Pyrolysis of sugarcane bagasse

Hugo, Thomas Johannes (2010-12)

Thesis (MScEng (Process Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The world’s depleting fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gas emissions have given rise to much research into renewable and cleaner energy. Biomass is unique in providing the only renewable source of fixed carbon. Agricultural residues such as Sugarcane Bagasse (SB) are feedstocks for ‘second generation fuels’ which means they do not compete with production of food crops. In South Africa approximately 6 million tons of raw SB is produced annually, most of which is combusted onsite for steam generation. In light of the current interest in bio-fuels and the poor utilization of SB as energy product in the sugar industry, alternative energy recovery processes should be investigated. This study looks into the thermochemical upgrading of SB by means of pyrolysis. Biomass pyrolysis is defined as the thermo-chemical decomposition of organic materials in the absence of oxygen or other reactants. Slow Pyrolysis (SP), Vacuum Pyrolysis (VP), and Fast Pyrolysis (FP) are studied in this thesis. Varying amounts of char and bio-oil are produced by the different processes, which both provide advantages to the sugar industry. Char can be combusted or gasified as an energy-dense fuel, used as bio-char fertilizer, or upgraded to activated carbon. High quality bio-oil can be combusted or gasified as a liquid energy-dense fuel, can be used as a chemical feedstock, and shows potential for upgrading to transport fuel quality. FP is the most modern of the pyrolysis technologies and is focused on oil production. In order to investigate this process a 1 kg/h FP unit was designed, constructed and commissioned. The new unit was tested and compared to two different FP processes at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK) in Germany. As a means of investigating the devolatilization behaviour of SB a Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) study was conducted. To investigate the quality of products that can be obtained an experimental study was done on SP, VP, and FP. Three distinct mass loss stages were identified from TGA. The first stage, 25 to 110°C, is due to evaporation of moisture. Pyrolitic devolatilization was shown to start at 230°C. The final stage occurs at temperatures above 370°C and is associated with the cracking of heavier bonds and char formation. The optimal decomposition temperatures for hemicellulose and cellulose were identified as 290°C and 345°C, respectively. Lignin was found to decompose over the entire temperature range without a distinct peak. These results were confirmed by a previous study on TGA of bagasse. SP and VP of bagasse were studied in the same reactor to allow for accurate comparison. Both these processes were conducted at low heating rates (20°C/min) and were therefore focused on char production. Slow pyrolysis produced the highest char yield, and char calorific value. Vacuum pyrolysis produced the highest BET surface area chars (>300 m2/g) and bio-oil that contained significantly less water compared to SP bio-oil. The short vapour residence time in the VP process improved the quality of liquids. The mechanism for pore formation is improved at low pressure, thereby producing higher surface area chars. A trade-off exists between the yield of char and the quality thereof. FP at Stellenbosch University produced liquid yields up to 65 ± 3 wt% at the established optimal temperature of 500°C. The properties of the bio-oil from the newly designed unit compared well to bio-oil from the units at FZK. The char properties showed some variation for the different FP processes. At the optimal FP conditions 20 wt% extra bio-oil is produced compared to SP and VP. The FP bio-oil contained 20 wt% water and the calorific value was estimated at 18 ± 1 MJ/kg. The energy per volume of FP bio-oil was estimated to be at least 11 times more than dry SB. FP was found to be the most effective process for producing a single product with over 60% of the original biomass energy. The optimal productions of either high quality bio-oil or high surface area char were found to be application dependent.