Power production from biomass can occur through external combustion (e.g. steam cycles, Organic Rankine Cycles, Stirling engines), or internal combustion after gasification or pyrolysis (e.g. gas engines, IGCC). External combustion has the disadvantage of delivering limited conversion efficiencies (max 35%). Internal combustion has the potential of high efficiencies, but it always needs a severe and mostly problematic gas cleaning. The present article proposes an alternative route where advantages of external firing are combined with potential high efficiency of combined cycles through co-utilization of natural gas and biomass. Biomass is burned to provide heat for partial reforming of the natural gas feed. In this way, biomass energy is converted into chemical energy contained in the produced syngas. Waste heat from the reformer and from the biomass combustor is recovered through a waste heat recovery system. It has been shown in previous papers that in this way biomass can replace up to 5% of the natural gas in steam injected gas turbines and combined cycles, whilst maintaining high efficiencies [1,2]. The present paper proposes the application of this technique as retrofit of an existing combined cycle power plant (Drogenbos, Belgium) where 1% of the natural gas input would be replaced by wood pellets. This represents an installed biomass capacity of 5 MWth from biomass which could serve as a small scale demonstration. The existing plant cycle is first simulated and validated. The simulated cycle is next adapted to partially run on biomass and a retrofit power plant cycle layout is proposed.

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