Date of Award

Spring 2013

Project Type


Program or Major

Chemical Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jillian Goldfarb


Co-combustion of biomass in existing coal-fired power plants may increase the use of renewable fuels. Designing equipment for these blends requires knowledge of pyrolysis and oxidation characteristics to optimize fuel ratios. Thermogravimetric analysis for pyrolysis and oxidation of three coals (Illinois No. 6, Pennsylvania, and Venezuela), three biomasses (brewer's spent grain, cocoa bean shells, corn stover), and their blends indicated there to be minimal effect of particle size and high dependency on rate of heat transfer for thermal decomposition of the fuels. Apparent activation energy of devolatilization of components and corresponding temperature ranges indicated non-synergistic, additive nature of the blends. Maximum rates of decomposition, and mass loss fractions for devolatilization of components were also determined. Gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy analysis of devolatilized compounds shows evidence of synergistic reactions, in which the incorporation of biomass in varying proportions suppresses or promotes formation of different compounds during pyrolysis.