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Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

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CPFD simulations of an industrial-sized dual fluidized bed steam

gasification system of biomass with 8 MW fuel input
Stephan Kraft a,b,, Friedrich Kirnbauer a, Hermann Hofbauer b
Bioenergy 2020+ GmbH, Wiener Strasse 49, A-7540 Gssing, Austria
TU Wien, Institute of Chemical Engineering, Getreidemarkt 9/166, Vienna, Austria

h i g h l i g h t s

 We simulated an 8 MWth steam gasification system with the CPFD code Barracuda.
 The prediction of the hydrodynamics depends strongly upon the chosen drag law.
 The EMMS drag law predicted best the bed material recirculation and pressure drops.
 The model of the DFB plant is able to predict the operation accurately.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Dual fluidized bed (DFB) systems for biomass gasification consist of two connected fluidized beds with a
Received 30 August 2016 circulating bed material in between. Inside such reactor systems, rough conditions occur due to the high
Received in revised form 9 December 2016 temperatures and the movement of the bed material. Computational fluid dynamics calculations are a
Accepted 24 December 2016
useful tool for investigating fluid dynamics inside such a reactor system. In this study, an industrial-
sized DFB system was simulated with the commercial code CPFD Barracuda. The DFB system is part of
the combined heat and power (CHP) plant at Gssing, situated in Austria, and has a total fuel input of
8 MWth. The model was set up according to geometry and operating data which allows a realistic descrip-
Computational fluid dynamics
CPFD simulation
tion of the hot system in the simulation environment. Furthermore, a conversion model for the biomass
Fluidized bed hydrodynamics particles was implemented which covers the drying and devolatilization processes. Homogeneous and
Biomass gasification heterogeneous reactions were considered. Since drag models have an important influence on fluidization
behavior, four drag models were tested. It was found that the EMMS drag model fits best, with an error of
below 20%, whereas the other drag models produced much larger errors. Based on this drag law, further
simulations were conducted. The simulation model correctly predicts the different fluidization regimes
and pressure drops in the reactor system. It is also able to predict the compositions of the product and
flue gas, as well as the temperatures inside the reactor, with reasonable accuracy. Due to the results
obtained, Barracuda seems suitable for further investigations regarding the fluid mechanics of such
2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction operation (e.g. Gssing in Austria, Senden in Germany, and

Gothenburg in Sweden). The product gas is mainly used for appli-
The dual fluidized bed (DFB) steam gasification of biomass is a cations, such as the generation of electricity and heat [15]. Fur-
promising way to convert biomass into a valuable product gas. thermore, the gas can be applied to bio-hydrogen generation
At TU Wien, a process for biomass gasification has been developed [6,7], the production of synthetic natural gas [8] or synthetic fuels
which operates on the DFB principle. The process was developed like alcohols [9] or FischerTropsch diesel [10].
from laboratory scale over pilot to finally industrial scale. Up to In a DFB system two fluidized beds are connected: a gasification
now, several industrial power plants have been built and are in reactor and a combustion reactor, Fig. 1. Between these two reac-
tors, a bed material, olivin, is circulating. Biomass is fed into the
gasification reactor, which is fluidized with steam and operated
Corresponding author at: Bioenergy 2020+ GmbH, Wiener Strasse 49, A-7540 in a bubbling bed regime. In the gasification reactor the biomass
Gssing, Austria. is converted to the product gas, which consists mainly of H2, CO,
E-mail address: (S. Kraft).
0306-2619/ 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420 409


Latin letters x location in space (m)

ap acceleration of particle phase (m s2) y molar fraction (mol mol1)
CD drag coefficient (s1)
dp particle diameter (m)
Greek letters
D diameter (m)
a constant in Eq. (6) ()
Ea activation energy (kJ mol1)
ah heat transfer coefficient (W m2 K1)
f probability distribution function for particulate
b constant in Eq. (6) ()
phase ()
dm_p fluid mass source (kg m3 s1)
F rate of momentum exchange per volume (kg m2 s2)
ecp volume fraction at close pack ()
FN fluidization number ()
eg gas phase volume fraction ()
g gravity (m s2)
ep particle phase volume fraction ()
hpyrolysis enthalpy of pyrolysis (kJ kg1)
kp heat conductivity of the particle (W m1 K1)
hev ap enthalpy of evaporation (kJ kg1)
m stoichiometric coefficient ()
H height (m)
qg density of gas phase (kg m3)
k reaction rate constant (dependent)
qp density of particle phase (kg m3)
k0 pre-exponential factor (dependent)
sg fluid stress tensor (Pa)
m_ rec bed material recirculation rate (kg s1)
sD particle collision damping time (s)
n exponent in Eq. (11) ()
sp interparticle stress (Pa)
p pressure (Pa)
x mass fraction (kg kg1)
pO2 partial pressure of oxygen (Pa)
Ps solid pressure (Pa)
r molar reaction rate (mol m3 s1) Dimensionless numbers
~r char mass reaction rate of char particles (kg s1) Bith ah r p =kp thermal Biot number
rp particle radius (m)
Rm gas constant (kJ mol1 K1) Abbreviations
Schar surface area of char particle (m2) CHP combined heat and power
t time (s) CR combustion reactor
Tp particle temperature (K) DFB dual fluidized bed
ug gas phase velocity (m s1) GR gasification reactor
up particle phase velocity (m s1) PSD particle size distribution
u0 superficial velocity (m s1) RME rapeseed methyl ester
umf minimum fluidization velocity (m s1) WGS watergas shift reaction
Vp volume of particle phase (m3)

