PurposeThermochemical conversion processes are one of the possible solutions for the flexible production of electric and thermal power from biomass. The pyrolysis degradation process presents, among the others, the interesting features of biofuels and high energy density bio-oil production potential high conversion rate. In this paper, numerical results of a slow batch and continuous fast pyrolyzers, are presented, aiming at validating both a tridimensional computational fluid dynamics-discrete element method (CFD–DEM) and a monodimensional distributed activation energy model (DAEM) represents with data collected in dedicated experiments. The purpose of this paper is then to provide reliable models for industrial scale-up and direct design purposes.Design/methodology/approachThe slow pyrolysis experimental system, a batch of small-scale constant-pressure bomb for allothermic conversion processes, is presented. A DEM numerical model has been implemented by means of a modified OpenFOAM solver. The fast pyrolysis experimental system and a lab scale screw reactor designed for biomass fast pyrolysis conversion are also presented along with a 1D numerical model to represent its operation. The model which is developed for continuous stationary feeding conditions and based on a four-parallel reaction chemical framework is presented in detail.FindingsThe slow pyrolysis numerical results are compared with experimental data in terms of both gaseous species production and reduction of the bed height showing good predictive capabilities. Fast pyrolysis numerical results have been compared to the experimental data obtained from the fast pyrolysis process of spruce wood pellet. The comparison shows that the chemical reaction modeling based on a Gaussian DAEM is capable of giving results in very good agreement with the bio-oil yield evaluated experimentally.Originality/valueAs general results of the proposed activities, a mixed experimental and numerical approach has demonstrated a very good potential in developing design tools for pyrolysis development.
International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat & Fluid Flow – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 5, 2018
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