International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol.42, No.19, 13486-13497, 2017
Solar thermochemical gasification of wood biomass for syngas production in a high-temperature continuously-fed tubular reactor
Biomass gasification is an attractive process to produce high-value syngas. Utilization of concentrated solar energy as the heat source for driving reactions increases the energy conversion efficiency, saves biomass resource, and eliminates the needs for gas cleaning and separation. A high-temperature tubular solar reactor combining drop tube and packed bed concepts was used for continuous solar-driven gasification of biomass. This 1 kW reactor was experimentally tested with biomass feeding under real solar irradiation conditions at the focus of a 2 m-diameter parabolic solar concentrator. Experiments were conducted at temperatures ranging from 1000 degrees C to 1400 degrees C using wood composed of a mix of pine and spruce (bark included) as biomass feedstock. This biomass was used under its non-altered pristine form but also dried or torrefied. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of syngas production in this reactor concept and to prove the reliability of continuous biomass gasification processing using solar energy. The study first consisted of a parametric study of the gasification conditions to obtain an optimal gas yield. The influence of temperature, oxidizing agent (H2O or CO2) or type of biomass feedstock on the product gas composition was investigated. The study then focused on solar gasification during continuous biomass particle injection for demonstrating the feasibility of a continuous process. Regarding the energy conversion efficiency of the lab scale reactor, energy upgrade factor of 1.21 and solar-to-fuel thermochemical efficiency up to 28% were achieved using wood heated up to 1400 degrees C. (C) 2016 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.