The combustion of cellulose under conditions of rapid heating (2022)


RegisterSign in


  • Access throughyour institution

Combustion and Flame

Volume 49, Issues 1–3,

January 1983

, Pages 249-254 rights and content

(Video) Science Spotlight: The Combustion of Wood


Studies were made of the combustion of cellulose using high heating rates and at temperatures up to 823K with varying concentrations of oxygen in the atmosphere. Under these conditions, which may be relevant to those which exist during cigarette smoking, the gaseous products are the same as those formed in the absence of oxygen and the carbon oxides are again the major components. If chemical control is assumed, the order of reaction in cellulose for the formation of each product gradually decreases with increasing oxygen concentration, tending towards a value of unity. Although the activation parameters (activation energy and preexponential factor) decrease when oxygen is introduced, these values are independent of oxygen concentration between 5 and 21 vol%.

References (33)

  • J.R. Welker

    J. Fire Flammability


  • R.J. McCarter

    Text. Res. J.


  • R.J. McCarter

    J. Consum. Prod. Flammability


  • R.J. McCarter

    (Video) Cellulose: From Trees to Explosives

    J. Consum. Prod. Flammability


  • R. Friedman
  • W.F. Owens

    Recent Adv. Tobacco Sci.


  • Cited by (10)

    • Flame structure and flame spread rate over a solid fuel in partially premixed atmospheres

      2011, Proceedings of the Combustion Institute

      We have investigated the downward flame spread over a thin solid fuel. Hydrogen, methane, or propane, included in the gaseous product of pyrolysis reaction, is added in the ambient air. The fuel concentration is kept below the lean flammability limit to observe the partially premixing effect. Both experimental and numerical studies have been conducted. Results show that, in partially premixed atmospheres, both blue flame and luminous flame regions are enlarged, and the flame spread rate is increased. Based on the flame index, a so-called triple flame is observed. The heat release rate ahead of the original diffusion flame is increased by adding the fuel, and its profile is moved upstream. Here, we focus on the heat input by adding the fuel in the opposed air, which could be a direct factor to intensify the combustion reaction. The dependence of the flame spread rate on the heat input is almost the same for methane and propane/air mixtures, but larger effect is observed for hydrogen/air mixture. Since the deficient reactant in lean mixture is fuel, the larger effect of hydrogen could be explained based on the Lewis number consideration. That is, the combustion is surely intensified for all cases, but this effect is larger for lean hydrogen/air mixture (Le<1), because more fuel diffuses toward the lean premixed flame ahead of the original diffusion flame. Resultantly, the pyrolysis reaction is promoted to support the higher flame spread rate.

    • Combustion characteristics of waste material containing high moisture

      2001, Fuel

      In this paper, the effect of water content on combustion characteristics of watery waste material, such as kitchen garbage, was studied experimentally. In order to clarify the water content quantitatively, a permeable balsa wood was chosen as the sample material. Combustion tests of the small balsa pieces (0.1–0.5g) containing water up to 70wt% were conducted in a thermogravimetric furnace. Mass reduction during pre-heating, volatile matter combustion and char combustion were measured with a microbalance. Also, the variations of flame temperature and center temperature of the test piece during the combustion process were measured by means of R- and K-type thermocouples, respectively. In the case of the combustion of balsa with high water-content, it was found that the ignition started before the water was removed completely, namely the simultaneous vaporization of the remaining water and devolatilization of volatiles occurred during volatile matter combustion. The ignition delay and the retention time of volatile matter combustion increased with increasing water content. The flame temperature decreased when the water content of wet balsa exceeded 50wt%. The combustion rate of the volatile matter was drastically reduced in proportion to the water content. On the other hand, the char combustion rate increased slightly with increasing water content since part of the char is burned during the long volatile matter combustion. It was found from this study that excess moisture remarkably affected the volatile matter combustion with a flame.

