Research Papers: Air Emissions From Fossil Fuel Combustion

Pyrolytic Conversion of Biomass Residues to Gaseous Fuels for Electricity Generation

[+] Author and Article Information
Andrew Davies, Rasam Soheilian, Chuanwei Zhuo

Department of Mechanical and
Industrial Engineering,
Northeastern University,
Boston, MA 02115

Yiannis A. Levendis

e-mail: y.levendis@neu.edu
Department of Mechanical and
Industrial Engineering,
Northeastern University,
Boston, MA 02115

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received May 2, 2013; final manuscript received July 25, 2013; published online September 19, 2013. Editor: Hameed Metghalchi.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 136(2), 021101 (Sep 19, 2013) (6 pages) Paper No: JERT-13-1141; doi: 10.1115/1.4025286 History: Received May 02, 2013; Revised July 25, 2013

As petroleum resources are finite, it is imperative to use them wisely in energy conversion applications and, at the same time, develop alternative energy sources. Biomass is one of the renewable energy sources that can be used to partially replace fossil fuels. Biomass-based fuels can be produced domestically and can reduce dependency on fuel imports. Due to their abundant supply, and given that to an appreciable extent they can be considered carbon-neutral, their use for power generation is of technological interest. However, whereas biomasses can be directly burned in furnaces, such a conventional direct combustion technique is ill-controlled and typically produces considerable amounts of health-hazardous airborne compounds. Thus, an alternative technology for biomass utilization is described herein to address increasing energy needs in an environmentally-benign manner. More specifically, a multistep process/device is presented to accept granulated or pelletized biomass, and generate an easily-identifiable form of energy as a final product. To achieve low emissions of products of incomplete combustion, the biomass is gasified pyrolytically, mixed with air, ignited and, finally, burned in nominally premixed low-emission flames. Combustion is thus indirect, since the biomass is not directly burned, instead its gaseous pyrolyzates are burned upon mixing with air. Thereby, combustion is well-controlled and can be complete. A demonstration device has been constructed to convert the internal energy of biomass into “clean” thermal energy and, eventually to electricity.

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Topics: Biomass , Pyrolysis
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

3D model of laboratory-scale pyrolytic gasification apparatus

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Feeding characteristics for granulated DDGS (left), and King Grass (center) used in this work. Also shown are 1 g samples of the feedstocks (right).

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Nominally-premixed flames of (a) corn-based DDGS biomass and (b) Giant King Grass biomass

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Steam engine apparatus set up in close proximity to pyrolysis chamber outlet (a), flame produced by the steam engine burner (b), and the steam engine in operation, illuminating the electric lamp (c)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Biomass electrical generation profitability as a function of feed rate (a) income and expenditure balance and (b) carrier gas cost fraction




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