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Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

Prediction of the working parameters of a wood waste

gasier through an equilibrium model
Carlos R. Altani


, Paulo R. Wander


, Ronaldo M. Barreto

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Caxias do Sul, Rua Francisco Getulio Vargas 1130-Bloco G,
Caxias do Sul, RS 95070-560, Brazil
Mechanical Engineering Postgraduation Program (PROMEC), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
State (UFRGS), Brazil
Received 30 August 2002; accepted 26 December 2002

This paper deals with the computational simulation of a wood waste (sawdust) gasier using an equilibrium model based on minimization of the Gibbs free energy. The gasier has been tested with Pinus
Elliotis sawdust, an exotic specie largely cultivated in the South of Brazil. The biomass used in the tests
presented a moisture of nearly 10% (wt% on wet basis), and the average composition results of the gas
produced (without tar) are compared with the equilibrium models used. Sensitivity studies to verify the
inuence of the moisture sawdust content on the fuel gas composition and on its heating value were made.
More complex models to reproduce with better accuracy the gasier studied were elaborated. Although the
equilibrium models do not represent the reactions that occur at relatively high temperatures (800 C) very
well, these models can be useful to show some tendencies on the working parameter variations of a gasier.
 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Wood wastes; Gasication process; Simulation

1. Introduction
Usually, biomass gasiers are complex equipment that require a lot of time to be mounted and
to be put in operation. Therefore, it is very dicult to explore various working conditions, such as

Corresponding author. Tel.: +55-54-2121133; fax: +55-54-2182168.

E-mail address: (C.R. Altani).

0196-8904/03/$ - see front matter  2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

the variation of moisture content in the biomass, air/biomass ratio, dierent biomass materials
etc. Because of this, some works were made to predict the performance of gasiers [14].
At moderately high temperatures (<800 C), as in the pyrolysis and gasication reactions of
biomass, the kinetic models are more suitable and accurate, in spite of the high complexity of the
models. Some works that use kinetic models to represent the biomass gasication process will be
seen next. In the Chowdhury et al. work [1], a kinetic model of a downdraft rice husk gasier was
adopted, which includes the tar presence and the kinetic parameters of this substance based on the
works of Wen and Caln [5] and Serio et al. [6]. Solving the equations for the concentration proles
of dierent components of the reactants and product gases with the heat transfer equations between the solids and gas phases determines the concentration and temperature proles required
into the reactor.
In the article by S
anchez et al. [7], the results for determination of the kinetic parameters from
the Arrhenius equation, for the rice husk and sugarcane bagasse that validate a mathematical
model are presented. The experimental data were obtained with a uidized bed reactor operating
under temperatures between 975 and 1250 K. An other similar study was developed before by
Roll and Hedden [2].
Although thermodynamic equilibrium, in reality, never takes place in the gasication process
[1], particularly at fairly high temperatures (<800 C), many works were performed to demonstrate the applicability of the equilibrium models to the gasication process. These models are
especially good at the high temperatures that occur on the entrained ow gasiers where the
reaction temperatures are above 1500 K [8]. In this work, the applicability of the minimization of
the Gibbs free energy at the equilibrium to the coal gasication process was shown. A routine
called SYNGAS in FORTRAN language was implemented to predict the composition of the fuel
gas produced.
In the work developed by Elmegaard and Korving [3], the biomass gasication process, rather
than all the IGCC power plant, is simulated by Cycle-Tempo software (Delft University, Netherlands) and DNA software (Lyngby University, Denmark). Particularly with respect to the gasication process of the plant, the Cycle-Tempo gasier model was simulated through two gasier
modules coupled in series to improve the minimization of Gibbs free energy method. In this
model, each gasier produces fuel gas at dierent equilibrium temperatures and with intermediate
separation of the gas components and subsequent separation of the ashes. All air is added to the
rst gasier component.
In Zainal et al. [4], an equilibrium model based on equilibrium constants was used to predict the
gasication process in a downdraft gasier for dierent biomass materials. In this work, the eects
of initial moisture content in the wood and the temperature in the gasication zone on the
composition and caloric value of the fuel gas produced was investigated.
Reed and Das [9] showed the inuence of the biomass moisture content and oxygen on gas
heating value, indicating that the reduction of this parameter by increasing the rst factor is
compensated by the enrichment of the second. These authors also show that the air/biomass ratio
must be between 2.0 and 2.4 to determine the best eciency on the gasication process.
Some experimental works [1014] were performed with small biomass gasiers (up to 200 kW)
to verify the global performance of the equipment under dierent conditions but not enough to
study the inuence in the fuel gas characteristics (composition and heating value) of the working
parameters: initial moisture content of the biomass, gasication temperatures, dierent biomass

