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Introduction to Biomass

and
Thermochemical Conversion

Submitted by:.
MANAOIS, Marybhel D.
Submitted to:
ENGR. M. CABANGON

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Biomass Conversion Technologies


There are three types of conversion technologies currently available, each
appropriate for specific biomass types and resulting in specific energy
products:
1. Thermochemical conversion is the application of heat and chemical
processes in the production of energy products from biomass. A key
thermochemical conversion process is gasification.
2. Biochemical conversion involves use of enzymes, bacteria or other
microorganisms to break down biomass into liquid fuels, and includes
anaerobic digestion, and fermentation.
3. Chemical conversion involves use of chemical agents to convert biomass into
liquid fuels.

Technology for the Use of Biomass


Table 1 shows a list of technologies for biomass utilization.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

The process of biomass gasification involves generating a hightemperature


zone (8001,200C) by burning part of the raw material and
using oxygen and steam as gasifying agents.
The heat produced converts biomass into syngas, which is primarily
comprised of H 2 and CO. The syngas is then used to synthesize liquid fuel and
other chemicals.
The advantages of our technology include the possible use of both
woody and herbaceous raw materials such as forest residue, inedible crop
parts, and wood waste. A large-scale plant can be established in a small space
due to the high yield of heat energy and an increased reaction rate.

Thermochemical conversion
Thermochemical technologies are used for converting biomass into fuel
gases and chemicals. The thermochemical process involves multiple stages. The
first stage involves converting solid biomass into gases. In the second stage the
gases are condensed into oils. In the third and final stage the oils are
conditioned and synthesized to produce syngas. Syngas contains carbon and
hydrogen and can be used to produce ammonia, lubricants, and through the
Fischer-Tropsch process can be used to produce biodiesel.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Gasification

is the use of high temperatures and a controlled environment

that leads to nearly all of the biomass being converted into gas. This takes place in two
stages: partial combustion to form producer gas and charcoal, followed by chemical
reduction. These stages are spatially separated in the gasifier, with gasifier design very
much dependant on the feedstock characteristics. Gasification requires temperatures
of about 800C. Gasification technology has existed since the turn of the century when

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering
coal was extensively gasified in the UK and elsewhere for use in power generation and
in houses for cooking and lighting. A major future role is envisaged for electricity
production from biomass plantations and agricultural residues using large scale
gasifiers with direct coupling to gas turbines.
The advantage of gasification is that using the syngas is potentially more efficient than
direct combustion of the original fuel because it can be combusted at higher
temperatures or even in fuel cells, so that the thermodynamic upper limit to the
efficiency defined by Carnot's rule is higher or not applicable. Syngas may be burned
directly in gas engines, used to produce methanol and hydrogen, or converted via the
FischerTropsch process into synthetic fuel. Gasification can also begin with material
which would otherwise have been disposed of such as biodegradable waste. In
addition, the high-temperature process refines out corrosive ash elements such as
chloride and potassium, allowing clean gas production from otherwise problematic
fuels. Gasification of fossil fuels is currently widely used on industrial scales to
generate electricity.

History
The process of producing energy using the gasification method has been
in use for more than 180 years. During that time coal and peat were used to
power these plants. Initially developed to produce town gas for lighting &
cooking in 1800s, this was replaced by electricity and natural gas, it was also
used in blast furnaces but the bigger role was played in the production of
synthetic chemicals where it has been in use since the 1920s.
During both world wars especially the Second World War the need of
gasification produced fuel reemerged due to the shortage of petroleum. Wood
gas generators, called Gasogene or Gazogne, were used to power motor
vehicles in Europe. By 1945 there were trucks, buses and agricultural
machines that were powered by gasification. It is estimated that there were
close to 9,000,000 vehicles running on producer gas all over the world.

