Gasifier Data!

Spent a goodly part of today out at the farm playing Energy Hero where we ran our second generation gasifier for about 3 hours.  We have the design of the system to a point now that we felt ready to start tracking some temperatures and taking data on the fuel consumed per hour and such.

 The goal of our second generation gasifier is primarily to produce reliably high grade Syn-Gas, and then to facilitate the removal of heat for storage as hot water for later use as space heating, in aquaculture, or even for BioDiesel or Ethanol production.  Today we tracked surface temps at a variety of points on the unit for over an hour while measuring fuel consumption.  The details are in the linked file below, but here is the skinny: we maintained gas temps under 80 F despite stressing the cooling tower with 100F water.  Also we now know that the gasifier uses about 10.5#’s of pellets per hour with our current fan.  Not bad!  This all took place during the January meeting of my Community Supported Energy Club – we even ate hot dogs and chili cooked on syn gas burners!  My first carbon negative lunch!

Link to my pretty chart of temp readings with a descriptive blurb:

Gasifier v 2.0 Surface Temperature Chart

Unfortunately I do not have any pics of this gasifier on this computer-as soon as I get them transfered I will post them.  We also took good video last week, but it is being edited. 

Super Cool!


Willow Coppice Math Fun

We are actively looking in to designing a Community Supported Energy system here in JEfferson County Wisconsin based on a wood chip gasifier powering a small co-gen unit providing roughly 30,000 kWh of electricity and enough BTU’s to heat 10,000 gallons of water for tilapia aquaponics similar to what Growing Power of Milwaukee is doing.  To that end I spend alot of my free time researching the myriad aspects of that system.  Of  late I am focusing on a working the fuel source into the site plan, my thoughts are beginning to coalesce around using willows on a Short Rotation Coppice plan – the willows would then be chipped or pelletized for use in the gasifier.

I found a short Power Point from the Baltic university that has some great shots of willows being grown for coppice.  VERY industrial, but how cool is it to see perennial carbon crops being harvested by combine rather than GMO corn?  


I loved the shot of the willows towering over the people in the shot … after only 5 months!  Wow these buggers grow fast!

Now for the Math Fun:

A hectare is just shy of 2.5 acres, so translated to Ameri-speak that is roughly 60,000#’s per hectare on a three year rotation – 10 tons/acre/year.  1-2 acres so planted would likely run one of our gasifiers for 2000 hours (50 weeks @ 40 hours/wk using 10#’s/hr), but I would rather see it in a mixed planting as windbreaks around CSA food gardens in an integrated Energy/Food farm.   Using a 10′ wide windbreak dividing the gardens into .5 acre plots one could sustainably grow 15 tons of biomass annually on the windbreaks of 4-5 acres of cropland.  For ease of reference 7 acres could produce about 100,000#’s of potatoes equating to roughly 43 million calories at the yields I achieved this past year.  Of course I would never plant that much of one crop!  

The point is to show the possibilities of using about 3-7 acres of land when combining food and energy systems into a permaculture plan specifically designed to produce significant surpluses for the community.  The equipment to make the pellets for the gasifier could also be used to convert virtually any carbon source into pellets using a hammermill to break it up into little bits first.  If you make ethanol on site with the waste heat from the gasifier using various sugary cover crops in your rotations, some of the dried distillers grains not used for the Tilapia can act as the binding agents for the pellets.  

7 acres producing 5 tons of Tilapia, huge amounts of vegetables, ethanol, electricity, and wood pellets while employing several people in full time wages in a system that can be scaled up/down as needed?  This is the rural community planning I want to see as we transition to a brighter, more localized, future!

Be The Change

FEMA Gasifier Section

For reasons I am do not entirely understand, I am blessed with an obscene amount of energy tonight (despite leading a tour for 22 at our home yesterday and installing a 140 sq ft rain garden today), so I am whipping up a 5000 word section on Wood Chip Gasifiers. We brought our gasifier to the MREA last weekend and it was a HUGE hit, so I wanted to get more of my info online in readable form -including the complete plans.

Please check out the Gasifier Parent Page, and all its little offspring in the left column should you want to know more about this incredible way to create energy -its even carbon negative!


Gasifier Stove: IGNITION!

This past weekend the crew met again to assemble the disparate parts of our gasifier and do a trail run. Not only did no one blow up, but we succeeded in producing and burning hydrogen! If a bunch of chumps (ok we had 2 engineers)from WI can do this, there is hope for us in Energy Decline yet.

Look Ma: we turned wood chips into Hydrogen for $75 and 3 weekends!

Next steps will be adding something to actually use the hydrogen-either to power a tractor, or as a co-gen unit to produce heat/power for a structure. Aquaponics greenhouse anyone?


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