C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777


materials etc. Obviously, and as already mentioned in the beginning, it would be an arduous
work, requiring many tests to exploit all dierent conditions of operation. Thereby, it is very
interesting to use models that reproduce and predict the gasier behavior with accuracy.
In this paper, initially, the results of a sensitivity study for the eects of the sawdust moisture
content at certain reaction temperatures on gasication characteristics are shown. A simple
gasication process model was conceived to allow realization of the study, and the working
gasier parameters were obtained from a gasier built and tested by the authors. The sensitivity
analysis has been conducted through a routine described in Altani [8] and Cycle-Tempo software. Both programs adopt an equilibrium model based on minimization of the Gibbs function,
considered the driving force of a chemical reaction. Similar operating conditions to simulate the
gasication process were conceived with the two programs.
As the gasier built presents an internal gas recirculation to raise the reduction zone temperature, the sensitivity study based on simple equilibrium models is not a simple task. In this way,
complex models based on the Cycle-Tempo software were conceived to reproduce more accurately the gasier built and to reach the gas composition obtained at the tests, whose values were
similar to those reported in the literature.

2. Characteristics of the gasier and biomass

The gasier built and tested is described in Wander [15], and it is of the xed bed type,
downdraft, stratied and with an open top. The gasier has the capacity to process approximately
12 kg/h of sawdust and is composed by a cast iron grate xed to a rotating shaft. Above the grate,
on the shaft, rods are used to mix the sawdust in the reduction zone and to favor extraction of the
ash above the grate. In the center of the gasier, a device, like a venturi, aspirates part of the gases
produced inside it (pyrolysis zone) to be burned in a chamber. The purpose is to increase the
internal temperature by burning part of the tar and other gases. The hot gases from this combustion will react with the charcoal of the reduction zone (over the grate), accelerating the formation of the combustible compounds, especially CO and H2 .
The biomass used on the tests was Pinus Elliotis sawdust. This exotic specie is widely cultivated
in the south of Brazil. An ultimate analysis was made and the results are shown in Table 1. The
Table 1
Sawdust ultimate analysis based on ASTM D5373/D1989

Weight (%)

Oxygen (by dierence)
HHV [MJ/kg]
LHV [MJ/kg]



Source: Foundation of Science and TechnologyCIENTEC/RS, Brazil.


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

results presented in Table 1 are very similar to those found in the literature and conrm, as
mentioned, uniformity on the percentages of elements, even to dierent wood species.
The sawdust mass ow processed in the gasier, the ultimate analysis and the heating values
results shown in Table 1 were used on the sensitivity studies presented here. In these studies, some
parameters were xed, such as the dry sawdust mass ow processed (11.34 kg/h), the reaction
absolute pressure equal to the local atmospheric pressure (0.93 bar) and the gasication reaction
temperature (800 C). The sawdust elemental composition was varied due to the moisture content
variation from 0% to 30%, resulting in changes in the heating value.

3. Sensitivity study on SYNGAS routine

In the minimization of the Gibbs free energy method, the equation system to solve consists of a
set of equations for all chemical species involved in the analysis, including: the equation of the
atomic balance for each element (C, H, O, N and S), the equation of the total number of moles,
the equations of the variation of the standard Gibbs free energy of formation (DG0f ) of the species
and the equation of the energy balance in the gasier. The standard solution for this set of
equations is based on the Lagrange undetermined multipliers method, and its computational
implementation is shown in Altani [8]. Through a routine implemented (SYNGAS), the FORTRAN language was used and the numerical method applied combines the rapid local convergence of the NewtonRaphson method with a globally convergent strategy which guarantees
some progress towards the solution at each iteration [16].
In the routine, a wood heat of formation equal to 118,050 kJ/kmol [4] was xed. In the simulations, a heat loss in the gasier of 1%, based on the HHV of the sawdust, was considered, and
the air/sawdust ratio was adjusted in such a way that a gasication reaction temperature of 800 C
was obtained. The inuence of the sawdust moisture content on the working parameters of the
gasier [dry air (O2 and N2 )/wet sawdust mass ratio, fuel gas composition (H2 , CO, CH4 , CO2 and
N2 ), low heating value, carbon conversion 1  cfuel gas =csawdust 100 and cold gas eciency on
fuel gas and sawdust HHVs basis], are shown in Figs. 14.














