Exergetic evaluation of biomass gasification

K.J. Ptasinski, M.J. Prins, Anke Pierik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

251 Citations (Scopus)
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Biomass has great potential as a clean, renewable feedstock for producing modern energy carriers. This paper focuses on the process of biomass gasification, where the synthesis gas may subsequently be used for the production of electricity, fuels and chemicals. The gasifier is one of the least-efficient unit operations in the whole biomass-to-energy technology chain and an analysis of the efficiency of the gasifier alone can substantially contribute to the efficiency improvement of this chain. The purpose of this paper is to compare different types of biofuels for their gasification efficiency and benchmark this against gasification of coal. In order to quantify the real value of the gasification process exergy-based efficiencies, defined as the ratio of chemical and physical exergy of the synthesis gas to chemical exergy of a biofuel, are proposed in this paper. Biofuels considered include various types of wood, vegetable oil, sludge, and manure. In this study, exergetic efficiencies are evaluated for an idealized gasifier in which chemical equilibrium is reached, ashes are not considered and heat losses are neglected. The gasification efficiencies are evaluated at the carbon-boundary point, where exactly enough air is added to avoid carbon formation and achieve complete gasification. The cold-gas efficiency of biofuels was found to be comparable to that of coal. It is shown that the exergy efficiencies of biofuels are lower than the corresponding energetic efficiencies. For liquid biofuels, such as sludge and manure, gasification at the optimum point is not possible, and exergy efficiency can be improved by drying the biomass using the enthalpy of synthesis gas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-574
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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