Monday, June 23, 2008

Portable Biomass Gasifiers on the Move

Biomass gasification to syngas is becoming the most efficient means of turning waste biomass and garbage into electrical energy. In Iraq, portable gasifier/generators will be undergoing field tests by the US military throughout the summer until August. The use of portable on-site gasifier/generators in Iraq should cut down on the military fuel convoys that have been subject to ambush and deadly IED attacks.

In Washington DC, Auburn University students have been demonstrating their own portable gasifier-on-a-trailer system to the public and hopefully to clueless US legislators.
Auburn University is showing off its mobile bioenergy unit in the nation’s capitol this week, converting wood chips into electricity on the back of a truck near the National Mall.

The mobile unit, used to promote awareness of biomass energy technologies, converts wood chips, switchgrass and other agricultural byproducts into gas, which can be used to generate electricity or converted into liquid fuel. __Source
The synthetic gas can then be used to fuel an engine that can produce electricity to power and heat remote operations such as poultry houses, green houses or other comparable business operations. The unit can be fueled using wood chips, but AU researchers want to see if other feedstocks, such as poultry litter, and a variety of woody residue materials can also be used.

In addition to demonstrating concepts for generating electrical power and heat, using renewable resources abundantly available in Alabama, AU’s Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts will work with Alabama Power and Community Power Corporation to identify possible economic improvements of this distributed gasification capability as a supplement to more traditional energy sources, such as coal and water.

The use of small gasifiers, like the AU unit, distributed to poultry farms, saw mill operations or other operations where renewable resources are plentiful and do not have to be transported long distances can help power companies meet their renewable energy goals. Both in the field and on campus, the unit becomes a real world classroom helping to train engineering students to form a pool of gasification-trained engineers ready to enter the workforce in this critical energy area. __Source
Gasification of waste biomass and garbage creates H2 and CO, or syngas. Syngas, once cleaned, can either be:
  1. burned in gas turbines to generate electricity
  2. fired to create steam--which can then be used to drive steam turbines to generate electricity.
  3. fermented to make alcohols
  4. run through a F-T process with catalysis to make a wide range of hydrocarbons.

The most economical and high yield methods of performing all of the above tasks--and likely others--are being intensively worked out by scientists, engineers, and inventors around the world.

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