WILLEBOER, Willem (p/a Amerweg ongen, NC Geertruidenberg, NL-4931, NL)
SPANJERS, Martijn Antonius Johan Cornelis Maria (p/a Amerweg ongen, NC Geertruidenberg, NL-4931, NL)
WILLEBOER, Willem (p/a Amerweg ongen, NC Geertruidenberg, NL-4931, NL)
1. A method for gasirying solid fuels in a gasifier with a circulating fluid bed, wherein in the gasifier conditions are created and maintained for a continuous gasification of these solid fuels with controlled supply of oxygen, wherein during starting up substantially steam is used for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed.
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein for starting up the gasification, a heat-up burner is used.
3. A method according to claim 2, wherein the heat-up burner is operated in a stable combustion region of the fuels.
4. A method according to.claim 3, wherein the heat-up burner is operated with natural gas.
5. A method according to claim 4, wherein the natural gas is burned sub-stoichiometrically at all times,
6. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein an external heat-up burner is used.
7. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein as flushing medium, for flushing the gasifier prior to igniting a heat-up burner, steam is used.
8. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein as cooling medium for control of flue gas temperature, steam is used.
9. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein besides steam also nitrogen is used.
10. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the supply of oxygen proceeds in a.cόntrolled manner throughout the loading region and under all conditions.
11. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein conditions prevailing in the gasifier are monitored and are communicated with a control algorithm.
12. A method according to claim 11, wherein an oxygen proportion in the gasifier is measured and is communicated with the control algorithm.
13. A method according to claim 11 or 12, wherein an internal temperature in the gasifier is measured and is communicated with the control algorithm.
14. A method according to claim 13, wherein for starting up the gasification a heat-up burner is used and wherein it is checked whether the internal temperature of the gasifier has a value below a first temperature selected in the range of 100 to 1200C.
15. A method according to claim 14, wherein for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed, when the internal temperature of the gasifier is below the first temperature, air is used.
16. A method according to claim 14, wherein for fluidization and circulation of the Quid bed, when the internal temperature of the gasifier is above the first temperature but below a second temperature selected as a safe lower limit for the combustion temperature of fly ash, one of the gases air and steam is used.
17. A method according to claim 14, wherein for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed exclusively steam is used, when the internal temperature of the gasifier is above a second temperature selected as a safe lower limit for the combustion temperature of fly ash.
18. An apparatus for gasifying solid fuels with a circulating fluid bed for creating and maintaining a continuous gasification of these solid fuels with supply of oxygen, wherein the apparatus is provided with a supply pipe for steam for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed.
19. An apparatus according to claim 18, wherein the apparatus is provided with a heat-up burner for starting up the gasification.
20. An apparatus according to claim 19, wherein the heat-up burner is provided with a sub -stoichiometric oxygen supply.
21. A system provided with an apparatus according to any one of claims 18 to 20 and a processing unit arranged for carrying out the method according to any one of claims 1 to 17.
The invention relates to a method and apparatus for gasifying solid fuels in a circulating fluid bed. More particularly, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for gasifying wood, for example, demolition wood, for the purpose of energy generation in fuel-fired power stations.
Gasifying of poorly grindable fuels typically takes place in installations based on the principle of a circulating fluid bed. This process is relatively lenient in respect of variations in the composition and the heating value of the fuel. A known method of this kind is the subject of European patent document EP 0239589.
A gasifier used in such a method consists of a non-cooled steel vessel in which different layers of refractory lining are provided against the wall. In a reactor system, of which the gasifier is a part, a recycle cyclone for the solids is included, with which the bed material, which forms the fluid bed, is recycled via a recycle pipe and a 'gas seal' (e.g., a U-trap) into the gasifier. In this way, in the gasification system the circulation of bed material is maintained. As bed material, typically sand is used, which,
" " V i ' ; . ; ;i 3.'. i despite the disadvantage of wear on the installation, has a good heat transfer and is inert with respect to the fuels to be gasified.
