A CFD study of biomass pyrolysis in a downer reactor equipped with a novel gas-solid separator-II thermochemical performance and products

Xi Yu, Mohamed Hassan, Raffaella Ocone, Yassir Makkawi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A Eulerian-Eulerian CFD model was used to investigate the fast pyrolysis of biomass in a downer reactor equipped with a novel gas-solid separation mechanism. The highly endothermic pyrolysis reaction was assumed to be entirely driven by an inert solid heat carrier (sand). A one-step global pyrolysis reaction, along with the equations describing the biomass drying and heat transfer, was implemented in the hydrodynamic model presented in part I of this study (Fuel Processing Technology, V126, 366-382). The predictions of the gas-solid separation efficiency, temperature distribution, residence time and the pyrolysis product yield are presented and discussed. For the operating conditions considered, the devolatilisation efficiency was found to be above 60% and the yield composition in mass fraction was 56.85% bio-oil, 37.87% bio-char and 5.28% non-condensable gas (NCG). This has been found to agree reasonably well with recent relevant published experimental data. The novel gas-solid separation mechanism allowed achieving greater than 99.9% separation efficiency and < 2 s pyrolysis gas residence time. The model has been found to be robust and fast in terms of computational time, thus has the great potential to aid in future design and optimisation of the biomass fast pyrolysis process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-63
Number of pages13
JournalFuel Processing Technology
Early online date23 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Fuel processing technology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Yu, X, Hassan, M, Ocone, R & Makkawi, Y, 'A CFD study of biomass pyrolysis in a downer reactor equipped with a novel gas–solid separator-II: thermochemical performance and products' Fuel processing technology, vol. 133 (2015) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fuproc.2015.01.002

Funding: Leverhulme Trust grant (RPG-410)


  • biomass
  • CFD modeling
  • downer reactor
  • fast pyrolysis

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