Gasification PowerExchange Workshop #6:
GEK Building and 10kw Genset Configuration
Gasification Lecture and Demo: Friday, October 23, 7:30-9:30PM
Building and Testing: Saturday and Sundday, October 24-25, 11am – 7pm
Location: ALL Power Labs, 1010 Murray Street. Berkeley, CA
Contact: jim ^at^ allpowerlabs.org
Cost: FREEMore Info: http://www.gekgasifier.com
ALL Power Labs is starting a quarterly series of free gasifier workshop weekends to help bring more people to successful operation of small scale gasifiers. These workshops are open to GEK user/owners, as well as anyone with any other type of gasifier- or just a budding interest in the whole thing. If you have a GEK and want personal instruction in how to run it, or you want to build a GEK with oversight from the mothership, this workshop will be a great opportunity to do either.
The workshop begins with an evening talk and discussion on the science of gasification and a survey of its design and production history. Both beginning and expert reactor assemblies will be presented, with pointers to further reading and current issues and opportunities in the field. Everyone will get a packet with lots of explanatory graphics and core data charts relating to gasification. As you know, we’ve generated a few of these . . .
The main project for our October workshop will be converting a Honda V twin 10kw genset for wood gas operation. This will be a belted unit for lower rpm running, with automated mixing and speed control. This is the genset scenario most of us have agreed on of late as the best option for small scale wood gas systems, and the one which we will soon be making available in conjunction with the basic GEK.
The genset will be somewhat on this scenario:
People can also use the weekend to colonize our shop tools and build their own GEK, or any other biomass thermal conversion device of interest. If you get a Level III GEK kit can weld it together over the weekend. You will get close to done, but not likely all the way (unless you are good). If you get a Level IV kit, you can assemble and run it on site, and learn the ropes before taking it home.
If you bring done gasifier, we can put the probes to it and learn something about what it does, or what your specific fuel produces. We’ll also be demoing the full testing rig that is producing the GEK datalogged runs. You’ll even be able to consider the meaning of the vials/viles of goo up close and personal! The picture below is from the “Multi-fuel Run Comparison” Bear recently completely, which compares run performance between walnut shells, wood chips and wood pellets. See here for the details: http://gekgasifier.pbworks.com/Multi-fuel+Run+Comparison
We have limited space for this workshop, so if you want to join us, please RSVP to jim (the at sign) allpowerlabs.org. If you want to fly in from non-local places, know that we do have flat floors and soft couches for camping on site if needed.
I hope to see many of you soon in the belly of the nanny state beast (aka: Berkeley, CA).
Hello everyone, here’s the latest news from All Power Labs on our work with gasification and biochar. We got some great news coverage, better assembly and first fire instructions, more user reports, and as always more research and testing data. It’s all part of our ongoing mission to put the information and tools in your hands, so you can make it yourself, or make it run even better.
Hope you enjoy, and as always feel free to get in touch with any questions, feedback, or user reports, and of course it’s always good to check in on what’s happening in our forums: http://gekgasifier.com/forums/
-All Power Labs.
1- Farm Show magazine reports on the GEK, calls us “a leader in turning wood and other biomass into fuel” and “a leader in putting syngas to work.”
If you’re not familiar with Farm Show magazine, you should be. A sort of how-to bible among people in the agricultural community, it’s an advertising-free monthly covering the latest inventions and innovations that are of interest to farmers, which is why hearing they wanted to write about us was so exciting.
To see a full size image of the story you can read, click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68943702@N00/3926992124/in/pool-allpowerlabs
This story, and what he wrote, was all the more important given that the writer, Jim Ruen, has been covering this issue for a long time. In fact, he wrote an article about gasification for The Farmer magazine way back in the 1980′s, so we feel pretty honored to get that kind of feedback.
Note: there was one typo in the story; it referred to a complete system as costing $5,000. The GEK Level IV is $2495, but closer to $5,000 with all the add ons like the pyrocoil heat exchanger, automated fuel auger, and Gasification Control Unit.