Fuel and combustion air (or oxygen) are supplied in such a ratio that conversion of the fuel (from solid form into gaseous form) occurs, at temperatures between 700 and 950 0 C. The gas thereby produced consists for a major part of the combustible components carbon monoxide, methane and hydrogen.
After the gas produced leaves the gasification reactor via the recycle cyclone mentioned, it is subjected, prior to the gas cleaning step(s), to cooling in a heat exchanger, where thermal energy is transferred to, e.g., a steam system. After this cooling, the gas can be wholly or partly cleaned by use of cyclones or filters, possibly followed by further-reaching cleaning steps such as, e.g., a water quench.
Starting this known gasification process is done through (prolonged) preheating of the gasification system with the aid of one or more oil- or gas-fired starter burners which are arranged in the gasifier itself or which are placed immediately next to it, with the hot flue gases being passed directly through the gasifier. In the course of the heat-up process, the gasifier is supplied with bed material, such as sand, which is thereupon caused to circulate by means of continuous air supply. Naturally, this material is then also heated up by the hot flue gases of the starter burner. Experience has taught that the described method and apparatus have a number of drawbacks. Gasification installations based on the principle of a circulating fluid bed are designed for operating temperatures of up to about 1000 0 C at a maximum. This means, for one thing, that also during heat-up (as part of the starting procedure) no higher temperatures may be used. For that reason, the oil- or gas-fired heat-up burner(s) must be operated with a large excess of air, because otherwise the flue gas temperatures would (far) exceed the design temperature of the installation. The air excess used during heat-up of the installation means that then the (flue) gases present in the gasifier contain a fair to considerable percentage of oxygen.
Upon gasification of solid fuel in a circulating fluid bed, inter alia fly ash is formed, which is entrained with the gas produced. A portion of this fly ash settles in the installation portions through which the gas flows, especially in the gas cooler and the piping. This fly ash, especially with fuels having a low content of inert substances, contains a substantial proportion of carbon. This means that in the whole installation downstream of the gasifier, there is a (locally even considerable) deposit of fine, combustible powder. When a gasifier that has been in operation before and whose gas cooler and piping are hence polluted with (combustible) fly ash, is started again, hot, oxygen-containing flue gases are passed through those installation parts. As soon as the temperature at the location of the fly ash deposits exceeds the ignition temperature of the fly ash, these deposits will ignite, resulting in an (internal) fire where unallowably high temperatures may occur. Practice has shown that this phenomenon is inevitable and that in such a situation it is virtually impossible for the occurring temperatures to be so controlled as to remain within the allowable limits. Then there is no alternative but to stop the starter burner and to extinguish the fire by flushing the installation with nitrogen. After this, it may be attempted again to further heat up the installation (which has cooled down considerably again as a result of flushing), until the residual fly ash ignites again and the temperatures become uncontrollable. It goes without saying that this trial-and-error starting method is highly undesirable on account of aspects of safety and of integrity of the installation. Also, the energy waste involved is unacceptable. Upon restart of a still warm installation, the fly ash may actually ignite already during the necessary flushing (with air), prior to starting of the burner, i.e., even before the burner is ignited. In addition to the phenomenon that the fly ash present in the installation ignites during heat-up, there is also the danger that an explosive mixture is formed in the .installation upon the passage of oxygen- containing (flue) gases. This is because the fly ash is very fine and is very well ignitable, so that when during heat-up somehow dust clouds arise in the installation, an explosive mixture of oxygen-containing gas and fly ash is readily formed. From a safety viewpoint this is obviously unallowable
(unless the presence of a source of ignition can be positively and definitively precluded).
