Exergy sustainability analysis of biomass gasification: a critical review

Document Type : Review Paper


1 Henan Province Forest Resources Sustainable Development and High-value Utilization Engineering Research Center, School of Forestry, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450002, China.

2 Department of Mechanical Engineering of Agricultural Machinery, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.

3 Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Ontario, L1G 0C5, Canada.

4 Center for Sustainable Catalysis and Engineering KU Leuven Celestijnenlaan 200 F, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium.


Biomass gasification technology is a promising process to produce a stable gas with a wide range of applications, from direct use to the synthesis of value-added biochemicals and biofuels. Due to the high capital/operating costs of the technology and the necessity for prudent management of thermal energy exchanges in the biomass gasification process, it is important to use advanced sustainability metrics to ensure that environmental and other sustainability factors are addressed beneficially. Consequently, various engineering techniques are being used to make decisions on endogenous and exogenous parameters of biomass gasification processes to find the most efficient, viable, and sustainable operations and conditions. Among available approaches, exergy methods have attracted much attention due to their scientific rigor in accounting for the performance, cost, and environmental impact of biomass gasification systems. Therefore, this review is devoted to critically reviewing and numerically scrutinizing the use of exergy methods in analyzing biomass gasification systems. First, a bibliometric analysis is conducted to systematically identify research themes and trends in exergy-based sustainability assessments of biomass gasification systems. Then, the effects of biomass composition, reactor type, gasifying agent, and operating parameters on the exergy efficiency of the process are thoroughly investigated and mechanistically discussed. Unlike oxygen, nitrogen, and ash contents of biomass, the exergy efficiency of the gasification process is positively correlated with the carbon and hydrogen contents of biomass. A mixed gasifying medium (CO2 and steam) provides higher exergy efficiency values. The downdraft fixed-bed gasifier exhibits the highest exergy efficiency among biomass gasification systems. Finally, opportunities and limitations of exergy methods for analyzing sustainability aspects of biomass gasification systems are outlined to guide future research in this domain.

Graphical Abstract

Exergy sustainability analysis of biomass gasification: a critical review


  • The use of exergy methods for analyzing biomass gasification systems is critically reviewed.
  • Bibliometric analysis identifies research themes in the exergy analysis of biomass gasification.
  • Effects of process parameters on the exergy efficiency of biomass gasification are examined.
  • The highest exergy efficiency is observed for a blend of CO2 and steam as a gasifying medium.
  • The downdraft fixed-bed gasifier exhibits the highest exergy efficiency among biomass gasifiers.


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