be carried out by cold flow modeling [1315] where no heat trans-

fer processes and chemical reactions can be considered. In particu-
lar for biomass gasification, the devolatilization processes
influence bed hydrodynamics, since the release of volatiles occurs
inside the bed and influences particle movement [16,17].
Computational fluid dynamics simulations are a useful tool to
investigate the hydrodynamics inside fluidized bed reactors, and
there has been great progress in the last decades in the accuracy
of its predictions. However, dense gasparticle flows, such as those
present in fluidized beds, are much more complex to describe,
because of the particleparticle and gasparticle interactions and
momentum exchange [18].
One way of describing such flows is the Euler/Euler approach,
where the gas and particle phases are described as two interpene-
Fig. 1. Basic principle of the dual fluidized bed (DFB) process (based on Schmid
trating continua. For both the solid and the gas phase, the continu-
et al. [13]).
ity and momentum equations have to be solved [19]. Since all the
particle species in the system (bed material, wood, char) exist as a
CO2, CH4, and steam [11]. Drying and devolatilization reactions are particle size distribution (PSD), the code has also to take that into
endothermic [12] and require additional thermal energy. In the account. Implementing a PSD in an Euler/Euler code is troublesome
combustion reactor, which is fluidized with air and operated as a since it requires an additional phase for each class of particle size,
fast fluidized bed, the bed material is heated by the combustion and for every additional phase, a complete set of balance equations
of the residual char or additional fuel. The bed material is then has to be solved. This results in long computational times. Hjerta-
returned to the gasification reactor, where it provides the neces- ger et al. [20] reported a quadratical increase of computational
sary thermal energy for the drying and devolatilization reactions. effort with the number of phases. Furthermore, Gerber et al. [21]
Investigation of fluid mechanics inside a DFB system is a trou- state that the Euler/Euler approach has also limitations for ther-
blesome endeavor due to the high temperatures and rough move- mally thick particles, for which temperature gradients occur within
ments of the bed material. Hydrodynamic investigations have only the particle.
410 S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

In the Lagrangian approach, the motion of each particle is Liu et al. [38] investigate a dual fluidized bed biomass gasifica-
defined by classical Newtonian mechanics, including particlepar- tion system with a full load of 1 MWth. It consists, like the com-
ticle collisions [22]. Its disadvantages include its high computa- bined heat and power (CHP) plant at Gssing, of a gasification
tional cost, since every particle has to be solved for [23]. This is reactor, a combustion reactor, a cyclone, and a loop seal. They
especially the case when heat transfer and chemical reactions are use steam in the gasification reactor as the fluidization agent and
also considered at the particle level, and when it is considered that use almond prunings as the biomass feedstock. They authors do
in industrial sized DFB plants the total number of particles can be not specify the bed material, which has a density of 3560 kg m3.
estimated to be on the order of 1010 . For reaction modeling, they use a single-step global model for
A very promising implementation to overcome the disadvan- the biomass drying and pyrolysis, which is described by an Arrhe-
tages of the Euler/Euler and Euler/Lagrange approaches is the nius approach. They found good agreement between the simulated
Multi-Phase Particle-In-Cell (MP-PIC) approach [24,25]. Particle and measured gas composition. Furthermore, the calculated and
particle interactions are represented by models which use mean simulated temperatures match with deviations of up to 65 K in
values calculated on the Eulerian mesh. Doing so, not every particle the gasification reactor and 35 K in the combustion reactor. How-
and its interactions are calculated, which significantly reduces the ever, they do not provide a value of the bed material recirculation
computational cost. Therefore, the particles are grouped into com- rate, which is something that also influences the temperature dis-
putational particles with the same velocities and properties, some- tribution inside the reactor.
thing which allows a reduction of the particle number form a The same authors (Liu et al. [39]) investigated three operating
magnitude of 1010 down to 105 106 . points of the same reactor in a follow-up study. The authors found
One implementation of the MP-PIC approach is the commercial that the gases, which stem from the biomass devolatilization pro-
code Barracuda by CPFD Software, LLC. Barracuda was used in sev- cess, are unevenly distributed in the gasifier. It is supposed that
eral studies to model industrial sized systems, such as FCC regen- this comes from the feeding location of the biomass. Furthermore,
erators [26], fluidized bed classifiers [27], coal gasifiers [28], the authors find good agreement between experimental and simu-
chemical looping combustors [29], and CFB combustors [3032]. lation results for product gas composition and temperature for all
In the literature, some studies deal with biomass combustion three cases. They also investigated the effects of the temperature in
[33,34]. the gasifier. The simulation gives a good estimate of the experi-
Furthermore, also some studies of biomass gasification using mentally found values but is not able to predict all the measured
Barracuda have been carried out. Thapa et al. [35] simulate a part dependences.
of a DFB system, the gasification reactor, and model the inlet and All the aforementioned studies deal either with only a bubbling
outlet of the bed material as boundary conditions. The gasification bed (with and without bed material recirculation) or with a DFB
reactor is cylindrical but the authors do not provide its dimensions. system up to 2 MWth. In the present study, we present the com-
They use olivine as the bed material and wood chips as the bio- plete implementation of an industrial sized DFB system within
mass, which is fed in at a rate of 28 kg h1, which corresponds to the CPFD Barracuda framework using the MP-PIC approach. The
approximately 100 kWth. They assume the devolatilization to be DFB system is part of the combined heat and power (CHP) plant
instantaneous, which can be questioned, since the release of gas in Gssing, Austria, and has a thermal power of 8 MWth and an
in the bed during devolatilization processes has an influence on electrical power of 2 MWel [4].
the rising movement of the biomass particles [16,17]. The authors In the present study a three-dimensional and complete repre-
present a numerical analysis of the gas and particle temperatures, sentation of the full loop of the process is given. It consists of the
the composition of the product gas, and the distribution of the gasification reactor, a connecting chute, the combustion reactor,
components of the product gas in the reactor. However, they do a cyclone and a loop seal. The geometry for the simulation is taken
not validate their model with experimental data. from the plans of the system. For the simulation, data from the dis-
Thapa and Halvorsen [36] also simulate the gasification reactor tributed control system was used.
of a DFB system. As did Thapa et al. [35], they model the inlet and To develop a model as accurate as possible also all the recycled
outlet of the bed material as boundary conditions. The reactor has a streams from downstream gas cleaning steps have been imple-
diameter of 0.55 m and a height of 2 m. Olivine is used as the bed mented. A particle model has been implemented, which covers
material and the wood feed rate is 450 kg h1, which corresponds the complete process from drying to devolatilization of the bio-
to approximately 1.6 MWth. In that study, the model of the biomass mass particles. Homogeneous and heterogeneous combustion
conversion is not presented. They investigate the dependence of reactions have been implemented for the combustion reactor.
the energy content of the product gas on the recirculation rate of All the considered particle species in the system are imple-
the bed material, the temperature of the recirculated bed mented with a particle size distribution according to the usage in
material, the steam to biomass ratio, and the temperature of the the plant. Furthermore, heat transfer is considered to cover the
steam feed. However, the authors do not present a validation of transient heat-up and reaction process of the particles.
their model. The focus of this paper lies primarily on the development of the
Loha et al. [37] use a laboratory scale bubbling fludidized bed model and the validation of the simulations. First, the influence of
gasifier fluidized with a mixture of steam and air. The reactor is the drag law on the bed material recirculation rate was studied, so
cylindrical, with an inner diameter of 0.05 m and a height of as to choose an appropriate drag law for the further simulations.
0.5 m. They use rice husk as the biomass feedstock and sand as The temperatures, pressure drops, product gas and flue gas compo-
the bed material. For the pyrolysis model, they assume, as in Thapa sitions, as well as bed material recirculation rates, were simulated.
et al. [35], that the drying and pyrolysis processes of the biomass The results are then compared to operating data collected from the
particles are instantaneous and completed already at the feeding distributed control system of the industrial plant.
position. They investigate the solid volume fraction, the composi- Although the present work mainly focusses on the development
tion of the gas, and the distribution of the gaseous components and validation of the CPFD simulation model, an application of
inside the reactor. A comparison between experimental measured practical relevance is given. We calculate the temperature of the
gas compositions and simulated values shows good agreement. bed material particles within the system and investigate the mix-
However, no further validation, such as of the temperature in the ing of biomass particles and hot bed material in the gasification
reactor, is provided. reactor.
S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420 411

