Thermal Depolymerization of Biomass with Emphasis on Gasifier Design and Best Method for Catalytic Hot Gas Conditioning

Larry Nelson, Sunkyu Park, Martin A. Hubbe


This paper reviews ways that biomass can be converted by thermal depolymerization to make synthetic gas, i.e. syngas. Biomass, being carbon neutral, is considered as a form of solar energy stored during the growing season by photosynthesis. An effective biomass is one with low moisture and ash content, high lignin content, high calorific value, and small particle size. Woody biomass with low ash content (<1%), nut shells with high lignin content (30 to 40%), and municipal solid waste with synthetic polymers are effective at creating value-added synthetic gases. An allothermal downdraft gasifier produces a low tar syngas (99.9% tar conversion) at 850 oC and provides a simple and low-cost process. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) improves thermodynamic efficiency. To avoid thermal loss, a hot gas filtration system uses trona sorption material for sulfur and halogen compounds. Secondary systems can use multiple cyclones followed by reactors employing calcined dolomite, olivine, and others for adsorption or reaction with residual sulfur, ammonia, metals, and halogens. Reforming of residual tar to syngas can take place within chambers with ceramic tubes doped with nano-nickel particles. Syngas can then be used in boilers, gas turbines for production of electricity or production of chemicals by Fischer-Tropsch conversion.


Biomass; Depolymerization; Catalyst; Gasifier; Thermochemical; Syngas; Gasification; Pyrolysis; Tar; Reforming

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