This investigation provides a comprehensive experimental dataset and kinetic model for biomass gasification, over a wide temperature range (1150-1350 °Ï¹) in CO2, H2O and the combination of these two reactant gases over the mole fraction ranges of 0 to 0.5 for H2O and 0 to 0.9 for CO2. The data come from a unique experimental facility that tracks continuous mass loss rates for poplar wood, corn stover and switchgrass over the size range of 6-12.5 mm. In addition, the data include char size, shape, surface and internal temperature and discrete measurements of porosity, total surface area, pore size distribution and composition. This investigation also includes several first-ever observations regarding char gasification that probably extend to char reactivity of all types and that are quantified in the model. These include: the effect of ash accumulation on the char surface slowing the apparent reaction rate, changes in particle size, porosity and density as functions of burnout, and reaction kinetics that account for all of these changes. Nonlinear least-squares regression produces optimized power-law model parameters that describe gasification with respect to both CO2 and H2O separately and in combination. A single set of parameters reasonably describes rates for all three chars. Model simulations agree with measured data at all stages of char conversion. This investigation details how ash affects biomass char reactivity, specifically the late-stage burnout. The ash contents ratios in the raw fuels in these experiments are as high as 40:1, providing a clear indication of the ash effect on the char reactivity. The experimental results definitively indicate a decrease in char reaction rate with increasing initial fuel ash content and with increasing char burnout -- most pronounced at high burnout. This investigation postulates that an increase in the fraction of the surface covered by refractory material associated with either higher initial ash contents or increased burnout decreases the surface area available for reaction and thus the observed reaction rate. A quantitative model that includes this effect predicts the observed data at any one condition within the data uncertainty and over a broad range of fuel types, particle sizes, temperatures, and reactant concentrations slightly less accurately than the experimental uncertainty. Surface area, porosity, diameter, and density predictions from standard models do not adequately describe the experimental trends. Total surface area increases slightly with conversion, with most of the increase in the largest pores or channels/vascules not measurable by standard surface area techniques but most of the surface area is in the small pores. Porosity also increases with char conversion except for abrupt changes associated with char and ash collapse at the end of char conversion. Char particle diameters decrease during these kinetically controlled reactions, in part because the reaction is endothermic and therefore proceeds more rapidly at the comparatively warmer char surface. SEM images qualitatively confirm the quantitative measurements and imply that the biomass microstructure does not appreciably change during conversion except for the large pore diameters. Extant char porosity, diameter, surface area, and related models do not predict these trends. This investigation suggests alternative models based on these measurements.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Chemical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





gasification, char reactivity, porosity, ash effect, kinetic model



Included in

Engineering Commons