Gasification – the good and the bad

Let me start by saying that I like gasification.  I really do and it does work.  I think it is our best bet for renewable farming in the post Peak Oil era.  I even sell gasifiers, but are they perfect….heck NO!  I see a lot of people trying to sell gasification as the perfect cure for all that ails you.  It’s not.  Compared to gasoline or Diesel it’s darn inconvenient regardless of which manufacturer’s machine you buy.  There is a reason Europe went back to gasoline for vehicles after WW2.  Here is what I see as the pros and cons of gasification:

Pros:

  1. The fuel grows on trees and is therefore renewable.
  2. The fuel is greenhouse gasses that were scrubbed from the atmosphere using solar power.
  3. It is FAR safer than steam power systems.  I know.  I have had both.

Cons:

  1. It’s toxic and explosive.
  2. It’s bulky.
  3. Processing equipment is not readily available for chunks.  PTO chippers for chips systems are available but aren’t cheap at about $3000 for a new good name brand unit.
  4. System performances can be extremely variable.  Fuel size, shape, moisture, and density have large impacts on performance.
  5. A gasifier system that is run poorly can destroy the equipment that is attached to it.  A gasifier that is making tar and feeding an engine can seize an intake valve and crash the valve into a piston.
  6. Systems without automated fuel-air mixture control have to be constantly adjusted.
  7. The condensate from gasifier systems is toxic and carcinogenic.  I get rid of mine by dumping it on my outdoor fuel pile and reburning it.
  8. You can not just grab a live tree limb in a disaster and throw it in a gasifier.  You have to chip the branch and dry it.  This one irks me because SO many manufacturers sell gasifiers as disaster aid devices.
  9. Gasified engines only put out 50%-60% of their rated gasoline output.

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