Fig. 1. Eect of the sawdust moisture content (wet basisw.b.) on air/sawdust mass ratio.


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777





CO 2
CH 4








Fig. 2. Eect of the sawdust moisture content (w.b.) on the fuel gas composition.











Fig. 3. Eect of the sawdust moisture content (w.b.) on LHV.



carbon conversion




cold gas








Fig. 4. Eect of the sawdust moisture content (w.b.) on carbon conversion and cold gas eciencies.



C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

The air/sawdust mass ratio results were lower than those mentioned in the literature [9], with a
maximum value equal to 1.982 at 20% sawdust moisture content. Water in the sawdust tends to
reduce the reaction temperature because it steals heat from the reaction for its vaporization and
the water vapor can react with other compounds in the simultaneous reactions that occur in the
gasication process. Thereby, if the sawdust moisture content is increased, more O2 (air) must be
supplied to the reaction to maintain its temperature constant. However, more air to the reaction
means more of both oxygen and nitrogen. This last tends to dilute the reactant matter and reduces
the reaction temperature. Therefore, it is understood that to maintain constant the reaction
temperature, the air/sawdust ratio increases with the moisture content up to a certain point, after
which, the ratio decreases.
The eect of the sawdust moisture content on fuel gas composition (Fig. 2), in consequence
of the results observed in Fig. 1, shows a reduction in the percentages of H2 (1.6%, i.e.
7:7%j0% moisture ) and CO (8.92%, i.e. about 40%j0% moisture ) and an increase in the percentages of
CO2 (5.36%, i.e. about 64%j0% moisture ) and N2 (5.16%, i.e. 10:6%j0% moisture ). Practically, the CH4
content was negligible. On a rst view of the process, the air/sawdust ratio increase determines a
higher oxidation of both Cs and CO to CO2 , and thereby, the content of this last component of
the fuel gas rises. Also, the air/sawdust increase brings about a larger presence of N2 in the fuel gas
composition. The H2 content reduction with increase of the moisture content in the sawdust is
attributed to the higher mass of water vapor in the fuel gas produced in relation to the water mass
in the reactants. This is observed from the fuel gas composition results at wet basis, meaning that
water vapor generated by initial drying of wet sawdust can either react with Cs or CO with
production of CO and H2 . However, the latter is oxidized with a higher reaction rate than that of
decomposition of H2 O with Cs or CO.
Actually, chemically speaking, the formation reaction of water from H2 and O2 is more favorable at the equilibrium temperature of 800 C because the driving force (Gibbs free energy of
formation) for this reaction is greater than that of the decomposition reaction mentioned before
[DG0f;H2 O; 800 C  189 kJ/mole against DG0CsH2 O; 800 C  18 kJ/mole and DG0COH2 O; 800 C 
0:8 kJ/mole [17]]. Also, in this sense, the methane formation reaction from Cs and H2 at the
equilibrium temperature of 800 C is not favored because its DG0f is positive and approximately
equal to 27.5 kJ/mole. Still less favorable is the reaction of formation of CH4 at the equilibrium
from the reaction CO 3H2 ! CH4 H2 O, in which DG0 is around 46 kJ/mole. Although, the
CO2 reaction formation from Cs and O2 presents the highest value of DG0f  396 kJ/mole at 800
C) compared with the other components taken into account in the analysis, its formation in the
gasication process is inhibited because of the smaller quantity of O2 present in this reaction. The
DG0f CO value at the equilibrium temperature of 800 C ( 207 kJ/mole) determines favorable
conditions to the formation of this species, in spite of the reduction with the moisture content
previously mentioned.
The negligible CH4 content on the fuel gas produced and the CO and H2 content reduction with
the sawdust moisture content explain the reduction in the LHV of the fuel gas shown in Fig. 3.
According to Fig. 4, the carbon conversion eciency increases 15.28% and the cold gas eciency rises 2.94%, between 0% and 20% sawdust moisture content and from this last value up to
moisture content 30% decreases 1.46%. As the increase of CO2 (64% on molar basis and about
120% on mass basis) is higher than the decrease of CO (40% on molar basis and 18.3% on mass
basis), it justies the rise on the carbon conversion eciency observed in Fig. 4. The behavior of

