Mechanistic study of chemical looping reactions between solid carbon fuels and CuO

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Copper (Cu) based chemical-looping combustion (CLC) is a promising process that utilizes solid carbon fuel such as coal and biomass. Understanding the reaction kinetics in this process can facilitate the industrial design of CLC units. In this work, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were performed to investigate the reaction kinetics of n-butane and two simplified solid carbon fuels (lignite and anthracite) with/without copper oxide (CuO) nanoparticle. In addition, experiments were conducted on the thermal characteristics, flammability, and flame speeds of CuO and solid carbon mixtures. For n-butane, oxidation on the CuO surface is the primary reaction since the activation energy of the surface reaction is much lower than that of oxygen (O2) combustion (9.2 vs. 53.3 kcal/mol). On the other hand, for lignite, there is a smaller difference in the activation energy of O2 combustion and surface reaction (23.04 vs. 6.34 kcal/mol). We hypothesize that some solid carbon fuels can have different reaction kinetics dependent upon temperature. This is proven by the case of a simplified anthracite coal: an Arrhenius plot shows that this solid carbon fuel has two different reaction kinetic regimes and the critical temperature for the change in kinetics is related to the oxygen uncoupling of the CuO nanoparticle. Like the modeling simulations, a change in activation energy is observed in the experimental results, where desorption of molecular oxygen from CuO becomes important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112216
JournalCombustion and Flame
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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