[Gasification] The Enigma of Gasification

Thomas Koch TK at tke.dk
Sat Jan 1 11:42:40 CST 2011

Dear Doug
Thank you very much for your contribution. 
I take the liberty to assume that part of your refelxtions and thoughts are adressed to me.
I have discussed with numerous dreamers over the last 25 years whos only objective was to put theit snouts into public funding. For this purpose gasification has been a well suited technology - huge teoretical potential and litle demonstarted results.
in 1998 I expressed my frustration about the quality of the gasification projects to a Danish public funding agency. Their ansver was that "all submitted projects had been supported - thus I could send in some better projects if I wanted to improve the quality!!!"
Over the last 15 years i have seen how the respect for control with funding for gasification disappeared. Universities copied reports (jyst changing the title) in several projects in order to get easy funding - large semipublic consulting engineering companies charged 8,5 man month for a 30 page marfket survey for biomass gasification (but the had to autofinance 50 % of their approved hourly rate of 140 EUR then selves) and at the end (my end in funding for gasification funding) it was almost accepted at the kickoff meeting that the objectives where unrealistic. 
In an EU funded project where TK Energi had a major role the objective was to couple an SOFC with a biomass gasifier. After the project was approved I realised that it was virtually impossible to find an SOFC and thus i went to responsable person to discuss what to do. The was very surpricing "we know it is not possible to find an SOFC ......" and 3 years later 5 MEUR was gone with very meager technical result - but a lot of fun.
Last month i visited a union of watertreatment plants. They had decided to build an "ENERGY FACTORY" from their sludge and they wanted this to be based on sludge gasification. After 3 month investigation they had not seen one working plant but heard numerous unrealistic optimistc promises - and they where about to reach the point where they did not really believe in any information concerning gasification.       
I wery fast realised that i was just one more gasifier geek all preaching that gasification is the direct way to a soft bed in heaven - but with the only difference from all the other preachers (hindus-buddist-chatolic etc)  that our prayers value of thruth would sooner or later be realised. 
I still believe that gasification has a commercial future. I also believe that new innovation is needed. The economy outlined by Tom Miles in one of his posting yesterday is not commecial interesting. The technical challenges associated to tar - resudual char - bed aglomeration etc are each and on their own a kiss of the death. 
In order to progess with development of thermochemical technololgy - torrefaction . pyrolysis - gasification we must be more realistic in our judgements and evaluations. Over the last 10-15 years a well justified sceptisism has developed to gasification technollogy. 
My professional new year resolution is that I will only exagerate 10 % when i speak about gasification in 2011. 
Best regards
Thomas Koch
If any one is interested in our thoughts about innovation of gasification technology - have a look at the frontpage of www.tke.dk - there is a picture of our entrained flow reactor 30 seconds after it was stopped.  


Fra: gasification-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org på vegne af doug.williams
Sendt: lø 01-01-2011 11:28
Til: gasification at bioenergylists.org
Emne: [Gasification] The Enigma of Gasification

Hi Colleagues,
I address this to no one in particular, as it records for those interested in the dynamics of making things happen, the futility of assuming we are movers and shakers of our time. I meant what I said, " we are only discovering what other people forgot, or chose not to do"!
There is nothing profound left to say about what we do, unless we are pumping up the public illusions of our companies (or own) expertise, but just one fib or silly statement, will see you swing from a petard of your own making. It's not about gas making of any definition, but I personally find it alarming to see so much simplistic expectation from those who write to me, using basic gasification with air, as an opportunity to get their snout into the public $$ trough. Am I a pricker of delusional balloons, or just another failed wana-be, out to spoil others aspirations?
When I start thinking like this, I read what I wrote to this forum back in October 1997, in the German Reports, which you can read again on the Fluidyne Archive www.fluidynenz.250x.com <http://www.fluidynenz.250x.com/>    A year later 1998, I pulled the plug on Fluidyne Gasification as a manufacturing company, finding the graft and corruption throughout Asia, not my cup of tea, and the time in Europe wasted.  Trying to work with every company busting their brains to qualify for EU funding, isn't healthy.  From my perspective, I wasted 23 years facilitating other peoples dreams, and won the Booby prize of gasification experience, plus another 12 years of waiting for energy experts predictions to come true. 
Alex English I remember, appealed to me to save a record of what had been done, so the Fluidyne Archive came into being. It's not meant to be a history of Fluidyne, but showing what we had done,and a place to put photos from our files on topics that are discussed exclusively on this Gasification List.  I don't belong to, or read any other forum discussing gasification, so I am not exactly trying to convert the World to my way of thinking, as some might suggest. 
Remember I said that I was an Indentured Boilermaker?  I dug out my Certification Papers this morning (1st January 2011), and read again this archaic document, where- by my father signed away five years of my life, to be apprenticed to a man who would be responsible for teaching me the art of working with steel. I muse at the fact that you can be awarded an Honour Doctorate or Degree, or even buy yourself any sort of academic qualifications on-line, but no way can you become an Honour Boilermaker.  My first tool box is still under the house, filled with memories and black tools, now seeming so crude compared to their shiny modern counterparts that break when put to do real work. Similar to people really, but I slightly digress.
Gasification for me, is a survival technology. We live in a complex World of change, both political and environmentally, where overnight, we can see all we take for granted, vanish in an instant. This doesn't motivate me to save anyone, but the lights will never go out in my house, thanks to gasified engine powered generation (but only when the grid goes down). The ability to survive sudden change, has cost attached, but if considered as an Insurance Policy, gasified power generation has to be a serious contender for emergency power if nothing else. 
What then, is there to offer future generations about gasification? Teach them to do it better, faster, and cleaner, cheaper, is that the best on offer for our expertise acquired at such great expense of time and money?  As a gas, is it only considered to be chemical building blocks, and the waste char an in-thing, to be seen stuffed in the ground for carbon credits?  Can gasification open a pathway to facilitate new sciences? Hmmm.
My obligations to gasification continue for another two years, in which time, my associates will have completed a very demanding five year apprenticeship in the black art of gasification. Will their efforts be ready for 2015 when the next oil crunch comes, or is the carrot on the stick always going to remain the same? Who really cares anyway?
I'd hate to think that the time will come when gasifier commercials implore us to buy now, but wait, ring now and get a second free,etc,etc, but I jest don't I?
My free holiday time has now been consumed, and reality rules again limiting my time. My other life awaits, and I must return to being a lurker again on this Forum. 
Keep it friendly Team.
Doug Williams.
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