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Tar reduction in pyrolysis vapours from biomass over a hot char bed

Gilbert, P., Ryu, C., Sharifi, V., Swithenbank, J.
Bioresource technology 2009 v.100 no.23 pp. 6045-6051
wood, biomass, combustion, gasification, pyrolysis, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, hydrogen production, methane production, renewable energy sources
The behaviour of pyrolysis vapours over char was investigated in order to maximise tar conversion for the development of a new fixed bed gasifier. Wood samples were decomposed at a typical pyrolysis temperature (500°C) and the pyrolysis vapours were then passed directly through a tar cracking zone in a tubular reactor. The product yields and properties of the condensable phases and non-condensable gases were studied for different bed lengths of char (0-450mm), temperatures (500-800°C), particle sizes (10 and 15mm) and nitrogen purge rates (1.84-14.70mm/s). The carbon in the condensable phases showed about 66% reduction by a 300mm long char section at 800°C, compared to that for pyrolysis at 500°C. The amount of heavy condensable phase decreased with increasing temperature from about 18.4wt% of the biomass input at 500°C to 8.0wt% at 800°C, forming CO, H₂ and other light molecules. The main mode of tar conversion was found to be in the vapour phase when compared to the results without the presence of char. The composition of the heavy condensable phase was simplified into much fewer secondary and tertiary tar components at 800°C. Additional measures were required to maximise the heterogeneous effect of char for tar reduction.