Identification of reaction zones in a commercial Sasol-Lurgi fixed bed dry bottom gasifier operating on North Dakota lignite08 October 2012
The Sasol-Lurgi fixed bed dry bottom gasification technology has the biggest market share in the world with 101 gasifiers in operation. To be able to further improve the technology and also to optimise the operating plants, it is important that the fundamentals of the process are understood. The main objective of this study was to determine the reaction zones occurring in the Sasol-Lurgi fixed bed dry bottom (S-L FBDB) gasifier operating on North Dakota lignite. A Turn-Out sampling method and subsequent chemical analyses of the gasifier fuel bed samples was used to determine the reaction zones occurring in the commercial MK IV, S-L FBDB gasifier operating on North Dakota lignite. The reaction zones were further compared with the same reactor operating on bituminous coal. Based on the results obtained from this study it was found that about two thirds of the gasifier volume was used for drying and de-volatilising the lignite thus leaving only about a third of the reactor volume for gasification and combustion. Nonetheless, due to the high reactivity of the lignite, the char was consumed within a third of the remaining gasifier volume. Clear overlaps between the reaction zones were observed in the gasifiers thus confirming the gradual transition from one reaction zone to another as reported in literature. Due to the high moisture content in the lignite, the pyrolysis zone in the gasifiers operating on North Dakota lignite occurred lower/deeper in the gasifier fuel bed as compared to the same gasifier operating on South African bituminous coal from the Highveld coalfield. All the other reaction zones in the gasifier operating on bituminous coal were also higher in the bed compared to the lignite operation. This can therefore explain the higher gas outlet temperatures for the S-L FBDB gasifiers operating on higher rank coals when compared to the gasifiers operating on lignite. The fact that the entire reactor volume was utilized for drying, de-volatilisation, gasification and combustion with carbon conversion of >98% makes the S-L FBDB gasifier very suitable for lignite gasification.