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Detailed biomass fast pyrolysis kinetics integrated to computational fluid dynamic (CFD) and discrete element modeling framew...

by Ross Houston, Oluwafemi A Oyedeji, Nourredine Abdoulmoumine
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Chemical Engineering Journal
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Fast pyrolysis is an intricate process due to the variability and anisotropy of lignocellulosic biomass and the complicated chemistry and physics during conversion in a bubbling fluidized bed reactor (BFBR). The complexity of biomass fast pyrolysis lends itself well to computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and discrete element (DEM) analysis, which promises to reduce experimental time and its associated cost. This study investigated switchgrass fast pyrolysis simulated by computational fluid dynamics coupled with a discrete element method to track individual reacting biomass particles throughout a bench-scale BFBR reactor. We accounted for the fast pyrolysis chemistry through a comprehensive reaction scheme with secondary cracking reactions. We performed a three-step reduction for secondary cracking reactions to convert the full cracking scheme into a reduced scheme easily incorporated into our model. We assessed the impact of operational conditions on the steady-state yields of liquid bio-oil, non-condensable gases (NCG), at 550 °C over a range of fluidization numbers (2 – 6 Umf), reported as a ratio to the minimum fluidization velocity (Umf). At steady-state, the volatile bio-oil yield had a range of 49.3–50.4 wt%. Levoglucosan was the primary volatile component present with 21 wt% of the bio-oil while water was the second largest with 20 wt%. The reduction of the secondary reaction schemes did not appreciably affect the overall yields of switchgrass pyrolysis compared to the full secondary scheme.