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Numerical simulation of wood gasification in a fluidized bed reactor using

Euler-Euler modeling

M. Oevermann , S. Gerber, F. Behrendt


Berlin Institute of Technology
School of Process Sciences and Engineering
Department of Energy Engineering
Chair for Energy Process Engineering and Conversion Technologies for Renewable Energies
Fasanenstr. 89, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Abstract
In this article we present an application of reactive multiphase modeling with an EulerEuler model to the pyrolysis
of wood and the gasification of the emerged woodchar in a bubbling fluidized bed reactor. In addition to the gas
phase, which is as usual modeled as a continuum, the dispersed phases wood and woodchar are treated as independent
continuous solid phases. Woody particles are assumed to have a single fixed diameter while woodchar is classified in
two seperate phases with different diameters. We present computational results which have been run to a statistically
steady state. We compare results for some main gas components and the temperature at the outlet of the reactor with
experimental data from a labscale fluidized bed reactor.

Corresponding author: michael.oevermann@tu-berlin.de


Proceedings of the European Combustion Meeting 2009

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42

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simulations like e.g. Euler-Lagrange simulations of large


scale fluidized bed reactors using a relatively detailed gasification model for each individual particle. In a recent
study [16] used only 20 reactive coal, 2000 inert sand particles and simulation times of 2 s in their Euler-Lagrange
simulation of a bubbling fluidized bed.
134
Euler-Euler models allow a
realistic description of the time
dependent processes in non-reproduct
acting and reacting fluidized
gas
outlet
beds. Sofisticated closure models based on the kinetic theory
of granular flow allow realistic predictions of unsteady fluid
mechanical phenomena of particulate flows [1]. Compared
to Euler-Lagrange and Direct
Numerical Simulation models
continuum models are computationally less demanding and
allow the calculation of larger
reactors. Therefore they are
95
fuel
very useful tools for simulatinlet
ing fluidized beds. One of most
severe difficulties associated
with Euler-Euler models are the
complicated closure models deair
scribing the momentum and enFigure 1: Bubbling ergy transfer between multiple
continuous phases. Although
fluidized bed reactor.
they are limited to smaller systems, the more physical modeling approach of Euler-Lagrange methods are useful to
improve closure models for continuum models.
In this work we present an Euler-Euler model with
one gaseuos and three solid phases for the simulation
of reactive gassolid flow in dense fluidized beds. The
model takes into account detailed gas phase chemistry,
pyrolysis models, and heterogeneous gasification reac 50

Introduction
Over the last years the impact of utilizing fossil fuels
on the environment (e.g. green house effect) and their
limited availability became a more addressed problem in
the scientific community and in ecopolitical discussions.
While it is well known that charcoal was one of the most
popular combustibles since the medieval times, there still
is a lack of fundamental understanding of the complex
phenomena taking place during pyrolysis and gasification of biogenic energy resources such as wood. This
might be connected to the fact that measuring physical
important variables in a reactive solidgas flow is still a
challenge. As an example, even for nonreacting dense
gase solid flow it is still an unsolved problem to simultaneously measure the velocities of the gas phase and
the particulate phase on timescales of the particle collison dynamics. Therefore the ability to simulate reactive
multiphase fluidized beds is an important issue to investigate fundamental physical questions and to increase the
efficiency of biomass conversion as wood and charcoal.
Since fluidized bed reactors has been widely used in industry for conversion of coal there is of course quite some
experience with pyrolysis and gasification in these kind
of reactors.
There are numerous models which intend to simulate
fluidized beds reactors on different scales of accuracy.
The simpler models such as zone/cell models and equilibrium models are suitable for design optimisation of
industrial size gasifiers, the more comprehensive models
such as Euler-Euler [9, 1, 13] are more targeted towards
fundamental investigations of the chemical and fluid mechanical aspects of fluidized beds.
Euler-Euler or continuum models models are comprehensive models suitable for fundamental investigations of
the chemical and fluid mechanical aspects of fluidized
beds. The advantage of applicability to real industrial
systems is partly caused by neglecting information on individual particle level With current and foreseeable computer resources it does not seem feasible to perform other

tions. Different models for pyrolysis and gasification reactions from the literature have been implemented. We
apply the method for the numerical simulation of wood
gasification and compare the results against experimental
data of a laboratory scale bubbling fluidized bed reactor.
Reasonable agreement between the numerical results and
measurements have been found for the exhaust gas compositions and the temperature.