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: As gevolg van die uitputting van fossielbrandstofreserwes, en die toenemende vrystelling van kweekhuisgasse word daar tans wêreldwyd baie navorsing op hernubare en skoner energie gedoen. Biomassa is uniek as die enigste bron van hernubare vaste koolstof. Landbouafval soos Suikerriet Bagasse (SB) is grondstowwe vir ‘tweede generasie bio-brandstowwe’ wat nie die mark van voedselgewasse direk affekteer nie. In Suid Afrika word jaarliks ongeveer 6 miljoen ton SB geproduseer, waarvan die meeste by die suikermeulens verbrand word om stoom te genereer. Weens die huidige belangstelling in bio-brandstowwe en ondoeltreffende benutting van SB as energieproduk in die suikerindustrie moet alternatiewe energie-onginningsprosesse ondersoek word. Hierdie studie is op die termo-chemiese verwerking van SB deur middel van pirolise gefokus. Biomassa pirolise word gedefinieer as die termo-chemiese afbreking van organiese bio-materiaal in die afwesigheid van suurstof en ander reagense. Stadige Pirolise (SP), Vakuum Pirolise (VP), en Vinnige Pirolise word in hierdie tesis ondersoek. Die drie prosesse produseer veskillende hoeveelhede houtskool en bio-olie wat albei voordele bied vir die suikerindustrie. Houtskool kan as ‘n vaste energie-digte brandstof verbrand of vergas word, as bio-houtskoolkompos gebruik word, of kan verder tot geaktiveerde koolstof geprosesseer word. Hoë kwaliteit bio-olie kan verbrand of vergas word, kan as bron vir chemikalië gebruik word, en toon potensiaal om in die toekoms opgegradeer te kan word tot vervoerbrandstof kwaliteit. Vinnige pirolise is die mees moderne pirolise tegnologie en is op bio-olie produksie gefokus. Om die laasgenoemde proses te toets is ‘n 1 kg/h vinnige pirolise eenheid ontwerp, opgerig en in werking gestel. Die nuwe pirolise eenheid is getoets en vegelyk met twee verskillende vinnige pirolise eenhede by Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (FZK) in Duitsland. Termo-Gravimetriese Analise (TGA) is gedoen om die ontvlugtigingskenmerke van SB te bestudeer. Eksperimentele werk is verrig om die kwaliteit van produkte van SP, VP, vinnige pirolise te vergelyk. Drie duidelike massaverlies fases van TGA is geïdentifiseer. Die eerste fase (25 – 110°C) is as gevolg van die verdamping van vog. Pirolitiese ontvlugtiging het begin by 230°C. Die finale fase (> 370°C) is met die kraking van swaar verbindings en die vorming van houtskool geassosieer. Die optimale afbrekingstemperatuur vir hemisellulose en sellulose is as 290°C en 345°C, respektiewelik, geïdentifiseer. Daar is gevind dat lignien stadig oor die twede en derde fases afgebreek word sonder ‘n duidelike optimale afbrekingstemperatuur. Die resultate is deur vorige navorsing op TGA van SB bevestig. SP en VP van bagasse is in dieselfde reaktor bestudeer, om ‘n akkurate vergelyking moontlik te maak. Beide prosesse was by lae verhittingstempo’s (20°C/min) ondersoek, wat gevolglik op houtskoolformasie gefokus is. SP het die hoogste houtskoolopbrengs, met die hoogste verbrandingsenergie, geproduseer. VP het hootskool met die hoogste BET oppervlakarea geproduseer, en die bio-olie was weens ‘n dramatiese afname in waterinhoud van beter gehalte. Die meganisme vir die vorming van ‘n poreuse struktuur word deur lae atmosferiese druk verbeter. Daar bestaan ‘n inverse verband tussen die kwantiteit en kwaliteit van die houtskool. Vinnige pirolise by die Universiteit van Stellenbosch het ‘n bio-olie opbrengs van 65 ± 3 massa% by ‘n vooraf vasgestelde optimale temperatuur van 500°C geproduseer. Die eienskappe van bio-olie wat deur die nuwe vinnige pirolise eenheid geproduseer is het goed ooreengestem met die bio-olie afkomstig van FZK se pirolise eenhede. Die houtskool eienskappe van die drie pirolise eenhede het enkele verskille getoon. By optimale toestande vir vinnige pirolise word daar 20 massa% meer bio-olie as by SP en VP geproduseer. Vinnige pirolise bio-olie het ‘n waterinhoud van 20 massa% en ‘n verbrandingswarmte van 18 ± 1 MJ/kg. Daar is gevind dat ten opsigte van droë SB die energie per enheidsvolume van bio-olie ongeveer 11 keer meer is. Vinnige pirolise is die mees doeltreffende proses vir die vervaardiging van ‘n produk wat meer as 60% van die oorspronklike biomassa energie bevat. Daar is gevind dat die optimale hoeveelhede van hoë kwaliteit bio-olie en hoë oppervlakarea houtskool doelafhanklik is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5238