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.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Biomass , Pyrolysis
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Danje, S., 2011, Fast Pyrolysis of Corn Residues for Energy Production, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
US-EIA, 2011, “EIA Projects World Energy Use to Increase 53 Percent by 2035; China and India Account for Half of the Total Growth,” http://www.eia.gov/pressroom/releases/press368.cfm
US-EIA, 2012, “Annual Energy Review,” http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm
Bragato, M., Joshi, K., Carlson, J. B., Tenório, J. A., and Levendis, Y. A., 2012, “Combustion of Coal, Bagasse, and Blends Thereof Part I: Emissions From Batch Combustion of Fixed Beds of Fuels,” Fuel, 96, pp. 43–50.
Bragato, M., Joshi, K., Carlson, J. B., Tenório, J. A., and Levendis, Y. A., 2012, “Combustion of Coal, Bagasse, and Blends Thereof: Part II: Speciation of PAH Emissions,” Fuel, 96, pp. 51–58.
ThomasB.Reed, S. G., 2001, “A Survey of Biomass Gasification 2001: Gasifier Projects and Manufacturers Around the World,” National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO.
Narvaez, I., Orio, A., Aznar, M. P., and Corella, J., 1996, “Biomass Gasification With Air in an Atmospheric Bubbling Fluidized Bed,” Effect of Six Operational Variables on the Quality of the Produced Raw Gas,” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 35(7), pp. 2110–2120.
Gil, J., Corella, J., Aznar, M. A. P., and Caballero, M. A., 1999, “Biomass Gasification in Atmospheric and Bubbling Fluidized Bed: Effect of the Type of Gasifying Agent on the Product Distribution,” Biomass Bioenergy, 17(5), pp. 389–403.
Antal, M. J., Allen, S. G., Schulman, D., Xu, X., and Divilio, R. J., 2000, “Biomass Gasification in Supercritical Water,” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 39(11), pp. 4040–4053.
Rapagna, S., Jand, N., Kiennemann, A., and Foscolo, P., 2000, “Steam-Gasification of Biomass in a Fluidised-Bed of Olivine Particles,” Biomass Bioenergy, 19(3), pp. 187–197.
Devi, L., Ptasinski, K. J., and Janssen, F. J., 2003, “A Review of the Primary Measures for Tar Elimination in Biomass Gasification Processes,” Biomass Bioenergy, 24(2), pp. 125–140.
Li, X., Grace, J., Lim, C., Watkinson, A., Chen, H., and Kim, J., 2004, “Biomass Gasification in a Circulating Fluidized Bed,” Biomass Bioenergy, 26(2), pp. 171–193.
Matsumura, Y., Minowa, T., Potic, B., Kersten, S. R., Prins, W., van Swaaij, W. P., van de Beld, B., Elliott, D. C., Neuenschwander, G. G., and Kruse, A., 2005, “Biomass Gasification in Near-and Super-Critical Water: Status and Prospects,” Biomass Bioenergy, 29(4), pp. 269–292.
Lv, P., Xiong, Z., Chang, J., Wu, C., Chen, Y., and Zhu, J., 2004, “An Experimental Study on Biomass Air–Steam Gasification in a Fluidized Bed,” Bioresour. Technol., 95(1), pp. 95–101.
Güell, B. M., Sandquist, J., and Sørum, L., “Gasification of Biomass to Second Generation Biofuels: A Review,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 135(1), p. 014001. [CrossRef]
Meng, X., Benito, P., de Jong, W., Basile, F., Verkooijen, A. H., Fornasari, G., and Vaccari, A., 2011, “Steam–O2 Blown Circulating Fluidized-Bed (CFB) Biomass Gasification: Characterization of Different Residual Chars and Comparison of Their Gasification Behavior to Thermogravimetric (TG)-Derived Pyrolysis Chars,” Energy Fuels, 26(1), pp. 722–739.
Kumar, V., 2009, “Pyrolysis and Gasification of Lignin and Effect of Alkali Addition,” Ph.D. thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA.
Zanzi, R., Sjöström, K., and Björnbom, E., 1996, “Rapid High-Temperature Pyrolysis of Biomass in a Free-Fall Reactor,” Fuel, 75(5), pp. 545–550.
