Wood Gas or Biogas experiment

First test about making home-made gas from wood or biomass. A process called "Wood gasification" or "Biomass gasification". (11/03/2008)


I was looking for a way to get a clean fire for home applications. As the oil price rises and energy gets expensier, I thought I can use wood to provide the energy needed for cooking, heating and generating electricity. So, I starting with baby-steps.


I found a lot of information over the internet, including 'woodburning stoves' but appears to be only a solution for heating and cooking. Finally, I found something interesting. It is called: "Wood gasification process".


Basically, the process of "gasification" is to heat some biomass (or wood) and get gas that can be used as fuel. Here is a good video showing a simple wood gasifier:



So, if you put biomass (wood) in a container and heat it, gases are released, including Hydrogen. Let's see what kind of gas we get.


First, the biomass released from the wood is mostly water vapor. Next carbon monoxide (CO), molecular hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Then, the biomass starts releasing methane (CH4) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAH).1


In plain English: First, non-combustible gas is released and a few minutes later (when biomass temperature is above 600 oC or 1,200 oF) combustible gas is released. When there is no more gases, all it lefts is charcoal.


Testing Wood gasification. I did my first experiment; I got a soda can, two candles and some wood sticks. I did put some wood inside the aluminium can and heated for a while.


The result?


Not too much. After 25 minutes the candles were almost gone and little smoke coming from inside the aluminium can. It was not flammable at all.


After doing some research, I found the heat was not good enough. Two candles can't provide the heat enough to get more than 1,200 oF. Also, supposedly corn provides more energy than regular wood.


I got some corn I got some corn and tried again. Another two candles, 25 minutes, corn inside the aluminium can... and I got nothing, well... almost nothing. Just the smell of burned corn.


Definitely I can't get any gas from the heat from two candles. I had to try something else.


Using about 7 ounces of wood (200 grams), I made a small fire. I put the soda can with the corn on it and waited.


About 7 minutes later, smoke were coming from the can, also a strong smell of burned corn. 4 minutes later, the gas coming out of the can was flammable but didn't hold the fire. 3 minutes later, the gasses from the can was able to hold the fire for a while.


Flammable corn gas or biogass Using about 3 ounces of corn, the fire from the can last about 5 minutes. The smell of burned corn last about two days.


Using 3 ounces of wood, I got about three minutes of fire and it was little hard to keep the flame.


So, here are some of facts that I got from my first experiment about wood or biomass gasification:


1. I had to use 7 ounces of wood to get gas from 3 ounces of wood.
2. Wood needs to burn for 20 minutes to get a 5-minutes flame of wood gas.
3. The smell of biomass gas is strong and unnaceptable for cooking.
4. The first gas obtained from the biomass is not good for the health.


I'm not really happy with these results. I believe I'm using more energy than the energy that I get with wood gas. It may be more energy-efficient in a large scale. As I want to use little energy, I need to look for another approach.


1 Source: Wikipedia.


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