(13f) Reforming of Residual Tars and Oils From Biomass Gasification

One of the barriers to wider use of many kinds of biomass is the fact that they generate refractory tars and oils when gasified.  These compounds cause difficulty when they are passed to downstream components in the system by causing plugging and drop in performance.  The compounds can be condensed and removed but this involves extensive heat exchange, increased cost, and removal to a hazardous waste landfill.

Working as a subcontractor to Emery Energy, a Salt Lake City company with expertise in biomass gasification, Ceramatec will be applying its non-thermal plasma reformer technology to eliminate any refractory tars and oils that exit the Emery gasifier.  Preliminary laboratory work indicates that it is possible for the plasma reformer to operate on the gas exiting the gasifier and convert these tars and oils to additional hydrogen and carbon monoxide.  This work is being done at Western Research Institute in Laramie, Wyoming under a US Department of Energy award to Emery Energy.

This paper will present an overall process structure of the gasification process and the non-thermal plasma reformer in particular.  Operational characteristics and laboratory results related to the reforming of the refractory tars and oils will be presented.  The larger pilot sized facility at Laramie will also be described.  Data is expected to be available from the larger pilot sized facility in Laramie by the time for the conference.  The resultant gas stream is of a quality that could be used by a high temperature fuel cell.