An energy and exergy analysis of biomass gasification integrated with a char-catalytic tar reforming system

Buentello-Montoya, David and Zhang, Xiaolei (2019) An energy and exergy analysis of biomass gasification integrated with a char-catalytic tar reforming system. Energy and Fuels, 33 (9). pp. 8746-8757. ISSN 0887-0624 (

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Adequate tar removal is a recurrent challenge for biomass gasification. Materials such as char and activated char are promising catalysts for tar reforming because of their activity, inexpensiveness, and constant production during gasification. Although the behavior of char and activated char as catalysts has been previously studied, an evaluation of the thermodynamic efficiencies of the tar reforming process using char as a catalyst still lacking. This work analyzes the performance of a two-stage system, where gasification is followed by tar reforming using char catalysts. For the study, a model based in a combination of equilibrium thermodynamics and chemical kinetics was developed. The first stage, where gasification occurs, was simulated with a thermodynamic equilibrium model. Gasification equilibrium models available in the literature only predict the fractions of H 2, CO, CO 2, and CH 4; the model developed for this work also predicts the formation of a three-model tar with different characteristics (benzene, toluene, and naphthalene), providing information on the stability of formed tar. The second stage, simulated using kinetics from the literature, consists of reforming the tar with catalysts made of residual char. The effects of the reactor temperature, equivalence ratio, and residence time were assessed via the gas quality, based on the gas lower heating value and tar concentration, and process efficiency, based on the energy and exergy efficiencies. Results showed that using char or activated char catalysts increases the heating value of the gas while reducing its tar concentration. Moreover, the process benefits thermodynamically (i.e., less exergy is destroyed) from low gasification temperatures and high reforming temperatures. Simulations indicate that a tarless gas with a lower heating value of more than 8 MJ/Nm 3 can be produced from gasification at 1023 K with an equivalence ratio of 0.15 and subsequent reforming at 1123 K with a residence time in the catalyst bed of 1 s.