Characterization of tar from the pyrolysis/gasification of refuse derived fuel: influence of process parameters and catalysis

Paula H. Blanco, Chunfei Wu, Jude A. Onwudili, Paul T. Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Two nickel-based catalysts were prepared and investigated in relation to their influence over aromatic compounds contained in tar from the pyrolysis–gasification of refuse derived fuel (RDF), using a two-stage reaction system. The results were compared with those obtained in experiments carried out using a bed of sand, both with steam and without steam. The condensed tar was analyzed for its polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), size exclusion chromatography (SEC), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) techniques. It was found that, in the presence of Ni/α-Al2O3 catalysts, some of the PAHs from three to four rings were eliminated; however, some single-ring and two-ring compounds such as styrene and indene were identified. This was also inferred from the molecular mass data (SEC). The identified PAHs consisted mainly of naphthalene, biphenyl, acenaphthylene, fluorene, and phenanthrene, but other PAHs also were identified for example: methylnaphthalenes. The influence of catalyst type on the gas composition showed that, using a 10 wt % Ni/α-Al2O3 catalyst, ∼45 vol % of hydrogen was achieved, while the CH4 and C2–C4 concentrations were markedly reduced, compared with the 5 wt % Ni/α-Al2O3 catalyst, which gave similar results to those obtained with the sand bed under the same conditions. The presence of oxygenated compounds in the tar samples was compared at different gasification temperatures. The results showed the presence of oxygenated compounds such as catechols and alcohols at 600°C, these compounds were reduced as the gasification temperature increased, while the concentration of aromatic compounds increased.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2107-2115
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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