Transformation of char carbon during bubbling fluidized bed gasification of biomass

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Timmer, Kevin
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Mechanical Engineering
The Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University is where innovation thrives and the impossible is made possible. This is where your passion for problem-solving and hands-on learning can make a real difference in our world. Whether you’re helping improve the environment, creating safer automobiles, or advancing medical technologies, and athletic performance, the Department of Mechanical Engineering gives you the tools and talent to blaze your own trail to an amazing career.
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Chemical and Biological Engineering

The function of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has been to prepare students for the study and application of chemistry in industry. This focus has included preparation for employment in various industries as well as the development, design, and operation of equipment and processes within industry.Through the CBE Department, Iowa State University is nationally recognized for its initiatives in bioinformatics, biomaterials, bioproducts, metabolic/tissue engineering, multiphase computational fluid dynamics, advanced polymeric materials and nanostructured materials.

The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1913 under the Department of Physics and Illuminating Engineering. From 1915 to 1931 it was jointly administered by the Divisions of Industrial Science and Engineering, and from 1931 onward it has been under the Division/College of Engineering. In 1928 it merged with Mining Engineering, and from 1973–1979 it merged with Nuclear Engineering. It became Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2005.

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1913 - present

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  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1913–1928)
  • Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering (1928–1957)
  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1957–1973, 1979–2005)
    • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (2005–present)

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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This study focuses on the fate of carbon in the char generated by devolatilization of biomass during fluidized bed gasification. A carbon balance model was developed to distinguish between char transformed to carbon-bearing gases and its comminution and elutriation as fine char during gasification. The model accurately predicts the transient accumulation of char carbon in the reactor. Experiments revealed steady state reactor char carbon loadings were achieved after multiple hours of gasification. The model formed the basis of an experimental methodology that assesses the transformation of char carbon based on collection of elutriated solids from the reactor and assessment of the steady state char carbon loading in the reactor. Experiments were performed to distinguish the relative contributions of chemical reaction and physical comminution toward conversion of char to gaseous and solid products. The effects of equivalence ratio, gasification temperature, superficial gas velocity, biomass particle size, and the addition of steam on the partitioning of char carbon between gaseous and solid products during gasification of ground seed corn in a bubbling fluidized bed were investigated. This study revealed that char conversion during gasification of biomass was limited by elutriation of fine char particles arising from fragmentation or attrition of primary char product. Additionally, increased chemical reaction of char to form gases was usually accompanied by increased elutriation of fine char, which suggests that chemical reaction increased the porosity of the char and its susceptibility to fragmentation and attrition. Finally, decreasing superficial gas velocity, increasing equivalence ratio, and decreasing particle size led to increased carbon conversion, while increasing temperature and steam concentration in the reactor had negligible effect.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Timmer, Kevin J. and Robert C. Brown. "Transformation of char carbon during bubbling fluidized bed gasification of biomass." Fuel 242 (2019): 837-845. DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2019.01.039. Posted with permission.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2019