Biomass Gasification – A Primer
I’ve been researching alternative energy sources that could be used during an extended grid-down situation for a while now but haven’t been able to find one that would work well in my situation (limited sun and wind).
Well just recently a good friend of mine had reminded me of one that I had long since forgotten (having originally passed over it in a Mother Earth News article a few years back): Wood or Biomass Gasification.
What is Gasification?
In a nutshell, gasification is the process of using heat to transform solid biomass, or other carbonaceous solids, into a flammable fuel much like natural gas. Basically, you can take practically any solid dry organic matter (wood chips, walnut/cherry shells, agricultural waste etc) and convert it into a clean burning, carbon neutral, gaseous fuel. And with this resultant fuel you can burn it in your internal combustion engine, power your generator, light up your cooking stove, and fuel your furnace — all from using the trees and waste lying around your property.
Sound too good to be true?
Well, not too long ago during WWII over one million vehicles in Europe ran onboard gasifiers to make fuel from wood and charcoal, since gasoline and diesel were severely rationed or sometimes altogether unavailable. This was all made possible using simple gasifiers about as complex as a traditional wood stove.
Fortunately for us preparedness-minded people, these small-scale gasifiers can be fairly easily manufactured using basic tools and readily available resources. Here are some
Here are some online resources that provide more information into gasifiers as well as how to make them:
- Plans to Build Your Own Gasifier: This was originally put out by FEMA (back when FEMA was cool). Since then many newer technologies have come out to make gasifiers more efficient.
- GEK Gasifier: an excellent open source resource into all things gasification. There’s a great community their who have a lot of expertise on making their own. Lots of newer as well as older plans to make your own.
- Gasifier Construction Plans: a good collection of different plans.
- FundamentalForm.com: Some alternative gasifier plans as well as all-around great ideas about alternate energy.
And here are some videos that demonstrate different gasifiers:
Over the next year, I will be experimenting with homemade gasifiers — beginning with very simple, small models and graduating to larger ones as I gain confidence. My ultimate goal is to build a homemade gasifier capable of fueling a generator that can power my home — and as always I’ll be recording it all for your benefit. So stay posted!