2: Better support: new and improved instructions:
Our Chemist In Residence, Jay Hasty, has cranked out a whole bunch of new instruction info, on how to assemble and fire up your GEK.
The Assembly Instruction are here: http://gekgasifier.pbworks.com/How-to-Build-and-Run-the-GEK-Gasifier
and the First Fire instructions are here: http://gekgasifier.pbworks.com/First-Run+Start-Up+Instructuions+for+GEK+v30
We’ve already gotten great feedback on them, like this posted on our wiki: “Great techie info with honest performance expectations., thanx and well done, Gents, Graham”
3: GEK Powered Thing Conquers The Rocky Mountains!
Frank Mannix in Colorado is at it again. This week, he sent in a photo of himself driving his GEK-powered VW Thing over the 11, 307 foot Berthoud Pass high in the Colorado Rockies!
“Please post this picture, taken this afternoon, Thursday Sept 17 after I made it to the top of
Berthoud Pass 11,307. My house is at 8665 ft, which makes the climb over 2750 feet
in approx 15 miles, average grade over 6%(it’s downhill to Fraser, then up)
The GEK performed flawlessly going up hill, but I always have trouble going downhill,
and had to boost it with gas a few times (3 or 4 ticks of the electric fuel pump)
It’s like the throttle being closed down strangles it.
But it flies uphill (steady load- wide open – 2nd or 3rd gear,
and I even get some reaction from my “carburetor”- the butterfly valve.
Usually, I am on full woodgas- I suspect I have some vacuum leaks.
4: Avalanche of hard data from the APL skunkworks continues
Bear Kaufman in our research lab continues to churn out impressive testing and analysis. His latest: a complete run down on a hopper of soft wood chips. If you’re into this sort of thing, you’re going to love it. Here’s an image from the test, link to all the hard data below.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for your interest and support.
-All Power Labs
I’m trying to figure out how to better explain the basics of gasification. This is hard, as many of you know. So I’m trying to relate it to things that are generally known about combustion, then complicating matters from there. I’m trying to figure out the layers to take the newbie through- from most simple, to, well, does it ever end . . . ?
Here’s where I’m at currently: http://www.gekgasifier.com/gasification-basics/how-it-works/
How does this work for people? Anyone have suggestions for making it better?
As most of the mysteries of the universe are somewhere contained in the wider problem/opportunity of gasification, I can’t start at its many ends. But where’s the beginning before the freefall into the bottomless rabbit hole looking glass of biomass thermal conversion?
We’re discussing this explanation of gasification over in the forum here: http://www.gekgasifier.com/forums/showthread.php?t=162 . Give us your input.
Happy partial combusting to you on this Labor Day weekend.
Bear Kaufmann finished another run on the GEK test and datalogging rig and posted the results here: http://gekgasifier.pbworks.com/Instrumented-Walnut-Shell-Run-082409. This wiki page has a large collection of graphs and other data assemblies from the run. Bear is very clever. Someday he’ll get a Phd in all this. In the interim, we get to ponder his bi-weekly posting of dissertation worthy test runs and data visualizations. Thank you Bear.
The main issue he was/is trying to resolve in this test is how to measure tar. The usual “simplified tar testing method” with the greyscale seems very open to mixing the tar and soot signal on the filter paper. both tar and soot are “black”. Filtering before the sample tends to reduce both of them indiscriminately. So we’re trying instead to take the sample without any prefiltering, and dissolve the tar out of the sample with a solvent, and then measure the color/hue/greyscale of the liquid.
Does anyone here have any experience with this type of soluble tar testing method? Or otherwise have any input on the accuracy or import of the attempted tar-soot separation method?
