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Biomass Combined Heat and Power Generation

Biomass Combined Heat and Power Generation

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Published by Salman Zafar
An interesting account of different energy carriers used for biomass CHP applications
An interesting account of different energy carriers used for biomass CHP applications

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Published by: Salman Zafar on Sep 22, 2011
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a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

Biomass Combined

Heat and Power Systems
Salman Zafar

July - September 2009

Combined Heat and Power is an integrated energy system that can be modified according to the needs of the energy end-user. CHP systems improve the economics by using waste heat recovery technology to capture a significant proportion of heat created as a byproduct in electricity generation, as well as producing other environmental benefits, while using biomass fuels.

also generate power by using boilers and steam turbines. The simplest way is to burn the biomass in a furnace, exploiting the heat generated to produce steam in a boiler, which is then used to drive a steam turbine. At the smaller scale, biomass pellet and briquette combustion systems mainly used for domestic and industrial heat supply are experiencing growing demand in some countries due to their convenience. Advanced technologies include biomass integrated gasification combined cycle (BIGCC) systems, cofiring (with coal or gas), pyrolysis and second generation Biofuels. Second generation Biofuels can make use of biochemical technologies to convert the cellulose to sugars which can be converted to bioethanol, biodiesel, dimethyl ester, hydrogen and chemical intermediates in large scale bio-refineries. Biomass fuels are typically used most efficiently and beneficially when generating both power and heat through a Combined Heat and Power (or Cogeneration) system. A typical CHP system provides: Distributed generation of electrical and/or mechanical power. Waste-heat recovery for heating, cooling, or process applications. Seamless system integration for a variety of technologies, thermal applications, and fuel types into existing building infrastructure. Combined heat and power systems Combined Heat and Power (CHP), or Cogeneration, is the sequential or simultaneous generation of multiple forms of useful energy (usually mechanical and thermal) in a single, integrated system. In conventional

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a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

iomass conversion technologies transform a variety of wastes into heat, electricity and biofuels by employing a host of strategies. Conversion routes are generally thermochemical or biochemical, but may also include chemical and physical. Physical methods are frequently employed for size reduction of biomass wastes but may

B

also be used to aggregate and densify small particles into pellets or briquettes. A wide range of conversion technologies are under continuous development to produce biomass energy carriers for both small and large scale energy applications. Combustion is the most widely used technology that releases heat and can

July - September 2009

Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

The success of any biomass-fuelled CHP project is heavily dependent on the availability of a suitable biomass feedstock. Biomass resources are freely available in urban and rural areas as mentioned in Table. The lowest cost forms of biomass for generating electricity are residues. Residues are the organic byproducts of food, fiber, and forest production, such as sawdust, rice husks, wheat straw, corn stalks, and sugarcane bagasse. Forest residues and wood wastes represent a large potential resource for energy production and include forest residues, forest thinnings, and primary mill residues. Energy crops are perennial grasses and trees grown through traditional agricultural practices that are produced primarily to be used as feed stocks for energy generation, e.g. hybrid poplars, hybrid willows, and switch grass. Animal manure can be digested anaerobically to produce biogas in large agricultural farms and dairies.
Figure 1: An overview of Biomass conversion technologies

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a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

electricity generation systems, about 35% of the energy potential contained in the fuel is converted on average into electricity, whilst the rest is lost as waste heat. CHP systems uses both electricity and heat and therefore can achieve an efficiency of up to 90%, giving energy savings between 1540% when compared with the separate production of electricity from conventional power stations and of heat from boilers. CHP systems consist of a number of individual components-prime mover (heat engine), generator, heat recovery, and electrical interconnection-configured into an integrated whole. The type of equipment that drives the overall system (i.e., the prime mover) typically identifies the CHP unit.

