Computational Fluid Dynamics-Assisted Process Intensification Study for Biomass Fast Pyrolysis in a Gas-Solid Vortex Reactor

Shekhar R. Kulkarni, Laurien A. Vandewalle, Arturo Gonzalez-Quiroga, Patrice Perreault, Geraldine J. Heynderickx, Kevin M. Van Geem*, Guy B. Marin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The process intensification possibilities of a gas-solid vortex reactor have been studied for biomass fast pyrolysis using a combination of experiments (particle image velocimetry) and non-reactive and reactive three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics simulations. High centrifugal forces (greater than 30g) are obtainable, which allows for much higher slip velocities (>5 m s-1) and more intense heat and mass transfer between phases, which could result in higher selectivities of, for example, bio-oil production. Additionally, the dense yet fluid nature of the bed allows for a relatively small pressure drop across the bed (∼104 Pa). For the reactive simulations, bio-oil yields of up to 70 wt % are achieved, which is higher than reported in conventional fluidized beds across the literature. Convective heat transfer coefficients between gas and solid in the range of 600-700 W m-2 K-1 are observed, significantly higher than those obtained in competitive reactor technologies. This is partly explained by reducing undesirable gas-char contact times as a result of preferred segregation of unwanted char particles toward the exhaust. Experimentally, systematic char entrainment under simultaneous biomass-char operation suggested possible process intensification and a so-called "self-cleaning" tendency of vortex reactors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10169-10183
Number of pages15
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 18 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The SBO project “Bioleum” (IWT-SBO 130039) supported by the Institute for Promotion of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) and the COST Action CM1404 “Chemistry of Smart Energy Carriers and Technologies (SMARTCATS)” are acknowledged. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement 290793. The computational resources and services used in this work were provided by the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC), funded by the Hercules Foundation and Department EWI of the Flemish Government. The authors thank Hitesh Sewani [Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, India] for assistance in computational studies and Dr. Chitrakshi Goel for help with the experiments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Computational Fluid Dynamics-Assisted Process Intensification Study for Biomass Fast Pyrolysis in a Gas-Solid Vortex Reactor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this