Renewable Energy

Can you make your own energy with gasification?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. With all of the focus on alternative energy and your own budget's focus on soaring energy costs, why not take matters into your own hands and make energy at home, while eliminating carbon-based wastes at the same time? Gasification is a technology that converts materials containing carbon -- the element largely responsible for greenhouse gases -- to usable products. It's received the most attention as an energy alternative. The best part of gasification is that it works using intense pressure but no burning [source:  Gasification Technologies Council].

    According to the Gasification Technologies Council, there are about 392 operational gasifiers around the world and some large-scale plants in the United States. A gasification power plant relies on the gasifier, or large pressure vessel, to start the chemical process that ultimately creates syngas, a carbon monoxide/hydrogen gas mixture. The base material, coal or biomass, is fed into the gasifier. The temperature within the gasifier is 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,427 degrees Celsius) and there's intense pressure (1,000 pounds per square inch or 6,895 kilopascals). This combination kicks off a chemical reaction in the coal. Partial oxidation of the coal releases heat as it starts to break down into different gases. Eventually, reduction reactions transform the carbon into syngas. The syngas goes through a cleaning process, and the resulting clean syngas can be transformed in multiple ways to produce fuels.

    Gasification has been used on a commercial scale for about 50 years. You can create do-it-yourself biomass gasification and use materials you produce in your home. Face it -- you generate plenty of biomass (your garbage, table scraps, lawn cuttings, etc.) to feed into a gasifier. Build your own gasifier or buy one. A gasifier can be as small as the pressurized paint can that's used as the main pressure component. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed plans showing how to build small-scale gasifiers from easily available materials and some manufacturers sell home-sized gasifiers.

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