Prime movers for CHP units include reciprocating engines, combustion or gas turbines, steam turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells. These prime movers are capable of burning a variety of fuels, including natural gas, coal, oil, and alternative fuels to produce shaft power or mechanical energy. A biomass-fueled Combined Heat and Power installation is an integrated power system comprised of three major components: 1. Biomass receiving and feedstock preparation. 2. Energy conversion - Conversion of the biomass into steam for direct combustion systems or into biogas for the gasification systems. 3. Power and heat production Conversion of the steam or syngas or biogas into electric power and process steam or hot water. Rural Resources Forest residues Wood wastes Crop residues Energy crops Animal manure

To turn a biomass resource into productive heat and/or electricity requires a number of steps and considerations, most notably evaluating the availability of suitable biomass resources; determining the economics of collection, storage, and transportation; and evaluating available technology options for converting biomass into useful heat or electricity. CHP technology options A range of technologies can be applied to cogenerate electricity and heat from biomass resources. An electricity generator and a system to recover the heat are integral parts of all CHP systems. Steam turbines, gas turbines, combined Cycle (gas and steam turbines) are in widespread use while micro-turbines, fuel cells and Stirling engines are gaining popularity due to recent technological advancements. CHP plants can have different sizes, ranging from an electrical capacity of Urban Resources Urban wood waste Municipal solid wastes Agro-industrial wastes Food processing residues Sewage

July - September 2009 Figure 2: A modern CHP plant in Torup, Denmark

CHP technologies are well suited for Clean Development Mechanism and sustainable development projects, because they are, in general, socioeconomically attractive and technologically mature and reliable. Cogeneration can easily be integrated in many industries, especially agriculture and food-processing, taking advantage of the biomass residues of the production process.
less than 5 kWe (e.g., small engines for a single dwelling) to 500 MWe (e.g., district heating systems or industrial cogeneration). Cogeneration can be based on a wide variety of fuels and individual installations may be designed to accept more than one fuel. There are a host of energy conversion technologies for generating electricity at a wide range of scales: w combustion engines Internal wturbines Steam wengines Steam w with fossil fuel Co-firing w engines Stirling w fired gas turbines Indirectly w Directly fired pressurized gas turbines w Micro-turbines w Fuel cells w Advanced power cycle technologies Internal combustion engines Reciprocating or internal combustion engines (ICEs) are among the most widely used prime movers to power small electricity generators. Advantages include large variations in the size range available, fast start-up, good efficiencies under partial load efficiency, reliability, and long life. Typical electricity conversion efficiencies (fuel energy to electricity) of 25-30% help to make ICEs an economic option in many generation

Table 1: Characteristics of major CHP Systems

applications. Several types are commercially available but those of most significance to stationary power applications are four-cycle sparkignition (Otto cycle) and compressionignition (Diesel cycle) engines. Steam turbines Steam turbines are the most commonly employed prime movers for cogeneration applications. In the steam turbine, the incoming high pressure steam is expanded to a lower pressure level, converting the thermal energy of high pressure steam to kinetic energy through nozzles and then to mechanical power through rotating blades. This separation of functions enables steam turbines to

operate with an enormous variety of fuels, from natural gas to solid waste, including all types of coal, wood, wood waste, and agricultural byproducts (sugar cane bagasse, fruit pits, and rice hulls). In CHP applications, steam at lower pressure is extracted from the steam turbine and used directly or is converted to other forms of thermal energy. A steam turbine is particularly suited for very large power outputs which, combined with the cost and reasonably high efficiency at this scale, is the reason for its wide use in large scale power plants. System efficiencies can vary between 15 and 35% depending on the steam parameters.

