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Published on March 26th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Low Tech, DIY Plasma Gasifier Makes Fuel From Waste

Some interesting tidbits are coming out of the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco this week. First we heard about a product made from renewable materials that could substitute a large portion of the crude oil currently used to make tires.

And now comes word from a scientist at the University of Orleans in France that he has constructed a compact, relatively inexpensive, low tech plasma gasifier that can take all sorts of waste materials and turn them into a variety of different drop-in fuels, including diesel, gasoline and kerosene.

The plasma gasifier is based on what is known as “gliding arc” technology. During the process, a gliding arc of electricity creates a plasma inside the reactor. The plasma then creates a cauldron where low temperature chemical reactions can occur that change waste materials such as used cooking oil or agricultural biomass into clean fuels.

Albin Czernichowski, who named his DIY contraption the “GlidArc Reactor,” said in statement, “Low-tech and low cost are the guiding principles behind the [reactor]. Almost all the parts could be bought at your local hardware or home supply store. We use common ‘plumber’ piping and connections, for instance, and ordinary home insulation. Instead of sophisticated ceramics, we use the kind of heat-resistant concrete that might go into a home fireplace. You could build one in a few days for about $10,000.”

As the news release points out, the GlidArc Reactor is flexible enough that it could be tailored to meet the needs of various regions. In a corn farming region it could use waste corn stover; in urban areas, used cooking oil; and, in biodiesel producing regions it could use gycerol. For every 2000 pounds of biodiesel made, almost 200 pounds of glycerol come out as a byproduct. The idea of using a biodiesel byproduct to make diesel is particularly intriguing, as, currently, it is quite expensive to refine glycerol into a commercial-grade high purity glycerine.

According to Czernichowski, diesel fuel made with the GlidArc Reactor releases 10 times less air pollution than its conventional counterpart. “The main advantage of such biobased fuels that the GlidArc Technology can create is that they constitute ‘drop-in replacements’ for [crude-oil based] diesel, gasoline or kerosene, and no modifications are needed in engines, vehicles and distribution systems,” Czernichowski said in a statement. “The biofuels can also be used as additives to various types of engine fuels to improve certain fuel properties. Another important advantage, of course, is their much lower toxicity for mankind and the environment compared to conventional fuels.”

Although Mr. Czernichowski claims it is a DIY contraption, there is no immediate word on any plans or even a scientific paper that would help in figuring out how to build this thing. We’ll keep you updated.

Source: EurekAlert!



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  • http://biomassenergyjournal.com Ben Peterson

    I have met the company in Florida, Florida Syngas, that is working with Dr. Czernichowski. As I understand it, the feedstock is first gasified to lower grade syngas and then the gliding arc plasma is used to reform the gas stream into clean syngas for FT conversion.

    It’s a really cool technology that has been applied in different ways to onboard fuel reforming by MIT and a company called Magnegas uses the plasma to get rid of liquid waste streams. Sort of a blend of electrolysis and plasma gasification.

    • http://www.originoil.com Jay Dubinsky

      Ben,
      Where did you see the technology? I would like to see it working? Was it a demo, or working plant (24/7)?
      Did it have a high value syngas over normal systems?

      They are claiming 1 kWh with each 1.4 kg of biomass material gasified. I like the sound of the hybrid approach. I am just wondering if all the bugs are worked out. And how much energy goes in vs. goes out?

      Jay

  • http://biomassenergyjournal.com Ben Peterson

    I have met the company in Florida, Florida Syngas, that is working with Dr. Czernichowski. As I understand it, the feedstock is first gasified to lower grade syngas and then the gliding arc plasma is used to reform the gas stream into clean syngas for FT conversion.

    It’s a really cool technology that has been applied in different ways to onboard fuel reforming by MIT and a company called Magnegas uses the plasma to get rid of liquid waste streams. Sort of a blend of electrolysis and plasma gasification.

  • Tim Cleland

    I sure hope this can make it off the ground and become a common household item.

  • Tim Cleland

    I sure hope this can make it off the ground and become a common household item.

