Investigation of Coal-Biomass Catalytic Gasification Using Experiments, Reaction Kinetics and Computational Fluid Dynamics


SEM photograph of biomass char from pyrolysis of pine with catalyst (Source: Virginia Tech)
SEM photograph of biomass char from pyrolysis of pine with catalyst (Source: Virginia Tech)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and St. Univ. - OSP
Website:  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Award Number:  FE0005476
Project Duration:  10/01/2010 – 09/30/2015
Total Award Value:  $1,252,285
DOE Share:  $999,781
Performer Share:  $252,504
Technology Area:  Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids
Key Technology:  Coal-Biomass Feed and Gasification
Location:  Blacksburg, Virginia

Project Description

This Virginia Tech project is a collaborative effort involving experiments, kinetic modeling, and computational fluid dynamics that incorporates efficient methods for solving complex heterogeneous chemistry. The goal is to determine the key reactive properties for coal-biomass mixed fuels. To achieve this goal, sub-bituminous coal will be mixed with biomass feedstocks of hybrid poplar wood, switchgrass, or corn stover and catalysts added to lower the gasification temperatures, thereby improving the gasification process. The outcome of this research will be characterization of the chemical kinetics and reaction mechanisms of the co-gasification fuels and development of a set of models that can be integrated into other modeling environments. Finally, the reaction kinetics modeling will be implemented into NETL’s multiphase flow code—Multiphase Flow with Interphase Exchange (MFIX)—to efficiently simulate the chemistry and recommendations will be made regarding fluidization characteristics.

Project Benefits

This work will use experimental reactor data to develop kinetic rate expressions for pyrolysis and char gasification for the coal-biomass blends under conditions free from transport limitations to develop a detailed understanding of the effect of pyrolysis conditions on the porous char structure. The impact of this project will be to develop a cost-effective gasification-based CBTL process to produce renewable liquid fuels that will provide diversity of fuel supply and energy security while resulting in lower future capital and operating costs. Specifically, this project will build mathematical models that combine true kinetic rate expressions with transport models for predicting gasification behavior for a broad range of pressures and temperatures, and investigate the physical and chemical parameters that might lead to synergistic effects in coal-biomass blends gasification.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Steven Markovich:
Technology Manager 
Jenny Tennant:
Principal Investigator 
Francine Battaglia:

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