2. Material and methods

2.1. The CHP plant at Gssing

The modeled DFB system in this study is part of the CHP

plant at Gssing, Austria. For better illustration of the boundary
conditions, there will be given in later sections a short descrip-
tion of the plant. In Fig. 2 a basic flowsheet of the CHP plant combustion
is shown. The simulated part of the DFB system is marked with reactor
a dashed red line.
The geometry including the main parts of the simulated DFB
system is depicted in Fig. 3. It consists of the following main parts:
the gasification reactor, chute, combustion reactor, cyclone, and loop seal
loop seal. Furthermore, a scale was added to better illustrate the gasification
size of the parts of the system. A table with the dimensions is reactor

scale unit: meters
added according to Kaiser et al. [40], Table 1.
The biomass feedstock is fed into the gasification reactor, which

is operated in a bubbling bed regime and fluidized with steam. The

biomass particles are dried and the volatiles are released. The flu-
idization with steam enables the generation of a nitrogen free pro-

duct gas. The raw product gas leaves the gasification reactor at the
top. Fig. 3. Geometry and main parts of the DFB gasification system in Gssing, Austria.
The product gas then undergoes further cleaning steps, Fig. 2.
After being cooled in the product gas cooler, the fly char is removed
in the product gas filter. The product gas also contains tar, which Table 1
Dimensions of the industrial sized DFB system. GR
has a variety of higher hydrocarbons and can cause operational
. . .gasification reactor, CR . . .combustion reactor.
problems in downstream unit operations. Condensed tar can plug
pipes or cause fouling at heat exchanger surfaces [4]. Therefore, Dimension [m]
it is removed in a tar scrubber unit, which operates with rapeseed dGR;bottom 1
methyl ester (RME). The steam in the product gas condenses in the dGR;top 2.5
tar scrubber and an RME/water emulsion occurs. Dry product gas dCR 0.85
hCR 9.7
leaves the tar scrubber.

