Mathematical modelling of a small biomass gasifier for synthesis gas production

Mbikan, Atainu (2019) Mathematical modelling of a small biomass gasifier for synthesis gas production. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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The depletion of fossil fuels coupled with the growing demands of the world energy has ignited the interest for renewable energies including biomass for energy production. A reliable affordable and clean energy supply is of major importance to the environment and economy of the society. In this context, modern use of biomass is considered a promising clean energy alternative for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and energy dependency. The use of biomass as a renewable energy source for industrial application has increased over the last decade and is now considered as one of the most promising renewable sources. The direct combustion of biomass in small scales often results in incomplete and inconsistent burning process which could produce carbon monoxide, particulates and other pollutants. Therefore, biomass is required to be transformed into more easily handled fuel such as gases, liquids and charcoal using technologies such as pyrolysis, gasification, fermentation, digestion etc. Biomass gasification upon which this thesis focuses is one of the promising routes amongst the renewable energy options for future deployment. Gasification is a process of conversion of solid biomass into combustible gas, known as producer gas by partial oxidation.

This research work is carried out to investigate various methods employed for modelling biomass gasifiers, it also studies the chemistry of gasification and reviews various gasification models. In this work, a mathematical model is developed to simulate the behaviour of downdraft gasifiers operating under steady state and determine the synthesis gas composition. The model distinctly analyses the processes in each of the three zones of the gasifier; pyrolysis, oxidation and reduction zones. Air is used as the gasifying agent and is introduced into the pyrolysis and oxidation zones of the gasifier for both single and double air operations. These zones have been modelled based on thermodynamic equilibrium and kinetic modelling; the model equations are solved in MATLAB. Given the biomass properties, consumption, air input, moisture content and gasifier specifications, the MATLAB model is able to accurately predict the temperature and distribution of the molar concentrations of the synthesis gas constituents. The downdraft gasifier is also represented in Aspen HYSYS based on the same models to study the effect of both single and double air gasification operation. For known biomass properties, consumption, air input, moisture content and gasifier operating conditions, the Aspen HYSYS model can accurately predict the distributions of the molar concentrations of the syngas constituents (CO, CO2, H2, CH4, and N2). The models were validated by comparing obtained theoretical results with experimental data published in the open literature. Parametric studies were carried out to study the effects of equivalence ratio, moisture content, temperature on the gas compositions and its energy content. The proposed equilibrium model displayed a variable ability for the prediction of various product yields with this being a function of the feedstock studied. It also demonstrated the ability to predict product gases from various biomasses using both single and double stage air input. In the case of gasification with double air stage supply, higher amounts of methane are obtained with specific tendencies of the gases reaching a peak at certain conditions. The kinetic model was partially successful in predicting results and comparable with experimentally published results for a range of conditions. There were discrepancies particularly with CH4 formation and the operating temperatures predictions which were usually consistently lower than those actually measured experimentally. The use of the PFR, however, did show a greater potential for the use in further modelling.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biomass as a source of clean renewable energy and its application in gasification, Thermodynamics and kinetics of the gasification reactions, Biomass gasification in a downdraft gasifier using HYSIS simulator and MATLAB solver, Single and double air stream gasification mode, How process variables affect gasification product to allow prediction of optimum performance
Subjects: F100 Chemistry
H700 Production and Manufacturing Engineering
H800 Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2020 07:31
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 18:31

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