Biomass-Derived Hydrogen from a Thermally Ballasted Gasifier

Grant # 02S-04
Principal Investigator: Robert C. Brown
Organization: Iowa State University
Student Support:
Technical Area: Renewable Energy

The goal of this project is to optimize performance of an indirectly heated gasification system that converts switchgrass into hydrogen-rich gas suitable for powering fuel cells.

Project Objectives:

Determine whether switchgrass is a suitable fuel for the ballasted gasifier. Factors that determine suitability include gas composition and heating value, contaminant concentrations, and overall energy performance of the system when operated with switchgrass.

Obtain time resolved concentrations of important fuel components evolved during the pyrolysis phase of ballasted gasifier operation.

Identify process conditions that maximize the production of hydrogen from gasificatoin of biomass in the ballasted gasifier.

Evaluate methods for removing tar, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and ammonia to levels compatible with both downstream upgrading of producer gas to additional hydrogen and operation of either low temperature or high termperature fuel cells.

Evaluate methods for mediating the water-gas shift reaction to convert carbon monoxide and water in the producer gas to hydrogen and cabon dioxide.

Estimate the economics of hydrogen production from switchgrass using the thermally ballasted gasifier.

The graduate student supported by the Iowa Energy Center will be responsible for operating the ballasted gasifier and determining conditions that optimize its overall performance. The student will work specifically on the following tasks as set forth in the approved Statement of Work:

Task 4: Evaluate catalytic reactors for removal of tar and ammonia and enriching hydrogen content via water-gas shift reaction.

Task 6: Thermal system and cost estimation analysis.