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Pilot-Plant Production of Gas-to-Liquid Synthetic Fuel Using Gasified Biomass over a Novel Biochar-Supported Catalyst

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(6): 1485-1496. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11887) @2016
Authors:   Jason Street, Fei Yu, Qiangu Yan, James Wooten, Eugene Columbus, El Barbary Hassan
Keywords:   Biochar, Biomass, Fischer-Tropsch, Gas-to-liquid, Gasification, Syngas.

Abstract. Gasified biomass syngas has been successfully used to produce liquid hydrocarbons at pilot scale using a novel biochar-supported catalyst. Producer gas from a downdraft gasifier was made from woodchips and contained 53% N2, 17% CO, 14% H2, 13% CO2, and 2% CH4 after undergoing a rigorous scrubbing and refining process. The producer gas was successfully scrubbed so that the catalyst contaminants contained in the gas (e.g., NH4 and O2) were lower than 1 ppm. This study involved over 2000 h of biomass syngas trials at the pilot plant and achieved objectives to better understand and overcome challenges associated with reactor scale-up. A mass balance closure of ±5% was achieved. Producer gas, which flowed through the system only once (without a recycle loop), had a CO conversion of 59% or greater after being introduced to the novel biochar-supported catalyst. The pilot-scale catalyst bed had a much greater surface area for the gas to flow through than previously tested lab-scale reactors (approximately 15 times more surface area), which allowed channels to form and flow regimes to be more inconsistent than in the smaller reactor tubes. This accounted for the lower yield, so smaller tubes are suggested to improve efficiency and overall yield.

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