[Gasification] the most important thing (quite possibly) i've learned to date

Mark Ludlow mark at ludlow.com
Mon Oct 18 11:51:42 CDT 2010

At least one fully-commercial gasifier/IC engine system makes deliberate use
of the exhaust->intake recycle loop with excellent results! Honor-bound not
to mention their name.




From: gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org
[mailto:gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org] On Behalf Of Tom
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 9:28 AM
To: 'Discussion of biomass pyrolysis and gasification';
gasification at bioenergylists.org
Subject: Re: [Gasification] the most important thing (quite possibly) i've
learned to date




>From my observation last month the exhaust preheating/pyrolysis with your
"pyrocoil" is the one improvement that seems to account for your good
quality gas (clean, low CH4, High CO, H2). It would be interesting to test
the boundaries of the pre-pyrolysis in terms of maximum fuel MC and minimum
particle size.


Good concept that seems to work.  Similar systems are employed by Danish
Technological University in their Viking gasifier that is being
commercialized (some day) by COWI/Biosynergi. (http://www.biosynergi.dk/en/)
You have commented on the Viking on your site. I first saw it operating on
straw at Lyngby, Denmark (DTU), in about 1992. And by Thomas Koch
(http://www.tke.dk/) in his three stage gasifier. TERI in India has used the
exhaust preheating with help from DTU. The DTU experience has been well


It seems the engine integration has led to a very productive stage of




From: gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org
[mailto:gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org] On Behalf Of jim
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2010 10:08 PM
To: gasification at bioenergylists.org
Subject: [Gasification] the most important thing (quite possibly) i've
learned to date


there are many variables to move around in a gasifier, and all of them are
important. but once the basics are in order, i'm coming to the conclusion
the most impactful thing one can do/add/fix to the basic imbert design is to
the ic engine exhaust to heat the incoming fuel.

no, i don't have any numbers on this yet (we hope to get these soon), but
anecdotal experiences keep piling up. the biggest flexibility gains i'm
both in poor fuel shape/size and moisture tolerance, as well as gas turndown
are from the ic exhaust heat exchanger. on our rig, this is called the
pyrocoil. other
rigs call this something else.

this is not terribly surprising. the ic exhaust is the biggest waste heat
source we have around a gasifier. in principle, the ic exhaust has about
3x or 4x the heat available as the outgoing syngas. the incoming fuel
has much more heating capacity than the incoming air (the multiple i forget
the moment, but i do know the incoming air can only take up about 1/2 of the
heat available in the outgoing syngas).

also, the ic exhaust is much hotter than the outgoing syngas after
the incoming air. thus you can use the ic exhaust to do much more than dry
fuel. you can it to drive the fuel through pyrolysis, and really, get it up
about 4-500c before it falls into the hearth proper. this is a big
from the typical situation of still moist fuel falling into the hearth.

not only can you use the ic exhaust to add a very significant amount of heat
the system, you can also use it to change the character of pyrolysis in the
reactor. a typical downdraft has very high temp short residence time
right on top of the nozzles. this high temp pyrolysis optimizes the creation
teritary tars, or refractory tars, which are difficult to crack again (given
lots of double carbon bonds). if you externally drive pyrolysis at lower
over longer time, you get more primary and secondary tars, which are easier
crack downstream (fewer double carbon bonds). this seems to allow hearth
conditions to be less perfect and still get good gas out.

using ic exhaust to heat incoming fuel is not a complete get out of jail
card. but to me it seems the most impactful new thing one can do on these
it seems to have more of an impact than any other single thing we've done to
date on the gek.

yes, all of it is important, and all of it should be tended to, but the
above is
my current vote for the biggest bang for the effort. hopefully we can get
proper numbers on this soon (and prove or disprove the above conjecture).


Jim Mason
Website: http://www.whatiamupto.com
Current Projects: 
   - Gasifier Experimenters Kit (the GEK): http://www.gekgasifier.com
   - Escape from Berkeley alt fuels vehicle race: www.escapefromberkeley.com
   - ALL Power Labs on Twitter: http://twitter.com/allpowerlabs
   - Shipyard Announce list:

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