Chemical reactions
The chemical reactions in gasification process take place in the presence
of steam in an oxygen-lean,reducing atmosphere. The ratio of oxygen molecules
to carbon molecules is far less than one in the gasification reactor.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

A portion of the fuel undergoes


partial oxidation by precisely
controlling the amount of oxygen
fed to the gasifier. The heat
released in the first reaction
provides the necessary energy for
the other gasification reaction to
proceed very rapidly. In the Turn
W2E
system,
gasification
temperatures
and
pressures
within the refractory-lined reactor
typically range from 800 Deg C to
1200
Deg
C
and
near
atmospheric pressure to few
inches of water respectively. At
higher
temperatures
the
endothermic reactions of carbon
with steam are favored. A wide
variety of carbonaceous feed
stocks can be used in the
gasification process. Low-BTU
wastes may be blended with high - BTU supplementary fuels such as coal or
petroleum coke to maintain the desired gasification temperatures in the
reactor.
The reducing atmosphere within the gasification reactor prevents the formation
of oxidized species such as SO2 and NOx which are replaced by H2S (with
lesser amounts of COS), ammonia, and nitrogen (N2). These species are much
easier to scrub from the syngas than their oxidized counterparts before the
syngas is utilized for power.

Gasification process
Gasification is a flexible, reliable, and clean energy technology that can turn a
variety of low-value feedstocks into high-value products, help reduce our dependence
on foreign oil and natural gas, and can provide a clean alternative source of baseload
electricity, fertilizers, fuels, and chemicals.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

It is a manufacturing process that converts any material containing carbonsuch as


coal, petroleum coke (petcoke), or biomassinto synthesis gas (syngas). The syngas
can be burned to produce electricity or further processed to manufacture chemicals,
fertilizers, liquid fuels, substitute natural gas (SNG), or hydrogen.

Gasification has been reliably used on a


commercial scale worldwide for more than 50
years in the refining, fertilizer, and chemical
industries, and for more than 35 years in the
electric power industry.
There are more than 140 gasification plants
operating worldwide. Nineteen of those plants are
located in the United States. Worldwide
gasification capacity is projected to grow 70
percent by 2015, with 80 percent of the growth
occurring in Asia.
Gasification can compete effectively in high-price
energy environments to provide power and
products.
Because of the limitations of state-of-the-art biomass technology, a quest to
improve the efficiency and range of applications has been underway for several
decades.
The point of departure was the recognition that the combustion process
actually comprises several separate thermal processes which, if conducted in a
controlled manner, may considerably improve the result. These processes are:
Drying, where free moisture and cell-bound water are removed from the
biomass by evaporation. These processes should ideally take place at a
temperature of up to about 160C using waste heat from the conversion
process.
Pyrolysis, where volatile gases are released from the dry biomass at
temperatures ranging up to about 700C. These gases are non-condensable
vapours (e.g. methane, carbon-monoxide) and condensable vapours (various

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

tar compounds) and the residuum from this process will be mainly activated
carbon.
Reduction, where the activated carbon reacts with water vapour and carbon
dioxide to form combustible gases such as hydrogen and carbon oxide. The
reduction (or gasification) process is carried out in the temperature ranging up
to about 1100C.
Oxidation, where part of the carbon is burned to provide heat for the
previously described processes.

The updraft gasification


In the updraft gasifier, moist biomass fuel
is fed at the top and descends though
gases rising through the reactor. In the
upper zone a drying process occurs, below
which pyrolysis is taking place. Following
this, the material passes through a
reduction zone (gasification) and in the
zone above the grate an oxidation process
is carried out (combustion).
To supply air for the combustion process
and steam for the gasification process,
moist hot air is supplied at the bottom of
the reactor.
Combustible gas at a low temperature
(because of the evaporation of moisture in
the drying zone) is discharged at the top of the reactor, and inert ash from the
heat-generating combustion process is extracted from the reactor bottom
through a water lock.

Properties of Producer gas


The producer gas is affected by various processes as outlined above
hence one can expect variations in the gas produced from various biomass
sources. Table lists the composition of gas produced from various sources.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

The gas composition is also a function of gasifier design and thus, the same
fuel may give different calorific value as when used in two different
gasifiers. Table therefore shows approximate values of gas from different fuels.

The maximum dilution of gas takes place because of presence of nitrogen.


