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Barbour Receives Grant for HCl Emission Research

Posted by Pengxeu Thao '15, Roseville on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014

James Barbour, biomass energy scientist and lecturer in chemistry, received a grant from the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council (MCR&PC) for research on hydrogen chloride (HCl) gas emissions and mitigation agents. This project will benefit the Morris campus’s biomass gasification plant and contribute to research on alternative fuels.

Morris’s biomass gasification plant uses corn cobs as a biomass fuel source, utilizing locally obtained resources to displace 8,000 tons of CO2 a year and provide heat to the campus. However, the corn cobs possess a high chlorine content that forms HCl gas, a hazardous air pollutant. The HCL concentrations have resulted in faster degradation of the emission system, requiring the campus to switch to a more acid resistant scrubbing system. Mitigating the production of HCL would reduce costs in future biomass thermal plants. Barbour will attempt to mitigate HCl emissions from corn cob use and increase the value of cobs as a fuel.

This pilot study will test the effectiveness of lime, kaolin, and dolomite as potential HCl mitigation agents. These dry sorbents will be mixed with fuel to trap chlorine released by the gasification plant. Each sorbent will be laboratory-tested before shifting to full-scale tests and plant implementation.

“The first few weeks of this project will be focused on methodology,” says Barbour. “First, we want to do a lab study to see if these sorbents will trap hydrogen chloride gas, which will take six to seven months. If we see promising results with these sorbents, then we will move to full-scale tests.”

Barbour will work with Melissa Anderson ’16, Saint Paul, on the project. Their research will continue through the school year, and they will present their laboratory results at the Minnesota Ag Expo in January 2015. If the full-scale tests are successful in reducing HCl emissions, the biomass gasification plant will implement Barbour’s mitigation processes.

This work was supported, in part, by the farm families of Minnesota and their corn check-off investment. Additional information is available online at