(46a) Non-Thermal Plasma Gasification of Residual Tars and Oils From Biomass Gasification | AIChE

(46a) Non-Thermal Plasma Gasification of Residual Tars and Oils From Biomass Gasification


Hartvigsen, J. - Presenter, Ceramatec, Inc
Frost, L. - Presenter, Ceramatec, Inc.
Elangovan, S. - Presenter, Ceramatec, Inc

Plasma Reforming of Refractory Tars and Oils Generated by Biomass Gasification

L. Frost1, S. Elangovan1,
and J. Hartvigsen1

1Ceramatec Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah




Western states have large supplies of non-food based biomass that can
potentially be used as carbon neutral energy sources.  Biomass such as corn stover or wheat straw is
readily available in many locations and if processed in an environmentally
benign way could supplement traditional energy sources for power
generation.  The synthesis gas generated
from the biomass can also be used as feedstock for production of liquid fuels
through the Fischer Tropsch process or as input to a chemicals facility.  Using biomass in conjunction with coal can
also mitigate the concerns with the carbon dioxide generated by the coal
gasification process. 

of the barriers to commercial implementation of biomass gasification is the
refractory tars and oils created in the gasification process.  These products are generated as part of the
gasification process and are extremely difficult to destroy.  Current biomass gasification systems
typically condense these tars and oils and dispose of them at hazardous waste
sites.  Typical downstream operations
such as a combustion turbine, a reciprocating engine generator set, or a fuel
cell system all require a gasifier product stream free of these tars and oils for
successful operation. These tars and oils represent lost mass and energy if
simply removed from the gasifier product stream and as previously mentioned are
considered to be hazardous waste. Removal and disposal of this hazardous
material stream creates monetary and regulatory penalties to the gasifier

as a co-recipient of a DOE funded research project, is applying its GlidArc ® non-thermal
plasma reformer technology to convert refractory tars and oils to synthesis
gas.  This operation will occur while the
tars and oils are still entrained in the gasifier product stream. Preliminary
laboratory work indicates that it is possible for the plasma reformer to reform
the stream exiting the gasifier and convert the entrained tars and oils to
additional hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This process will be tested with a ten
(10) ton per day biomass gasification unit using an Emery Energy gasifier that
will be located at Western Research Institute in Laramie, Wyoming.  Funding for the effort will be provided by a
US Department of Energy award to Emery Energy. 

paper will present the overall description 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 may be available from the larger pilot sized facility in
Laramie by the time for the conference and if available will be presented.


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