C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777


Table 2
Comparison between SYNGAS routine analysis and experimental results
H2 (vol. %)
CO (vol. %)
CH4 (vol. %)
C2 H4 (vol. %)
C2 H6 (vol. %)
CO2 (vol. %)
N2 (vol. %)
HHV (kJ/N m3 )
msawdust (kg/h)
Air/sawdust ratio
mfuelgas (kg/h)
gcoldgas (%)

SYNGAS routine

Average from 10 tests




the cold gas eciency shown in Fig. 4 is relative to the variation of the parameters identied in the
Table 2 shows a comparison between the results obtained from the SYNGAS routine simulations and those obtained from the experimental tests. The SYNGAS routine results refer to the
condition of 10% sawdust moisture content and reaction temperature of 800 C at the equilibrium. The experimental test results refer to an average of 10 tests performed at the gasier
commented initially, whose sawdust moisture content has been approximately 11% and the reaction temperature was nearly 832 C. The average fuel gas composition is on the dry basis and O2
Although the H2 CO content obtained from the SYNGAS routine (39.76%) was higher than
the average value of the experiments (34.14%), the presence of CH4 , C2 H4 and C2 H6 in the actual
fuel gas composition, determines the highest HHV for it (5276 kJ/N m3 as the experimental value
against 5042 kJ/N m3 for the SYNGAS routine value, both determined from the combustion heat
of the gas components). The H2 content of the simulations is 6.06% larger than that of the experimental tests, while the CO content is 0.44% lower than the experimental value. The higher
values in the simulation for the sawdust and the fuel gas masses determine a higher cold gas
eciency for the SYNGAS routine value than that of the experiments.

4. Sensitivity study on Cycle-Tempo program

This program works according to a modular structure, i.e. it considers the plant as a set of
components connected one to the other and to the environment by mass and energy streams. The
program contains a large number of thermalmechanical components (boiler, heat exchanger,
turbine, compressor, pump etc.), chemical components (combustor, gasier, reformer, separator,
fuel cell etc.) and pipes for the dierent media types (water, steam, gas mixture, solid fuel etc.).
The resultant equation system is obtained through the mass, energy and chemical species balances
for all components and pipes of the plant. Particularly, for the Cycle-Tempo gasier model, the
minimization of the Gibbs free energy is applied too.


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

Initially, a simplied Cycle-Tempo model of a hypothetical gasication process was conceived

to analyze the eect of the sawdust moisture content on the gasier operation parameters. As in
the previous study, this one considers the sawdust composition (weight %) based on values displayed in Table 1, the dry sawdust mass ow processed of 11.34 kg/h, the reaction absolute
pressure of 0.93 bar, a heat loss in the gasier of 1% based on the HHV of the sawdust and the
equilibrium reaction temperature of 800 C. The sawdust elemental composition has been varied
to allow the variation of the moisture content from 0% to 30%, with consequent changes on
heating values. In the simulations, air composed by Ar, CO2 , H2 O (relative humidity equal to
60%), N2 and O2 , and an unconverted carbon content of 5% (weight %) have also been taken into
account. The Cycle-Tempo gasier model used in this sensitivity study with some of the data
mentioned and some results are shown in Fig. 5. In Table 3, the results for air/sawdust ratio, fuel
gas composition (vol. %), fuel gas heating value (LHV) and cold gas eciency are presented.
Relative to the previous study using the SYNGAS routine, the results of Table 3 show the
following with the increase of sawdust moisture content:
on the contrary, the air/sawdust ratio decreases constantly, and the average value is 1.916
against 1.952;
equally, the H2 content remains practically constant, and the average value is 21.38% versus
the CO content decreases more suddenly, with a variation of 11.29% against 8.92%;
equally, the CH4 content is practically negligible;
similarly, the CO2 content rises constantly, although the variation is higher (7.16% against

Fig. 5. Simplied Cycle-Tempo scheme of the gasication process studied.