In conventional process operation, starting gasification after heating up of the installation is done by beginning with combustion of the fuel with a good excess of air in connection with maximum allowable temperatures (1000 0 C). The flue gases then contain a considerable percentage of oxygen, due to which the fly ash deposits present in the installation (can) combust. Thereupon, by raising the fuel supply or lowering air supply, operation proceeds to gasification. This is accompanied by high temperatures that can be controlled only, and to a limited extent, by cooling, for example by means of water injection. Moreover, there is a transition from oxygen-rich flue gases to oxygen-free and CO-rich flue gases; if this occurs rapidly, explosive dust clouds may arise in "dead corners" of the installation. It has also been established that at high temperatures during start-up or gasification, agglomerations of the bed material can form in the apparatus.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to eliminate or ameliorate at least one of the disadvantages of the state of the art. It is also an object of the present invention to provide alternative solutions which can be more simply implemented and which may possibly be put into practice comparatively advantageously. Alternatively, it is an object of the invention to provide an at the least useful option.
To this end, the invention provides a method for gasifying solid fuels in a gasifϊer with a circulating fluid bed, wherein in the gasifier conditions are created and maintained for a continuous gasification of the solid fuels with controlled supply of oxygen, wherein during starting up substantially an inert atmosphere, from substantially steam, is used for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed. According to another feature of the method for gasifying according to the invention, for starting up the gasification a heat-up burner can be used. In particular, it is then of advantage when the heat-up burner is operated in a stable combustion region of the fuels. More particularly, the heat-up burner can then be operated with natural gas, which is burned sub-stoichiometrically at all times. In a gasification process carried out in this way, as flushing medium, for flushing the gasifier prior to igniting a heat-up burner, with advantage an inert atmosphere is used, which is formed by steam.
According to a particular feature of the invention, as heat-up burner, an external heat-up burner is used. With such an external heat-up burner, the process parameters are still better controllable.
According to yet another feature of the method according to the invention, as cooling medium for control of (flue) gas temperature, steam is used. It is then an important advantage that an inert atmosphere is created with steam, possibly supplemented with nitrogen. In view of the costs and the being at hand in fuel-fired power stations, steam is an economically highly attractive alternative.
The method according to the invention may further be favorably operated if the supply of oxygen proceeds throughout the loading region and under all conditions in a controlled manner and, if necessary, can be wholly interrupted.
Also, the method according to the invention is advantageously operable if conditions prevailing in the gasifier are monitored and are communicated with a control algorithm. In particular, an oxygen proportion in the gasifier can then be measured and be communicated with the control algorithm. Primarily, the establishment of the presence of oxygen for reasons of safety is then already sufficient. More particularly, also an internal temperature in the gasifier can then be measured and be communicated with the control algorithm. More specifically still, preferably, at starting up of the gasification a heat-up burner is used and it is then checked whether the internal temperature of the gasifier has a value below a first temperature selected in the range of 100 to 120 0 C. For fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed, when the internal temperature of the gasifier is below the first temperature, air can be used. When the internal temperature of the gasifier is above the first temperature but below a second temperature selected as a safe lower limit for the combustion temperature of fly ash, one of .the .gases air and steam can be used. If the internal temperature of the gasifier exceeds a second temperature selected as a safe lower limit for the combustion temperature of fly ash, then, as long as during heat-up no gasification is taking place yet, exclusively steam is used for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed.
The invention also provides an apparatus for gasifying solid fuels with a circulating fluid bed for creating and maintaining a continuous gasification of those solid fuels with supply of oxygen, in the form of air, wherein the apparatus is provided with a supply pipe for steam, for fluidization and circulation of the fluid bed. With advantage, such an apparatus may be provided with a heat-up burner for starting up the gasification. The heat-up burner is then provided with a sub-stoichiometric oxygen supply. Also, the invention further provides a system that is provided with such an apparatus and a processing unit, which is arranged for carrying out the method. In particular, the processing unit may be provided with a computer, such as a standard computer of the PC type.
