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Biomass gasification: Modern Energy from traditional fuel

Introduction to Biomass Gasification

Biomass gasification is a process of converting solid biomass fuel into a
gaseous combustible gas (called producer gas) through a sequence of
thermo-chemical reactions. The gas is a low-heating value fuel, with a
calorific value between 1000- 1200 kcal/Nm3 (kilo calorie per normal
cubic metre). Almost 2.5-3.0 Nm3 of gas can be obtained through
gasification of about 1 kg of air-dried biomass. Since the 1980’s the
research in biomass gasification has significantly increased in developing
countries, as they aim to achieve energy security.

TERI independently began research work in gasifier technology in the mid-1980s. Since, the gasifier
technology has been customized for a range of direct-heat application and tested successfully in the
field. Silk processing, large-cardamom drying and gasifier-based crematoria are a few examples of
the applications worked on at TERI. This technology is slowly replacing both traditional biomass use
and gas-powered systems, as it provides an excellent de-centralized source of energy at an
affordable cost. Apart from rural households, biomass fuels are the main source of energy to a large
number of small, rural and cottage industries.
Types of biomass gasifiers:
There are 2 main types of biomass gasifiers

1. Updraft or counter-current gasifier 2. Downdraft or co-current gasifier

Feed Feed

Drying Zone Drying Zone

Distillation Zone
Distillation Zone

Reduction Zone
Heart Zone
Air Air
Hearth Zone
Reduction Zone
Air Ash Zone Gas
Ash pit

Downdraft gasifiers give relatively

Updraft gasifiers are less sensitive to fuel
cleaner gas (low tar content) and are
size and moisture content as compared to a
preferred for engine applications, niche
downdraft gasifier.
applications demanding clean gas.

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Biomass gasification: Modern Energy from traditional fuel

Thermal applications for TERI’s biomass gasifier:

Dryers- The gasifier may be used for drying farm productions such as food and spices industry (areca
nut, tea, coffee, tobacco, large cardamom), rubber, and chemical products where the temperature
requirement is 60 -130°C)

Kilns – Baking of tiles, pottery, plaster of Paris, lime etc. (temperature requirement: 700-1000°C

Furnaces- For melting metals and alloys such as copper, aluminium, lead, stainless steel and scrap
melting/recycling (temperature requirement: 650-1100°C)

Process heat- Process industries requiring low-pressure steam such as large-scale cooking, textiles,
tyre retreading, and food processing units (bakeries, napkin making)

Water boilers- Institutional cooking, silk cocoon cooking, fabric dying, areca nut boiling, food
processing, chemical products, and many such industries

Downdraft gasifier for boiling Downdraft gasifier for tobacco Gasifier for rubber crumb
silk cocoon curing Drying

Biomass fuels for gasifiers

 Pruned lops and tops of trees, rubber wood, gliricidia, and so on

 Wood wastes from timber harvesting and saw mill operations
 Coconut shells, areca nut shells, cashewnut shells, agri stalk, lantana, and so on
 Briquettes of agricultural residue and sawdust

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Biomass gasification: Modern Energy from traditional fuel

Comparative energy cost (for 10,000 kcal/hr)

0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50

Wood (woodgas)

Wood traditonal

C harcoal

C oal

D ie se l


Ele ctricity

0 20 40 60 80 100

Salient Features of TERI’s biomass gasifier:

 Throat-less patented design

 Multi-fuel capability
 Low initial investment
 Better conversion (solid gas) efficiency (>75%)
 Production of clean gases in the exhaust
 Available in both, downdraft and updraft mode
 Can be customized for a variety of applications
o Thermal application to meet the process heat requirement
o Power application for rural electrification and captive use
o Shaft powder
 Reduced deforestation through fuel wood savings
 Substantial reduction in diesel/kerosene/furnace oil cost (since 3-4 kg of biomass can
replace 1 litre of petroleum fuel)
 Use of castable insulation material in the fire box capable of withstanding high temperatures
(upto 1860°C)
 Since biomass is a carbon neutral fuel, the net emission of CO2 would amount to zero

1. Gasifier Demonstration for thermal applications in Page 3 of 4

2. Downdraft Gasifier for Institutional cooking
Peenya, Bangalore
Biomass gasification: Modern Energy from traditional fuel

TERI Licensees
1. Harith Avani Techologies, Peenya Bangalore
2. Pheonix Products, Belgaum, Karnataka
3. Chanderpur Works, Haryana
4. 2M Industries, Mumbai, Maharashtra
5. Paramount Enviroenergies, Kerala

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