Fig. 2. Basic flow sheet of the CHP plant at Gssing according to Kirnbauer et al. [3]. The dashed red line shows the DFB system which is simulated in this study. Furthermore,
all the recycled streams are depicted: RME emulsion, fly char, product gas.
412 S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

After the drying and devolatilization of the biomass, a solid resi- Table 2
due remains, which is referred to as char. Since CO2, H2 and steam Simulation parameters.

are present, char gasification reactions also occur. A part of the char Particle-to-wall interaction
moves with the bed material through the chute to the combustion Normal-to-wall retention coefficient 0.3
reactor, which is operated in a fast fluidized bed regime, and is flu- Tangent-to-wall retention coefficient 0.99
diffuse bounce 0
idized with air. This enables an upwards transport of the bed mate-
rial. In the oxidizing atmosphere, the char is burnt. Furthermore, Particle-to-particle interaction
Close-pack volume fraction 0.54
internal waste streams of fly char and RME/water emulsion are Maximum momentum redirection from collision 40%
fed back to the combustion reactor for disposal. A part of the dry Pressure constant, P s 1 Pa
product gas is also recirculated for temperature control of the com- Non-dimensional exponent, b 3
bustion reactor. Non-dimensional constant, a 107
The combustion reactions cause a heating of the bed material. Time settings
At the top of the combustion reactor the flue gas enters a Total simulation time 150 s
cyclone, where it is separated from the bed material particles. Start time for average 100 s

The bed material is transported via a loop seal back to the gasi-
fication reactor, where it provides the energy for the drying of ( " # )
the biomass and the devolatilization, as well as some of the gasi-   1 dmp
F f mp C D ug  up  rp up dmp dup dT p :
fication reactions. qp dt
2.2. The governing equations of the CPFD code and the simulation
Relevant simulation parameters are presented in Table 2. The
implemented blended acceleration model [41] is used in the simu-
lations. The convective heat transfer between the gas and particles
In the following the governing equations of the Multi-Phase
is calculated with the equation of RanzMarshall [42,43].
Particle-in-Cell (MP-PIC) approach are summarized [24,25,28].
In the present study the influence of the drag law on the bed
The continuity and momentum transfer equation for the gas phase
material recirculation rate is also investigated. In this study, four
drag laws are considered: EMMS [44], Ganser [45], TurtonLeven-
spiel [46] and WenYu/Ergun. The WenYu/Ergun drag law was
@ eg qg  
r eg qg ug dm_ p ; 1 proposed by Gidaspow [47]. For dilute flow (eg > 0:8) it uses the
@t WenYu correlation [48] and for higher packing fractions
  (eg < 0:8) it uses the Ergun equation [49]. In Barracuda a blend of
@ eg qg ug     the WenYu and the Ergun equation is implemented.
r eg qg ug ug rp F eg qg g r  eg sg :
2 2.3. Simulation setup
The particulate phase is described by solving a transport equa-
tion for the particle distribution function f: The geometry of the DFB system was drawn according to the
construction plans. Based on the given geometry, the mesh was
@f     generated to get the control volumes for which the governing
r  f up rup  f ap 0: 3
@t equations are solved by the Barracuda solver. For the current study,
a mesh with 140,000 computational cells was used, which corre-
_ p in Eq. (1) is expressed as
The source term dm sponds to side-lengths of the control volumes of about
ZZZ 6  6  6 cm3. Barracuda uses so-called computational particles,
dm f dmp dup dT p : 4 which group the real particles that have the same physical proper-
ties like density or velocity. For the present study, 700,000 compu-
For small particle volume fractions the acceleration of the par- tational particles were used.
ticles ap is expressed by Boundary conditions specify the inlet and outlet mass flows of
the system. The data for the inlet flow boundary conditions are
  1 1   up
ap C D ug  up  rp g  rsp p : 5 taken from real operational data. Fig. 4 shows their positions in
qp ep qp sD the DFB system. The implemented inlet boundary conditions are
as follows. The biomass is fed into the bubbling bed of the gasifica-
In the MP-PIC implementation a blend function for the particle tion reactor which is fluidized with steam. The air for the combus-
acceleration is applied where Eq. (5) is extended with a velocity tion reactor is supplied as bottom, primary and secondary air as
valid near close pack state as introduced by ORourke and Snider well as the cooling for the oil burner for start-up. Primary and sec-
[41]. ondary air are supplied with air nozzles. From downstream pro-
The interparticle stress s is calculated as follows: cessing the recycled stream of the RME emulsion and the fly char
are fed into the combustion reactor. Furthermore, recirculated pro-
  Ps ebp
s ep    : 6 duct gas is supplied for temperature control. The loop seal is flu-
max ecp  ep ; a 1  ep idized with steam to ensure bed material through-put. Two
outlets have been implemented as pressure boundary conditions.
a and b are coefficients and are given in Table 2. The product gas leaves the gasification reactor via the product
The particle volume fraction ep and the interphase momentum
gas exit and the flue gas leaves the cyclone via the flue gas exit.
exchange rate F are related with f:
The mass flows and temperatures of all the inlet streams in
ZZZ Fig. 4 are given in Table 3. All the values are taken from the oper-
ep f dmp dup dT p ; 7 ating data collected by the control system of the plant at Gssing.
The bed material recirculation rate and the flue gas composition
S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420 413

flue gas exit Table 4

Parameters for particles and liquid droplets.

Bed material (Olivine) Ref.

product gas exit Solid density (kg m ) 2800 [51]
Bulk density (kg m3) 1540 [51]
Mean particle diameter (lm) 510 [4]
Specific heat capacity (kJ kg1 K1) 0.95 [51]
Wood chips
Wet solid density (kg m3) 800 op. data
Dry solid density (kg m3) 660 op. data
Mean particle diameter (mm) 14.5 [54]
xwood;H2 O (kg kg1) 0.33 op. data
RME emulsion xwood;ash (kg kg1) 0.01 op. data
hpyrolysis (kJ kg1) 150 [12]
fluidization steam air for oil start burner
for loop seal Wood char
fly char recirculation
Solid density (kg m3) 300 Estimated
secondary air Mean particle diameter (mm) 15 [54]

wood feed product gas recirculation RME emulsion

primary air Density RME (kg m3) 880 [62]

hev ap;RME (kJ kg1) 254 [62]
xdroplet;H2 O (kg kg1) 0.50 op. data
fluidization steam xdroplet;RME (kg kg1) 0.50 op. data
for gasification reactor
bottom air Fly char
Solid density (kg m3) 300 estimated
Fig. 4. Location of boundary conditions for the Barracuda simulation. xflychar;C (kg kg1) 0.26 [60]
xflychar;ash (kg kg1) 0.74 [60]