To meet the drawbacks of the state of the art, the invention thus provides a method and apparatus, whereby, in use, by principle, conditions are prevented from arising in the installation at any time in which fly ash deposits could ignite or in which explosive fly ash clouds could arise in the installation. This is achieved in that, by principle and without exception, oxygen-free conditions are used as soon as the temperature in the installation exceeds a defined limit value, which is - at a safe distance - below the temperature at which fly ash can combust. To achieve this, during starting (heat-up) chiefly steam is used as an inert atmosphere (instead of air) for the necessary flushing'of the installation before igniting the heat-up or starter burner. Steam can then be used also for fluidization of the fluid bed and for cooling and/or temperature control of the flue gases of the starter burner instead of an air excess. Further, this starter burner is operated sub-stoichiometrically to prevent the flue gases themselves still containing any oxygen. The just-described heat-up method can only be used if the installation is still (or already) at a temperature above about 110 0 C. When starting with a completely ieooled installation, the first part of the heat-up (to > 100 0 C) is done with excess air and without steam. This is because the steam would condense in the cold installation. As the installation is then still low in temperature - in any case far below the ignition temperature of the fly ash - during that first part of the heat-up range, oxygen can still be allowed in the installation. Once the installation is at an operating temperature necessary for gasification conditions, a direct start is made with gasification of the fuel in the desired fuel/air ratio. In gasification operation, along with the starter burner, also the supply of cooling steam (temperature control) is stopped and the fluidization steam is replaced with air, which then serves also as gasification medium. In this way, during the normal gasification operation, from a viewpoint of process technology, the same situation as in the conventional method is maintained.
The method according to the invention also utilizes a new automated control program. Starting and stopping the installation now comprises all steps in which the transitions between air and steam fluidization and cooling/temperature control are driven, and in addition the program steps for flushing the installation with air, or with steam or nitrogen, depending on the condition (especially the temperature) of the installation. The process-technical protection of the installation is thus rendered much simpler than that for the existing method. In the existing method, it must be possible for the installation to be in operation, and hence also to be protected, both under oxygenous conditions and under oxygen-free conditions. In the former'case; it needs to be monitored that no CO is present, in the latter case there is monitoring for O2. The presence of different monitoring criteria and the necessary switch between them are highly undesirable. In the newly developed oxygen-free gasification method, only one uniform protection regime applies, requiring protection (as to gas composition) exclusively for O2. Also, the limit values are uniform and depend exclusively on the temperature of the installation.
The invention also provides an apparatus, in which steam pipes and tie-ins are arranged in the air supply. Through this arrangement, the steam in the gasifier is used in the primary air supply as fluidization medium, in the secondary air supply as flushing medium and in the air supply of the heat-up burner as cooling medium for temperature control of the flue gases.
Further, the apparatus is provided with a control program which:
(i) depending on the temperature in the installation, chooses whether air can or may be used or that steam, or possibly nitrogen, must be used.
(ii) if starting was done with air (hence O2 in the flue gases), provides, during heat-up, before the ignition temperature of the fly ash deposits is reached, for smooth switching from air to steam and hence oxygen-free operation. (iii) if starting must be done at increased installation temperature, the installation must be operated in an oxygen-free manner uninterruptedly from the beginning of the start. Then flushing is done with steam, or possibly nitrogen, and the heat-up burner starts sub-stoichiometrically.
(iv) always gasifies with a fixed fuel-air ratio. The most important results of oxygen-free operation are:
(1) Uniform, simple protection philosophy, depending solely on the temperature in the installation.
(2) No combustion of fly ash deposits in the installation, hence no uncontrolled, high temperatures in the installation either. (3) No risky operating situations/gas mixtures possible in the installation.
(4) Uniform start-up method/start-up sequence, proceeding without interruptions resulting from combustion of fly ash deposits. (5) Good temperature control in/of the installation.
(6) Starting of the heat-up burner under oxygen-free conditions, after flushing with steam, is possible sub-stoichiometrically (hence without oxygen ending up in the installation at any time).
(7) Always the same gasification conditions (same fuel/air ratio). (8) The gasifier loading at a start is raised from a very low initial value.
