Gasification of biomass in a downdraft reactor

  • David M. Earp

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The objective of this study was to design, construct, commission and operate a laboratory scale gasifier system that could be used to investigate the parameters that influence the gasification process. The gasifier is of the open-core variety and is fabricated from 7.5 cm bore quartz glass tubing. Gas cleaning is by a centrifugal contacting scrubber, with the product gas being flared. The system employs an on-line dedicated gas analysis system, monitoring the levels of H2, CO, CO2 and CH4 in the product gas. The gas composition data, as well as the gas flowrate, temperatures throughout the system and pressure data is recorded using a BBC microcomputer based data-logging system. Ten runs have been performed using the system of which six were predominantly commissioning runs. The main emphasis in the commissioning runs was placed on the gas clean-up, the product gas cleaning and the reactor bed temperature measurement. The reaction was observed to occur in a narrow band, of about 3 to 5 particle diameters thick. Initially the fuel was pyrolysed, with the volatiles produced being combusted and providing the energy to drive the process, and then the char product was gasified by reaction with the pyrolysis gases. Normally, the gasifier is operated with reaction zone supported on a bed of char, although it has been operated for short periods without a char bed. At steady state the depth of char remains constant, but by adjusting the air inlet rate it has been shown that the depth of char can be increased or decreased. It has been shown that increasing the depth of the char bed effects some improvement in the product gas quality.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish


  • gasification of biomass
  • downdraft reactor

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