Gasification refers to a thermo-chemical process that involves the conversion of carbonaceous feedstocks such as coal, petro-coke and biomass into gas. Gasification is the energy extraction process that has been in existence since the World War II. However, the technology was embraced recently after the realization that it had more advantages in comparison to combustion (Worrell & Vesilind, 2012). During the process of combustion, there is the resulting gaseous substance known as syngas that help in heat production. The main advantages of gasification include energy security, near zero emissions and product flexibility. However, the process has disadvantages too that include expensive set up and complex multi-stage processes (Worrell & Vesilind, 2012). This paper analyses the working of the gasification technology and highlights the advantages as well as disadvantages of gasification.
Working of the Gasification Technology
The production of generator gas (producer gas) called gasification entails the incomplete burning of solid fuel (biomass) and takes place at temperatures of almost 1000 °C. The gasifier, in this case, is the reactor. Basu (2010) asserts that the burning products from complete burning of biomass normally include nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and surplus of oxygen. However, in gasification, typified by incomplete burning of biomass, flammable gases such as Hydrogen, Carbon monoxide and traces of Methane, and non-useful products such as dust and tar are produced. Moreover, the production of these gases occurs by reaction of carbon dioxide and water vapor through a shining layer of charcoal (Worrell & Vesilind, 2012). Thus, the key to gasifier design is to create conditions such that there is reduction of a biomass to charcoal and conversion of charcoal at appropriate temperature to make carbon dioxide and water (Basu, 2010).
Advantages of Gasification Technology
- First, gasification technology has near zero emissions. This implies that during the gasification process, there is either little or no production of harmful elements. This is in comparison to other energy production processes like combustion that pollute the environment. According to Bell (2010), gasification is environmental friendly since there is no pollution involved. Regarding that, Bell (2010) considers gasification technology as the most favorable source of energy that people should use to save the environment and impose minimal health risks.
- Second, gasification has high efficiency and availability. This refers to the availability of the gasification source of energy at any time it is needed. Gasification energy is readily available as long as there are animals releasing wastes in the farms. These are the main components used to make the gas extracted from the gasification process.
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Disadvantages of Gasification Technology
- First, gasification process initial set up is expensive. This implies to the costs incurred in coming up with the set up for gasification process. The set up requires several equipments and they are expensive to acquire. Rezaiyan (2006) points out that the set up of the process is expensive despite the abundant availability of biomass.
- Second, gasification has complex multi-stage process. This refers to the set up process of gasification. For gasification to effectively produce optimum energy, the set up should be precise and accurate, with all the stages set up as required. Lack of following this stage would affect the production of energy. As a result, there must be experts who ensure the set up is well done.
In conclusion, gasification involves a thermo-chemical process whereby there is conversion of carbonaceous feedstock’s like coal, petro-coke and biomass into gas. Farmers started this method of energy production during the World War II. The process has both advantages and disadvantages. First, the main advantage of gasification is that it is environmental friendly. This implies that during the gasification process, there is either little or no production of harmful elements. However, gasification initial set up is expensive. This is evident from the cost of the set up equipments that are expensive.