Table 3
Mass flows and temperatures of the inlet streams for the boundary conditions. water content, the density increases and is estimated according to
Mass flow Temperature [53]. The PSD of the wood is set according to Jnger [54].
(kg s1) (K) For the density of the biomass char after devolatilization, values
Gasification reactor from 200 to 450 kg m3 are reported and used in various studies
Steam 0.1238 673 [21,5559]. In this study, a value of 300 kg m3 is used.
Wood 0.717 298 The PSD of fly char is estimated from measurements and its
Loop seal composition is taken from Kirnbauer et al. [60]. The RME is mod-
Steam 0.0158 673 eled as n-Hexadecane (Cetane, C16H34). The RME emulsion is fed
Combustion reactor into the system as droplets which consist of 50 wt.% water (con-
Bottom air 0.266 695 densate) and RME, respectively.
Primary air 0.75 695
The MP-PIC code within the CPFD Barracuda framework also
Secondary air 0.315 695
Starting burner 0.01 338 allows for the implementation of particle size distributions. There-
Product gas 0.0194 358 fore, all the aforementioned PSDs of bed material, wood chips and
RME emulsion 0.0156 353 fly char are implemented according to the data in the hot DFB
Fly char 0.00528 379 system.
The recirculated dry product gas that is fed into the combustion
reactor in order to control the gasification temperature has a com-
position of xCH4 0:0862; xCO 0:4103; xCO2 0:4637 and
were not measured, but are taken from experience and process
simulation [50]. xH2 0:0398, which corresponds to the typical composition
Since Barracuda performs transient calculations, initial condi- according to Kirnbauer et al. [4].
tions have to be set as a starting point for the simulation. For the However, it should be noted that Barracuda only allows model-
initial conditions of the fluid phase, the system was filled with ing isothermal particles, which means that no temperature gradi-
nitrogen. As in its operation, the system was filled with 3000 kg ents can occur within a particle, i.e., the internal heat transfer is
of bed material. Both were set to the typical operating tempera- much faster than the external heat transport to the particle. A mea-
tures in the gasification and combustion reactor. sure of this is the thermal Biot number, Bith ah r p =kp [61].
Various particle species are used in the simulation: bed mate- If Bith  1, the particle is thermally thin, which means that the
rial, wood chips, wood char, fly char particles, and RME droplets. internal heat conduction is much faster than the external heat
The values for the particle species present in the system are sum- transfer. For olivine, Bith is on the order of 101 , hence this can be
marized in Table 4. assumed as valid. However, wood particles are much larger and
Olivine is used as the bed material; its solid and bulk density as have a lower heat conductivity. Values of Bith  101 are obtained
well as its specific heat capacity were taken from Bosch [51]. The for wood, which means that wood particles are thermally thick,
PSD of the bed material is set according to Kirnbauer et al. [4]. and the assumption of isothermal particles no longer holds.
The water content of the biomass is taken from operational However, this fact is only relevant regarding the conversion
experience and from Bosch [51]. Both give a mean value of process of the biomass and tar formation. Since Barracuda only
xmoisture 0:33. A mean density of 660 kg m3 is supposed for the allows isothermal particles and it is unlikely that hydrodynamics
dry wood, which corresponds to hard wood [52] as it is what is are affected by these phenomena no further considerations have
mainly used in the CHP plant at Gssing. Due to its relatively high been made.
414 S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

