291908 Design and Optimization of a Self-Contained Portable Waste to Energy Gasification System

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Daniel Prior1, Sean Fitzgerald1, Russell P. Lachance1, John Kowal2 and David Waage2, (1)Chemistry and Life Science, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, (2)Center for Environmental Science and Technology, SUNY Cobleskill, Cobleskill, NY

Gasification is a process which converts a biomass feed stream under very high temperature in an oxygen deficient environment to useful products and heat.  This process, instead of producing a flame like normal combustion, produces a synthetic gas or syngas.  The syngas produced generally consists of combustible gases, most importantly carbon monoxide and hydrogen.  The produced syngas could be used to synthesize liquid fuels or used as a direct fuel source.  Typical designs that convert biomass to energy have issues such as high costs, large footprint, and poor power conversion.  This study explored a new design, developed at SUNY Cobleskill, that is relatively inexpensive, self contained, and creatively interfaced with a commercial diesel generator.  This novel approach will help address waste disposal issues and large energy requirements found on Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) supporting our armed forces in remote locations overseas. 

     Our project focused on optimizing this novel design which feeds the syngas directly in to a diesel generator.  The original design used water as a working fluid to quench and scrub the syngas.  However, water produces a wet gas, which is corrosive when injected into a diesel engine.  Additionally, the water becomes very acidic and is a hazardous waste.  We explored an oil-based system as an upgrade for the following reasons: the oil has a significant capacity to scrub the gas, the machinery used to process the oil is more resilient, and the waste oil can be mixed and gasified, vastly reducing our hazardous by-product waste.

     The focus of this project was on the analysis of the oil-based scrubbing system. Phase I of the analysis examined oil properties over many hours of operation.  We found that the oil was resilient but its density varied with time, and the energy content of the oil steadily decreased.  Phase II of the analysis focused on retrofitting the scrubbing system for oil, and designing, installing and testing new systems to dissipate heat.  The retrofit was successful, and included installation of additional testing and sampling ports that enabled over 20 hours of run time to be logged.

     Further exploration of a heat-removal system, testing a variety of oil types, and longitudinal studies are all required to continue optimization of the gasification system for use on Forward Operating Bases.

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