Tar abatement using dolomites during the gasification of pine sawdust
Siemens Gusta, Elizabeth Ursula
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Biofuels like ethanol are gaining serious momentum because of concerns over climate change and the rising cost of fossil fuels. Saskatchewan is the first province in Canada to pass a law requiring ethanol blended into its gasoline. A blend rate of 7.5% is mandated as of January 2007. This legislation is not yet fully enforced as ethanol production cannot currently meet demand, but local production is increasing. The traditional method of production is via grain fermentation; however the food versus fuel debate indicates this is unethical when food shortages and prices are already on the rise. Gasification is a robust technology for processing raw, non-food grade biomass into syngas (H2 and CO) which can then be further converted to ethanol via gas-to-liquid conversion technology. Condensable materials called tars form during gasification and must be further converted to gaseous products to avoid problems downstream. This can be achieved via optimization of process conditions and catalysis. The research for this thesis was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 examined the effects of process conditions on the noncatalytic temperature-programmed gasification of wood (Jack Pine) biomass. Temperature was varied from 700 to 825oC, water flow rate was varied from 2 to 5 cm3/h, and N2 flow rate from 16 to 32 cm3/min. When varying biomass gasification conditions, overall % carbon conversion to gaseous products reached a maximum of 70% at 825oC, 5.0 cm3/h H2O, and 32 cm3/min N2. 670 cm3 product gas per g biomass was produced, with 35.8 mol% H2 and H2:CO of 1.56. In Phase 2, catalytic gasification of wood biomass was carried out using a double bed micro reactor in a two-stage process. Temperature programmed steam gasification of biomass was performed in the first bed at 200-850oC. Following in the second bed was isothermal catalytic decomposition gasification of volatile compounds (including tars). Dolomites from Canada, Australia and Japan were examined for their effects on tar abatement and the overall gaseous product. The gasification of pine sawdust resulted in 74% of carbon emitted as volatile matter during tar gasification (200-500oC biomass bed temperature). High temperature, high H2O flow rate and low carrier gas flow rate are recommended for improving biomass conversion to gaseous products. Dolomites improved tar decomposition by an average 21% at 750oC isothermal catalyst bed temperature. For Canadian dolomites, iron content was found to promote tar conversion and the water-gas shift reaction, but the effectiveness reached a plateau at 1.0 wt% Fe present in dolomite. The best dolomite was Canada # 1, from an area west of Flin Flon, Manitoba. This dolomite yielded 66% tar conversion (25% above noncatalytic results) at 750oC using 1.6 cm3 catalyst/g biomass. Carbon conversion increased to 97% using 3.2 cm3 catalyst/g biomass at the same temperature. The dolomite seemed stable after 15 hours of cyclic use at 800oC.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorDalai, Ajay K.
CommitteeTabil, Lope G.; Hill, Gordon A.; Wang, Hui