Project Synopsis

Perform preliminary process engineering and design for systems downstream of a biomass gasifier to render a synthetic natural gas suitable for use in standard natural gas-fired combined cycle turbines generating electricity.

Project Summary


The client owns the design of a proprietary steam gasifier for biomass.  The client had previously operated this gasifier at a pilot plant operation for the purposes of characterizing the produced syngas.  Process Engineering Associates (PROCESS) was contracted by the client to perform preliminary process engineering and design for systems downstream of the gasifier to render a product gas suitable for use by prospective end-users, specifically those employing natural gas-fired combined cycle turbines.

Project tasks included the following:

  • Utilization of the gasifier exit stream gross characterization to develop further detailed characterizations of stream contaminants (especially the tars fraction), develop a computer process simulation,  and prepare a PFD for a gas cleaning system
  • Utilization of the PFD information for the development of a plant heat balance and heat recovery system preliminary process design
  • Preliminary design of a water / light tars separation system
  • Preliminary design of a heavy (solid-forming) tars and light tars recycle system
  • Technical screening for a water gas shift reaction system designed to alter the syngas H2:CO ratio
  • Preliminary process engineering for a methanation system designed to produce synthetic natural gas
  • Preliminary process engineering for a syngas CO2 removal system
  • Preliminary process engineering for a partial oxidation system designed to eliminate tar fractions of the syngas

Development of a commercial gas cleaning system for this application is difficult because of the stringent gas purity requirements for a natural-gas fired combined cycle turbine.  Although technically-feasible, it was determined at this point in the development phase of the project that the economics of such a system made it difficult for commercial application.

Industry Type

  • Synthetic Gas (Syngas) Production
  • Biomass Processing
  • Alternative Fuels

Utilized Skills

  • Pilot plant to commercial scale preliminary process design
  • Syngas cleanup process design
  • Technical and economic feasibility process engineering support

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