In the pix above, and in the more detailed report linked above, you will see that most all the the test samples are black. But when these samples are put in a solvent solution, the dissolved results are quite distinct. And those results fortunately track well with how we would expect reactor conditions to vary tar production. Remember all these tar/soot tests are being done right at the reactor, before any of the filtering train of the rest of the gasifier system. We are trying to figure out the tar conditions/variations of the gasifier, not the filter performance. Here’s the graph of how the tar samples track against top of reduction temps, with both the dissolved liquid tar and greyscale of unprocessed sample plotted.
This test is a continuing series of experiments to explore the relationships between tar production and various critical measurements in the reactor. The goal is to be able to use temp and pressure readings for gasifier diagnostics and establish a formal set of “conditions needed” for clean gas production. Our hypothesis is that we can most accurately correlate tar production with temps maintained at the reduction restriction, which approximately measures how well x temp has spread and filled the hearth area for tar cracking. The graphs at the end of the report plot tar production against this top of reduction temp, as well as other variables that might be contenders for relevant control or indicating parameters.
We’re currently debating the particulars in the GEK forum here: http://gekgasifier.com/forums/showthread.php?p=663#post663
It’s been another exciting, breakthrough week at All Power Labs and we wanted to make sure you’ve heard the latest:
1-APL unveils new, low cost “BEK” or Biochar Experimenter’s Kit” at International Biochar Conference in Boulder, CO.
Jim Mason and Jay Hasty are in Boulder, showing off the TOTTI architecture, and more importantly unveiling APL’s new, low cost design for a Biochar Experimenters Kit, aka the BEK, naturally.
The BEK is completely compatible with the standard GEK cowling. It supports multiple pyrolysis modes in direct combustion, indirectly heated retorts, and hot gas recycle through bed architectures. Temperature, residence time, pyrolysis modes are fully controllable for characterized Biochar making.
The entire unit with everything shown below will be available to ship in October for $4395. We’re now accepting orders ( several were placed at the show ), and a deposit of 50% will hold your place in the queue.
Here’s a draft image, much more soon on our site and forums. This image and all content on it protected by Creative Commons/Copy Left.
2- New video: GEK Channel episode #5: Gasification Control Unit
Chemist-in-residence Jay Hasty and computer genius Geo Hormsy show off their state of the art electronic brain for the GEK
3-User Report: Frank Mannix of Fraser, CO.
Here’s the latest from Frank’s experiments with a GEK Powered VW Thing–he went from hooking it up, to driving, in less than an hour!
“I drove about 20 miles on Sunday, down to town twice, and out some back roads, and I was red hot-it worked great. I was able to get up to 45 with pedal left, and even had idle when it was pumped up good. It is kind of like a flywheel, you get it pumped up and it will supply at low draw-idle and low speed (low vacuum) for a while. Having the electric fuel pump worked real well, allowing me to boost back to running when I needed (low gas supply etc.) I am working on a century ride
after I check plugs, etc for change.”
4- Tax Credit for GEK Purchase?
One odd note we thought is worth passing along–it seems possible that the use of a GEK on a vehicle, at least in Colorado, could be considered eligible for a 75% tax credit on the purchase price. If you’re more familiar with the incentives available for this sort of thing and want to pass them along, please do.
5- Finally, a FAQ
After spending one morning too many answering the same questions, we realized we could save everyone a lot of time by building out a Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQ, section of our website. If there’s a question you don’t see answered there, drop us an email and we’ll put it in the queue to answer just as soon as we can.
All Power Labs.
Here’s the latest news from All Power Labs and our ongoing work in gasification. We’re happy to announce the sale of our 100th unit, and even happier to unveil our latest design innovation, the “Tower Of Total Thermal Integration”, (aka: the “Hot TOTTI”) and point you in the direction of some of our testing data of late.
