FAQ: Gasification

WHY GASIFICATION?

Gasification is a much cleaner process than combustion (incineration) for converting carbonaceous materials to energy. In gasification, the fuel is first converted to a clean-burning gas (syngas) at high temperatures in a low oxygen atmosphere. This syngas can be used as a clean fuel or converted to chemicals such as ammonia for industrial or agricultural use.The differences between gasification and combustion are best understood by comparing the chemical reactions involved in each process.

DO GASIFICATION SYSTEMS BURN SOLID FUEL TO CREATE ENERGY?

Absolutely not.  The gasification process is different than "burning". Burning (or combustion) represents the complete conversion of carbonaceous materials to carbon dioxide and water. ITI gasification processes convert solid state carbon and water to a energy rich gaseous fuel. Gasification actually separates or elutes combustible gas from a solid in a controlled temperature, oxygen starved chamber. This synthetic gas is then mixed with air and combusted, producing heat or steam. It is a subtle but critical difference.

IS GASIFICATION A NEW TECHNOLOGY?

No, it is not. Gasification has been used for converting carbonaceous materials such as coal to a gaseous fuel since the early 1800's. European countries who have been dealing with high costs and limited supply of fossil fuel have been converting biomass and municipal solid waste to energy for decades. As a practical example of biomass energy, Sweden currently converts 3.1 million tons of waste to generate 9 billion kilowatt hours of energy.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN PYROLYSIS, GASIFICATION AND COMBUSTION?

Pyrolysis, gasification and combustion are distinguhised from one another mainly by the temperatures achieved during each process and by the amount of oxygen avalable relative to that required for full oxidation of the carbonaceuos fuel. Click here for an illustration of the differences between these three processes. 

WHAT KIND OF PRIMARY AND ANCILLARY FUELS CAN BE USED IN GASIFICATION?

Our gasification systems are extremely flexible in terms of the fuels that can be used. When running in "normal" mode the gasifier can operate on pretty much any mixture of carbonacious feed materials including municipal solid waste, used tires, wood and brush scrap, waste oil, landfill gas, shale gas, used carpet and the like. The only requirement is that these materials as a mixture have n average calorific value above approximately 6,000 BTU/lb.

HOW DOES EPR WORK WITH CLIENTS TO DESIGN BUILD AND OPERATE SOLID WASTE TO ENERGY SYSTEM? 

In designing and building a waste to energy facility we first work with the client to determine if the available feed stocks are of sufficient quantity and calorific value. Then local market conditions in terms of the price of electrical power, tipping fees, and other requirements such as local zoning and permitting issues, are assessed. If this initial analysis indicates that an economically viable project could be developed, CEP will work with the waste generators, local governments, and other potential stakeholders to design, finance, build, and operate the facility. Cadence EnviroPower partners with investors and other participants in these projects while  maintainingcontrol of the facility and its technology.

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF AN ATEC FACILITY?

Like any electrical generating plant that uses fossil fuel or biomass, the gasification process releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, compared to combustion or incineration, or even landfills alone, ITI gasification releases lower amounts of greenhouse gas per watt electricity generated. And when it comes to atmospheric pollutants such as SOx, NOx releases from gasification are substantially lower than from incineration facilities.