  • http://www.vortexcw.nl Conrad Winkelman

    If Florida Syngas can offer commercially economic systems using GlidArc or not remains to be seen. They appear to be at a similar stage as Synergy Technologies Corp. of Conroe Texas was in the year 2000. In 2003 Synergy Tech. went bankrupt. As for the claim that clean syngas can be produced from any waste directly and easily this is not the case. If dirty wastes are gasified it produces also dirty syngas and cleaning is required en intermediate processing is required to make synthetic diesel or gasoline. For waste gasses from biomass gasification that contains heavy tars it is difficult to convert the tars with GlidArc unless one uses very high temperature or uses many GlidArc process in series, with a resulting high electric energy requirement.

    GlidArc Test in the Netherlands carried out by Vortex Engineering and the Dutch Energy Research Center ECN in 1998 and 2000 have demonstrated that for tar removal in one pass at low temperature of 300-800 C at most 40% of the light tars are converted and that instead more heavy tars are produced. The higher the temperature above 800C the better the conversion but building reactors for 1000C and higher becomes technically difficult and certainly does not fall under the “low tech” technology that Florida Syngas claims it uses. For manufacturing fuel gas for gas motors the GlidArc tar removal method is not viable. In case one means to produce syngas then many series GlidArc steps are required to convert the raw gas, and for complex waste gas serious gas cleaning remains necessary.

    It remains to be seen if Florida Syngas can deliver some of its promises. Be aware of grossly overstated claims, before investing any money in that technology.

    The MIT Plasma technology and the Magnegas technology are competing plasma processes. For one Magnegas is an arc process that occurs submerged in liquid waste.

  • http://www.vortexcw.nl Conrad Winkelman

    If Florida Syngas can offer commercially economic systems using GlidArc or not remains to be seen. They appear to be at a similar stage as Synergy Technologies Corp. of Conroe Texas was in the year 2000. In 2003 Synergy Tech. went bankrupt. As for the claim that clean syngas can be produced from any waste directly and easily this is not the case. If dirty wastes are gasified it produces also dirty syngas and cleaning is required en intermediate processing is required to make synthetic diesel or gasoline. For waste gasses from biomass gasification that contains heavy tars it is difficult to convert the tars with GlidArc unless one uses very high temperature or uses many GlidArc process in series, with a resulting high electric energy requirement.

    GlidArc Test in the Netherlands carried out by Vortex Engineering and the Dutch Energy Research Center ECN in 1998 and 2000 have demonstrated that for tar removal in one pass at low temperature of 300-800 C at most 40% of the light tars are converted and that instead more heavy tars are produced. The higher the temperature above 800C the better the conversion but building reactors for 1000C and higher becomes technically difficult and certainly does not fall under the “low tech” technology that Florida Syngas claims it uses. For manufacturing fuel gas for gas motors the GlidArc tar removal method is not viable. In case one means to produce syngas then many series GlidArc steps are required to convert the raw gas, and for complex waste gas serious gas cleaning remains necessary.

    It remains to be seen if Florida Syngas can deliver some of its promises. Be aware of grossly overstated claims, before investing any money in that technology.

    The MIT Plasma technology and the Magnegas technology are competing plasma processes. For one Magnegas is an arc process that occurs submerged in liquid waste.

  • http://www.vortexcw.nl Conrad Winkelman

    If Florida Syngas can offer commercially economic systems using GlidArc or not remains to be seen. They appear to be at a similar stage as Synergy Technologies Corp. of Conroe Texas was in the year 2000. In 2003 Synergy Tech. went bankrupt. As for the claim that clean syngas can be produced from any waste directly and easily this is not the case. If dirty wastes are gasified it produces also dirty syngas and cleaning is required en intermediate processing is required to make synthetic diesel or gasoline. For waste gasses from biomass gasification that contains heavy tars it is difficult to convert the tars with GlidArc unless one uses very high temperature or uses many GlidArc process in series, with a resulting high electric energy requirement.