where sm , sm , and v sm are the void fraction, the density, and the velocity of the solid phase m, respectively.
Here, w sml denotes the mass transfer term between solid
phases m and l (e.g. the conversion of fresh wood into
charcoal) and w smg is the mass transfer term between
solid phase m and P
the gas phase component . With (1)
we have w s = m w smg . The momentum balance
for solid phase m can be written as

Mathematical model
Gas Phase. The gas phase in the EulerEuler model is
treated as a continuum, which can be described by the
volume averaged Navier-Stokes equations.
The species mass balance equations in the gas phase
can we written as

(sm smv sm ) + (sm smv smv sm ) =


t
Nm
X
sm psm + sm
I ml + I mg + m mg . (6)
l=1
l6=m

where psm and sm are the pressure and the stress tensor of the solid phase m and I mg , I ml denote momentum
exchange terms between solid phase m and the gas phase
and the solid phase l. To close the system of mass and
momentum balance equations we solve an energy equation in temperature form for each solid phase m:


Tsm
+ v sm Tsm =
sm m cpm
t
q sm gm (Tm Tg ) Hsm .

g g Y
+ (g g Yu g ) = g w ,g + g w ,s . (1)
t
where Y denotes the massfraction of species in the
gasphase, w ,g is the net producton rate of species due
to gas phase chemical reactions, and w ,s is the mass exchange term between the solid phase and the gas phase.
Summing up equation 1 gives the global mass balance
for the gaseous phase in conservative form:
XX
g g
+ (g g u g ) =
g w ,s 0,
t
s

(2)

Homogeneous gas phase reactions. In the present work


the following simple kinetic mechanism for syngas has
been used:

where g , g , and u g are the void fraction, the gas density,


and the gas phase velocity, respectively.
The gas phase momentum equation is given by
g g u g
t

CO
2 CO
2 H2
CH4

+ (g g ug ug ) + g p
+ g ( g ) + g g g = I gs .

(3)

Nm
X

gm (Tsm Tg ) Hg .

The rate constants for the primary pyrolysis reactions as


well as the fixed mass-fractions of the products are taken
from [6]. Primary pyrolysis is followed by secondary
cracking of tar. In this study we consider two different
models for the secondary pyrolysis. In the first model of
[3] for beech wood, tar reacts to gas phase components
and inert tar:

(4)

tar CO, CO2 , H2 , CH4 , tarinert .


The second pyrolysis model of [14] has been developed
for spruce wood. Primary and secondary pyrolysis in this
model can be summarised as follows:

Particulate Phase. In the EulerEuler modelling approach


the particulate phases are treated as a set of multiple continuous solid phases each having their own constant diameter. For solid phase m we solve a mass balance equation

[4]
[5]
[11]
[5]

wood H2 O, CO, CO2 , H2 , CH4 , tar, char(s).

with the heat flux vector q , the heat transfer coefficient


between gas phase and solid phase m gm , the temperature of the solid phase Tsm ,and the heat of reaction Hg .

H2
+ CO2
2 CO2
2 H2 O
CO
+ 2 H2 O

Pyrolysis. Primary pyrolysis denotes the decomposition


of solid biomass gaseous components like wood gases
and tar and solid component char:

m=1

sm sm
+ (sm smv sm )
t
X
X
= sm
w sml + sm
w smg ,

The kinetic parameters for all reactions are from the cited
literature.

