Reposted as a reminder.. Wood gas and gasification in general has been in use for a long time..
How many Commercial Plants are in operation that we can study?
Many of us understand that producer gas has been around for a LONG time, there are many relics around the world that are testaments to the value of this gas, but at some point in history government subsidized electrical grids, and inexpensive petrol fuels caused these sources of renewable energy to be abandoned and forgotten. I offer the very popular ‘Gas Works Park’ in Seattle,WA USA as our local example. The people of Seattle consider our old ‘Gas Works’ a piece of art.
Here’s a note from hatheway page:
The variables in each marketplace creates a real challenge for potential investors/stakeholders to make an accurate assessment of a producer gas plant and whether it could provide economic value in their operation. I have been frustrated by the lack of operating information, but now a friend in Malaysia shares the work of James Tan of ‘Trillion’ and their commercial producer gas plants running in Maylasia with happy stake holders, and owners.
As a student of Cogen plants, it’s very difficult to ignore the advantages of the turbo charged diesel engine as the prime mover, and I was quick to note that Trillion has adopted the turbo diesel in some of the operating plants in Malaysia. All parts are ‘on the shelf’, and the co-gen operator can make use of diesel trained mechanics in their markets.
There are more Trillion videos on You Tube, what I share here are examples.
Using an oil based fuel like transesterified palm oil for the ‘pilot fuel’ may be attractive in the Malaysian market and others. Here in the USA, there is interest in making the best use of used cooking oils, and there is a lot of interest in burning these oils as SVO because it avoids the use of ethanol, sodium hydroxide and/or similar chemicals and associated expenses in the transesterification process of the oil(s).
Here’s a UN link with some basic information
Typical Questions/ Concerns
Can we run with low emissions and acceptable engine wear?
Looking at the Trillion effort, it looks like there was a lot of effort put into traping and removing the tar, and bringin the gas back to ambient temperatures. After doing this, the gas passes through several filter to remove any particles or tars.
In some of the research projects conducted by ‘Engineers Without Borders’ EWB and affiliates, there is thought of using biomass methane or other low emission fuels to offer a higher return on investment in multifunctional platforms that are powered by the old Lister type engines found across Africa and much of the third world. If you are not familiar with the MFP, they are used to grind grains, corn, rice, pump water, and perform other tasks that might make the difference between life and death. What is the potential for producer gas in MFPs? Have any of the EWB affiliates tested producer gas with SVO powered MFPs?
Many Students of cogen are convinced the turbo charger is a distinct advantage when we consider these lower BTU fuels, as we can pack more of this fuel into the combustion chamber per power stroke, and operate closer to the designed power output of the prime mover. In some plants, I have heard of the use of spark ignition engines upsized to larger cubic inches to produce the required horsepower output.
In a co-gen setting, we generally have a lot of room to do things that may be an advantage in lowering emissions, and increasing efficiency. One thing that retired engineer John Laswell communicates in his articles on wood burning here is the moisture in our gasifier fuel must be driven off, and it takes energy to do this. He teaches that it is fairly easy to take a sample of our fuel, weight it, and then microwave that sample until it is dry and weigh it again. We can compare the weights and calculate how much energy we will use to dry our fuel in the gasifier, as the energy necessary to accomplish ths work ‘will not’ be available to power our prime mover. I mention this because there may be an opportunity to use the waste heat of the cogen plant to lower the moisture content before the fuel reaches the gasifier chamber, and this effort could increase plant efficiency and lower the effort to clean filters, and potentially lower engine wear.
I notice on some forums, there are discussions about wet fuel being an advantage as the high temperatures ‘crack’ the H20 to form hydrogen and Oxygen and form a good part of the fuel, this is just an example of the myths that circulate in threads of discussion about producer gas.
One of the advantages of a dual fuel prime mover is the ‘pilot’ or primary fuel can be set up to assure a constant power output. When the producer gas falls off, the primary fuel takes over. When there is a fixed load like we might find in a water pumping station, the ‘position’ of the fuel rack on the injection pump (monitored by a machinist’s dial gauge or similar) might give us an inexpensive field reference as to how much fuel is being provided by the producer gas unit, and it might give us a comparative tool to access the different fuels available, their moisture content, and the return on our efforts to further dry these fuels. I have seen useful dial gauges for sale as inexpensive as $7.00 USD.
What may be even more important in the dual fuel prime mover, it that we can schedule work to keep the gasifier running, and not have the requirement to have an operator sittign on the equipment every minute. Once an operator becomes familiar with a fuel, he may schedule visits to the gasifier at 5 hour intervals to add fuel, or perform other maintenance, and if the producer gas falls off prior to his return, the plant continues to operate. This may be far more important in a ‘generator’ plant where it more important that the power plant remain in service.
There are ‘on the shelf’ throttle position sensors’, that could give us reasonable data out of a power plant, if we sample throttle position, and monitor KWhs of production, we might easily populate a spread sheet. If the plant were to record the type of fuel used in the gasifier, and the labor hours associated with maintenance and labor hours to charge the Gasifier, it would be easier for a plant manager to make a decision as to whether this investment is right for his operation. It’s possible that qualified labor is in the area to complete other work, and there may be no additional labor costs to charge and clean filters.
The Trillion operating site has certainly increased my interest in producer gas. These producer gas hobbyists might not be crazy after all…
As for engine wear. What is acceptable has everything to do with the cost of replacement parts, and the labor to replace them. The older stationary engines were designed from the ground up to facilitate quick rebuilds (in place), and in some designs you could replace wear parts in less than two hours. This fact, and the reasonable cost of parts could make all the difference in co-gen. I believe there are plenty of reasons for the EPA to allow us to have access to the stationary prime mover designs they have currently banned from our shores.Many of the newer designs are not economically rebuilt, or at least too few of us know of the prime movers that can be rebuilt at reasonable prices. This could put our farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
Please consider sharign any links or information regarding other producer plants that might be comercially viable.
All the best,