University essay from KTH/Kraft- och värmeteknologi


The significance of bio fuels production is increasing as fossil fuels are being depleted and energy security is gaining importance in the final energy mix. Moreover, bio fuel production offers the potential to alleviate concerns regarding global warming and air pollution. The process scheme design and parameter value choices used in this analysis are exclusively based on research domain literature by considering the state of the art of pyrolysis technology. Henceforth, the results should not be interpreted as optimal performance of mature technology, but as the most likely performance given the current state of scientific knowledge.

The purpose of this thesis is to study and assess the technical and economic models for the conversion of woody biomass to valuable biofuel products via fast pyrolysis. The mass rate of wood is considered as 100,000 t/y. Bio fuel production from pyrolysis is energy intensive process. Therefore, heat and energy requirement calculation for the process and optimum heat integration is necessary to improve the overall thermodynamic efficiencies for wood biomass pyrolysis. Three different cases are discussed in this thesis: 1. fast pyrolysis at 500 oC, 2. fast pyrolysis at 1000 oC   and 3. Slow pyrolysis at 500 oC.   

Literature study was conducted for different pyrolysis processes and based on their findings and results a model was developed on excel for the calculation of mass and energy balance. Mass balance results shows that the process can be selected on the basis of final product required. It was found that fast pyrolysis at 500 oC is used when bio oil is the priority product, for maximizing the syngas yield fast pyrolysis at high temperature 800-1000 oC is preferred. Similarly slow pyrolysis is used for maximizing bio char yield. It was also found that raw material type and its pretreatment also has strong influence on the pyrolysis process and final composition of bio fuels.

Heat flux and energy streams for the pyrolysis scheme are also designed and syngas was selected to fulfil the heat requirements for different processes alongside with pyrolysis such as drying and grinding. It was found out that syngas combustion and heat recovery from the condenser will be able to fulfill the heat demand for pyrolysis process. However the specific heat requirement for fast and slow pyrolysis process varies. According to the calculations heat flux requirement for slow pyrolysis is higher than the fast pyrolysis. An explanation for this variability of the heat for wood pyrolysis is exothermic primary char formation process competing with an endothermic volatile formation process which makes it as overall endothermic process. But pretreatment of wood or biomass in fast pyrolysis is extra burden on the total heat demand for fast pyrolysis.

Economic assessment for the pyrolysis plants is also conducted through literature survey of already installed plants and it was found out that pyrolysis is more feasible for large production facilities. The trends shows that capital costs increase with the increase of plant size but the capital cost curve moves towards a straight line after reaching the certain value the production cost per gallon of bio fuel decreases with the increase of plant capacity. The cost of biofuel is extremely sensitive to variations in operating cost (for example, cost of feed stock such as wood and selling price of products) but is not significantly affected by the variations in capital cost.

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