Almost 50-60% of gas is composed of noncombustible nitrogen. Thus it
may be beneficial to use oxygen 7 instead of air for gasification. However
the cost and availability of oxygen may be a limiting factor in this regard.
Nevertheless where the end product is methanol a high energy quality item,
then the cost and use of oxygen can be justified 5 .
On an average 1 kg of biomass produces about 2.5 m 3 of producer
gas at S.T.P.
In this process it consumes about 1.5 m 3 of air for
combustion 14 For complete combustion of wood about 4.5 m 3 of air is
required. Thus biomass gasification consumes about 33% of theoretical
stoichiometeric ratio for wood burning.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Syngas Cleanup
Syngas Contaminant Removal and Conditioning
Raw synthesis gas (syngas) from the high temperature gas cooling
(HTGC) system needs to be cleaned to remove contaminants including fine
particulates, sulfur, ammonia, chlorides, mercury, and other trace heavy
metals to meet environmental emission regulations, as well as to protect
downstream processes. In the case of carbon sequestration, carbon dioxide
(CO2) is also removed. Depending on the application, syngas may need to be
conditioned to adjust the hydrogen-to-carbon monoxide (H2-to-CO) ratio to
meet downstream process requirement. In applications where very low sulfur
(<10 ppmv) syngas is required, converting carbonyl sulfide (COS) to hydrogen
sulfide (H2S) before sulfur removal may also be needed. Typical cleanup and
conditioning processes include cyclone and filters for bulk particulates removal;
wet scrubbing to remove fine particulates, ammonia and chlorides; solid
absorbents for mercury and trace heavy metal removal; water gas shift (WGS)
for H2-to-CO ratio adjustment; catalytic hydrolysis for converting COS to H2S;
and acid gas removal (AGR) for extracting sulfur-bearing gases and CO2
removal.
High Temperature Syngas Cooling and Heat Recovery
Synthesis gas (syngas) leaving the reactor is at high temperature;
typically 2,500F to 2,800F for an entrained-flow gasifier. Recovery of heat
from the syngas is essential for attaining process efficiency. Heat recovery
systems can reclaim a significant portion (5-25%) of the energy in the feed,
depending on the technology employed. The actual design of a syngas cooling
and heat recovery system has to consider the characteristics of the coal feed,
syngas produced, and the overall gasification process application.
The raw syngas leaving the gasifier can be cooled by a radiant and/or
convective heat exchanger and/or by a direct quench system, wherein water or
cool recycled gas is injected into the hot raw syngas. Then, the syngas typically
passes through a series of heat exchangers for heat recovery at a lower
temperature. In all cases, steam is produced for in-plant power generation or
process heating. The steam and water systems are integrated and optimized
within the overall gasification facility.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Radiant Syngas Cooler


A significant quantity of the sensible heat in the raw syngas can be recovered
via a radiant syngas cooler (RSC) to improve the overall gasification plant
thermal efficiency. An RSC is a large, expensive piece of equipment. It can be
prone to fouling and difficult to clean. The slag entrained in the syngas can
stick to the RSC and causes deterioration in heat transfer. Despite that, the
Tampa Electric plant seems to achieve satisfactory operational reliability with
its RSC.
Dry Particulate Removal
Bulk solid particulate removal can be achieved with either filters and/or
cyclones, depending on the gasification system and operating conditions.
Cyclones are a commercially proven technology and can be refractory-lined for
high temperature operations. High temperature candle filters have been
developed and can remove particulates from raw syngas at temperatures
between 550F and 900F (~ 300C to 500C). Below 550F, the filters may be
blinded by deposits of ammonium chloride. Above 900F, alkali compounds
may pass through the filters at unacceptable levels, as the vapor pressures of
these compounds may still be high. Development of candle filters that can
remove particulates at high temperatures is a significant technology
development for gasification. Use of candle filters in dry solids removal systems
is now considered commercially available technology. In some current
gasification designs, candle filters are being used upstream of a wet scrubber
for effective overall solids removal.
Effective dry particulate removal is an integral part of the warm gas cleanup
(WGCU) technology development effort being undertaken by Research Triangle
Institute (RTI) with funding from the Department of Energy (DOE).
Tar from gasification of biomass
One of the major issues in the biomass gasification process is
how to deal with the tar formed during the process. Tars can be easily
defined as undesirable and problematic organic products of biomass
gasification but there are a large number of definitions for the tar in the
literature. The diversity in the operational definitions of tars usually
comes from the variable product gas compositions required for a