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Table 3
Eect of the sawdust moisture content on the gasier operation parameters
(weight %)


Fuel gas composition on dry basis (vol. %)











gcoldgas (%)






equally, the N2 content increases constantly, in spite of this the raise being from 44.85% to
47.98% against the raise from 48.57% to 53.71%;
equally, the LHV decreases constantly;
conversely, the cold gas eciency decreases constantly, with a maximum value of 77.6% at 0%
of moisture content versus 68.1% at 20% of moisture content.
Although some results present the same tendency in both studies, especially on fuel gas composition and on heating values, the dierences observed in the SYNGAS study relative to the
Cycle-Tempo study are attributed mainly to the dierence of the carbon conversion eciency. In
the SYNGAS simulations, this eciency varied from 78.14% to 93.42%, and in the Cycle-Tempo
analysis it was maintained constant and equal to 95%, whose value was an average of those
obtained in the tests with the gasier built.

5. Other more complex Cycle-Tempo gasication models

The models shown in the previous sections are very simplied due to the need of predicting the
operational parameters of a gasier through a sensitivity study in an easy way. Moreover, in the
SYNGAS as well as in the Cycle-Tempo gasication models, the content of some components of
the fuel gas are practically negligible. It happens, particularly, with methane. As long as the
complexity of the model rises, the sensitivity studies to verify the eects of certain parameters on
other ones, become a very exhaustive task. Thereby, in this section, some more complex CycleTempo gasication models will be shown with the purpose of reproducing the gasier built more
exactly, which was briey described before. More precisely, inside a context of feasible working
parameters of gasication (air/biomass ratio, reaction temperature etc.), the purpose with the
models has been to search for the conditions that determine a typical composition of the fuel gas
produced in a biomass gasier. According to Reed and Das [9], this typical composition is reported in Table 4. In the following Cycle-Tempo gasier models, intermediate separations of some
gas components are needed in order to reach as close as possible the data reported in Table 4.
These Cycle-Tempo gasier models are based on a study of Elmegaard and Korving [3], commented on before. In the simulations, it was considered that the sawdust moisture content was


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

Table 4
Typical properties of the fuel gas produced from a biomass gasier
Chemical species
H2 O
HHV (kJ/N m3 )

Fuel gas composition (vol. %)

Wet basis

Dry basis




10%, its mass ow was equal to 12.6 kg/h, the reaction absolute pressure was around 0.93 bar and
the heat loss in the gasier models was 1%, based on sawdusts HHV. Other parameters are
identied in the following gures.
Initially, Fig. 6 presents a Cycle-Tempo gasier model simulated through two gasier modules
coupled in series. In this model, the rst gasier produces fuel gas at an equilibrium temperature
of 400 C and the second at 800 C, being considered an intermediate separation of the gas
components and a subsequent separation of the ashes. All air is added to the rst gasier component, 2% of unconverted carbon is considered and the streams 20 and 21 (gasier 4) and the
streams 30 and 31 (gasier 8) are necessary to run the model, but its mass ow rates are equal to
zero. In Fig. 6, it is observed that to achieve the fuel gas composition (on the right side of the
gure) similar to that of the literature, it was necessary to bypass some components of the gaseous
mixture (40% of CH4 , 52% of CO2 , 30% of H2 and 67% of H2 O). In the scheme, a separator (15) of
water was considered to simulate a moisture free fuel gas composition at the end (sink 16). The
fuel gas composition obtained is very similar to that in the literature. The air/sawdust ratio used
was 2, a bit less than that reported (2.36), and the HHV resultant (5339 kJ/N m3 ) is 7.9% smaller
than that identied in Table 4 (5800 kJ/N m3 ).
In the model shown in Fig. 7, all air is added in the two rst parallel gasiers, one operating at
an equilibrium temperature of 430 C and the other at 1225 C, whose total air/sawdust ratio is
almost 2.97. An unconverted small portion of the entering carbon of 2% in mass was considered,

Fig. 6. Cycle-Tempo gasication scheme with two gasier modules in series.

