Over A Billion People Don't Have Access To Power, This Technology Could Change That

Categories: Energy

Gasification is a partial oxidation process whereby a carbon source such as coal, natural gas or biomass, is broken down into carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), plus carbon dioxide (CO2) and possibly hydrocarbon molecules such as methane (CH4).

What is gasification?

This mix of gases is known as 'producer gas' or product gas (or wood gas or coal gas, depending on the feedstock), and the precise characteristics of the gas will depend on the gasification parameters, such as temperature, and also the oxidizer used.  The oxidizer may be air, in which case the producer gas will also contain nitrogen (N2), or steam or oxygen.


Gasification technology can be used for:

  • Heating water in central heating, district heating or process heating applications
  • Steam for electricity generation or motive force 
  • As part of systems producing electricity or motive force 
  • Transport using an internal combustion engine.

Gasification is not a new technology, it was originally developed in the 1800s and is the processes used to make town gas for lighting and cooking.  Small scale gasifiers were also used to power internal combustion engine vehicles during fuel shortages during the Second World War.

Low temperature gasification

If the gasification takes place at a relatively low temperature, such as 700ºC to 1000ºC, the product gas will have a relatively high level of hydrocarbons compared to high temperature gasification (see below). As a result it  may be used directly, to be burned for heat or electricity generation via a steam turbine or, with suitable gas clean up, to run an internal combustion engine for electricity generation.

The combustion chamber for a simple boiler may be close coupled with the gasifier, or the producer gas may be cleaned of longer chain hydrocarbons (tars), transported, stored and burned remotely.

A gasification system may be closely integrated with a combined cycle gas turbine for electricity generation (IGCC - integrated gasification combined cycle).

High temperature gasification

Higher temperature gasification (1200ºC to 1600ºC) leads to few hydrocarbons in the product gas, and a higher proportion of CO and H2.

This is known as synthesis gas (syngas or biosyngas) as it can be used to synthesize longer chain hydrocarbons using techniques such as Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis.

If the ratio of H2 to CO is correct (2:1) FT synthesis can be used to convert syngas into high quality synthetic diesel biofuel which is completely compatible with conventional fossil diesel and diesel engines. 

Electricity is the backbone of society, yet over a billion people across the planet live without it everyday.

Situated in the most remote and poorest parts of the planet these communities are left without light in the evening, the ability to charge their phones and must endure labour intensive means of cooking.

It also means they are without the resources they need to build their society.

However, American-based artist and inventor, Jim Mason, has rediscovered a sustainable power technology used during WWII that can change the lives of these communities -- gasification.

Jim Mason working on the technology bringing light to the most remote and poorest parts of the world.

"It's a different type of energy. You put bad things in and good things come out," said Mason, Founder and CEO of All Power Labs.

Gasification uses organic materials heated at high temperatures in a low oxygen environment to create power.

Mason has created the technology that utilizes this form of power and has made it accessible to the communities in need of it most.

Children of Monrovia in Liberia where only 2% of the population have access to power. This village now has access to gasification technology thanks to Jim Mason.

But the benefits go beyond that.

As Tom Price, Director of Strategic Initiatives at All Power Labs explains, gasification is a carbon negative energy cycle.

"What it does is it heats up organic material like wood chips, takes out the energy that's embedded in it, the waste product that comes out of it is this thing called biochar, which in addition to being pure carbon is a great soil supplement, so you can use it as fertiliser, he said.

"If we're going to solve climate change we've got to get billions and billions of tons of carbon out of the sky and back into the ground. This tool does that."

via HuffingtonPost and BiomassEnergy

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