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a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

Figure 3: Rice Husk-based 2.5 MW Chia Meng CHP Plant in Thailand. (Source: EC-ASEAN COGEN Programme Phase III)

July - September 2009

Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

Co-firing Co-firing or co-combustion of biomass with coal and other fossil fuels can provide a short-term, low-risk, lowcost option for producing renewable energy while simultaneously reducing the use of fossil fuels. Co-firing involves utilizing existing power generating plants that are fired with fossil fuel (generally coal), and displacing a small proportion of the fossil fuel with renewable biomass fuels. Biomass can typically provide between 3 and 15 percent of the input energy into the power plant. Co-firing has the major advantage of avoiding the construction of new, dedicated, biomass power plant. An existing power station is modified to accept the biomass resource and utilize it to produce a minor proportion of its electricity. Co-firing may be implemented using different types and percentages of biomass in a range of combustion and gasification technologies. Most forms of biomass are suitable for co-firing. These include dedicated energy crops, urban wood waste and agricultural residues such as straw and husk.

operation of a steam turbine. Steam engines are available in different sizes ranging from a few kW to more than 1 Mwe. Indirectly fired gas turbines Gas turbines based on conventional designs but with the combustion chamber replaced by a heat exchanger are termed "indirectly-fired". A biomass gas turbine system requires LFG, anaerobic digester gas, or a biomass gasifier to produce the biogas for the turbine. This biogas must be carefully filtered of particulate matter to avoid damaging the blades of the gas turbine. Advantages of the indirectly fired gas turbine are that many components are mass produced which should ultimately allow reduced costs, and a high efficiency is possible if the inlet temperature in the gas turbine can be increased to that of directly fired gas turbines.

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a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

In trigeneration, the production of electricity, heat and cooling (through an absorption chiller) is produced in a single process. Trigeneration is an attractive option in situations where all three needs exist, such as that in production processes with cooling requirements.
Steam engines Steam engines are also proven technology but suited mainly for constant speed operation in industrial environments. The efficiency of steam engines largely depends on the quality of the steam, which means that boilers with good steam pressures and temperatures are needed. The main market for traditional steam engines in biomass systems would be as cogeneration units in quantities which are too small for the economic

the engine and the heat then transferred into the cylinder by a heat exchanger or via the cylinder wall. There is no contact between the moving parts of the Stirling engine and the biomass generated heat or gas or its contaminants. As a result the lifetime is relatively long and maintenance intervals are large. The advantage of Stirling technology is its ability to extract energy from any waste heat steam, regardless of corrosive properties of the exhaust or fuel. Because the Stirling engine heat is supplied externally, a wide variety of heat sources can be used (such as fossil fuels, solar, nuclear, and waste heat), but the Stirling engine is particularly well-suited to biomass fuels. Other advantages of Stirling engines include relatively high efficiency; good partial load efficiency; low noise level, safe operation, low expected maintenance costs, suitability for a wide range of fuels, and long engine life time. Stirling engines are available in the 0.5 to 150 kWe range and a number of companies are working on its further development. For Stirling engines specifically developed for biomass firing, overall efficiencies of fuel energy to shaft output are around 30%. Micro-turbines A micro-turbine is similar to a gas turbine, except that most designs incorporate a recuperator to recover part of the exhaust heat for preheating the combustion air and hence increase overall efficiency to around 20-30%. Air is drawn through a compressor section, mixed with a gaseous fuel and ignited to power the turbine section that drives the generator. Several competing manufacturers are developing units in the 25-250kWe range. Microturbines are a relatively new development and therefore many of the performance characteristics provided are still only estimates based on demonstration projects and laboratory testing. Advantages of micro-turbines include compact and light weight design, a fairly wide size range due to modularity, and low noise levels. Groups investigating gasifier /microturbine systems are targeting lower electricity costs than may currently be achieved by gasifier /ICE systems within the next few years.

Figure 4: Biogas Engine for CHP applications at an Anaerobic Digestion Biogas Facility in Ludhiana, India

Stirling engines Stirling engines utilize any source of heat provided that it is of sufficiently high temperature. They differ from ICEs in being external combustion engines, fuel being combusted outside

Stirling engines are external combustion engines and these can utilize any source of heat provided that it is of sufficiently high temperature. These are specifically developed for biomass firing with overall efficiencies of fuel energy to shaft output around 30%.

