Gasification Comes to Chile.

When enquiries are received At Fluidyne for Gasification Technology, generally it is a half hearted enquiry, with expectations of a wonder machine to convert any combustible material into a high quality fuel gas. Unfortunately the literature can create this impression, as many researchers report on gasifying strange fuels, but do not qualify this by saying, that it is not possible from a commercial perspective. Usually after a few letters are exchanged, the interest fades away, when the recipients realize that they are required to make it happen, if at all, for their situation, in that country.

Each country is surprisingly different in it's expectations of how gasifiers might fit into their energy equations, and then there is a very differing situation on the level of technical support for a gasifier that might require sophisticated servicing requirements. With this in mind, I am pleased to report on how an individual in Chile, handled my decline to supply ready made gasifiers for his perceived need in Chile.

After we exchanged a few letters with Douglas Diaz in Santiago, it was agreed that while a need existed, it was too early to try and enter the market with big gasifiers, due to the shortage of skilled staff to accomplish the technical transfer training. This detail alone should be noted as the greatest problem facing gasifier manufacturers, because they are usually made up of a small number of dedicated individuals,and do not have large industrial empires driving their development programmes. Supplying gasifiers across the World might be the dream, but the reality is that in ignorance, they step into a trap of their technology failing to work, outside the country of development, due to operational difficulties that exist within the local market.

As these realities can be very disappointing, I suggested that Douglas Diaz build a small gasifier to gain some experience of how they work, and to sample producer gas in a way that could be tested in ways appropriate for his needs. Using the simple plans provided from this Fluidyne Archive without deviating from the critical parameters, he was able to make gas on his first firing, (much to his surprise). Some local improvisation was included, which later resulted in very easy adjustment to key features.

To have a working gasifier built to a standard specification, is the first critical step to implementing any discussions of gasification with a prospective new Licensee, and when invited by Douglas Diaz to visit Chile to discuss this possibility, I accepted without reservation, because an ability existed to demonstrate, not talk about the demands of the technology, and he had demonstrated his own commitment to dealing with all the unknowns, for his situation.

After the first demonstration to me, we opened the gasifier and reset the internal parameters of the gas making process, and this was done after inspecting and analysing the behaviour of the charcoal produced from an unspecified source of waste timber. This took about 15 minutes, and it was then possible to provide instruction to restack the char bed in a size range, consistent with the natural evolution of the char in a working gas making process. Incorrect char size in the wrong place, can create problems which can be difficult to resolve, quite often leading to unnecessary modifications.

The much greater gas production was very noticeable, with the lesser pressure drops stabilizing quickly. Once these adjustments were made, the gasifier was displayed and demonstrated at a Conference convened by Douglas Diaz, with invited guests from Government Forestry, Industry, and Academic interests.

My Power Point presentation emphasised the need to prepare for change in the way energy was used, and to consider restructuring processes into smaller increments, so that gasification could full fill a role to supply that energy need. The need to establish the fuel supply infrastructure to supply gasifier users, had a positive slant, as it would be creating rural employment in economically deprived areas, and it appears that wood fuel could be supplied for less cost than natural gas, or LPG.

As the current situation in Chile sees supplies of natural gas cut off, and the threat to LPG supply as well, gasification does offer a sustainable energy future, but there must be change first. This led me to the key point for successful implementation of gasification programmes.

Change Begins with Attitude

Unfortunately, I lost some photographs for reasons only the digital cameras can answer for, so please accept not all the activity can be shown.

Doug Williams.


May, 2007






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002 First sight of gasifier made from recycled LPG cylinders.
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2280 Preparing for the first demonstration to me of the “Chilean Experience”.
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2282 Blue smoke indicates that fuel is not in the correct order in the gas making process.
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008 Gas burning inside the ceramic lined burner nozzle.
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2287 Another view of the nozzle combustion, noting the compressed air supply for the combustion.

All the gas combusted within the nozzle barrel.

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2291 After resetting the gas making parameters, the increase in gas volume outstripped the combustion air supply, so burnt outside the nozzle.
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2283 The pressure drop stabilized at just under 2” Water Gauge for the higher gas output.
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2298. Douglas Diaz and son Martin, sorting out the demonstration site, which included solar hot water panels, pellet burners, domestic hot water heating boilers, and the gasifier, all marketed by Douglas Diaz company.
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025 Martin Diaz deserves special mention for his effort to prepare a Power Point presentation for me in English, in the early hours of the Conference morning.
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2303 Douglas Diaz, and myself on completion of a very enjoyable and successful day of exposing invited guests to experience gasification from a commercial perspective.