Here, p, g , g , and I gs are the pressure, the stress tensor


(modeled as a Newtonian fluid), the gravitational force,
and the momentum exchange between the gas phase and
solid phases, respectively.
The energy equation is solved in form of a non-conservative temperature equation:


Tg
g g cpg
+ v g Tg = q g v
t
+

+ H2 O
+ O2
+ O2
+ 1.5 O2

wood char, tar1 , tar2 , tarinert


tar1 H2 O, CO, CO2 , H2 , CH4 , C2 H4 ,
C2 H 6 , C3 H 6
tar2 H2 O, CO, CO2 , H2 , CH4 , C2 H4 ,

(5)
2

C2 H 6 , C3 H 6 .

(7)

900

inlet
150 mm
325 mm
500 mm
700 mm
900 mm

800

temperature [C]

700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0

20

40

60

80

100

time [min]

120

140

160

180

Figure 2: Experimental temperature data over time for a


complete run of the reactor at different heights.

Figure 3: Experimental data of the exhaust gas composition sampled from 19 different experiments with different
wood charges.

88 min operating time are due to an interrupted fuel supply. Between t=100 min and t=120 min the reactor runs
at almost steady state conditions. We use the data from
this time window to compare with numerical simulations.
After 120 min of operating time several tests were performed leading to the unsteady temperature data seen in
Figure 2.
Heterogeneous reactions. Heterogeneous reactions of solid
Figure 3 shows minimum, mean, and maximal meachar with species in the gas phase are modeled using the
sured exhaust gas concentrations. The concentrations are
following overall reactions:
sampled values of timeaveraged data from 18 different
C + O2
CO2
[15]
experiments with different charges and types of wood.
C + CO2 2 CO
[2], [8]
Usually, the exhaust gas concentrations of CO are higher
C + H2 O CO
+ H2
[7], [8]
then those of CO2 as can be seen from Figure 3. HowC + 2 H2 CH4
[7]
ever, among the 18 different experiments their were also
Rate expressions and kinetic parameters are taken from two case with higher CO2 than CO concentrations. The
the cited literature.
huge variance of wood properties (density, water content,
structure, etc.) leads to big uncertainties in the modeling
Results and Discussion
of wood gasification and should be kept in mind when
Experimental Setup. The experimental data in this study comparing numerical results against experimental data.
were taken from a laboratory scale bubbling fluidized bed
reactor at the Institute of Energy Engineering at Berlin Computational Setup. The reactor shown in Figure 1
University of Technology. Figure 1 shows the reactor and has been discretised in the two-dimensional Euler-Euler
its dimensions. The freeboard area and the bubbling bed model with a grid spacing of 1 cm in radial and axial dizone have inner diameters of 134 mm and 95 mm, respec- rection. Due to the residence time of the wood particles
tively. The reactor is operated at atmospheric pressure. in the fuel supply the temperature of the wood entering

The bed material consists of pure wood and is fed in the the reactor has been assumed to be 150 C. The gas comlower part of the reactor with a feeding rate of 2 kg/h. position entering the reactor through the fuel supply with
Preheated air with a velocity of 0.25 m/s at a tempera- a velocity of 4.5 cm/s has been set to be 100% H2 O at

