Solar gasification of biomass: Kinetics of pyrolysis and steam gasification in molten salt

Brandon J Hathaway, Jane H Davidson, David B Kittelson

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The use of concentrated solar energy as a heat source for pyrolysis and gasification of biomass is an efficient means for production of hydrogen rich synthesis gas. Utilizing molten alkali carbonate salts as a reaction and heat transfer media promises enhanced stability to solar transients and faster reaction rates. The present study establishes and compares the reaction kinetics of pyrolysis and gasification of cellulose from 1124 K to 1235 K in an electric furnace. Data are presented in an inert environment and in a bath of a ternary eutectic blend of lithium, potassium, and sodium carbonate salts. Arrhenius rate expressions are derived from the data supported by a numerical model of heat and mass transfer. The molten salt increases the rate of pyrolysis by 74% and increases gasification rates by more than an order of magnitude while promoting a product gas composition nearer to thermodynamic equilibrium predictions. These results justify using molten carbonate salts as a combined catalyst and heat transfer media for solar gasification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021011
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2011

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