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Title: Research, Development, and Field Testing of Thermochemical Recuperation for High Temperature Furnace

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) evaluated the technical and economic feasibility of utilizing a non-catalytic ThermoChemical Recuperation System (TCRS) to recover a significant amount of energy from the waste gases of natural gas fired steel reheat furnaces. The project was related to DOE-AMO’s (formerly known as ITP) one of the technical areas of interest: Technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of equipment currently used in energy-intensive industries such as iron and steel, and reduce by at least 30% energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission compared to the conventional technologies. ThermoChemical Recuperation (TCR) is a technique that recovers sensible heat in the exhaust gas from an industrial process, furnace, engine etc., when a hydrocarbon fuel is used for combustion. TCR enables waste heat recovery by both combustion air preheat and hydrocarbon fuel (natural gas, for example) reforming into a higher calorific fuel. The reforming process uses hot flue gas components (H2O and CO2) or steam to convert the fuel into a combustible mixture of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), and some unreformed hydrocarbons (CnHm). Reforming of natural gas with recycled exhaust gas or steam can significantly reduce fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and cost as well as increase processmore » thermal efficiency. The calorific content of the fuel can be increased by up to ~28% with the TCR process if the original source fuel is natural gas. In addition, the fuel is preheated during the TCR process adding sensible heat to the fuel. The Research and Development work by GTI was proposed to be carried out in three Phases (Project Objectives). • Phase I: Develop a feasibility study consisting of a benefits-derived economic evaluation of a ThermoChemical Recuperation (TCR) concept with respect to high temperature reheat furnace applications within the steel industry (and cross-cutting industries). This will establish the design parameters and potential performance of TCR. • Phase II: Conduct research and development to take the validated technology concept from Phase I to a developmental state for a Phase 3, prototype field test. • Phase III: Design, fabricate, and prototype field testing of the TCR unit close coupled to an existing high temperature reheat furnace at a steel company for evaluation under industrial conditions The project was initiated on September 30, 2008. The report of Phase I results and conclusions was issued on October 30, 2009. The findings were reviewed by the project partners and the collective recommendation was to proceed with Phase II. Upon the work-conclusion, the Phase II report was issued on March 5, 2012. The scope of work involved the physical testing of a laboratory scale Recuperative Reformer (RR) to validate predicted performances from the feasibility study in Phase I (26% fuel reduction). Although the testing was a successful validation (21% fuel reduction mode), a technical issue 5 arose, namely a Methane Reforming Rate (MRR) roll off or non-sustaining of the methane reforming rate. GTI’s preliminary conclusions were that mechanism(s) producing the methane reforming rate reduction were not entirely known or understood and the chemical kinetics that triggered the roll off mechanism and/or other mechanisms needed to be further evaluated. GTI developed a plan to uncover the reason(s) for not sustaining a satisfactory Methane Reforming Rate (MRR) of the laboratory scale recuperator reformer (RR). The extended testing program consisted primarily of four tasks based on expected outcomes at that time. The project partners reviewed the proposal and recommended the proposed work extension to proceed and suspension of Phase III pending further review of the results of this work identified as Task 2.5. Additional Temperature Threshold Testing was undertaken by GTI and simultaneously independent analysis was carried out by the University of California Davis. Upon completion of the work, the Phase II - Task 2.5 - Extended TCR Testing Report was issued on July 10, 2013. As a result of the work performed in Phase II, Task 2.5, the end conclusion was that temperature dependency has been affirmed, but with temperatures within the recuperative reformer with higher criticality than the flue gas temperature entering into the recuperative reformer. GTI’s further conclusion is that adjustments to the lab recuperative reformer design, given the three-heat exchanger-configuration, remains a valid constraint, and therefore, it would be necessary to scale up to a field experiment capacity level. Design modifications to the recuperative reformer would likely be necessary requiring re-examining space velocity (residence time), heat transfer surface area, plus other considerations, so that a target “temperature profile envelope” within the recuperative reformer would be broad enough to perform satisfactorily in the field with varying flue gas exit temperatures from the majority of the reheat furnace population. A project review meeting was held with the project partners July 17, 2013. Task 2.5 results were reviewed along with the conclusions and recommendations. GTI proposed three field experiment options for Phase III. On the basis of successful sets of Temperature Threshold Tests (TTT), measured results demonstrated that the current design can capably be scaled up and GTI recommended consideration of these three options for a Phase III field experiment. Option 1: Production furnace ~250 MMBtu/h Option 2: Production furnace ~100 - 200 MMBtu/h Option 3: Production furnace ~50 - 100 MMBtu/h The project partners’ resulting unanimous recommendation was to provisionally proceed with Phase 3 – Option 3. Subsequently, after further deliberation, review and analysis of their respective field experiment sites, the three steel industry partners determined not to continue to Phase III of the project for both technical reasons and reasons of process economics, i.e., limited applicability of TCR technology due to higher exhaust gas temperature ranges and sensitivity to natural gas prices. As of this report, the current natural gas price is lower than the $6.03 per 6 MMBtu projected to return positive NPVs for implementing TCR technology. Accordingly, the project work was terminated effective December 31, 2013.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
American Iron and Steel Institute
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION ThermoChemical Recuperation; TCR; natural gas; steel reheat furnaces