GEK turns 100
Actually, make that 107. We’ve just sold the 107th GEK, a pretty incredible number considering we started just over a year ago trying to help give people tools for open source power hacking. Here’s a map of the world showing they’ve ended up: http://tr.im/uwKI And for those who are curious, #100 is heading to the USDA Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plants Research Center. Very interesting folks down there, check ‘em out here: http://tr.im/uNSN
This brings to 12 the number of research facilities or universities which have ordered the GEK to pursue their research in gasification. The others include: Lamberton College (Ontario); University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Ashton University (UK), Maharashtra Institute of Technology (India); University of California, Merced; University of Minnesota, Morris; Louisiana State University; Mississippi State University; Morrissville State (New York); and the University of Rome (Italy).
We’re now working to build a platform specifically for research facilities, so results are sharable and comparable between sites, and published research is augmented through a common test bed. Best of all, we’re keeping the equipment inexpensive, so those outside the University can work on top of the same test bed. This commonality of test bed, and growing network of serious users, promises many good things to come for gasification and pyrolysis.
Our work was recently used as the basis for a project by the Denver Zoo, to power their new Asian Tropics exhibit, using elephant dung for fuel. You can see a video of that project, showing our GEK and auger, by clicking the link below:
Introducing the TOTTI: the Tower Of Total Thermal Integration
As you likely know, there are a few general pathways for solving the known problems of gasification. One school of thought focuses on filtration–add enough of it, and you’ll eventually get cleaner gas. We’re focusing on another approach– fix the problem in the reactor itself, with improved hearth configurations and thermal recycling systems, and avoid having to build a long train of compensatory vessels. Here’s our latest effort in this regard:
Larger photos here:
From Jim Mason:
“The waste heat in output syngas and IC engine exhaust has tremendous potential for augmenting the various “thermally challenged” processes in a gasifier. By well recycling and reusing these “waste heats”, we can remove the majority, if not the totality, of all the “thermal drags” on the combustion zone in the gasifier. The result is higher combustion and cracking temperatures for improved tar conversion, increased tolerance for high moisture fuels, and increased total gasifier efficiency.
The GEK Tower of Total Thermal Integration (TOTTI) demonstrates a powerful new method to achieve this full thermal integration of waste heats in a gasifier and IC engine system, and do so in a compact and easy-to-build form factor. Full thermal integrations are common on large-scale gasification equipment What is new here is a method and apparatus to achieve the same at the small and mid scale. The usual attempt at this solution is to throw the entire kitchen sink at the problem– building a long train of filters, exchangers and cooler components, all tied together with a mess of plumbing and condensate management. And the result is always a complex and expensive system only a government bureaucrat could love (or afford).
ALL Power Labs now demonstrates the same can be achieved through an economical combination of counter-flow vessels, directly mounted to each other, without a large elaboration of redistribution plumbing or auxillary vessels. All waste heat is reused and returned to appropriate temp processes. Cool things are made hot and hot things are made cool, in sync and in order– thus there is no need for the usual radiator/cooler/condenser at the end to hide your “thermal sins”.
The GEK Tower of Total Thermal Integration is the culmination of all our air pre-heating, heated auger and PyroCoil work of late. It is our best solution, and likely final answer, for establishing the correct total system thermal relationships, while also attending to the rest of the 3-D thermal-chemical-mechanical-gravimetric puzzle that is gasifier design.”
More design data and images available here:
In Lab Testing Results:
Our own Bear Kaufman and chemist-in-residence Jay Hasty have been doing some very impressive testing on GEKs using various fuels. Here’s an image from one just this week, you really should stop by here and check them all out. Their goal: figure out what fuel runs best at what configuration, then share that with everyone else. Details here: http://gekgasifier.pbworks.com/Walnut-Shell-Run-072709
We also wanted to let you know about a new video series we’re starting, called Channel GEK. Basically it will be short You Tube videos exploring how the GEK works, various gasifier designs and applications, how to assemble and run a GEK, common problems, that sort of thing. If you have something you’d like to see us cover, please do write email@example.com The purpose of these videos is to explore, critique, debunk, and demystify the biomass thermal conversion arts, so do let us know what you’re interested in learning about, and we’ll do our best to get it online.
That’s it for this week, thanks for your continued interest and support.
-All Power Labs