Biomass to Biofuel : Syngas Cleaning and Biomass Feedstock

University dissertation from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: This thesis builds around the idea of a biofuel production process that is comprised of biomass production, biomass gasification, gas cleaning, and fuel production. In this work, we specifically looked into H2S removal as a part of cleaning the producer gas and flocculation of microalgae which is involved in the harvesting of microalgae after biomass production. One of the impurities to remove from the producer gas is hydrogen sulfide which can be removed by using a packed bed of zinc oxide. Despite the regular use, it was only recently shown that during reaction with H2S, nano-size particles of ZnO exhibit void formation and outward growth. In this work, a micro-scale model was introduced to describe the void formation and outward growth. On the macro-scale, the simulations captured pore clogging of pellets due to the outward growth. The pore clogging prevents the full conversion of pellets and consequently leads to shorter breakthrough times of beds. The second problem investigated here deals with the flocculation of microalgae. Microalgae is produced in relatively low concentrations in the incubator liquid medium and during the harvesting, the concentration is increased to an acceptable level. The harvesting process includes a flocculation followed by a filtration or centrifuge unit. During flocculation, microalgae are stimulated to aggregate and form clusters. The experiments showed that the mean size of clusters formed during flocculation increases with time to a maximum and then starts decreasing, resulting in an overshoot in the mean size profile. The size of clusters influence the efficiency of the afterward filtration or centrifuge, thus it is of interest to carefully track the size evolution of clusters, making the studying of overshoot a crucial research topic. In this work, the possible mechanisms behind this overshoot were investigated.

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