    • Combustion properties of pure and fire-retarded cellulose

      1991, Combustion and Flame

      Measurement are presented for the fuel-related properties of pure and fire-retarded cellulose used in diffusion flame calculations. The items measured are (1) heat of combustion of the volatile products of cellulose pyrolysis, (2) heat of gasification, (3) fuel and inert gas fractions in the pyrolysate and (4) stoichiometric ratio of the fuel volatiles. Cellulose samples were subjected to a radiant heat flux in a special apparatus designed for this purpose, and the pyrolysate was analyzed using a gas chromatograph. Heats of combustion of cellulose and of the char produced by pyrolysis were measured by a bomb calorimeter. Results are given for pure cellulose and for cellulose that has been fire retarded by up to 3 wt.% sodium hydroxide. For heat fluxes simulating those in diffusion flames, the char yield is found to increase from 9 wt.% percent for pure cellulose to 30 wt.% for retarded cellulose. The effect of retardant addition is to decrease the heat of combustion per unit mass of (total) volatiles, but to increase the heat of combustion per unit mass of combustible volatiles. The heat of gasification (defined as the energy input required to generate a unit mass of volatiles) is determined from measurements of mass loss, surface temperature, and surface emissivity. For pure cellulose, the mass loss rate and surface temperature increase for higher applied heat fluxes while the heat of gasification decreases. At a fixed heat flux, retardant addition increases both the mass loss rate and surface temperature, which results in a decrease in the heat of gasification. Analysis of the volatiles shows that retardant addition increases the fraction of inert gases (carbon dioxide and water) in the pyrolysate, which reduces the fuel fraction from 69 wt.% for pure cellulose to 35 wt.% for retarded cellulose. The corresponding change in stoichiometric oxygenfuel ratio is from 1.6 for pure cellulose to a maximum value of 2.3 for retarded cellulose.

    • Pesistent free radicals in woodsmoke: An ESR spin trapping study

      1989, Free Radical Biology and Medicine

      Free radicals are detected in the gas-phase smoke resulting from the combustion of wood using the electron spin resonance (ESR) spin trapping method. The materials were pyrolyzed by rapid heating in a quartz tube in a flowing air stream. The filtered smoke was bubbled into a dodecane solution of α-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone, and the resulting nitroxide radicals were detected by ESR. The radicals spin trapped from woodsmoke are compared to those we have spin trapped from tobacco smoke; the smoke from both yellow pin and oak produce more intense ESR spectra than does tobacco smoke per unit mass burned under the conditions of these experiments. When woodsmoke is bubbled through pure dodecane and the resulting woodsmoke/dodecane solution is held for a delay time before the PBN is added, radicals are detected even after the woodsmoke/dodecane solution is aged for more than 20 min. Similar experiments wiht tobacco smoke show that racidals no longer are trapped even after much shorter delay times from tobacco smoke/dodecane solutions.

      (Video) ISoNTech 2022 | Confirming Absence of Combustion in Heated Tobacco Products by PMI Science

    • Lees' Loss Prevention in the Process Industries: Hazard Identification, Assessment And Control: Fourth Edition

      2012, Lees' Loss Prevention in the Process Industries: Hazard Identification, Assessment and Control: Fourth Edition

    View all citing articles on Scopus

    Recommended articles (6)

    • Research article

      The new method to characterize the gas emissions during torrefaction real-time

      Fuel Processing Technology, Volume 164, 2017, pp. 24-32

      Large scale torrefaction encounters difficulties in processing different types of biomass of various properties and morphologies to guarantee and maintain the required quality. Ideally, torrefaction runs auto-thermally. Key issue here is that the heat production, which is generated by combusting the produced torr-gas (gas which is released from the biomass during torrefaction), should be sufficient for the torrefaction process including losses from the system. It is essential to know the heating value of the torr-gas as a function of the torrefaction process for each biomass type (e.g. temperature and residence time). One of the problems is that this heating value cannot be determined in real-time by analyzing the gas composition because of the slow processing time of gas analysis equipment. A second drawback of gas analysis chromatography is that the tars present in the torr-gas condense and thus clog and contaminate the measurement equipment. To be able to measure this heating value in real-time, along with the development of the final product quality, a new method is proposed which to some extent resembles the actual torrefaction system in which a sample material is brought to the actual torrefaction condition while the temperature distribution in the sample is being recorded along with the generated thermal power of the ablated torr-gas.