ture of 400 C enters the reactor from the bottom over the T = 150 C. This massflow corresponds to complete drywhole diameter of the reactor. Six thermocouples inside ing of wood in the fuel supply. Inflow conditions for the
the reactor at heights 5, 150, 325, 500, 700, and 900 mm air are taken from the experiments. Three solid phases
above the air intake are monitoring the temperature inside have been used in the continuum model: spherical wood
3
the reactor. Product gases concentrations at the exit of particles (diameter 3 mm, density 6.5 g/cm , water content
10%,
volume
fraction
0.35,
molar
mass
128 g/mol),
the reactor are analysed with a combination of gas chroand
two
classes
of
spherical
char
particles
(diameter
1
matography and laser mass spectroscopy, see [12] for de3
and
2
mm,
density
0.35
g/cm
,
volume
fraction
0.35,
and
tails.
Figure 2 shows experimental temperature data over molar mass 12 g/mol) with carbon being the only contime at different heights above the inlet in the reactor for stituent. The walls of the reactor are modeled isothermal
a complete experiment. The reactor was started with a with a temperature of Tw = 600 K.
Figure 4 and 5 show the spatially averaged outlet tembed of pure charcoal and a pure heated nitrogen mass
perature
and volume fractions of H2 , CO, CO2 and H2 O
flow below the fluidization velocity to heat up the sysover
time
for the first secondary pyrolysis model. Both
tem. After the heating period of approximately 60 min
temperature
and volume fractions become statistically stathe reactor has been operated with heated air entering the
reactor with a velocity of 0.25 m/s and a temperature of tionary after a few seconds and show therefore that the
400 C. The temperature peaks seen in Figure 2 at about approximated initial conditions of the simulation are close
3
The introduction of an inert tar species is quite questionable since at higher temperature or longer hold-up time
one would expect to crack all the tar which evolves from
the primary pyrolysis but for this work we accepted this
components to be consistent with the used literature.

520

to the steady values. The model seems to have some difficulties to predict the experimental values shown in figure
3. Especially the CO concentration is to low copared to
the experimental data - a problem which is investigated
in recent simulation at the department. The concentration
of the species shown in figure 5 depend on various term.
Using different approaches for the main gasification reaction which result in the formation of water and carbon
monoxide shows mostly higher rates and, as these reaction are endothermic, higher cooling rate too. At the end
the bed would become coulder, less C02 and more CO
would evolve. Examples for different gasification kinetics are given in [8] and [10] where both of them using
kinitics which depend on the grade of conversion. This
problem is currently under investigation.
Figure 6 and 7 show again middled outlet temperature
and volumefractions of H2 , CO, CO2 and H2 O for the
second secondary pyrolysis approach. The result are similar but more Water evolves and even less carbon monoxide. The Temperature of the outlet gas is almost equal for
both models.
To show the strong connection of fluidmechanics and
chemistry we show the snapshots given in figure in 8. The
left picture in figure 8 shows bubbles rising in the bed
while both of the right pictures show a high concentration of CO2 in the bubble but a low concentration of CO.
The CO2 essentially evolves only from the wood and in
the very lowest part directly above the inlet, since only
there is oxygen. The bubble transport the CO2 through
the bed and constricts the CO2 to react with the charcoal
of the fluidized bed. Therefore less carbon monoxide is
in bubble.

Temperature [C]

500

300

350

400

450

200

250
time [s]

300

350

400

450

Temperature [C]
mole fraction []

450

500

mole fraction []

H2
CO
CO2
H2O

0.1

50

100

150

200

250
time [s]

300

350

400

450

500

References
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0.05

150

400

Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge the Deutsche Bundestiftung Umwelt (DBU) for financial support
of this work and York Neubauer for the provision of the
experimental data shown in this article.

H2O

100

350

500

CO
CO2

50

300

Conclusions We have presented an EulerEuler modeling approach of wood gasification in a dense fluidized
bed. We have shown two different models for the secondary pyrolyis in a complex simulation of a polydispers fluidized bed reactor with homogeneous and heterogeneous reaction. The necessary time to simulate the
shown results was in the order of one week on two processor cores of an AMD Opteron running at 2.4 GHz clock
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0.1

0
0

250

Figure 7: Volumefractions vs. time for EulerEuler simulations - pyrolysis model 2

H2

0.15

200

0.15

0
0

Figure 4: Temperature vs. time for EulerEuler simulations - pyrolysis model 1


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150

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420
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440

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Figure 6: Temperature vs. time for EulerEuler simulations - pyrolysis model 2

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480

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440

400

500

50

460

420

520

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Figure 5: Volumefractions vs. time for EulerEuler simulations - pyrolysis model 1

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Figure 8: Snapshots of the volumefraction of the gas, volumefraction of CO and CO2 (from left to right)- pyrolysis
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