Biomass Gasification: The Gasifier has been Commissioned

Gasifier Start Up

SERC staff gathers for the much-anticipated initial system start-up. See additional start-up photos on the back page. (Photo credit SERC).

The gasifier system has successfully completed shakedown testing and is now ready for experimental testing. The gasifier burns wood chips in an air-deficient environment to produce a combustible gas made up of mainly hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen. The preliminary test results indicate that the production gas composition is very close to the expected values as provided by the manufacturer. Upcoming experiments will include a series of runs using wood chips of varying moisture contents. The production gas will be sampled and analyzed with a gas chromatograph throughout these runs in order to determine the effect of moisture content in the wood chips on the resulting gas composition.

The main gasifier unit and supporting subsystem were installed inside a well-ventilated metal building located at SERC. The gasifier unit is comprised of a hopper and reactor assembly, a gas scrubbing water system, two gas filters, a gas blower, a combustion air blower and a cone gas burner. Additional subsystems to support the research include an instrumentation system, a gas sampling system, and the building safety system.

About Greg Chapman

Greg is a graduate of the Environmental Resources Engineering program at Humboldt State University. His primary responsibilities at SERC are the design of in-house fuel cells and bench testing of commercially available fuel cell materials. He is currently project manager for the development of a hydrogen fueling station at HSU. He has also led SERC’s work on the development of a high-pressure hydrogen PEM electrolyzer. Greg's past work at SERC has been focused on hydrogen system design and fabrication for fuel cell demonstration projects. He was responsible for the installation of the hydrogen systems for the SunLine Transit, Schoolhouse Peak and the University of Michigan projects. Prior to attending HSU, Greg served for six years in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from Naval Nuclear Power School and spent four years in San Diego on a nuclear-powered submarine as a steam plant operator. Following his enlistment, he worked as a process control board operator and shift supervisor at an independent oil refinery in Los Angeles.