GASIFICATION-BASED BIOREFINERY FOR MECHANICAL PULP MILLS
Abstract: The modern concept of "biorefinery" is dominantly based on chemical pulp mills to create more value than cellulose pulp fibres, and energy from the dissolved lignins and hemicelluloses. This concept is characterized by the conversion of biomass into various biobased products. It includes thermochemical processes such as gasification and fast pyrolysis. In mechanical pulp mills, the feedstock available to the gasification-based biorefinery is significant, including logging residues, bark, fibre material rejects, biosludges and other available fuels such as peat, recycled wood, and paper products. This work is to study co-production of bio-automotive fuels, biopower, and steam via gasification in the context of the mechanical pulp industry. Biomass gasification with steam in a dual-fluidized bed gasifier (DFBG) was simulated with ASPEN Plus. From the model, the yield and composition of the syngas and the contents of tar and char can be calculated. The model has been evaluated against the experimental results measured on a 150 KWth Mid Sweden University (MIUN) DFBG. The model predicts that the content of char transferred from the gasifier to the combustor decreases from 22.5 wt.% of the dry and ash-free biomass at gasification temperature 750 ? to 11.5 wt.% at 950 ?, but is insensitive to the mass ratio of steam to biomass (S/B). The H2 concentration is higher than that of CO under normal DFBG operating conditions, but they will change positions when the gasification temperature is too high above about 950 ?, or the S/B ratio is too far below about 0.15. The biomass moisture content is a key parameter for a DFBG to be operated and maintained at a high gasification temperature. The model suggests that it is difficult to keep the gasification temperature above 850 ? when the biomass moisture content is higher than 15.0 wt.%. Thus, a certain amount of biomass needs to be added in the combustor to provide sufficient heat for biomass devolatilization and steam reforming. Tar content in the syngas can also be predicted from the model, which shows a decreasing trend of the tar with the gasification temperature and the S/B ratio. The tar content in the syngas decreases significantly with gasification residence time which is a key parameter. Mechanical pulping processes, as Thermomechanical pulp (TMP), Groundwood (SGW and PGW), and Chemithermomechanical pulp (CTMP) processes have very high wood-to-pulp yields. Producing pulp products by means of these processes is a prerequisite for the production of printing paper and paperboard products due especially to their important functional properties such as printability and stiffness. However, mechanical pulping processes consume a great amount of electricity, which may account for up to 40% of the total pulp production cost. In mechanical pulping mills, wood (biomass) residues are commonly utilized for electricity production through an associated combined heat and power (CHP) plant. This techno-economic evaluation deals with the possibility of utilizing a biomass integrated gasification combined cycle (BIGCC) plant in place of the CHP plant. Integration of a BIGCC plant into a mechanical pulp production line might greatly improve the overall energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, especially when the flow of biomass (such as branches and tree tops) from the forest is increased. When the fibre material that negatively affects pulp properties is utilized as a bioenergy resource, the overall efficiency of the system is further improved. A TMP+BIGCC mathematic model is developed based on ASPEN Plus. By means of this model, three cases are studied: 1) adding more forest biomass logging residues in the gasifier,2) adding a reject fraction of low quality pulp fibers to the gasifier, and3) decreasing the TMP-specific electricity consumption (SEC) by up to 50%. For the TMP+BIGCC mill, the energy supply and consumption are analyzed in comparison with a TMP+CHP mill. The production profit and the internal rate of return (IRR) are calculated. The results quantify the economic benefit from the TMP+BIGCC mill. Bio-ethanol has received considerable attention as a basic chemical and fuel additive. It is currently produced from sugar/starch materials, but can also be produced from lignocellulosic biomass via a hydrolysis--fermentation or thermo-chemical route. In terms of the thermo-chemical route, a few pilot plants ranging from 0.3 to 67 MW have been built and operated for alcohols synthesis. However, commercial success has not been achieved. In order to realize cost-competitive commercial ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass through a thermo-chemical pathway, a techno-economic analysis needs to be done. In this work, a thermo-chemical process is designed, simulated, and optimized mainly with ASPEN Plus. The techno-economic assessment is made in terms of ethanol yield, synthesis selectivity, carbon and CO conversion efficiencies, and ethanol production cost. Calculated results show that major contributions to the production cost are from biomass feedstock and syngas cleaning. A biomass-to-ethanol plant should be built at around 200 MW. Cost-competitive ethanol production can be realized with efficient equipments, optimized operation, cost-effective syngas cleaning technology, inexpensive raw material with low pretreatment cost, high-performance catalysts, off-gas and methanol recycling, optimal systematic configuration and heat integration, and a high-value byproduct.
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