Combustion and Co-combustion Characteristics of Thermal-Treated & Raw Bamboo

Below please find a link to a paper published by S.O. Bada∗, R.M.S. Falcon, L.M. Falcon School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of the Witwatersrand, P/Bag X3 Wits, 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa, 24 May 2014.

Investigation of combustion and co-combustion characteristics of raw and thermal treated bamboo with thermal gravimetric analysis

The thermal behavior and characteristic of three different species of Bamboos sourced from South Africa were investigated using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Thermal pre-treatment, known as torrefaction and low-temperature carbonization were conducted between 250 and 380 0C on the three bamboos in order to improve their fuel and combustion characteristic. The mass and energy yield of both torrefied and low – temperature carbonized bamboos were evaluated. The combustion and co-combustion profiles of the raw bamboos and pre-heated bamboos blended at a ratio of 10%, 30%, 50% and 75% Coal A & coal B of different ranks were also examined.


Calorific value of 23 MJ/Kg was attained after raw Bambusa Multiplex (B.M) was torrefied and 28 MJ/Kg for low-temperature carbonized B.M from raw B.M with 17.60 MJ/Kg. The ash content of the raw B.M blend was found to be 1.09 %, with a fixed carbon of 1.71 %, the fixed carbon was enhanced through low-carbonization to 45.51% at 380 0C. Raw B.M has the highest volatile matter of all bamboos investigated, and was the easiest ignited Bamboo specie investigated with fixed carbon initiation temperature and peak temperature attained at a temperature of 202.75 0C and 442.61 0C compared to ROM coal A at 494.6 0C and 651.240C, respectively. The height of the differential thermogravimetric (DTG) peaks decreases as the coal % within the coal/bamboo blend increases. Same trend was also observed as the pre-heated temperature increases from 250 to 380 0C, with the DTG curves for low-temperature carbonized bamboo moving towards that of coal band. The overall data obtained indicates that the combustion performance of both high and low rank Coal A & B could be improved with bamboo addition, in terms of lowering ignition and peak temperature, while the blending of pre-heated bamboo with coal could increase the energy yield at burnout. 

Samson Bada, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of the Witwatersrand

I had a B.Engr in Metallurgical and Material Engineering in 2001 and major in corrosion. Work with Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria between 2001 and 2002 as a Graduate Engineer. Between 2002/2005, worked for Moret Technologies Limited whilst studying for my Masters degree in Metallurgical Engineering (major in corrosion) and degree conferred in 2004  Between 2006/2007 had another Masters degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand and major in Adsorption Technology (Using South African Fly Ash for the Adsorption of Phenolic in waste water)  Started my PhD degree in 2008 at the University of Witwatersrand In 2009 left for the University of Kentucky to complete my experimental studies: Prepared and tested eight different coals for sink/float separation, froth rate test and Dry coal Electrostatic separation, using (Rotary Octagonal Electrostatic Separator) In 2010 November, graduated with a PhD in Metallurgical Engineering (Specialized in Dry coal processing)

From 2011- 2013 (Post Doctoral Researcher at Wits University) Temporarily move to Physical Separation Department at (Mintek) to design/fabricate a new Tribo-electrostatic separator for the beneficiation of fine mineral ores Assist the group in the concentration of mineral rocks using XRF sorting machine and magnetic separator for beneficiation of fines (Magnetite and Heamatite). Support the team in the area of Heavy Liquid separation (Gold, Chromite) and other minerals. Upgrade of phosphate flotation concentrate (<105) um to marketable product above 30% and electrostatic concentration of < 105 um fine phosphate ROM Involved in the magnetic concentration and roasting test work on Fine FeMn Stockpile Samples from India Investigate the sulphation of different limestone ores (CaCO3) in a Thermo gravimetric analyzer for adsorbing S02 generated within Boilers (Botswana and Mozambique deposits) Characterization of Lump coals for Aura Energy Nigeria with a view to establishing their application for power generation, and identifying other potential market or areas of utilization. Investigation on the Utilization potential of Aura Coal Nigeria (Combustion and Power generation purposes), Unpublished report, June 2012.

From July 2013 (Researcher at Wits University) Research and identification of different species of Bamboo for cultivation and use as biomass energy in South Africa. Identification of different nutshell and algae for combustion and co-combustion.

Courses and training attended: Project Management Intermediate Training – April, 2013 An Introduction to the Petroleum Industry- September, 2012 Petroleum and Gas Exploration, and Production, Schlumberger – May, 2012 Coal: A clean and Sustainable fuel for Power, Gas and Oil production - 2012 The entire Graduate Diploma Course (GDE) in coal

Preliminary results: - tests conducted on bamboo at Wits University for Mintek are most promising, The research is not finalised and is ongoing. See below.

Dear Mr. Adrian
Please find attached some of the proximate results obtained " right from the rhizomes to the stem, and the leaves" from the three species you gave us last year. As I told you before, this is basically for research and contribution to knowledge. From the papers written and under reviewed, your company was acknowledged.But I could not share all the results now until the manuscripts are accepted. The bamboos have shown higher calorific values compared to most coal burn in the power plant within the country. Untraceable sulphur and Nitrogen content lower than that from coal were achieved. The results so far have shown bamboo as an alternative or co-fired fuel with coal.

From one of the email you sent last year, you mentioned that both Dendrocalamus asper and Bambusa balcooa are cultivated commercially.We do have a student, who is working with Mintek as Mineral Strategic Manager. They are looking into rehabilitating mines using Bamboo and the end use/application of the product. Since the government is in support of this approach, and the planting of bamboos in the Highveld and other regions. He has decided to take this up as a project for his Masters Degree, by sourcing for different species that can be planted in the highveld and also as a prove to Mintek.



We are in the process of supplying 3 year old B. balcooa and D. asper to be tested. Once completed and reviewed I will share the results.

Related further reading: - From presentations made at the 2013 Fossil Fuels Conference