    • Research article

      Oxy-fuel combustion of selected solid fuels under atmospheric and elevated pressures

      Energy, Volume 62, 2013, pp. 105-112

      Oxy-fuel combustion is suggested as a clean technique for energy conversion with respect to the reduction of CO2 and NOx emissions. The positive effect of NOx reduction can be enhanced by an increase of the pressure inside the combustion chamber. The oxy-fuel combustion of bituminous and lignite coals was investigated. The influence of process parameters, such as the type of fuel, the type of oxidant and the pressure, on the emissions of NOx, N2O, and other exhaust gas compounds was investigated. The experiments were performed using a prototype, laboratory-scale (fuel input of up to 3kg/h) pressurised fluidised-bed combustor (BFB). The main process parameters were a maximal pressure of 6 bar, a maximal temperature of 910°C and an oxidant flow rate of 39kg/h. The results of the experiment performed with the pressurised Flexi-Burn™ procedure are presented and discussed. In particular, the emissions of NO and N2O from air-fired and oxy-fuel processes were compared. The NO emission was significantly reduced under higher pressures. The maximal NO reduction (due to an increase in the pressure) was as high as 50%, which can be explained by the promotion of the char+NO reaction.

    • Research article

      Cobalt oxide nanopowder synthesis using cellulose assisted combustion technique

      Ceramics International, Volume 42, Issue 11, 2016, pp. 12771-12777

      (Video) Tactical Tuesday March 2022 Module 10 Modern Fire Behavior and Modern Fire Attack

      Cobalt oxides nanopowders were prepared using novel cellulose assisted combustion synthesis and solution combustion synthesis techniques. The synthesis conditions were optimized to produce high surface area cobalt oxide nanopowders. Effect of precursors ratio on product properties (such as crystalline structure, nanoparticle size, surface area etc.) were studied and compared for the two methods. Thermodynamic calculations along with TGA/DTA studies were used to understand the synthesis mechanism leading to cobalt oxide formation. The synthesized nanopowders were characterized using various materials characterization techniques such as XRD, SEM and TEM.

    • Research article

      Scaling-Up fire

      Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, Volume 34, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 99-124

      The role of combustion research in fire safety is revisited through the process of Scaling-Up fire. Scaling-Up fire requires the adequate definition of all the building blocks and couplings associated with the construction of a fire model. The model then has to deliver predictions of the evolution of a fire and its environment with the precision, completeness and robustness relevant to fire safety. Areas of combustion research relevant to the development of fire models emerge from an assessment of methodology, complexity, incompatibility and uncertainty associated to the Scaling-Up process.

    • Research article

      Influence of coal co-firing on the particulate matter formation during pulverized biomass combustion

      Journal of the Energy Institute, Volume 92, Issue 3, 2019, pp. 450-458

      Biomass is regarded as CO2-neutral, while the high contents of potassium and chlorine in biomass induce severe particulate matter emission, ash deposition, and corrosion in combustion facilities. Co-firing biomass with coal in pulverized-combustion (PC) furnaces is able to solve these problems, as well as achieve a much higher generating efficiency than grate furnaces. In this work, the particulate matter (PM) emission from biomass co-firing with coal was studied in an entrained flow reactor at a temperature of 1623K simulating PC furnace condition. PMs were sampled through a 13-stage impactor, and their morphology and elemental composition were characterized by scanning electron microscopy and electron dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. SO2 emissions were measured to interpret the possibility of potassium sulfation during co-firing. Results show that PMs from the separated combustion of both biomass and coal present a bimodal particle size distribution (PSD). The concentration and size of fine-mode submicron particles (PM1.0) from biomass combustion are much higher than those from coal combustion because of the high potassium content in biomass. For the co-firing cases, with the coal ratio increasing from 0% to 50%, the PM1.0 yield is reduced by more than half and the PM1.0 size becomes smaller, in contrast, the concentration of coarse-mode particles with the size of 1.0–10μm (PM1.0-10) increases. The measured PM1.0 yields of co-firing are lower than the theoretically weight-averaged ones, which proves that during the biomass and coal co-firing in PC furnaces, the vaporized potassium from biomass can be efficiently captured by these silicon-aluminate oxides in coal ash. In the studied range of coal co-firing ratio (≤50wt.%), the chlorides and sulfates of alkali metals from biomass burning are the dominating components in PM1.0, and a certain amount of silicon is observed in PM0.1-1. The analysis of chemical composition in PM1.0, together with that of SO2 emission, indicates a marginal sulfation of alkali metal chloride occurring at high temperatures in PC furnaces.