For industrial-size plants like the DFB system in Gssing, the In the following primary pyrolysis step the volatiles, wood gas
heat loss is limited to low percent values [50]. To account for heat and tar, are released. The remaining char component is solid. The
loss thermal boundary conditions have been implemented. Values char particle itself consists also of the inert ash, which is not
for the heat loss are also taken from Prll [50]. depicted in Fig. 5. During the primary pyrolysis step, the particle
The implemented particle model covers the drying and size decreases slightly, as Diego et al. [75] showed. This effect is
devolailization processes, since they do not occur instantaneously. also considered in the particle model.
Haseli et al. [63] as well as Sreekanth et al. [64] provide estimations In the model it is assumed that the char moving to the combus-
of the time scales regarding devolatilization of wood particles of tion reactor consists only of pure carbon and ash. However, Klose
different sizes. According to their findings the time scales for wood and Wlki [76] showed that beech wood char consists of 89 wt.%
particles used in this study are in the order of 100 s or more. To of carbon. Ash is considered to be inert and does not participate
reach a steady state the calculation times of the simulation have in the reactions, and includes all the other minor elements like
to be sufficiently long. Therefore, calculation times of 150 s were potassium, sulfur, chlorine. However, the ash and also layer
used. For the diagrams time-averaged values from 100 to 150 s build-up on the bed material particles have catalytic effects regard-
were used. ing tar conversion [77]. The formation of tars is not part of the pre-
For the Barracuda simulations, a workstation with an Intel Core sent study (no tar load in the product gas stream) because of its
i5-3570 with a GeForce TITAN X graphics card was used to apply negligible effect on hydrodynamics. Therefore, such catalytic
the GPU accelerated code. Barracuda V17 was used. The time steps effects are not considered in the simulation.
were in the range of 3  104 to 8  104 s and were automatically The kinetics for the drying and primary pyrolysis is modeled
controlled by the Barracuda solver via the CourantFriedrichsLe with an equation of an Arrhenius type:
wy (CFL) number. It took about 1.5 h to simulate 1 s. Ea
To ensure sufficient accuracy of the predictions also different k k0 e m Tp ; 9
mesh sizes were used and the recirculation rate was calculated.
From 86 k cells to 136 k cells the change in the recirculation rate and the kinetics were taken from Chan et al. [78]. For the simula-
was about 20% which is considered as too high for the present sim- tions the composition of the wood gas is set according to Bryden
ulation. Mesh sizes of 163 k cells and 220 k cells gave predictions and Ragland [79] which consequently determines the composition
in the range of 510% compared to the value of 136 k cells which of the product gas together with the secondary pyrolysis which is
was considered as an adequate accuracy for the present simula- discussed in the following. The mass fraction for the primary pyrol-
tions. However, the mesh size cannot be too small, since then the sis step are given in Table 5.
mesh size approaches too close to the mean size of the wood par- After the primary pyrolysis, the gaseous tar component under-
ticles. Therefore, a certain limit regarding mesh size exists. goes a secondary pyrolysis step, which is modeled as a homoge-
neous gas phase reaction, Fig. 5. Secondary pyrolysis is very
complex since a lot of different species are involved [80]. For the
2.4. Chemical kinetics secondary pyrolysis, a simple mechanism is chosen in this study
since the different decomposition reactions are assumed to not
Up to now it is not possible to predict the gas composition after affect the hydrodynamics.
the primary and secondary pyrolysis accurately without measure- In the current model the whole gaseous tar originating from the
ments [65]. Therefore, this model has to use literature data for the primary prolysis reacts to the wood gas:
devolatilization model.
Drying and pyrolysis of biomass particles are often modeled tar ! mCO CO mCO2 CO2 mCH4 CH4 mH2 H2 : 10
with an approach which assumes that ash-free and dry wood par-
ticle consist of three pseudo-components: wood gas, tar, and char The stoichiometric coefficients for the secondary pyrolysis reac-
[66]. Wood gas are the non-condensable gases H2, CO, CO2, CH4, tion are taken from Boroson et al. [81]. The kinetics are also mod-
and water vapor. Tar lumps together all the condensable hydro- eled with an Arrhenius approach with kinetics from di Blasi [82].
carbons under one gaseous pseudo-component. After the The enthalpies for the primary and secondary pyrolysis reac-
devolatilization processes a solid part remains which is called tions are taken from Gronli and Melaaen [74].
char. The yields of these three pseudo-components vary with In the simulation also homogeneous and heterogenous gas
temperature, as shown by di Blasi [67]. Dividing the devolatiliza- phase kinetics are employed, Table 6. References for the kinetics
tion into the release of these three pseudo-components is com- are also given. In the Gssing plant the watergasshift (WGS)
monly done in the literature [21,59,63,64,6874]. reaction is not in equilibrium. Therefore, the equilibrium constant
The reaction mechanism used is shown in Fig. 5 and reflects the was adapted to match the conditions in the real operation.
aforementioned division into the three pseudo-components. Fur- In the gasification reactor, gasification reactions like
thermore, also the drying of the particle is considered. The first C + H2O ! CO + H2 or C + CO2 ! 2CO also occur. The time scales
step is the drying of the biomass where the moisture is released. of these reactions are slow compared to the drying and
devolatilization processes [83]. Therefore they have been omitted
for simplicity and due to the calculation times of 150 s which is lit-
H2O tle compared to the usual operation, which is on the order of 103 h.

wood gas
drying Table 5
primary secondary Wood gas composition in mass percent from the primary pyrolysis step according to
pyrolysis pyrolysis [79] and the stoichiometric coefficients for the secondary pyrolysis in Eq. (10).
wet wood tar wood gas
Component Primary pyrolysis Secondary pyrolysis
H2 0.084 0.207
CO 0.306 0.527
CO2 0.192 0.124
CH4 0.142
Fig. 5. Mechanism for the model of drying, primary and secondary pyrolysis of the
H2O 0.418
biomass particle.
S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420 415

Table 6 The EMMS drag law underestimates the typical value by about
The homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions. 18%, whereas the other drag laws overestimate the typical value by
Reaction Name Number approximately 80%. For this reason, the drag law seems to have a
C + O2 ! CO2 char oxidation (A) large impact on the calculated bed material recirculation rate.
CO + H2O $ CO2 + H2 watergasshift reaction (B) For the present case, the EMMS drag law estimates the bed mate-
2 CO + O2 ! 2CO2 CO oxidation (C) rial recirculation rate well, whereas the other drag laws produce
2 H2 + O2 ! 2H2O H2 oxidation (D) larger errors. Liu et al. [38] also modeled the full loop of a DFB gasi-
CH4 + 2O2 ! CO2 + 2H2O CH4 oxidation (E)
C16H34 + 24.5O2 $ 16CO2 + 17H2O RME oxidation (F)
fication system and used the drag law of WenYu/Ergun. They do
not give the values of the bed material recirculation rate and do
not discuss the accuracy of the prediction of the bed material recir-
culation rate in their study.
The oxidation of the char (reaction equation (A) in Table 6) is
modeled according to Wartha [84] with an Arrhenius approach:

