Improved Gas-Solids Mass Transfer in Fluidized Beds: Confined Fluidization in Chemical-Looping Combustion
Journal article, 2019
© 2019 American Chemical Society. Fluidized bed processes with reactive bed material have become increasingly popular as research topics, with applications such as chemical-looping technologies, oxygen carrier aided combustion, and fluidized bed gasification being extensively investigated. When used at commercial scale the performance of such processes may be limited not by gas-solid reactivity, but by mass transfer of reactants from bubbles to the emulsion phase. In an effort to break down the two-phase flow structure, and thereby increase the bubble-emulsion mass transfer coefficient, spherical packing material was added to a fluidized bed using ilmenite as bed material. Two types of packing were tested: expanded clay aggregate (ECA) and aluminum silicate balls (ASB). Both packings had a diameter of about 12 mm but drastically different bulk densities of 240 kg/m 3 and 1400 kg/m 3 , respectively. These were tested in chemical-looping-combustion batch experiments using a stainless-steel reactor with a diameter of 78 mm, with syngas or carbon monoxide as fuel at 915 °C. The lighter packing formed a floating plug while the heavier remained stationary at the reactor bottom. To compare the confined fluidized bed to a reference conventional one, a simple reaction model was implemented based on the experiments. It showed that in the confined fluidized bed the associated effective reaction rate constant increased by up to a factor of 2 for a given bed mass. Further, up to 4 times less oxygen carrier bed mass was needed to achieve the same gas conversion, at a lower total pressure drop. Experiments with only carbon monoxide showed similar gains when using aluminum silicate balls, indicating that catalysis of the water gas shift reaction was not the main factor for improved gas conversion. It can be concluded that the concept of confined fluidization has great potential to increase mass transfer in fluidized beds with active bed material.