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

particular
analyzed.

end-use

application

and

how

the tars are

collected

and

Tar removal technologies can


be broadly divided into two
approaches:
treatments
inside the gasifier (primary
methods)
and
hot
gas
cleaning
after
the gasifier
(secondary methods). Although
primary methods theoretically
eliminate
the
need
for
downstream clean-up creating
tar-free gas at the exit of the
gasifier, they have not yet resulted in satisfactory low level of tar. It is
more likely that a combination of primary and secondary methods has to be
used for total tar removal during technology development in the future.
Different catalysts are used as a part of both primary and secondary methods
for tar removal.
Catalysts for tar cracking
There are a large number of different catalysts that have been used to
eliminate the tars in the product gas from the gasification process. The
two most researched groups are Ni-based catalysts and dolomites. When
Ni-based catalysts are used, tar concentration in the product gas can be
reduced significantly by means of reforming but since this process is
endothermic, a part of the chemically bound energy of the gas has to be
burned to sustain this process. This effect leads to a decreased
efficiency of the gasification process.
In contrast, when so called tar cracking catalysts such as dolomite are
used, the only thing that is reformed is the tar itself while low
hydrocarbons e.g. methane,
ethane and
propane are
left
intact.
Simultaneously with this transformation of tar, the gas composition
(CO2, CO, H2 etc.) changes as a consequence of reactions that will be
described later in the text. Tar cracking can be defined as a process that

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

breaks down the larger, heavier and more complex hydrocarbon


molecules of tar into simpler and lighter molecules by the action of heat and
aided by the presence of a catalyst but without the addition of hydrogen.
Two well-known tar cracking catalysts are naturally occurring minerals:
dolomite and olivine. Another type of material that has been recognized as a
tar cracking catalyst is the Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) catalyst.
Dolomite is a calcium magnesium ore with the general chemical formula
CaMg(CO3 )2 with some minor impurities. In order for dolomite to
become active for tar conversion, it has to be calcined. Calcination
involves decomposition of the carbonate mineral, eliminating CO2 to form MgOCaO, at high temperatures (usually 800-900C).
The effective use of
dolomite as a catalyst is restricted by relatively high temperatures 4 and
the partial pressure of CO2.
Fine Particulate Removal
Raw syngas leaving the HTGC system in today's commercial gasification
plant is normally quenched and scrubbed with water in a trayed column for
fine char and ash particulate removal prior to recycle to the slurry-fed gasifiers.
For dry feed gasification, cyclones and candle filters are used to recover most of
the fine particulate for recycle to the gasifiers before final cleanup with water
quenching and scrubbing. In addition, fine particulates, chlorides, ammonia,
some H2S, and other trace contaminants are also removed from the syngas
during the scrubbing process. The scrubbed gas is then either reheated for
COS hydrolysis and/or a sour WGS when required, or cooled in the low
temperature gas cooling (LTGC) system by generating low pressure steam,
preheating boiler feed water, and heat exchanging it against cooling water
before further processing.
Spent water from the scrubber column is directed to the sour water treatment
system, where it is depressurized and decanted in a gravity settler to remove
fine particulates. Solid-concentrated underflows from the settler bottom are
filtered to recover the fine particulate as the filter cake, which is then either
discarded or recycled to the gasifier depending on its carbon content. Water
from the settler is recycled for gasification uses with the excess being sent to
the wastewater treatment system for disposal.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Wet Scrubbing
In most commercial gasification operations, syngas leaving the filter is
quenched and scrubbed with water for final particulate removal. Water
scrubbing takes place below the dew point temperature of the syngas so that
the finest solid particles can act as nuclei for condensation, thus ensuring that
all solids can be removed
efficiently.Scrubbing
also
removes chlorides, ammonia,
some hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and
other trace contaminants from
the
syngas.
Typically,
the
scrubbed syngas is reheated for
carbonyl sulfide (COS) hydrolysis
and/or a sour water gas shift
(WGS) if required, followed by
cooling in a low temperature gas
cooling
(LTGC)
system
to
generate low pressure steam.
After these processes, the syngas
is sent downstream for sulfur
and mercury removal.
Spent water from the scrubber
column is directed to a gray
water treatment system where it
is depressurized and vacuum flashed. The spent water is then decanted into a
gravity settler to remove particulates. Solid-concentrated underflows from the
settler bottom are filtered to recover the fine particulate as a filter cake, which
is then either discarded or recycled to the gasifier depending on its carbon
content. Water from the settler is recycled for gasification reuse, with excess
being sent to the wastewater treatment system for disposal.
Mercury and Trace Elements
Current commercial practice is to pass cooled syngas from LTGC through
sulfided, activated carbon beds to remove over 90% of the mercury and a
significant amount of other heavy metal contaminants. Due to sulfur in the

