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Sotacarbo-NETL: gasification models, first results

The deployment of waste materials like biomass is one of the key strategies to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on power generation. And bubbling fluidized-bed gasification technologies represent an easy, efficient and flexible solution to this aim.

In this context, Sotacarbo is working with the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DoE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to tune and validate advanced simulation models – based on advanced fluid-dynamics approach – that represent essential support to technology development and to the design of plants and components.

“We started from an experimental campaign in our labs to achieve reliable data on materials and process, to be used to set and tune the gasification models”, Andrea Porcu (Sotacarbo researcher) said. “Starting from these results, our colleagues from NETL have developed a model – implemented with their own MFiX software – that predicts with good accuracy the process performance in different operating conditions”.

The results of this first collaboration phase have been now published in the eminent scientific journal Applied Energy, in an article titled “Experimental validation of a multiphase flow model of a lab-scale fluidized-bed gasification unit” (authored by Andrea Porcu, Yupeng Xu, Mauro Mureddu, Federica Dessì, Mehrdad Shahnam, William A. Rogers, Bhima S. Sastri, Alberto Pettinau).

“The results obtained with the colleagues from U.S. DoE and NETL are very promising and the publication in a journal like Applied Energy confirms it. But it is only the first step: the collaboration is wide, and the joint research program is very ambitious”, underlines Alberto Pettinau, Scientific Director of Sotacarbo. “Our aim is the development of advanced technologies that allow power generation and hydrogen production from low-rank fuels, in a circular economy approach”.

The experimental campaign has been funded by the Regional Government of Sardinia in the framework of the “Centre of Excellence on Clean Energy” project. And, with the third phase of the project, started on March 2021 and funded through Sardegna Ricerche, the experimental tests will continue on plastic waste.