A detailed mathematical model is developed for simulation of heat and mass transfer processes during the pyrolysis and combustion of a single biomass particle. The kinetic scheme of Shafizadeh and Chin is employed to describe the pyrolysis process. The light gases formed during the biomass pyrolysis is assumed to consist of methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and water vapor with given mass fractions relevant to those found in the experiments of high heating conditions. The combustion model takes into account the reactions of oxygen with methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, tar and char as well as gasification of char with water vapor and carbon dioxide. Appropriate correlations taken from past studies are used for computation of the rate of these reactions.
The model allows calculation of time and space evolution of various parameters including biomass and char densities, gaseous species and temperature. Different experimental data reported in the literature are employed to validate the pyrolysis and combustion models. The reasonable agreement obtained between the predictions and measured data reveals that the presented model is capable of successfully capturing various experiments of wood particle undergoing a pyrolysis or combustion process. In particular, the role of gas phase reactions within and adjacent to particle on the combustion process is examined. The results indicate that for the case of small particles in the order of millimeter size and less, one may neglect any effects of gas phase reactions. However, for larger particles, a combustion model may need to include hydrogen oxidation and even carbon monoxide combustion reactions.