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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Preliminary understanding on the ash behavior of algae during co-gasification in an entrained flow reactor

Zhu, Youjian; van Eyk, Philip J.; Boman, Christoffer; Brostrom, Markus; Kirtania, Kawnish; Piotrowska, Patrycja; Bostrom, Dan; de Nys, Rocky; Bhattacharya, Sankar; Gentili, Francesco G.; Ashman, Peter J.


Algae are considered as a promising alternative fuel to produce energy due to its advantages such as high production yield, short growth cycle and flexible growing environment. Unfortunately, ash-related issues restrict its thermochemical utilization due to the high ash content and especially the high alkali metal concentration. In this paper, the gasification performance and ash behavior were experimentally analysed for three macro- and micro-algal species. Clear differences in the proximate and ultimate compositions were found between the cultivated algae used in this study and macroalgae (seaweed) harvested from the marine environments. Algal biomass generally contained higher Na and P contents than lignocellulosic biomass. Microalgae also had a relatively high mineral content due to the impurities in the harvesting process which included centrifugal pumping followed by sedimentation. Co-gasification of 20 wt% algae with softwood was investigated using an entrained flow reactor. The addition of both macroalgal species Derbersia tenuissima and Oedogonium to softwood had a limited influence on the gas yields and carbon conversion. On the other hand, the addition of the microalgal species Scenedesmus significantly decreased the main gas yields and carbon conversion. Moreover, the addition of algae clearly changed the residual ash composition of the base fuel. Finally, a preliminary understanding of the ash behavior of the tested algae blends was obtained through the analysis of the fuel ashes and the collected residual ashes. Fouling and corrosion were presumably occurred during the co-gasification of wood/macroalgae blends in view of the high alkali metal content. Microalga Scenedesmus had a high mineral content which could potentially capture the alkali metal in the ash and mitigate fouling when gasified with softwood. The growing environment and harvesting method were found to be significantly affecting the ash behavior implying the need for careful consideration regarding co-gasification process.


Algae; Ash behavior; Co-gasification; Fouling; Ash transformation

Published in

Fuel Processing Technology
2018, Volume: 175, pages: 26-34