Burak Ulusoy defending his PhD thesis. (Foto: Burak Ulusoy)

PhD interview: Sustainable combustion of biomass

Tuesday 17 Dec 19
by Frederik Appel Olsen


Burak Ulusoy
DTU Chemical Engineering

NOx formation and reduction in fluidized bed combustion of biomass

Supervisors: Kim Dam-Johansen (DTU), Hao Wu (DTU), Weigang Lin (DTU), Wei Wang (Institute of Process Engineering (IPE), Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Partnerships: The PhD was part of the Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC), i.e. a partnership between Danish and Chinese universities. Burak spent one year in China doing research and teaching. No industrial partners were involved.

Burak Ulusoy explains his research on ‘NOx formation and reduction in fluidized bed combustion of biomass’ and why he chose to do a PhD at DTU Chemical Engineering.

On 8 October 2019, Burak Ulusoy succesfully defended his PhD thesis 'NOx formation and reduction in fluidized bed combustion of biomass' at DTU Chemical Engineering. Here, we bring an interview with him about his project and his motivation for doing it. 

What made you apply for a position as PhD at DTU Chemical Engineering?

I have for a long time had a keen interest in research and a PhD seemed like a golden opportunity. I was lucky to be offered a position, which allowed me to participate in the outstanding research environment at DTU Chemical Engineering and to travel to China where I gained competences from Chinese experts and professors.

What is the essence of your PhD project?

As consequence of the increased emission of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels, a gradual transition to the use of sustainable energy is happening. An important type of sustainable energy is biomass, which can replace coal for power and heat production. A challenge connected to the use of biomass is the variable and sometimes high concentration of nitrogen, which can reach up to several weight percentages. This may lead to significant emissions of nitric oxides, NOx, (NO and NO2) and N2O, which are harmful to the environment. NOx leads to the formation of acid rain and photochemical smoke, while N2O breaks down the ozone layer and is a greenhouse gas.

In my PhD project, the NOx emissions from fluidized bed combustion of biomass were examined. Based on the obtained results, we developed and studied new techniques for NOx reduction.

What did you find out?

The influence of co-firing (e.g. wood and straw), fuel properties (e.g. nitrogen content) and operating conditions (e.g. air staging) on NOx emissions was investigated by fluidized bed combustion experiments. Tendencies in NOx emissions were identified, which can be used to predict the NOx emissions from fluid bed combustion. Based on the research results, we developed a new additive-based method that simultaneously reduced NOx emissions and stabilize the fluid bed’s operation by minimizing the tendency for bed agglomeration.

How can society benefit from your research?

The findings from this project may be used to minimize NOx emissions in biomass-fired combined heat and power plants (CHPs), specifically to fluidized bed combustion facilities. Because of the harmful effects of nitric oxides, the results of this project are relevant on a local as well as global level.

What does the future hold for you?

I have recently started a postdoc at DTU Chemical Engineering as part of the research center CoaST in collaboration with SDC.


News and filters

Get updated on news that match your filter.