[Gasification] Producer gas without nitrogen

Greg Manning a31ford at gmail.com
Sun Mar 18 09:14:38 CDT 2012

That is a VERY interesting reply from a lurker.. :)

Thank you very much Charles.,

Tom, can you give us an update ?  (I understand that some of your work
is confidential, so if you cannot, I understand).

Greg Manning

On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Charles Frame <cframe at netnet.net> wrote:
> I have "lurked" on this list for many years--I suppose it's now time to come
> out of the closet. I built my first working gasifier in 1983 after reading
> the Mother Earth News article on their wood-gas truck. I would guess that
> most of the "old-timers" who built gasifiers took their inpiration from that
> article also.
> Back then, I had read a little about molecular sieves, but in those
> pre-Internet days information was hard to find. I had always been curious
> about how such a low-BTU gas, composed of 65% Nitrogen, and the rest Carbon
> Monoxide, and to a much lesser degree Hydrogen, traces of CH4 (methane) and
> un-converted CO2 could even power an IC engine AT ALL!! Considering that
> cleaned and filtered wood gas, as it enters the carbeuretor is mixed yet
> AGAIN with atmospheric air containing about 78% Nitrogen in about a 1--1.1
> ratio--before being burned in the cylinder combustion chambers, the
> combustible portion of wood gas is quite small. The huge quantities of
> Nitrogen just "go along for the ride" and contribute NOTHING (so far as I am
> aware!) But since my old Allis-Chalmers WD-45 4 cylinder tractor, and a
> single-cylinder 13HP electrical generator ran reasonably well on wood gas I
> became a believer.
> I knew 30 years ago that there obviously were industrial processes for
> separation of Nitrogen from Oxygen. Every time I exchanged Oxygen cylinders
> on my welding rig took a big bite out of my budget, so I assumed that the
> separation process must be prohibitively expensive--especially for putzing
> around making wood gas.
> I read with much interest an article in Popular Science circa mid-to-late
> 1980's about Tom Reed's project in Colorado with an oxygen-injected
> stratified gasifier. I always wondered what became of that project, but
> suspected that the cost of, and amount of, oxygen required kept the project
> from ever being commercialized. (I know that Dr. Reed still contributes
> periodically to this list, so perhaps many folks would be grateful for a
> historical update on that project. ;-))
> I haven't done much with gasification for the past 25 years. It was just a
> fun hobby that gave way to more important matters--like earning a living!
> But I can't help but feel that with all the improvements and breakthroughs
> in materials science, micro-controller sensors and actuators, catalysts,
> etc. that gasification could become a viable alternative energy option IF
> the Nitrogen problem could be solved.
> I have a gut feeling that feeding pure oxygen into a gasifier to produce
> nitrogen-free gas might be a net-energy loser. On the other hand, instead of
> cumbusting wood-gas in an IC engine using atmospheric air containing 78%
> nitrogen, why not inject pure oxygen into the carbeuretor mixer with the
> wood gas? Instead of a ratio of woodgas to air of 1:1.1 would be ratio not
> change to 5:1 woodgas to pure oxygen? Without all the nitrogen dilution, it
> seems that the cumbustible mixture in the cylinder would contain much more
> energy and deliver that much greater a force to the piston\'s down-stroke.
> It seems that an on-board oxygen generator with reserve storage could then
> scavenge some power from the vehicle engine to continuously provide the
> oxygen quantities required. Could oxygen generators ever be made in such
> mass quantities as to be cost-effective used in this way?
> Perhaps a greatly modified engine would be required to use oxygen with
> woodgas. I've always been disturbed by how it is physically possible for a
> virtually un-modified IC engine to burn wood gas and deliver ONLY a 50---60%
> power de-rating burning woodgas at 150BTU/ft(cubic)as opposed to say,
> Propane at 1000BTU/ft (cubic) or Natural Gas at 1200BTU/ft(cubic)? Does this
> mean that an ideal fuel for an IC engine need only have 300BTU/ft(cubic) to
> deliver power at 100%, and therefore gasoline, propane, and natural gas are
> all way too BTU-rich to be using as engine fuels?
> I've read that after fuel is combusted in an IC engine that only 8--12% of
> the energy in the fuel actually propels the vehicle due to mechanical losses
> in the engine itself, and in the drive train to the wheels. Does this mean
> that such mechanical losses are unavoidable and would be the same even if
> the prime mover was an electric motor? Or does it mean that the step at
> which fuel is converted into mechanical energy through combustion in the
> engine is a huge energy loser?
> I've also read that most of the "nasty" by-products in automotive exhaust
> have the word "nitrous" in them. Is that because the combustion air contains
> 78% (benign) Nitrogen which becomes fouled in the presence of the combustion
> of fuel and oxygen?
> O.K. I think I just thought of the answer to why one can't use 100% oxygen
> to fuel an IC engine using conventional fuels. My cutting torch, because of
> the 100% oxygen mixed with acetylene can generate temps up to 7000F. I can
> guess an IC engine would run so hot that it would seize up in no time--maybe
> even melt. Bad idea! But then, maybe with BTU-poor woodgas, that wouldn't be
> a problem? Enough rambling....
> To anyone who's read this far, I apologize if I've wasted your time. I just
> have questions and speculations that I've never seen any good answers to. To
> anyone who can take the time to enlighten me, either on- or off-list I'd be
> most grateful.
> Chuck Frame
> c/o Yonsei University
> Seoul, KOREA Quoting Anand Karve <adkarve at gmail.com>:
>> Dear Friends,
>> thanks for enlightening me about molecular sieves. From the information
>> received from members of the gasification and pyrolysis group, it appears
>> to be within the realm of possibility to produce pyrolysis gas without
>> nitrogen. This opens up the possibility of bottling nitrogen free producer
>> gas and using it as automotive fuel. Even a TLUD stove would burn much
>> better if supplied with primary air without nitrogen.
>> Yours
>> A.D.Karve
>> --
>> ***
>> Dr. A.D. Karve
>> Trustee & Founder President, Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI)
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Greg Manning,
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

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