Catalytic and Non-catalytic Supercritical Water Gasification of Microalgae and Glycerol


Chakinala, Anand G. and Brilman, Derk W.F. (Wim) and Swaaij, Wim P.M. van and Kersten, Sascha R.A. (2009) Catalytic and Non-catalytic Supercritical Water Gasification of Microalgae and Glycerol. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research . ISSN 0888-5885

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Abstract:In this study, we present the gasification of microalgae (Chlorella vulgaris) and glycerol in supercritical water (SCW) using batch (quartz capillaries) and continuous flow reactors. Preliminary tests of algae gasification were done with quartz capillaries at varying operating conditions such as temperature (400−700 °C), reaction time (1−15 min), and the addition of catalysts. The dry gas composition of uncatalyzed gasification of algae in SCW mainly comprised of CO2, CO, CH4, H2, and some C2−C3 compounds. Higher temperatures, low algae concentrations, and longer residence times favored the algae gasification efficiency (GE). The addition of catalysts to the capillaries resulted in higher yields of hydrogen and lower CO yields via enhanced water−gas shift activity. The addition of catalysts accelerated the gasification efficiency up to a maximum of 84% at 600 °C and 2 min reaction time with nickel-based catalysts. Complete gasification is achieved at higher temperatures (700 °C) and with excess amounts of (Ru/TiO2) catalyst. To elucidate part of the difficulties related to the SCWG of algae, reforming of a model compound (here glycerol) in SCW was carried out in a continuous flow reactor in the presence of additives like amino acids (l-alanine, glycine, and l-proline) and alkali salt (K2CO3) and combinations thereof. The amino acids l-alanine and glycine have a minor effect on the gasification process of glycerol, and a significant reduction of the gasification efficiency was observed in the presence of l-proline. Coke formation and colorization of the reactor effluent were more noticeable with glycerol−amino acid mixtures. In the absence of amino acids, the glycerol solution gasified without any coke formation and colorization of the reactor effluent. Again this effect was more pronounced in the presence of l-proline. The addition of K2CO3 enhanced the glycerol gasification efficiency and increased the hydrogen yields promoting the water−gas shift reaction.
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Copyright:© 2009 American Chemical Society
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