Research Papers

A Microreactor System for the Analysis of the Fast Pyrolysis of Biomass

[+] Author and Article Information
Alexander Williams

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Atlanta, GA 30332alexwilliams@gatech.edu

J. Rhett Mayor1

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Atlanta, GA 30332rhett.mayor@me.gatech.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 2(3), 031010 (Dec 22, 2010) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4003147 History: Received August 20, 2010; Revised November 23, 2010; Published December 22, 2010; Online December 22, 2010

A novel fast pyrolysis microreactor was developed to facilitate control over feedstock dwell time, pyrolysis temperature, and the individual collection of pyrolysis liquid and solid products. The design process followed is presented including design requirements, functional decomposition, commissioning tests, and the final microreactor design. A vibratory assisted spreading study was performed as particle agglomeration was a key challenge within the reactor design. The study results and analysis of variance are presented identifying the most significant factor and a best operating point. Analytical and experimental heat transfer analyses are also presented to validate the reactor’s thermal performance. Through the pairing of the analyses, projections for thin biomass layer heating rates are made resulting in estimates on the order of 400°C/s. Finally, experimental pyrolysis results are given showing fast pyrolysis conversion as a function of time and the process by which kinetic descriptors could be derived using this system’s results. Yield results are compared with literature and are found to be in good agreement with published fast pyrolysis results.

Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Fast pyrolysis reactor function tree

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Figure 2

Microreactor chamber section view highlighting particle distribution componentry

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Figure 3

Reactor process flow diagram

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Figure 4

Photograph of complete microreactor system

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Figure 5

(a) Particle spreading with no vibration. (b) Particle spreading with vibratory assistance. (c) Contrast modified image utilized in image processing.

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Figure 6

Wafer heating rate test stand assembly diagram

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Figure 7

Infrared image of the wafer during a 400°C heating rate test with the analysis region shown by the black border

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Figure 8

Wafer surface temperature experimental and theoretical results: (a) 225°C temperature plot, (b) 225°C heating rate plot, (c) 400°C temperature plot, and (d) 400°C heating rate plot

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Figure 9

Predicted (a) surface temperatures and (b) heating rates in wafers of different thicknesses for 400°C plate temperature

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Figure 10

(a) Collected bio-oil and (b) residual solid products from the pyrolysis of Pinus Taeda

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Figure 11

Single component half-life model fit to pyrolysis conversion results for Pinus Taeda at 400°C

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Figure 12

Avicel cellulose and Beechwood xylan 350°C preliminary results and best fit half-life curves



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