Turbomachinery in Biofuel Production
Abstract: The aim for this study has been to evaluate the integration potential of turbo-machinery into the production processes of biofuels. The focus has been on bio-fuel produced via biomass gasification; mainly methanol and synthetic natural gas. The research has been divided into two parts; gas and steam turbine applications.Steam power generation has a given role within the fuel production process due to the large amounts of excess chemical reaction heat. However, large amounts of the steam produced are used within the production process and is thus not available for power production. Therefore, this study has been focused on lowering the steam demand in the production process, in order to increase the power production. One possibility that has been evaluated is humidification of the gasification agent in order to lower the demand for high quality steam in the gasifier and replace it with waste heat. The results show that the power penalty for the gasification process could be lowered by 18-25%, in the specific cases that have been studied.Another step in the process that requires a significant amount of steam is the CO2-removal. This step can be avoided by adding hydrogen in order to convert all carbon into biofuel. This is also a way to store hydrogen (e.g. from wind energy) together with green carbon. The results imply that a larger amount of sustainable fuels can be produced from the same quantity of biomass.The applications for gas turbines within the biofuel production process are less obvious. There are large differences between the bio-syngas and natural gas in energy content and combustion properties which are technical problems when using high efficient modern gas turbines. This study therefore proposes the integration of a natural gas fired gas turbine; a hybrid plant. The heat from the fuel production and the heat recovery from the gas turbine flue gas are used in a joint steam cycle. Simulations of the hybrid cycle in methanol production have shown good improvements. The total electrical efficiency is increased by 1.4-2.4 percentage points, depending on the fuel mix. The electrical efficiency for the natural gas used in the hybrid plant is 56-58%, which is in the same range as in large-scale combined cycle plants. A bio-methanol plant with a hybrid power cycle is consequently a competitive production route for both biomass and natural gas.
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