Research Papers

Rapid High Temperature Solar Thermal Biomass Gasification in a Prototype Cavity Reactor

[+] Author and Article Information
Paul Lichty, Alan Weimer, Christopher Perkins, Bryan Woodruff

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1111 Engineering Drive, UCB 424, CO 80309-0424

Carl Bingham

 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 1617 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401-3393

J. Sol. Energy Eng. 132(1), 011012 (Jan 04, 2010) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4000356 History: Received May 13, 2009; Revised July 27, 2009; Published January 04, 2010

High temperature biomass gasification has been performed in a prototype concentrated solar reactor. Gasification of biomass at high temperatures has many advantages compared with historical methods of producing fuels. Enhancements in overall conversion, product composition ratios, and tar reduction are achievable at temperatures greater than 1000°C. Furthermore, the utilization of concentrated solar energy to drive these reactions eliminates the need to consume a portion of the product stream for heating and some of the solar energy is stored as chemical energy in the product stream. Experiments to determine the effects of temperature, gas flow rate, and feed type were conducted at the high flux solar furnace at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO. These experiments were conducted in a reflective cavity multitube prototype reactor. Biomass type was found to be the only significant factor within a 95% confidence interval. Biomass conversion as high as 68% was achieved on sun. Construction and design considerations of the prototype reactor are discussed as well as initial performance results.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Soltrace model of secondary and staggered tube arrangement: dots indicate ray incidence points

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Figure 2

Reactor top with optimum tube arrangement (cm)

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Figure 3

Reflective cavity multitube solar reactor

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Figure 4

Solar reactor setup

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Figure 5

Mass spectrometer trace of syngas production during biomass gasification: (a) 1177°C and 12 standard L/min entrainment gas, (b) 1050°C, water feed rate of 24.8 μL/min and 2.5 standard L/min entrainment gas, and (c) 1177°C and 12 standard L/min entrainment gas

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Figure 6

Pressure increase across filter due to tar deposition at low temperatures as compared with high temperature

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Figure 7

CO/CO2 ratio dependence on water concentration

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Figure 8

Central tube temperatures for four of the five reaction tubes




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