The Prospects for Integrating Fast Pyrolysis into Biomass Power Systems

E. Sandvig, G. Walling, D.E. Daugaard, R.J. Pletka, D. Radlein, W. Johnson, and R.C. Brown


Biomass, fast pyrolysis, power systems


Pyrolysis has progressed significantly in the processing of herbaceous materials as well as woody plants. In fast pyrolysis, the widely used fluid bed reactor is a relatively simple design with favourable heat transfer characteristics. Recent advancements in char removal and bio-oil collection increase the effective use of pyrolysis oils as fuel in advanced power cycles. Due to the shortcomings of integrated gasification/combined cycles (IGCC), we are developing an alternative to IGCC for biomass power: the integrated (fast) pyrolysis/combined cycle (IPCC). Solid biomass is converted into liquid bio-oil. This bio-oil is a mixture of oxygenated organic compounds and water that can fuel a gas turbine topping cycle. Resulting waste heat provides thermal energy to a steam turbine bottoming cycle. Advantages of the biomass-fueled IPCC system include: combined cycle efficiency exceeding 33.6% efficiency for a system as small as 7.6 MW; absence of high-pressure thermal reactors; decoupling of fuel processing and power generation; and opportunities for recovering value-added products from the bio-oil. In addition, this technology co-utilizes biomass with natural gas in the pyrolysis cycle and diesel fuel in the turbine cycle. This article reviews the state of fast pyrolysis technology, describes the operation of the proposed IPCC power system, and estimates the capital and operating costs of the system operating on agricultural residues.

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