(9) The integrity of the installation is very greatly improved in that temperature excursions (upon ignition of fly ash deposits) and frequent - cold - flushing of the installation (upon trips) are prevented. The invention will now be elucidated in detail on the basis of an exemplary embodiment as shown in the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is a schematic representation of a gasification installation according to the invention;
Figure 2 is a diagram showing the temperature in relation to the air-fuel ratio; and
Figure 3 is a flow diagram of the steps traversed by the control system.
In Fig. 1 the gasification reactor is indicated with the reference numeral 1. The gasification reactor 1 has a feed of bed material 3, which is capable of supplying sand for a fluidized bed via a first sluice 5 to the gasification reactor. Sand is a suitable material for forming a fluidized bed in a gasification installation because it retains heat well and can distribute it. It has the disadvantage, though, of causing wear on the installation in the course of time. The gasification reactor 1, however, is formed by a steel vessel within which different layers of refractory have been applied against the wall and thereon wear caused by sand can be kept within acceptable limits. Further, the gasification reactor 1 is provided with a first supply of a first fluidization medium 7, with which, possibly with the aid of a compressor, an oxidizing or relatively inert gas, such as air, or steam (or possibly nitrogen), respectively, can be supplied. Also, there is a supply of solid fuel, such as a silo 9, in which wood chips in a particular size range are included. This silo 9 is connected via an optional screening installation 11 and a second sluice 13 to the gasification reactor 1. Possibly, the first sluice 5 may also be used, in combination, for the supply of solid fuel, which renders the second sluice 13 redundant. A supply of fuel for an external heat-up burner 14 is formed by a natural gas supply 15. The outlet of the external heat-up burner 14 is connected directly with the gasifier 1. For the supply of combustion air to the heat-up burner 14, a separate compressor 17 may be arranged, but possibly this can also be combined with a supply of fluidization medium to the reactor. Via a third sluice 19, the lower end of the gasification reactor 1 is connected to a discharge for bottom ash 21. In the lower end of the gasification reactor 1 there is further a second supply 23 of fluidization medium, or gasification medium, which in turn can be used at will for air or steam. The fluidized bed in the gasification reactor 1 is circulated via a recycle cyclone 25 for the bed material. Thereupon the bed material returns via a recycle pipe 27 with a 'gas seal' (such as a U-trap) to the lower end of the gasification reactor 1. The recycle pipe 27 is provided with a third supply 29 for fluidizing gas, such as, again, air or steam, or a mixture thereof. In the cyclone 25 a separation takes place of the gas produced and the solid materials, such as the bed material and ash residues. The gaseous product consists mainly of CO, rΪ2, CH4 and may additionally contain inter alia C 2 H6 and NH3 and is discharged in the direction of arrow 31 to a heat exchanger 33 with which the gas is cooled. The gas that leaves the recycle cyclone 25 can have a temperature of 850 0 C. The heat exchanger 33 is provided with a supply 35 for feed water and a discharge 37 for steam integrated into the steam system of a power station. The gas that leaves the lower end 39 of the heat exchanger 33 has been cooled down to a temperature between 450 0 C and 510 0 C. This gas is thereupon supplied to a gas cleaning cyclone 41 where via a fourth sluice 43 fly ash is discharged through fly ash discharge 45. The thus cleaned and cooled wood gas, which still has a temperature of 450-510 0 C, can then be supplied via the connecting pipe 47 to, for example, a steam boiler 49 of a power station.