    GlidArc Test in the Netherlands carried out by Vortex Engineering and the Dutch Energy Research Center ECN in 1998 and 2000 have demonstrated that for tar removal in one pass at low temperature of 300-800 C at most 40% of the light tars are converted and that instead more heavy tars are produced. The higher the temperature above 800C the better the conversion but building reactors for 1000C and higher becomes technically difficult and certainly does not fall under the “low tech” technology that Florida Syngas claims it uses. For manufacturing fuel gas for gas motors the GlidArc tar removal method is not viable. In case one means to produce syngas then many series GlidArc steps are required to convert the raw gas, and for complex waste gas serious gas cleaning remains necessary.

    It remains to be seen if Florida Syngas can deliver some of its promises. Be aware of grossly overstated claims, before investing any money in that technology.

    The MIT Plasma technology and the Magnegas technology are competing plasma processes. For one Magnegas is an arc process that occurs submerged in liquid waste.

  • http://www.hsdesenvolvimento.com.br ilson hulle

    I live in Brazil and would like to know more about the Albin Czernichowski,“GlidArc Reactor, to aplication in waste municipal solid

  • http://www.hsdesenvolvimento.com.br ilson hulle

    I live in Brazil and would like to know more about the Albin Czernichowski,“GlidArc Reactor, to aplication in waste municipal solid

  • http://www.vortexcw.nl Conrad Winkelman

    @ ilson hulle ——> Look at

    http://www.solenagroup.com/

  • http://www.vortexcw.nl Conrad Winkelman

    @ ilson hulle ——> Look at

    http://www.solenagroup.com/

  • http://Web Greaserbilly

    Good. Because I own Harleys and won’t be “converting them to electric” any time soon.

    I thought this was Gas 2.0, not “let’s talk about electric cars that get 100mi and then need to charge for 12h, and also cost $5000 to replace all the batteries in”.

  • http://Web norden

    can any one give me an update on this interesting fact

  • http://www.facebook.com/stafford.doc.williamson Stafford Doc Williamson

    The GlidArc technology has been licensed to a number of entities around the world. One such is Bioleux of Poland, and their marketing partner, Solidea Group, of which my company, DaoChi Energy of Arizona, is the U.S.A. and Eastern Caribbean representative.

    So, in answer to “norden” (comment #125141) above, here’s a update.

    The technology is robust and in fact produces such clean syngas that it can be used in a subsequent process to convert into kerosene (jet fuel) or diesel that is far cleaner burning than petroleum based versions of these fuels (and with 0% sulfur, lower than low-sulfur diesel).
    FloridaSyngas seems to have a website address, but nothing is working there that I can find, however the technology they were using was from Topline Energy Systems. This same technology was being used in a process awarded a prize for innovation by the US Department of Energy “ARPA-E” division (That’s “Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy,” in imitation of the DoD’s DARPA group.), presented last February (Feb. 2012).

    The “Fischer-Tropsch” process that turns syngas into diesel or kerosene is very fussy about “clean” syngas because the catalyts are so easily poisoned by other chemical interaction (the “catalyst” in the case of F-T has been [usually] cobalt, (see http://www.nacatsoc.org/20nam/abstracts/O-S6-01.pdf ) but a resurgence of predominantly iron (Fe) based catalysts have restored some robustness to the process).

    Solidea plans to re-brand as “PARS llc” sometime in early 2013, and has scheduled a production run of about 30 units of 4 Tons Per Day capacity gasifiers over the course of the year. Like Boeing, however, you have to order well in advance to get a “slot” in the production line, with a comparatively hefty deposit. Bulgaria already has commitments for 20 of those. The good news is that although the deposit is not a trivial amount, the overall price is amazingly small. A 4 TPD (which can use virtually any kind of carbonaceous feedstock: wood, elephant grass, partially dried sewer sludge, waste oils, MSW) gasifier is about US$400,000 depending on the dollar to Euro exchange rate at the time. That price includes a electric generator set (e.g. Caterpillar or Cummins) but not the Fischer-Tropsch unit which will probably not be available until at least Q3 or early Q4 of 2013.

    If you would like to chat further about the GlidArc plasma arc syngas cleanup, or Solidea/PARS gasifiers (and [soon to be available F-T units) I am available via email at president [at] daochienergy.com
    Sincerely,
    Stafford “Doc” Williamson

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