Gearing Up for the Biomass Gasifier

Article written by Ranjit Deshmukh

Gasifier Start Up

SERC staff gathers for the much-anticipated initial system start-up. (Photo credit SERC).

These are exciting times at SERC as we prepare for the arrival of the biomass gasifier system from India. The gasifier system is an air-fed downdraft gasifier coupled with a gas engine and generator, designed and constructed by Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies in India. The gasifier has a thermal output of 20kWth while the entire system has an electrical output of 11kWe. It will be housed behind our present premises in a new carport structure, which is near completion. We are also diligently working on the instrumentation and fuel drying aspects of the project.

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Growing Interest in Biomass at SERC

Ranjit lights a Gasifier

Schatz Energy Fellow Ranjit Deshmukh fires up the GAS-11 gasifier during a four-day training at Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies in India. (Photo courtesy of Ranjit Deshmukh)

Readers of SERC Energy News may have noticed that our last issue featured two articles on the topic of biomass energy. SERC’s newfound interest in this energy resource is natural and perhaps overdue, considering that Humboldt County where we are based is California’s leading timber producing county. Travel north, south or east of Arcata and dense forests dominate the landscape for many miles. Could materials from these forests make a significant contribution to meeting our energy needs?

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Learning About Biomass Thermal Gasifiers in India

Article written by Ranjit Deshmukh

Ranjit lights a Gasifier

Schatz Energy Fellow Ranjit Deshmukh fires up the GAS-11 gasifier during a four-day training at Ankur Scientific Energy Technologies in India. (Photo courtesy of Ranjit Deshmukh)

India’s economy is growing at a tremendous rate, but corresponding rise in energy demand has left the country in a severe power crisis. Blackouts and brownouts are common, with rural areas experiencing the bulk of it. Decentralized village electrification projects offer the possibility of predictable electricity supply for rural areas as well as a source of community income by feeding electricity to the grid. The Indian government currently offers up to 50% in capital subsidies for electrification projects using biomass thermal gasification. For those of you new to this technology, gasification is the incomplete combustion of biomass that results in the production of combustible gases that can be cleaned, filtered and fed into an engine running a generator to make electricity.

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Biomass Feasibility Study

Article by Ranjit Deshmukh

biomass gasifier schematic

Biomass gasifier schematic

Biomass has a tremendous potential for providing renewable energy if it is harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner. The forestlands of Humboldt County have considerable biomass that is scheduled for removal due to fuel reduction and fi re prevention activities. The Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), with potential collaboration with the Schatz Tree Farm and the Department of Forestry at Humboldt State University, is looking at possible ways to convert this forest biomass into useful energy. As a Schatz Energy Fellow and SERC team member, I am involved in studying the thermal gasifi cation process and researching its feasibility in successfully harnessing energy from the forest biomass.

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