Identification of the reaction zones occurring in a commercial-scale Sasol-Lurgie FBDB gasifier

14 April 2010

Gasification behaviour is particle dependent, whilst gasifier (reactor) behaviour is an averaging process of individual responses of each particle. It was hypothesized, that if it were possible to extract and analyze particles from different reaction zones within a gasifier, it may be likely to enhance the understanding of the contribution that these particles make towards gasification. This better understanding of the particle-type compositional responses could act as an enabler to further manipulate and improve gasifier performance. The primary focus of this study was to evaluate a sequential (axial) sampling “turn-out” methodology of a quenched fixed-bed commercial-scale Sasol–Lurgi gasifier, in order to present samples that accurately describe operational aspects occurring in the reaction zones within the reactor. Characterization of the chemical properties of the sample increments were expected to deliver distinct profiles of the drying, pyrolysis, reduction and combustion (ash-bed) zones, which could be used to advance the kinetic modeling capability of the process. In order to interpret the coal property transformational behaviour occurring within the commercial-scale gasifier, the proximate, Fischer tar, ultimate, and coal char CO2 reactivity analysis were conducted. The pyrolysis zone was found to be the largest reaction zone situated below the drying zone within the gasifier, followed by the reduction zone, and combustion (ash-bed) zones. Whilst the boundaries of the pyrolysis zone were very clearly defined by the residual volatile matter distribution profile, distinctive regional overlap with a “slow pyrolysis with gasification” region was observed in the bottom half of the pyrolysis zone, above which a “rapid de-volatilization” region existed. The reduction zone was found to also exhibit an overlap in zonal fronts, i.e. a gasification region occurred below the pyrolysis zone and co-existed in equal proportions, with an oxidation frontal region occurring above the combustion zone. The combustion zone was found to be very shallow, below which the ash-bed region existed. The findings clearly suggest that text book pictures showing axially-depicted reaction zones occurring within the fixed-bed gasifier, i.e. drying, pyrolysis, gasification and combustion, inadequately describe the “real” situation and in practice, overlap of reaction regions within zones indeed also transpire