In this study, a circulating fluidized bed of 125 mm diameter and 1800 mm height was used to find the combustion characteristics of olive cake (OC) produced in Turkey. A lignite coal that is most widely used in Turkey was also burned in the same combustor. The combustion experiments were carried out with various excess air ratios. The excess air ratio, l, has been changed between 1.1 and 2.16. Temperature distribution along the bed was measured with thermocouples. On-line concentrations of O-2, SO2, CO2, CO, NOx and total hydrocarbons were measured in the flue gas. Combustion efficiencies of OC and lignite coal are calculated, and the optimum conditions for operating parameters are discussed. The combustion efficiency of OC changes between 82.25 and 98.66% depending on the excess air ratio. There is a sharp decrease observed in the combustion losses due to hydrocarbons and CO as the excess air ratio increases. The minimum emissions are observed at lambda = 1.35. Combustion losses due to unburned carbon in the bed material do not exceed 1.4 wt% for OC and 1.85 wt% for coal. The combustion efficiency for coal changes between 82.25 and 98.66% for various excess air ratios used in the study. The ash analysis for OC is carried out to find the suitability of OC ash to be used as fertilizer. The ash does not contain any hazardous metal. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.