~r char kSchar pnO : 11 3.2. Fluidization regimes and pressure drops


The reaction kinetics for the watergas shift (WGS) reaction (B) are Fig. 7 shows the volume fraction of the particles of the bubbling
taken from Macak and Malecha [85]. The kinetics from Groppi et al. fluidized bed in the gasification reactor. Red particles indicate high
[86] are used for the homogeneous oxidation reactions of CO, H2 packing density near close pack whereas blue particles indicate a
and CH4. dilute gassolid flow.
The reaction of the RME droplets is as follows. In a first step the The formation of bubbles is also expected, since olivine falls into
evaporation of water and the liquid RME occurs. Then, gaseous group B of Geldarts classification [88]. Furthermore, the character-
RME is oxidized according to reaction (F) in Table 6. The kinetics istic dense zone in fluidized beds with a high particle volume frac-
for the RME oxidation is taken from Sazhin [87]. tion (bubbling fluidized bed) can be clearly seen. In the splash zone
over it, the bubbles burst and fines are carried out.
Fig. 8 shows the particle distribution for the whole simulated
3. Results and discussion DFB system. The prediction of fluidmechanics of such reactors is
complex since three regimes occur: fixed bed (chute), bubbling
3.1. The influence of the drag law on the recirculation rate bed (gasification reactor and loop seal), and fast fluidized bed
(combustion reactor). As shown by Fig. 8 all the regimes are pre-
The prediction of the correct bed material recirculation rate is dicted correctly in qualitative terms. The particle exit from the
crucial for the simulation of a DFB biomass gasification system cyclone is in the range of 300 g for the simulated time and for
since it determines how much char is transported to the combus- the gasifier in the range of grams. In both cases this is small com-
tion reactor. In Eq. (11) the surface area determines the reaction pared to the total solids-holdup and therefore negligible for the
rate of the char oxidation. If higher values of the recirculation rate investigations presented in the present study.
are predicted by the simulation, more char is transported to the The pressure drop between two heights in a fluidized bed is a
combustion reactor, and therefore also more mass and surface measure of the amount of bed material that can be found in
are available for combustion reactions. Therefore, more char reacts between. If it is assumed that qp  qg the particle volume fraction,
and the temperatures in the combustion reactor and therefore also
which is a measure of the amount of bed material, is linked to the
in the gasification reactor increase. dp
Differentiating and averaging the time integrated particle mass
pressure via ep q1p g dh . For the hot plant, the pressure drop over
through the chute gives the bed material recirculation rate. The the bed in the gasification reactor and the pressure drop over the
recirculation rates calculated with the different drag laws are combustion reactor was measured and compared to the values
depicted in Fig. 6. For the hot plant, the bed material recirculation obtained by simulation, and are depicted in Fig. 9. A good agree-
rate can be obtained by process simulations via mass and energy
balances. In Fig. 6 the abbreviations EMMS, GAN, TUR and WEN
stand for the use of the drag laws of EMMS, Ganser, TurtonLeven-
spiel and WenYu/Ergun.


recirculation rate [kg s -1]



20 splash zone


bubbling fluidized bed


Fig. 6. Simulated bed material recirculation rates dependent on the drag law used,
compared to the typical value in the CHP plant at Gssing. Fig. 7. Particle volume fraction in the gasification reactor.
416 S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

board temperature is slightly lower than the temperature in the

bubbling bed in the gasification reactor, due to heat loss and pos-
sible endothermic reactions. In the combustion reactor, an increase
of the temperature occurs, due to oxidation of the char and addi-
tional fuels.
Fig. 10 shows the calculated and measured values. For the tem-
peratures time-averaged values are used. It can be seen that the
agreement is very good and the temperatures in the hot plant
could be reproduced well by the simulation. Both the temperature
drop between the bed and the freeboard temperature in the gasifi-
cation reactor and the increase of the temperature in the combus-
tion reactor are predicted by the simulation.

3.4. Composition of product and flue gases

In Fig. 11 the calculated and time-averaged product gas compo-

sitions in mole percent are compared to the typical values mea-
sured in biomass steam gasification plants [4]. It can be seen that
the simulation results are in good agreement with the product
gas composition in the power plant. The deviation between the cal-
culated and the measurement values are in the range of the usual
variations of the product gas composition during operation.
Fig. 12 shows the typical molar composition of the flue gas at
the exit of the cyclone, compared with the Barracuda results.
Time-averaged simulation results were used in the Figure. It can
Fig. 8. Particle volume fraction in the whole system. be seen that the calculated values agree well with the measured
values in the power plant.
An essential design feature of the DFB system is that the gasifi-
250 cation reactor is separated from the combustion reactor. The pro-
duct gas is not mixed with the flue gas since the chute and the
loop seal work as a gas barrier. The chute is a moving fixed bed,
200 CHP plant Gssing
pressure drop [mbar]

and the loop seal is operated in a bubbling bed mode. Both prevent
the flue gas from flowing into the gasification reactor and polluting
150 the product gas. Fig. 13 shows the molar nitrogen concentration in
the system. It can be seen that chute and loop seal work also in the
Barracuda simulation as a gas barrier, and no nitrogen flows into
the gasification reactor; the gas flows in the reactors are separated
from each other. Higher nitrogen concentrations are also seen at
50 the biomass inlet in the gasifier. It is set according to the CHP plant
where the biomass feed is flushed with nitrogen.

