Performance of a pilot-scale, steam-blown, pressurized fluidized bed biomass gasifier
With the discovery of vast fossil resources, and the subsequent development of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industry, the role of biomass-based products has declined. However, concerns about the finite and decreasing amount of fossil and mineral resources, in addition to health and climate impacts of fossil resource use, have elevated interest in innovative methods for converting renewable biomass resources into products that fit our modern lifestyle. Thermal conversion through
... through gasification is an appealing method for utilizing biomass due to its operability using a wide variety of feedstocks at a wide range of scales, the product has a variety of uses (e.g., transportation fuel production, electricity production, chemicals synthesis), and in many cases, results in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. In spite of the advantages of gasification, several technical hurdles have hindered its commercial development. A number of studies have focused on laboratory-scale and atmospheric biomass gasification. However, few studies have reported on pilot-scale, woody biomass gasification under pressurized conditions. The purpose of this research is an assessment of the performance of a pilot-scale, steam-blown, pressurized fluidized bed biomass gasifier. The 200 kWth fluidized bed gasifier is capable of operation using solid feedstocks at feedrates up to 65 lb/hr, bed temperatures up to 1600°F, and pressures up to 8 atm. Gasifier performance was assessed under various temperatures, pressure, and feedstock (untreated woody biomass, dark and medium torrefied biomass) conditions by measuring product gas yield and composition, residue (e.g., tar and char) production, and mass and energy conversion efficiencies. Elevated temperature and pressure, and feedstock pretreatment were shown to have a significant influence on gasifier operability, tar production, carbon conversion, and process efficiency. High-pressure and temperature gasification of dark torrefied biomass yielded the lowest tar concentration (1.6 g/Nm3). High-temperature and low-pressure conditions achieved the highest carbon conversion and cold gas efficiencies of 91 and 94%, respectively.