In Fig. 2 there is shown the course of the temperature such as it may occur in a gasification reactor, depending on the amounts of oxidizing gas and fuel. In principle, in a gasification, fuel and oxygen (air) are supplied in such a ratio that an incomplete conversion takes place at a temperature above 700 0 C (T2 in the example of Fig. 2), in a range between 700 and 950 0 C, for example 850 0 C. The gas thereby obtained consists substantially of the combustible components CO (carbon monoxide), CH4 (methane) and H2 (hydrogen). To set this process going, a prolonged preheating of the system is necessary. During this heat-up phase, the temperature course shown in Fig. 2 can occur. Unallowable are the temperatures that can occur at a stoichiometric air to fuel ratio (λ = 1). These temperatures are in the order of 1300-1600 0 C, for example, 1300-1400 0 C (T3 in the example of Fig. 2), more particularly in the range of 1500-1600 0 C, whereas the gasification installations normally only allow operating temperatures up to about 1000 0 C. Moreover, this can lead to agglomeration of the bed material. Such high gas temperatures must i n ; . ■ ui..- ■ . therefore be avoided at all times, also upon going out of operation. The choice and supply of the fluidization medium and the sub-stoichiometric supply of oxidizing agent ensure in the invention that the temperature in the gasiϋer remains below 1000 °C in all process phases.
The control dedicated to this is designed according to the flow diagram of Fig. 3. The process starts at step 101. In a next step 103 it is established whether a command for shutting down the installation has been received. If this is the case, the shut-down routine will be activated in step 105, which eventually results in a shut-down installation in step 107. If in step 103 no command to stop the installation is established, the process continues with step 109. In step 109 it is established whether the operating temperature T (according to Fig. 2) is still below a first limit value T 1 of 100 to 120 0 C. If this is the case, step 111 checks whether the heat-up burner has already been activated. When the heat-up burner has not been activated yet, the heat-up burner is started in step 113. When the heat-up burner is active, the process continues with step 115 by which air is chosen as fluidization medium. When the process passes step 109 and the operating temperature T is not lower than Ti anymore, the process is continued with step 117. Step 117 checks whether the operating temperature T (see Fig. 2) is still below a second limit value of about 250 0 C. If this is still the case, the process is continued with a subroutine 119, by which it is established whether the fluidization medium, as far as this is still formed by air, is to be replaced with steam. When this is the case, the process proceeds with step 123, in which the proportion of oxidizing gas (in practice typically air) in the fluidization medium is reduced, and is replaced with steam or possibly N2. When the operating temperature T has reached the second limit value of 250 0 C, it is verified in step 125 whether the gasification conditions have been achieved. If step 125 has determined that the gasification conditions have been achieved, when a third limit value of 700 0 C has been reached, the process is continued with step 131 which sets a predetermined value for the air to fuel ratio (for example, λ=0.3 in Fig. 2). The process continues with step 127 in which it is checked whether the heat-up burner is still active. The heat-up burner, if necessary, is switched off via step 129. After this, the process continues with step 121, to monitor that there is no oxygen (O2) in the flue gases. As soon as oxygen is established in the flue gases, the supply of air in the fluidization medium is immediately stopped by step 123. The gasification or heat-up process is thereby stopped. In the case where step 125 finds that the gasification conditions have not been achieved yet, step 133 ensures that exclusively steam is used as fluidization medium. As can be seen in Fig. 3, the steps 103, 109, 117, 121, 125 and 127 run on continuously in gasification operation. Interruptions or deviations in the gasification operation are immediately detected and warded off with appropriate measures.
The same limit values apply also to cooling down, during stopping of the gasification process.
It is believed that the construction and operation of the present invention are clearly apparent from the foregoing description. The invention is not limited to any embodiment described herein and, within reach of the skilled person, changes are possible that are to be understood to be within the scope of the protection. Also, all kinematic reversals are understood to be encompassed within the scope of protection of the present invention. Expressions such as "consisting of, when used in this description or the appended claims, should be taken not as an exhaustive enumeration, but rather as having an inclusive meaning. Expressions such as: "means for ..." should be read as: "component configured for ..." or "element constructed to ..." and should be taken to cover all equivalents for the constructions described. The use of expressions such as: "critical", "advantageous",
"desired", etc., is not intended to limit the invention. Moreover, also features that are not specifically or expressly described or required in the construction according to the present invention may be comprised without deviating from the scope of protection.