Project: Gasifier for Access to Energy in Emerging and Developing Countries

The present project is based on several observations :_x000D_- The first one is that access to electricity is essential to development, but only a part of the world has access to it. More than 2 billions people live without electricity, COly in developing and emerging countries (also called “Southern countries”)_x000D_- Since about 10 years, Nothern countries have developed politics and incentives to increase part of renewable energies and reduce our impact on climate change_x000D_- Biomass is a renewable energy widely spread around the world which presents a huge energy potential _x000D__x000D_Gasification is a very efficient way to convert biomass into electricity; Since 30 years a lot of research centers and companies developed application based on gasification but each of them were confronted with the big problem of tars which hinders the development of the technology. Indeed, tars are responsible for heavy COtenance of the gasifier and gas cleaning unit, low reliability, low lifetime of engines, impact on health of operators, environnemental pollution, .... For some years some European companies had developed multistage technologies (DTU-Weiss, Choren, TK Energy, Xylowatt) that allow to solve the problem of tars. Gasification is lead in 3 separated phases: pyrolysis, combustion, reduction. Each company developed its own technical solution, but they all require high levels of technology, high investments and skilled people to operate them. These gasifiers are dedicated to power ranges from 300kWe to several MWe. Repotec developed an interesting technology involving two fluidized beds, but dedicated to power above 2 MWe. No commercial solution is currently available for power ranges below 50 kWe although micro-cogeneration represents an important potential. _x000D__x000D_In the South, India has known an important gasification program. Two CO technologies were developed and commercialized : IIsc Bengalore and Angkur technology. An important number of gasifier power plants were built in the range 5 to 200 kWe but these one stage gasifiers produce a lot of tars leading to heavy COtenance, large amount of waste water and the need of well calibrated wood, …_x000D__x000D_XYLOWATT has developed and introduced the NOTAR® process onto the market which enables a tar level in raw gas of less than 50mg/m³N and has now proved itself over more than 5,000 operating hours. However, the 300 kWe plants developed by XYLOWATT for industrialised countries are a concentration of technology leading to a sophisticated product, unsuitable for the markets targeted by this project._x000D_On basis of its NOTAR(r) experience, XYLOWATT aims to develop the GFE concept (Gasifier for Access to Energy in Emerging and Developing Countries), which should comply with the requirements of the targeted markets: cost reduction, simplicity of operation, easy COtenance, reduced environmental impact, suitable automation (from manual for some applications in Southern Countries to fully automatic for micro-cogeneration applications in our regions). Moreover, the reactor will be tested and adapted to run efficiently on a wide range of biomass available locally in Southern Regions such as the shells and stones from different fruits, Savannah grass (andropogon, etc.) cotton stalks, etc. _x000D__x000D_The CO developments of the GFE concept will be related to the gasifier, gas cleaning unit and engine. To guarantee the success of the GFE concept, the project will gather skills in these different matters. The project includes two scientific Ps, UCL and CIRAD, and two industrial Ps, XYLOWATT and Heinzmann. CIRAD and UCL have a long experience and knowledge on biomass gasification both in theoretical and experimental points of view in laboratories as well as on site, XYLOWATT brings its long experience in gasification plant development, building and operation and will coordinate the project. Heinzmann, specialized in engine management, will bring its know-how for syngas management in engines._x000D_

Acronym GFE (Reference Number: 5738)
Duration 01/12/2010 - 30/09/2013
Project Topic The present project aims at developing a low-cost, virtually tar-free small-scale ligno-cellulosic biomass gasifier and CHP plant adapted to the needs rural electrification in emerging and developing countries and of micro-CHP in Europe.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The CO objectives of the project were:_x000D_- Validation of the GFE gasifier design, fulfilling the specifications as defined in the Application form (low investment costs, fuel flexibility, clean gas, 80% of the components sourced locally,…);_x000D_- Development of an adapted, low cost gas conditioning unit;_x000D_- Development of an engine management module adapted to syngas;_x000D_- Integration of the above modules and long duration validation._x000D__x000D_The corresponding results are as follows:_x000D_- A simplified NOTAR® gasifier has been designed. A prototype has been built and initial validation tests have demonstrated the interest of the chosen technological solutions. Some relatively minor modifications will be needed to improve process control, followed by long duration tests to fully validate the solution;_x000D_- The low cost gas conditioning unit has been designed and manufactured. It has been tested and validated in "wet" mode (initial validation during project implementation, full validation done by Xylowatt and UCL after project completion) and is now used as standard conditioning unit on UCL's semi-industrial pilot plant. The "dry" operation mode will be tested at a later stage (further simplification, even better adapted to the situation in emerging and developing countries)._x000D_- Engine was sourced from India, adapted with management module and tested with natural gas by Heinzmann. The syngas management module was not delivered by Heinzmann. A new management system was developed and implemented by UCL, in the framework of a master thesis after project completion. The engine is now fully operational with syngas and is the reference engine for our experimental setup._x000D_- Integration of the three modules will not be carried out because the transfer of the gasifier from Xylowatt to UCL laboratory is not planned for the moment.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 4

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 Université catholique de Louvain Partner Belgium
4 XYLOWATT s.a. Coordinator Belgium
4 Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement Partner France
4 Heinzmann GmbH & Co. KG Partner Germany