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

activated carbon, these beds are normally placed ahead of the AGR system to
minimize the possibility of sulfur slipping back into and contaminating the
cleaned syngas.
Water Gas Shift
In applications where scrubbed syngas H2/CO ratio must be
increased/adjusted to meet downstream process requirements, the syngas is
passed through a multi-stage, fixed-bed reactor containing shift catalysts to
convert carbon monoxide (CO) and water into additional H2 and CO2 according
to the following reaction known as the water-gas shift (WGS) reaction:

The shift reaction will operate with a variety of catalysts between 400F and
900F. The reaction does not change molar totals and therefore the effect of
pressure on the reaction is minimal. However, the equilibrium for H2
production is favored by high moisture content and low temperature for the
exothermic reaction. Normally, excess moisture is present in the scrubber
syngas from slurry-fed gasifiers sufficient to drive the shift reaction to achieve
the required H2-to-CO ratio. Indeed, for some slurry-fed gasification systems, a
portion of the syngas feed may need to be bypassed around the sour shift
reactor to avoid exceeding the required product H2-to-CO ratio. On the other
hand, additional steam injection before the shift may be needed for syngas
output by dry-fed gasifiers.
In any case, the scrubber syngas feed is normally reheated to 30 to 50F above
saturation temperature to avoid catalyst damage by condensation of liquid
water in the shift reactor. Shifted syngas is cooled in the low temperature gas
cooling (LTGC) system by generating low pressure steam, preheating boiler feed

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

water, and heat exchanging against cooling water before going through the acid
gas removal system for sulfur removal.
There is some flexibility for locating the WGS reactor: it can be located either
before the sulfur removal step (sour shift) or after sulfur removal (sweet shift).
Sour shift uses a cobalt-molybdenum catalyst and is normally located after the
water scrubber, where syngas is saturated with water at about 450F to 500F,
depending on the gasification conditions and the amount of high temperature
heat recovery. An important benefit of sour shift is its ability to also convert
COS and other organic sulfur compounds into H2S to make downstream sulfur
removal easier. Therefore, syngas treated through WGS does not need separate
COS hydrolysis conditioning.
A conventional high temperature (HT) sweet shifting operates between 550F to
900F and uses chromium or copper promoted iron-based catalysts. Because
syngas from the sulfur removal process is saturated with water at either near
or below ambient temperature, steam injection or other means to add moisture
to the feed is normally needed for HT sweet shifting.
A conventional low temperature (LT) sweet shift, typically used to reduce
residual CO content to below 1%, operates between 400F to 500F and uses a
copper-zinc-aluminum catalyst. LT sweet shifting catalysts are extremely
sensitive to sulfur and chloride poisoning and are normally not used in coal
gasification plants.
Sweet shift is normally not used for coal gasification applications, given the
problems of sulfur and chloride poisoning as mentioned above, in addition to
the inefficiency of having to cool the syngas before sulfur removal, which
condenses out all of the moisture gained in the water scrubber, and then
reheating and re-injecting the steam into the treated gas after H2S removal to
provide moisture for shift. Sour shift is normally preferred for coal gasification
applications since the moisture gained in the water scrubber is used to drive
the shift reaction to meet the required H2/CO ratio.
Selexol Process

