Evaluating the Effect of Inert Supports and Alkali Sodium on the Performance of Red Mud Oxygen Carrier in Chemical Looping Combustion
journal contributionposted on 07.07.2016, 00:00 by Jinhua Bao, Liangyong Chen, Fang Liu, Zhen Fan, Heather S. Nikolic, Kunlei Liu
Chemical looping combustion (CLC) is an advanced technology with inherent CO2 capture in which a solid oxygen carrier circulates between an air reactor and a fuel reactor. For coal-fueled CLC, the existence of solid impurities requires the oxygen carrier not only to have good reactivity but also to be contaminant-resistant, low-cost, and readily available. Therefore, the development of cost-effective and well-performing oxygen carriers is very meaningful for the coal-fueled CLC process. Natural red mud, a byproduct from the aluminum industry, was found to function well as an oxygen carrier and has also been found to have in situ coal catalytic gasification behavior. A thorough study on the long-term cyclic performance of red mud with coal char in a fluidized reactor was conducted in this work. For the purpose of comprehensively understanding the functions of inert supports as well as the sodium content in red mud, the effect of various inert oxides (Al2O3, SiO2, TiO2, and CaO) and the addition of sodium was evaluated. It has been proven that inert supports, Al2O3, SiO2, and TiO2, have a positive effect on both the reduction and oxidation reactivity of iron-based oxygen carriers by developing a porous structure in the particle. Al2O3 and SiO2 show the ability to stabilize the reactivity of iron oxide with a gaseous reductant (CO), even under fluidized conditions. Both Al2O3 and TiO2 can assist in maintaining the mechanical strength of the oxygen carrier after many cycles in a fluidized-bed reactor. The addition of sodium (Na) to red mud does not exhibit much effect on the reactivity of OC with CO as the fuel. However, it can significantly enhance the char gasification rate due to its catalytic function. Additionally, interaction between the active iron oxide and inert supports or sodium in the form of red mud at high temperatures leads to the formation of spinel phases. The growth of spinel phases results in the reduction of the oxygen carrying capacity. However, it helps fix sodium as a relatively stable chemical compound (NaAlSiO4 or NaFe0.25Al0.75O2). Both inert supports and sodium in natural red mud play critical roles in the performance of red mud as an oxygen carrier from either physical or chemical aspects.