Zanzi, R., Sjöström, K., and Björnbom, E., 2002, “Rapid Pyrolysis of Agricultural Residues at High Temperature,” Biomass Bioenergy, 23(5), pp. 357–366.
Zanzi, R., Bai, X., Capdevila, P., and Bjornbom, E., “Pyrolysis of Biomass in Presence of Steam for Preparation of Activated Carbon, Liquid, and Gaseous Products,” Proceedings of 6th World Congress of Chemical Engineering Melbourne, Australia, pp. 23–27.
Demirbaş, A., 2002, “Gaseous Products From Biomass by Pyrolysis and Gasification: Effects of Catalyst on Hydrogen Yield,” Energy Convers. Manage., 43(7), pp. 897–909.
Demirbas, A., 2004, “Effects of Temperature and Particle Size on Bio-Char Yield From Pyrolysis of Agricultural Residues,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolsis, 72(2), pp. 243–248.
Chen, G., Andries, J., Luo, Z., and Spliethoff, H., 2003, “Biomass Pyrolysis/Gasification for Product Gas Production: The Overall Investigation of Parametric Effects,” Energy Convers. Manage., 44(11), pp. 1875–1884.
Srinivas, T., Reddy, B., and Gupta, A., 2012, “Thermal Performance Prediction of a Biomass Based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Plant,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 134(2), p. 021002. [CrossRef]
Mayor, J. R., and Williams, A., 2010, “Residence Time Influence on the Fast Pyrolysis of Loblolly Pine Biomass,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 132(4), p. 041801. [CrossRef]
Dhungana, A., Basu, P., and Dutta, A., 2012, “Effects of Reactor Design on the Torrefaction of Biomass,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 134(4), p. 041801. [CrossRef]
Jinno, D., Gupta, A. K., and Yoshikawa, K., 2004, “Thermal Decomposition Characteristics of Critical Components in Solid Wastes,” Environ. Eng. Sci., 21(1), pp. 65–72.
Davies, A., 2013, “Environmentally-Benign Conversion of Biomass Residues to Electricity,” M.S. thesis, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.
Bonnardeaux, J., 2007, “Potential Uses for Distillers Grains,” Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia, July 2013, http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/sust/biofuel/potentialusesgrains042007.pdf
Information, K. E., 2013, “Kansas Ethanol Information,” http://www.ksgrains.com/ethanol/ddgs.html
VIASPACE, 2012, “US Department of Agriculture Officially Approves Giant KingTM Grass in the United States,” http://www.viaspace.com/press_article.php?id = 1377
Inc., V. G. E., 2013, “Giant King Grass: The New Biomass for Green Energy,” http://www.viaspacegreenenergy.com/giant-king-grass.php
US-EIA, 2011, “How Much Electricity Does an American Home Use?—FAQ,” http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3
Giuntoli, J., De Jong, W., Arvelakis, S., Spliethoff, H., and Verkooijen, A., 2009, “Quantitative and Kinetic TG-FTIR Study of Biomass Residue Pyrolysis: Dry Distiller's Grains With Solubles (DDGS) and Chicken Manure,” J. Anal. Appl. Pyrolsis, 85(1), pp. 301–312.
Soheilian, R., Davies, A., Talebi Anaraki, S., Zhuo, C., and Levendis, Y. A., 2013, “Pyrolytic Gasification of Post-Consumer Polyolefins to Allow for “Clean” Premixed Combustion,” Energy Fuels, 27(8), pp. 4859–4868. [CrossRef]
“STANJAN Chemical Equilibrium Calculation,” http://navier.engr.colostate.edu/tools/equil.html
Mansur, D., Shimokawa, M., Oba, K., Nakasaka, Y., Tago, T., and Masuda, T., 2013, “Conversion of Ethanol Fermentation Stillage Into Aliphatic Ketones by Two-Step Process of Hydrothermal Treatment and Catalytic Reaction,” Fuel Process Technol., 108, pp. 139–145.
Dean, J., Braun, R., Penev, M., Kinchin, C., and Muñoz, D., 2011, “Leveling Intermittent Renewable Energy Production Through Biomass Gasification-Based Hybrid Systems,” ASME J. Energy Resour. Technol., 133(3), p. 031801. [CrossRef]


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



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In