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Selexol solvent is a mixture of dimethyl ethers of polyethylene glycols,


nontoxic, with a high boiling point, and is an excellent solvent for acid gases.
The selectivity for H2S is much higher than that for CO2, so it can be used to
selectively remove these different acid gases, minimizing CO2 content in the
H2S stream sent to the SRU with associated benefits on SRU sizing and
economics, and enabling regeneration of solvent for CO2 recovery by
economical flashing. These points are reflected in Figure 1, which depicts a
dual-stage Selexol process. The first column (sulfur absorber) removes most of
the H2S (and a limited amount of CO2) from the feed syngas, which then flows
to the second column (CO2 absorber) which removes most of the CO2. The rich
solvent leaving the CO2 absorption column is flashed in drums, from which
relatively pure CO2 is recovered. The solvent in the sulfur absorber column
must be stripped in a column with reboiler to remove the high H2S content
gases.
CO2 capture/separation technologies
Solvent absorption involves a cyclical process in which carbon dioxide is
absorbed from a gas stream directed into a liquid, typically an amine. The gas
stream, with most of the carbon dioxide removed, is then emitted to the
atmosphere. The liquid is processed to remove the carbon dioxide, which is
then compressed for storage. The resulting carbon-dioxide-free liquid is used
again for absorption and the process continues. This technique is fairly widely
used in a range of applications, but it needs a large amount of power to
regenerate the solvent.
The absorption process is most commonly applied to post-combustion capture
and in the main, the absorbents are liquid solvents.
In post-combustion systems, the flue gas needs to be cooled and impurities
removed so that the solvent can efficiently absorb the CO2. The flue gases
containing CO2 and N2 are then fed into a tower called the absorber tower. The
flue gas comes into the bottom of the tower while the solvent is fed into the top
of the tower. There is packing material in the tower, and the flue gas flows up
through the packing, making contact with the solvent as it falls down. The CO2
is absorbed by the solvent as the flue gas rises so that the gas that comes out
of the top of the tower contains very little CO2. Modifying the packing material
to improve the absorption of CO2 is another area of research.

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

The solvent, with dissolved CO2, is then removed from the chamber. The N2 is
released as it is not absorbed in the solvent. The recovery of CO2 from the
solvent is called desorption. The usual process for recovery of CO2 from the
solvent is temperature change. Other methods include pressure changes and
the use of membranes with solvents.

Fischer-Tropsch diesel
The Fischer-Tropsch process is one of the advanced biofuel conversion
technologies that comprise gasification of biomass feedstocks, cleaning and
conditioning of the produced synthesis gas, and subsequent synthesis to liquid
(or gaseous) biofuels. The Fischer-Tropsch process has been known since the
1920s in Germany, but in the past it was mainly used for the production of
liquid fuels from coal or natural gas. However, the process using biomass as
feedstock is still under development. Any type of biomass can be used as a
feedstock, including woody and grassy materials and agricultural and forestry
residues. The biomass is gasified to produce synthesis gas, which is a mixture
of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). Prior to synthesis, this gas can be
conditioned using the water gas shift to achieve the required H2/CO ratio for
the synthesis. The liquids produced from the syngas, which comprise various
hydrocarbon fractions, are very clean (sulphur free) straight-chain
hydrocarbons, and can be converted further to automotive fuels. FischerTropsch diesel can be produced directly, but a higher yield is achieved if first

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Fischer-Tropsch wax is produced, followed by hydrocracking. Fischer-Tropsch


