How Gasification is Used for Power Generation

Biomass gasification is a process that converts agricultural and industry solid waste into a clean source of electricity by unlocking the energy in these materials. Using advanced thermal conversion technology that involves heat, and finely controlled oxygen supply, the biomass waste is transformed into hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide, Methane and other inert gasses producing electricity and heat without combustion or high carbon emissions commonly associated with more traditional sources of power.

The term biomass refers to a wide range of materials, including agricultural byproducts such as corn husks, wood chips, lumber and timber yard wastes, construction and demolition debris, and treated sewage sludge. Many industries aside from agriculture and forestry produce biomass waste, including municipalities, colleges and universities, water treatment facilities, hotels, resorts and sports stadiums, hospitals, food processing facilities, wood primary or secondary product manufacturers and correctional facilities.

According to the World Bank, which offers technical and financial assistance to developing countries around the globe, the world generates about four billion tons of different types of waste each year, with cities being responsible for 1.5 billion tons. They predict that by 2025, the amount will rise to 2.4 billion tons. That is around 150 million dump trucks full of trash!

The worst news is that, only one-fourth of this trash is being recycled, leaving the rest to be disposed of in landfills. Utilization of biomass gasification not only reduces the need for landfill space, but also decreases the methane emissions from organic wastes that would have decomposed in the landfill.  Additionally, typical waste-to-energy plants that utilize traditional incineration methods transform one ton of municipal solid waste (MSW) into roughly 550 kilowatt-hours of electricity. With gasification technology, one ton of MSW will produce up to almost twice the kilowatt-hours that are cleaner as well.

Another benefit of gasification is the significantly lower water use in the gasifification process as compared to traditional technologies. A typical gasification plant uses approximately 14–24% less water to produce electric power from coal. SynTech’s advanced process is even better than this; A SynTech produced BioMax® gasification plant utilizes over 95% less water than a traditional coal fired plant.

Biomass gasification occurs in four stages:

Drying: water vapor is evaporated off the biomass

Pyrolysis: the intense heat decomposes the dry biomass into organic gasses, vapors, carbon and tar, in the absence of oxygen.

Reduction: the water vapor interacts with carbon, creating hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane.

Combustion: some of the carbon and organic chemicals burn with oxygen to produce heat, enabling the final stages of the gasification to occur

The resulting gaseous mixture called “producer gas,” “wood gas,” or “syngas,”. This combination of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane provides the energy required to drive the internal combustion generator set.

SynTech Bioenergy manufactures, sells, and provides parts and service for their proprietary gasification unit, called BioMax®. The BioMax® can be installed on site near the waste production or in a centralized location to capitalize on economies of scale.  These compact and mobile Waste To Energy systems are fully automated, and can be remotely controlled and operated.

Operations that choose to deploy the BioMax® system are able to offset their own electricity usage while eliminating problematic wastes that cost time and dollars to dispose of or sell. All of this while reducing carbon release to the ecosystem.

Kevin McFarland