July - September 2009

Advanced combined cycle gasification technologies In these cycles, a gas turbine is fuelled by synthesis gas (mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen) from the gasification of biomass. In addition, surplus heat from the flue gas from the turbine is used to generate steam, which is then fed into a steam turbine to generate additional power. The combined use of gas and steam turbines is referred to as "combined cycle". Electrical efficiencies significantly above those of conventional bioenergy systems are possible. Several large demonstration projects have been developed in the range of 7-10 MWe. The benefits of advanced power cycles utilizing gasification technology include increased conversion efficiency, which results in reduced feedstock consumption per unit of electricity produced, and thus reduced operational costs, reduced environmental impacts and the possibility of co-firing biomass with fossil fuel and wastes. Biomass Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (BIGCC) systems achieve increased overall thermal efficiencies by simultaneously using a gas turbine and a steam turbine. Gas cooling and recovered exhaust heat from the gas turbine are used to raise steam for the steam turbine. A number of BIGCC projects have been commissioned to prove this concept in anticipation of commercial deployment. These include the ARBRE project in York, UK and the Bioflow project in Varnamo in Sweden. Conclusions CHP is not a single technology, but an integrated energy system that can be modified according to the needs of the energy end-user. The hallmark of all well-designed cogeneration systems is an increase in the efficiency of fuel use. By using waste heat recovery technology to capture a significant proportion of heat created as a byproduct in electricity generation, CHP systems improve the economics of using biomass fuels, as well as produce other environmental benefits.

Figure 5: Schematic of a Stirling Engine (Source: Decentralized Energy Technologies (2003), World Alliance for Decentralized Energy)

Fuel cells Fuel cells are electrochemical devices in which hydrogen-rich fuel produces heat and power. A typical fuel cell system consists of several major components including: Hydrogen fuel supply or, if hydrogen is not used directly, a fuel reformer to generate hydrogen-rich gas from the chosen fuel Power section where the electrochemical process occurs Power conditioner to convert the direct current (DC) generated in the fuel cell into alternating current. Hydrogen, the ideal fuel for fuel cells, can be produced from a wide range of renewable and non-renewable sources. The thermo-chemical gasification of many biomass feedstocks, such as municipal waste, agricultural or forest wastes, or wood chips from short cycle crop plantations can be used to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen so produced is attractive from an environmental point of view because the carbon cycle would be closed. As with the integrated biomass gasification combined cycle plant, a fuel cell plant would offer high efficiency. A future high temperature fuel cell burning biomass might be able to achieve greater than 50% efficiency.

Biomass Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle systems achieve increased overall thermal efficiencies by simultaneously using a gas turbine and a steam turbine. A number of BIGCC projects have been commissioned to prove this concept in anticipation of commercial deployment.

Another interesting development is trigeneration, the production of electricity, heat and cooling (through an absorption chiller) in one single process. Trigeneration is an attractive option in situations where all three needs exist, such as in production processes with cooling requirements. To conclude, CHP technologies are well suited for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and sustainable development projects, because they are, in general, socio-economically attractive and technologically mature and reliable. In developing countries, cogeneration can easily be integrated in many industries, especially agriculture and food-processing, taking advantage of the biomass residues of the production process. This has the dual benefits of lowering fuel costs and solving waste disposal issues.
(Mr. Salman Zafar is working as a freelance advisor in renewable energy and waste management. He can be reached at salman.alg@ gmail.com.)

Oxygen from air

Electricity

Hydrogen from biomass, photochemical, or natural gas or coal Heat

Water

Figure 6: Working principle of a Fuel Cell

July - September 2009

a quarterly magazine of the society of energy engineers and managers / India

Cogeneration schemes are usually sited close to the heat and cooling demand and, ideally, are built to meet this demand as efficiently as possible. Under these conditions more electricity is usually generated than is needed. The surplus electricity can be sold to the electricity grid or supplied to another customer via the distribution system.

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Biomass Combined Heat and Power Systems

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