterwall tube modifications to create the ports for the secondary air nozzles and the addition of ducts, dampers and the wind-box. This technique is currently used in 116 pulverised coal-fired units, on a total capacity of 50 GWe as a stand-alone measure. It is used in combination with other primary measures for NOx control, in 175 coal-fired units on a total capacity of 53 GWe.

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