Date of Award

Summer 8-6-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Engineering and Applied Science


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Ting Wang


The United States holds the world's largest estimated reserves of coal and is also a net exporter of it. Coal gasification provides a cleaner way to utilize coal than directly burning it. Gasification is an incomplete oxidation process that converts various carbon-based feedstocks into clean synthetic gas (syngas), which can be used to produce electricity and mechanical power with significantly reduced emissions. Syngas can also be used as feedstock for making chemicals and various materials.

A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) scheme has been used to simulate the gasification process for many years. However, many sub-models still need to be developed and improved. The objective of this study is to use the improved CFD modeling to understand the thermal-flow behavior and the gasification process and to provide guidance in the design of more efficient and cheaper gasifiers.

Fundamental research has been conducted to improve the gasification sub-models associated with the volatile thermal cracking, water-gas-shift (WGS) reaction, radiation effect, low-rank-coal gasification, coal to synthetic-natural-gas (SNG), and ash deposition mechanisms. The improved volatile thermal cracking model includes H2S and COS contents. A new empirical WGS reaction model is developed by matching the result with experimental data. A new coal demoisturization model is developed for evaporating the inherent moisture inside the coal particles during low-rank-coal gasification. An ash deposition model has also been developed. Moreover, the effect of different radiation models on the simulated result has been investigated, and the appropriate models are recommended.

Some improved model tests are performed to help modify an industrial entrained-flow gasifier. A two-stage oxygen feeding scheme and a unique water quench design are investigated. For the two-stage oxygen feeding design, both experimental data and CFD predictions verify that it is feasible to reduce the peak temperature and achieve a more uniform temperature distribution in the gasifier by controlling the injection scheme without changing the composition and production rate of the syngas. Furthermore, the CFD simulation can acceptably approximate the thermal-flow and reaction behaviors in the coal gasification process, which can then be used as a preliminary screening tool for improving existing gasifiers’ performance and designing new gasifiers.


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