Performance Improvements to a Fast Internally Circulating Fluidised Bed (FICFB) Biomass Gasifier for Combined Heat and Power Plants
Thesis DisciplineChemical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
This thesis describes the development and experimental testing of a 100 kW dual fluidized bed biomass gasifier (also called a Fast Internally Circulating Fluidized Bed (FICFB) biomass gasifier). This steam-blown gasifier is being studied for its suitability within combined heat and power plant systems for the New Zealand forest products industry. This advanced design of gasifier has the ability to generate producer gas with a lower heating value (LHV) of 11.5-13.4 MJ/Nm3, which is two to three times higher than yielded by conventional gasification systems. This is accomplished because the gasification and combustion processes occur in two physically separated reactors.
Several modifications to the gasifier were required after it was first constructed in order to achieve stable and reliable operation. Producer gas yields were measured through the use of helium as a tracer gas. A new simultaneous producer gas and tar sampling system was developed, allowing accurate samples to be obtained in a matter of minutes.
Experimental testing included a cold testing exercise which provided valuable information on the circulation behaviour of the bed material and char within the gasifier. This helped in achieving stable and reliable operation of the plant. Producer gas yields of 14.6 Nm3/h were recorded with a fuel (radiate pine wood pellets) feed rate of 18.9 kgdry/h. The cold gas efficiency ranged from 16-40 % with limited heat recovery in place, but depended noticeably on the plant operating conditions especially gasification temperature.
The amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) tars measured in the producer gas ranged between 0.9-4.7 g/Nm3 with naphthalene and acenapthylene being the most abundant compounds. The moisture content of the producer gas was determined to be 0.9-1.2 g/gdry gas. It was found that a steam to biomass ratio of 0.45-0.7 kg/kgdry was most favourable for generating a 12-13.4 MJ/Nm3 producer gas while limiting the amount of steam generation. Gasification temperatures above 750 °C encouraged higher producer gas yields and higher cold gas efficiencies. The catalytic bed material olivine (forsterite olivine) was found to increase the producer gas yield by approximately 20 % compared to the non-catalytic bed material greywacke. The use of olivine meant higher cold gas efficiencies were achieved for a given wood feed rate.