diesel is similar to fossil diesel with regard to a.o. its energy content, density
and viscosity and it can be blended with fossil diesel in any proportion without
the need for engine or infrastructure modifications. Regarding some fuel
characteristics, Fischer-Tropsch diesel is even more favourable, i.e. a higher
cetane number (better auto-ignition qualities) and lower aromatic content,
which results in lower NOx and particle emissions.
For the production of Fischer-Tropsch diesel the main technological challenges
are in the production of the synthesis gas (entrained flow gasifier). These
barriers also apply to other gasification-derived biofuels, i.e. bio-methanol, bioDME and biohydrogen. The synthesis gas is produced by a high-temperature
gasification, which is already used for coal gasification. Biomass has different
properties than coal and, therefore, several process changes are necessary.
First, the biomass pre-treatment and feeding need a different process, because
milling biomass to small particles is too energy-intensive.
Moreover, small biomass particles can also aggregate and plug feeding lines.
Pre-treatment processes like torrefaction or pyrolysis (which produces a liquid
oil) could be developed to overcome these problems. Second, due to the higher
reactivity of biomass (compared to coal) the gasification temperature might be
decreased, resulting in higher efficiencies, but this will require different
gasification and burner design. Third, the ash composition in biomass is
different from that in coal, which results in different ash and slag behaviour,
which is an important factor in the gasifier and still needs to be studied
thoroughly. This ash and slag behaviour is also important for the cooling of the
syngas, for which innovative development is desired. Other research topics are
the cleaning and conditioning of synthesis gas, development of several types of
catalysts, and the utilisation of by-products such as electricity, heat and steam.
In Germany, a pilot production facility for Fischer-Tropsch liquids from biomass
is currently in operation.

Gasification Products and Applications


Chemicals and Fertilizers

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

Modern gasification has been used in the chemical industry since the
1950s. Typically, the chemical industry uses gasification to produce methanol
as well as chemicals, such as ammonia and urea, which form the foundation of
nitrogen-based fertilizers. The majority of the operating gasification plants
worldwide produce chemicals and fertilizers. And, as natural gas and oil prices
continue to increase, the chemical industry is developing additional coal
gasification plants to generate these basic chemical building blocks.
Eastman Chemical Company helped advance the use of coal gasification
technology for chemicals production in the U.S. Eastman's coal-to-chemicals
plant in Kingsport, Tennessee converts Appalachian coals to methanol and
acetyl chemicals. The plant began operating in 1983 and has gasified
approximately 10 million tons of coal with a 98 to 99 percent on-stream
availability rate.
Power Generation with Gasification
Coal can be used as a feedstock to produce electricity via gasification,
commonly referred to as Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC). This
particular coal-to-power technology allows the continued use of coal without
the high level of air emissions associated with conventional coal-burning
technologies. In gasification power plants, the pollutants in the syngas are
removed before the syngas is combusted in the turbines. In contrast,
conventional coal combustion technologies capture the pollutants after
combustion, which requires cleaning a much larger volume of the exhaust gas.
This increases costs, reduces reliability, and generates large volumes of sulfurladen wastes that must be disposed of in landfills or lagoons.
Today, there are 15 gasification-based power plants operating
successfully around the world. There are three such plants operating in the
United States. Plants in Terre Haute, Indiana and Tampa, Florida provide
baseload electric power, and the third, in Delaware City, Delaware provides
electricity to a Valero refinery.
Substitute Natural Gas
Gasification can also be used to create substitute natural gas (SNG) from
coal and other feedstocks, supplementing U.S. natural gas reserves. Using a
"methanation" reaction, the coal-based syngaschiefly carbon monoxide (CO)

PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA


University of the City of Manila
College of Engineering and Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering

and hydrogen (H2)can be profitably converted to methane (CH4). Nearly


identical to conventional natural gas, the resulting SNG can be shipped in the
U.S. natural gas pipeline system and used to generate electricity, produce
chemicals/fertilizers, or heat homes and businesses. SNG will enhance
domestic fuel security by displacing imported natural gas that is generally
supplied in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Hydrogen for Oil Refining
Hydrogen, one of the two major components of syngas, is used in the oil
refining industry to strip impurities from gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel,
thereby producing the clean fuels required by state and federal clean air
regulations. Hydrogen is also used to upgrade heavy crude oil. Historically,
refineries have utilized natural gas to produce this hydrogen. Now, with the
increasing price of natural gas, refineries are looking to alternative feedstocks
to produce the needed hydrogen. Refineries can gasify low-value residuals,
such as petroleum coke, asphalts, tars, and some oily wastes from the refining
process, to generate both the required hydrogen and the power and steam
needed to run the refinery.