0 3.5. Mixing of hot bed material in gasification reactor

gasification combustion
reactor reactor
Although this study focusses on model development and valida-
Fig. 9. Measured and calculated pressure drop over gasification reactor and tion of the model Barracuda can also be used for optimization and
combustion reactor. investigation of the process. A key issue of the process is the heat
transport of the bed material. Fig. 14 depicts only the bed material

ment can be found, the deviation between measured and calcu-

lated pressure drops is below 2%. 1300
However, although the pressure drop over the combustion reac-
tor is predicted correctly, no pressure measurements over the 1200
height are available. Hence, measurement and simulation of the 1100
variation of the pressure over the height and therefore, the axial
temperature [K]

voidage profile in the combustion reactor cannot be compared. 1000

From Fig. 8 also a denser region at the bottom of the combustion
reactor can be seen, whereas it gets more dilute over the height,
which is qualitatively correct for fast fluidized beds [89]. 800

700 Barracuda
3.3. Temperatures inside the system
CHP plant Gssing
In the hot plant, the temperatures at various positions in the
system were measured: the bubbling bed and freeboard in the 500
gasification freeboard combustion cyclone loop seal
gasification reactor, the upper section of the combustion reactor, reactor reactor
the cyclone, and the bottom of the loop seal. These values were
used for validation in the present study. In the hot plant, the free- Fig. 10. Measured and simulated time-averaged temperatures in the system.
S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420 417

molar product gas composition [%]

CHP plant Gssing
50 Barracuda





heat up of bed material


Fig. 11. Time-averaged molar composition in of the wet product gas calculated by
Barracuda and typical values from [4].

molar flue gas composition [%]

stream of hot
CHP plant Gssing
bed material
Fig. 14. Temperature of the circulating bed material.

30 particles colored by their temperature. The scale on the left side is

20 in Kelvin. Green particles represent the temperature in the gasifica-
tion reactor ( 840 C). The bed material particles are heated up
during their way through the combustion reactor. This is indicated
0 by the color change from green at the bottom to yellow/orange at
CO2 N2 O2 H2O the top ( 900 C).
Since the bed material should provide enough heat for drying
Fig. 12. Typical molar composition of the flue gas compared with time-averaged
values calculated by Barracuda. and devolatilization of the biomass a good mixing from the recircu-
lated bed material in the gasification reactor is crucial. It can be
seen from the simulation, Fig. 14, that there is a stream of hot
bed material through the gasification reactor. This indicates that
the mixing of the recirculated hot bed material is not optimal in
the gasification reactor and a bypass occurs.
Due to the relatively high bed material recirculations rates of
m_ rec 27 kg s1, see Section 3.1, the bed material has short resi-
dence times in the gasification reactor which also decreases the
probability of an accurate mixing and contacting time of the colder
and the hot recirculated bed material particles for heat transfer.
In DFB plants the tar load of the raw product gas should be min-
imized since tar can cause operational problems in downstream
unit operations. Condensed tar can plug pipes or cause fowling at
heat exchanger surfaces [4]. If the wet biomass is fed into the gasi-
fication reactor in a region which does not see the hot bed material
the tar formation could be enhanced with the aforementioned neg-
ative effects on the process. For smaller units like the plant in Gss-
ing or Oberwart with about 8 MWth fuel in put this is not the case,
gravimetric and GCMS values of tar are in the low range of 1.8 and
7.6 g/N m3 [90]. For plants in a larger scale this could be an issue.

3.6. Mixing of biomass particles

Fig. 15 shows the mixing of the wood particles into the gasifica-
tion reactor after 1, 2, 5 and 10 s after injection. The mixing behav-
ior is of interest since the whole bed cross section area should be
used for devolatilization reactions. Therefore, the biomass particles
should be distributed throughout the bed in a time which is suffi-
ciently shorter than the devolatilization time.
After 1 and 2 s the wood particles are located near the feed
Fig. 13. Time-averaged nitrogen concentrations in the system in [mol mol1]. point. They show a tendency to move to the top of the bed. This
418 S. Kraft et al. / Applied Energy 190 (2017) 408420

Fig. 15. Dynamic behavior of mixing of the wood particles in the gasification reactor. (a) . . .1 s after injection, (b) . . .2 s after injection, (c) . . .5 s after injection, and (d) . . .10 s
after injection.

is expected since the wood particles are assumed to show flotsam The mixing of the recirculated hot bed material into the bed
behavior which is also seen in experiments under hot conditions was simulated and it was shown that the mixing is not optimal.
[91]. A hot bypass stream of the hot bed material exists between the
With time the biomass particles are more and more distributed loop seal and the chute. It could be shown that the biomass parti-
throughout the bed cross section. However, since the biomass fed cles are distributed well throughout the bed in a sufficiently short
into the system at only one point, higher biomass concentrations amount of time which is below the time for devolatilization.
are found there. It is seen that after 10 s the wood particles are able According to these first investigations, Barracuda proved to be a
to move to the opposite wall of the reactor. This indicates that the valuable tool for further studies of DFB systems of industrial size.
whole bed cross section area is used since the devolatilization time The temperatures, pressures and gas compositions were predicted
is much larger and in the order of magnitude of 100150 s. well. However, the influence of the drag law and other parameters
on the hydrodynamics, especially on the bed material recirculation
4. Summary and conclusions stream, need further consideration.

In this research, an industrial dual fluidized bed (DFB) system Acknowledgements

for biomass steam gasification was investigated with the commer-
cial MP-PIC code CPFD Barracuda. The DFB system is located at This study was carried out in the framework of Bioenergy2020+
Gssing, Austria, and has a thermal biomass input of 8 MWth and together with TU Wien. Bioenergy2020+ GmbH is funded within
an electrical power output of 2 MWel. the Austrian COMET program, which is managed by the Austria
The model was set up according to the geometry and operating Research Promoting Agency FFG.
data of the industrial plant. A devolatilization model was imple-
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