A parametric study of the thermochemical gasification of biomass


by Perla Hernandez '20

This summer I conducted a parametric study of the thermochemical gasification of biomass. Gasification is a growing interest in converting waste into energy. Compared to combustion, the outputs of gasification can be reverted into other sources of energy, resulting in almost no waste along with lower temperatures needed for overall production.

The project also consisted of an economic literature review on the usage of gasification which was completed by Hunter Hamstra.

Under the direction of Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Yunye Shi, a model was modified on the activity that would occur in a fixed-downdraft gasifier. The regions of the gasifier were grouped in two zones: zone 1 and zone 2. Pyrolysis and oxidation occurred in zone 1, preparing the products for zone 2. The outputs from zone 2 would then be refined into energy.

The main concern for the parametric study was determining the variables that would cause the greatest output products from zone 2. These variables are parameters that can be easily adjusted in a physical scaled model. The moisture content of the initial biomass, the equivalence ratio, and the initial temperature were three of the parameters that I tested against a control group within the subgroups. The results yielded that the equivalence ratio had the highest impact for species concentration; the higher heating value (which is energy released as heat); and the conversion rate of input energy compared to output energy of these products.

These tests were done in the span of six weeks during which I became familiar with the coding of MATLAB and the thermodynamic process occurring within the code.

Participating in the St. Ambrose Undergraduate Summer Research Institute advanced my individual work ethic, problem-solving skills, and heightened my ability to understand heavy research literature. These skills have already provided a better understanding of my current courses during this school year.

two students giving presentation

Undergraduate Research

Conducted by junior Perla Hernandez

She conducted a parametric study of the thermochemical gasification of biomass as part of the SAU Undergraduate Summer Research Institute.

Read about other projects from the Undergraduate Summer Research Institute

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