C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777


Fig. 7. Cycle-Tempo gasication scheme with two gasier modules in parallel and in series with a third.

and the remaining sawdust mass ow rate was divided into two portions, i.e. one third to module
6 and two thirds to module 7. The separator 9 bypasses a portion of the gas produced at reactors 6
and 7, and the remaining gas portion that contains 3.71% in mass of carbon passes to the gasier
10, in which the equilibrium temperature is 850 C. The module 12 separates the unconverted
carbon and ashes, and the fuel gas composition obtained on the molar and wet basis is indicated
in Fig. 7 (sink 13). Comparing to results for fuel gas composition found in the literature, those
obtained through the Cycle-Tempo scheme of Fig. 7 indicate the following: H2 and H2 O contents
are higher, N2 , CO2 and CH4 contents are smaller and CO content is practically equal. The HHV
obtained in the simulation is 4.6% less than the value reported in the literature.
The Cycle-Tempo schemes of Figs. 8 and 9 are similar to the scheme of Fig. 7 with respect to
the gasication process, i.e. the rst two gasiers work in parallel and a third reactor operates
in series with them. The dierence is in the sawdust mass ow portions to the reactors 5 and 6,

Fig. 8. Cycle-Tempo gasication scheme with two gasier modules in parallel and in series with a third. Use of a
chemical reactor module in parallel with third gasier.


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

Fig. 9. Cycle-Tempo gasication scheme with two gasier modules in parallel and in series with a third. Use of a
chemical reactor module in series with third gasier.

i.e. the rst receives two thirds of the sawdust mass and the second receives one third. Other
dierences are: the unconverted carbon in schemes 8 and 9 is separated by separator 9, and its
value is 5% in mass relative to the separator entering stream (11); the gasier 16 receives only
carbon that reacts with CO2 on the Boudouard reaction with H2 O separated in the module 10
through stream 14; CO2 , H2 O and CH4 , separated in 10, mix with a portion of air (400 C) that is
assumed to pass by several zones of the actual gasier without reacting; the remaining fuel gas,
not separated in 10, bypasses reactor 16 (stream 15), in which the equilibrium temperature is 800
C, and passes through a chemical reactor module that reforms the methane at 620 C in Fig. 8
scheme. In the scheme of Fig. 9, the chemical reactor module (17) reforms the fuel gas that results
from the mixture of the streams coming from the reactor (16) and from the separator (10) at a
temperature of 634 C. The results reported in the model shown in Fig. 8 indicate the following
dierences relative to the literature: H2 /+1.16%, H2 O/+3.86%, N2 /)5.60%, CO2 /)0.25%, CH4 /
+0.51% and CO/)0.19%; the higher heating value resultant is very close to the expected value, i.e.
the dierence is only 1%. The fuel gas composition obtained in the scheme of Fig. 9 indicates the
following dierences relative to the literature: H2 /+5.38%, H2 O/+0.72%, N2 /)6.70%, CO2 /
+1.72%, CH4 /)0.04% and CO/)1.55%; the HHV is approximately 1.6% higher than that reported
in Reed and Das [9].
With the purpose of simulating more closely the gasier described in Section 2, with recirculation and burning in an internal chamber of a portion of the fuel gas (including tar) produced in
the pyrolysis zone, Fig. 10 scheme was idealized. In this scheme, part of the total air for the reaction (total air/sawdust ratio equal to 1.872) is introduced into the reactor 2 that simulates the
pyrolysis zone, assuming an equilibrium temperature of 550 C. In the gasier built, this air
portion is aspirated through the open top by a fan. In order to consider that a small air quantity
that comes into the gasier by the open top and does not react with any element of the sawdust, it
is supposed that some air (source 14) arrives at the reduction zone (module 16) at a temperature of
400 C and absolute pressure of 0.92 bar. Another portion of air is forced by a small fan into a
tube, central at the gasier, passing through a venturi that aspirates part of the fuel gases produced in the pyrolysis zone and burned later in a chamber. This air portion, in the scheme of Fig.
10, is introduced into combustor 6 at adopted conditions of 200 C (the central tube where air
passes is surrounded by pyrolyzing sawdust) and absolute pressure of 0.935 bar. The component 4

