Spontaneous heating in biomass silos

Several major fires at biomass facilities in recent years have been caused by spontaneous combustion. Here, Derek Stuart, global product manager at AMETEK Land, explores early detection methods to keep supplies (and people) safe.

Wood pellets have many desirable properties when used as fuel: they are sustainable, energy-dense, have low moisture content, and are easy to transport. However, they do oxidise easily, and this means they are susceptible to spontaneous heating which, left unchecked, can lead to spontaneous combustion. Fortunately, techniques are available that allow oxidation to be detected early, so that preventative measures can be taken long before a damaging fire breaks out.

Risks of unwanted combustion - potentially causing injury, damage and downtime - occur everywhere pellets are handled, processed, or stored. Safe handling practices are designed to ensure that the fuel remains intact throughout its journey, from the mill until the point at which it is ignited in the boiler. This article examines equipment selection and operating criteria for reducing risk in storage silos.

Oxidation is a...

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