Download the Pioneer Class gasifier design article (516kb Adobe PDF)


2001 marks the 25th anniversary of our company Fluidyne becoming involved with the research and development of wood gasifiers for electrical power generation.

From a commercial perspective, gasification is still struggling to overcome the bad impressions created by prematurely implemented projects of the 70s and 80s and to a certain sector of our administrations these problems still exist into today's technology.

During the years we have all contributed to this forum I have endeavoured to assist those committed to using gasifiers within the limitations imposed by my commercial commitments and in part by paranoia of having other companies copy our designs.

On reflection for many interested in gasifiers, just having questions answered is not enough, and they have a real need to actually build a correctly designed gasifier that can run an engine without destroying it.

There is also a need by some to investigate the various changes that take place in the transition of wood to char to gas. Clearly its time to provide assistance in a more practical manner than just answering questions.

In 1989 Fluidyne was awarded a contract to supervise the gasification research team at Bremen University in the development of a simply constructed wood gasifier for developing countries.

The design was really just a larger more versatile gasifier based on Fluidyne's Pioneer Class gasifier that did not reach commercial production. Originally designed for 10kWe output consuming 14 kg of wood/hour, its an ideal little gasifier for running engines up to about 2000cc, or just flaring the gas for testing fuels etc. Construction could utilise existing scrap cylinders, and if you don't mind frequent cheap replacement parts, you can make everything out of standard steel pipe and plate. For more reliability however, using a heat resistant stainless steel, like Inconel, or Avesta 253MA for the reduction tube, grate and nozzle tips will give you years of operation (ours is about 13 years old).

This is a great little gasifier with no vices, and it tolerates beginner operators. Easily opened the fuel bed remains intact for examination layer by layer, enough data for any ardent researcher or student demonstrating renewable energy.

At the mention of students, this is not a toy or a model gasifier and all safety regulations must be applied to its use in any location.

Correctly operated, this little gasifier produces a tar free gas from a wide range of wood fuel particle sizes from chips or small blocks, so it should work on fuels available to most users. It does not however gasify sawdust, peat, MSW or other unmentionables which from years of experience we know don't work in our systems.

Gas cooling and cleaning can be complicated if built to commercial standards, so I will let you sort out the best option to suit your situation. Besides I still have to keep some secrets for myself!

The original Pioneer Class drawing is on the Fluidyne Archive with a basic description of parts. There is plenty of room for innovation, just don't change they key dimensions except in the manner prescribed.

As I am preparing for my 12th trip to Europe in as many years leaving on the 1st June, I don't have time to answer endless questions. Just build it and then in July when I'm back in New Zealand we can sort out your individual queries. With any luck several will be operational and others will be encouraged to join in the fun.

Looking forward to seeing your projects posted in July.

Doug Williams
Fluidyne Gasification.


Download the Pioneer Class gasifier design article (516kb Adobe PDF)