C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777


Fig. 10. Cycle-Tempo gasication scheme with two gasier built in recirculation operation conditions.

of Fig. 10 separates all solid parts of stream 3 and in separator 9, a portion of 5% in mass of the
total carbon of stream 9 is separated. The remaining carbonaceous mass (stream 12) is heated to
800 C in a ctitious heater (10) by a hot gaseous mass (stream 7) resulting from the mixture of
gases coming from splitter 5 and combustor 6. The gaseous mass of stream 15 resulting from the
separation of 100% of CH4 in module 11 is mixed with the portion of air at 400 C (source 14). At
last, the nal fuel gas, stream 25 to sink 17, is derived from the mixture of the fuel gas produced in
gasier 16, in which the equilibrium temperature adopted is equal to 800 C, with CH4 separated
in 11. On the basis of the fuel gas composition obtained (stream 25), the following dierences
relative to the literature are observed: H2 / + 3.44%, H2 O/ + 2.78%, N2 /)6.30%, CO2 /)0.08%, CH4 /
)0.23% and CO/)0.10%. The HHV determined from the fuel gas composition reported in Fig. 10
(5457 kJ/N m3 ) is about 0.9% smaller than that reported in the literature (5506 kJ/N m3 ).

6. Conclusions
This article demonstrates the application of chemical equilibrium to the biomass gasication
process. The gasication conditions for the analysis were established for a small sawdust open top
gasier built and tested during 2001. In order to predict the operation of a gasier, the availability
of a fairly simplied method to do it is important, and at the same time, it should be reliable and
accurate. The chemical equilibrium model meets these prerogatives because it involves only
thermodynamic parameters. The kinetic models, involving parameters such as reaction rate,
residence time etc., are very complex and not generic to implement computationally. Particularly,
the chemical equilibrium theory based on minimization of the Gibbs free energy is very general


C.R. Altani et al. / Energy Conversion and Management 44 (2003) 27632777

and relatively easy to implement a computer routine to determine the fuel gas composition
produced in a gasier. However, this method is only ecient to simulate gasication processes
carried out at high temperatures (>1500 K). At low reaction temperatures (<1000 K), the reaction
rate is smaller, and the residence time is higher, so the kinetic theory is more suitable to deal with
this reaction. Assessing the variation of the standard Gibbs free energy with temperature, it is
observed that for temperature values above 800 C (1073 K), for example, the equilibrium is
displaced in the direction of CO and H2 formation, with less tendency to CO2 and H2 O formation.
However, at low reaction temperature (400 C for example), as in the pyrolysis reaction, the
equilibrium is displaced in the direction of CH4 formation, and certainly, with a lower carbon
conversion, depending on the air/sawdust ratio too. This is observed in the fuel gas compositions
of stream 4 (Fig. 6), stream 8 (Fig. 7), stream 7 (Figs. 8 and 9) and stream 3 (Fig. 10), with the
following average values of contents (molar %) of the components: Cs 32.63; H2 9.81; H2 O
21.22; N2 14.20; CO2 13.04; CH4 7.61; and CO 1.29; and air/sawdust ratio 0.544. In the
simulations made with the SYNGAS routine and with the Cycle-Tempo program, where the
gasication process was simulated by simplied models, for both cases, at equilibrium temperatures of 800 C (1073 K), it was possible to conrm what was said above, relative to equilibrium
temperature. It was observed that the formation of H2 is beyond that foreseen in the literature,
and the methane formation is practically negligible. However, the CO formation is below that
reported in the literature in almost all the range of sawdust moisture content, unless to values
lower than 10%. The validity of the sensitivity studies, such as those made in this article, is the
quick way with good accuracy in predicting the working parameters of a gasier.
On the basis of the chemical equilibrium method, more complex models are necessary to reproduce the actual operation of a gasier. Thereby, the availability of simulation software is
important because this can make the analysis a fairly easy task. The models illustrated in Figs. 6
10 present several ctitious components (separators, gasiers, chemical reactors etc.) necessary to
obtain the best results in terms of the nal fuel gas composition.

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