    • Research article

      Delineating and explaining the limits of self-sustained smouldering combustion

      Combustion and Flame, Volume 201, 2019, pp. 78-92

      Self-sustained, forward smouldering combustion is both a major fire hazard that resists engineering control and an applied technology for destroying organic contaminants and wastes. In both contexts, success depends on understanding the threshold between self-sustaining and extinction conditions as well as the system's sensitivity to parameters that drive it in the desired direction. In this work, a previously validated one-dimensional numerical model was employed to simulate a wide range of bitumen-contaminated sand scenarios, quantifying the complex interplay between chemical reactions and heat transfer processes evolving in space and time during smouldering. It was confirmed that the traditional, local (smoulder front) energy balance becomes negative when the reaction is extinct. However, the work reveals that a global (bed) energy balance always becomes negative earlier, predicting extinction conditions despite active smouldering. Progress towards extinction looks similar for all cases, regardless if caused by low air flux, low fuel concentration, very low oxygen content, low fuel energy content, or high heat losses. Moreover, the cause is always similar: the energy gained by oxidation is exceeded by global heat losses, which are significant and neglected in the local energy analysis. Smouldering robustness was shown to be quantified by the degree to which the global energy balance exceeds zero. Robustness was promoted most effectively by increases in injected air flux, fuel concentration, and fuel energy content. These parameters also were the dominant influence on the peak temperature, since that was shown to be dependent on the local net energy rate. However, the front velocity (i.e., mass destruction rate) was shown to depend on the rate that energy convectively exits the front, which was controlled primarily by the air flux. Taken as a whole, these results provide a new way of understanding the balance of energy components that dictate the behavior of smouldering systems and provide novel insights into manipulating them, towards extinction or robust conditions, for a wide range of applications.

    View full text

    Copyright © 1983 Published by Elsevier Inc.

    (Video) Fire Training Course - Fire Behaviour


    At what temperature does cellulose combust? ›

    The results showed that the identified ignition temperatures of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin are 410 °C, 370 °C and 405 °C, respectively.

    Does cellulose burn easily? ›

    Cellulose fibres, like cotton, linen and viscose, easily catch fire, and the flames spread rapidly if the textile has not been impregnated with a flame retardant. The thinner the fabric, the more easily it burns. Thin fabrics made from cellulose fibres can actually be compared to paper, which is also cellulose-based.

    What happens when you burn cellulose? ›

    The decomposition of cellulose leads to char, tar and volatile products formation. At temperatures beyond 320°C, the decomposition rate of lignin intensifies. At this point of wood combustion, all the gaseous products evaporate. The gas mixes with air to either cool off and form smoke, or catch fire to burn in flames.

    Is cellulose Fibre flammable? ›

    It is known known that cellulosic fibers, being aliphatic in nature, decompose to produce flammable volatiles (primarily levoglucosan) and a very small amount of residue [20].


    1. NCCRD@IITM-Urban and Wildland Fires by Prof. Forman A. Williams
    (Robin Schulz)
    3. Biochar: an Introduction | IBI Biochar Technology Podcast with Akio Enders
    (International Biochar Initiative IBI)
    4. More Flame retardants and evaluation of fire retardancy
    (IIT Delhi July 2018)
    5. Catalysis R&D with High Pressure Thermogravimetry – Instruments and Applications
    (TA Instruments)
    6. Using Simulation for the Thermal Management and Fire Protection of Buildings
    (GreenHome Institute)

    You might also like

    Latest Posts

    Article information

    Author: Amb. Frankie Simonis

    Last Updated: 09/24/2022

    Views: 6377

    Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

    Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Amb. Frankie Simonis

    Birthday: 1998-02-19

    Address: 64841 Delmar Isle, North Wiley, OR 74073

    Phone: +17844167847676

    Job: Forward IT Agent

    Hobby: LARPing, Kitesurfing, Sewing, Digital arts, Sand art, Gardening, Dance

    Introduction: My name is Amb. Frankie Simonis, I am a hilarious, enchanting, energetic, cooperative, innocent, cute, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.