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The Downdraft Gasifier Stove

Internal Combustion Engine Hookup
Attaching a Generator
Cleaning the Gasifier
Further Reading on the Gasifier
Other videos by this Author
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The FEMA Downdraft Stratified Gasifier Stove

A group of Sustain Jefferson members recently formed a Community Supported Energy group and recently built a FEMA downdraft stratified gasifier. The gasifier stove creates hydrogen and carbon monoxide, both combustible gases, out of bio-mass. The gasifier stove has a number of positive features that are outlined below.  To see the stove in operation, click on the videos below.

 

Running an Internal Combustion Engine with the Gasifier

After the Gasifier has successfully produced hydrogen, the time comes to put that energy to good use. In the video below, you'll see how Greg David and his crew connected an interrnal combustion engine up to the gasifier, and actually got it to work after ironing out a few kinks.


 

Attaching an Electrical Inverter and Generator to the Gasifier

Once the internal combustion mechanism is up and running, the next logical progression is to convert that raw rotating power to electrical energy. In the video below, you'll see how this process was undertaken, and witness electricity being created from wood pellet exhaust.

 

 

Cleaning and Maintaining the Gasifier

The video below demonstrates some of the challenges in keeping the gasifier up and running, which include the occasional disassembly of the gasifier for cleaning, and the means by which tar and other residual materials are removed from the gasifier.

 

 

Further Gasifier Reading

Bio-mass Gasification
Small-scale, distributed, biomass-gasification, co-gen energy systems could be an agriculturally restorative and profitable enterprise, if done in a holistic, local and ethical manner. Heat, electricity, carbon dioxide and bio-char (charcoal) can be produced in this system from a perennial woody or cellulosic rich, feedstock crop for local direct consumption, providing most of the farmstead energy needs. Much of the carbon (over 50 %) from the feedstock flowing into the gasification stove remains sequestered in the form of charcoal (agri-char) that can be returned to the soil, thereby enabling a carbon-negative energy system.

Bio-mass Gasification and the Environment

Woody and cellulosic plants capture solar energy and store it in a form that is readily utilized in gasifier stoves. The crop, if a perennial and diverse plant community, will grow and add organic matter and carbon to the soil in the form of yearly leaf drop and sympathetic life processes. The bio-mass, when harvested, causes some root die-back adding more organic matter to the soil. Other ecological services; such as pollination, niche building, soil friability, fertility, bio-diversity, also occur in the diverse crop planting, adding an important economic and ecological contribution to our social condition. And finally, the bio-char by-product of this energy system can be returned to the soil adding still more carbon that acts as an ecological catalyst, contributing significantly to the ecological services of the land. This represents a truly restorative kind of agriculture that can be a small local part of the solution to our energy crisis.

Local Scale System
These bio-mass stove/energy systems can be built at nearly any scale from backyard/household, to farmstead, to neighborhood, to community scale. We believe the community scale is as large as practical, if the system is going to be sustainable in the long term, because of the external costs of shipping and transport support of bio-mass to the gasification site. Small, local, distributed, gasification energy systems are more aligned with sustainable ideals and ethical values than large central energy systems.

Bio-mass Gasification and the Economy
These gasification energy systems can function within current economic conditions and thrive because they are built on an agricultural methodology that is restorative and ethical, yet complementary to Classical Capitalism. Feeding electricity back into the grid may be an option for the producer in some communities. District heat is an option in others. Even power can be utilized in some instances. The localness of the system increases economic multiplier effect and builds social and economic capital in the community. These systems work to internalize the cost of production and restore and build social and ecological capital in the community.

Permanent plantings can reduce erosion and actually create soil, creating the ecological capital for agricultural to flourish. Permanent plantings require greatly reduced input; no fertilizer (except Bio-char and site-produced organic matter), no pesticides (unless you want to), and long cycle harvest methods. Most of the costs of industrial agriculture (many of them externalized) can be eliminated. Bio-mass gasification, co-gen systems that are local in nature are not subject energy price fluctuations and availability, or to take over by corporate interests.

In short, Bio-mass Gasification, if done in a holistic, ethical manner, can create social and ecological capital and foster a restorative permacultural energy system. It can provide profitable jobs for farmers and entrepreneurs, especially as Peak Oil and other fossil fuels come mainstream. And it can add to the energy security of the farm, the farmer and the community.

Other videos by the Author

Greg David has a wealth of video material relating to various aspects of sustainability
and Jefferson County on YouTube and Vimeo - Check them all out!

Want to learn more?

We suggest you visit the Jefferson County Community Supported Energy discussion group, hosted on Google. This group is an outgrowth of this gasification project and is one of many activities Sustain Jefferson actively supports. Membership in this group can be requested online at the group.

You can also click here to download an article on Biomass Gasification by SJ's own Robert Frost.

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