Gasification is a process that uses a feedstock, often municipal or industrial waste, for a thermo chemical conversion of waste in high heat. This is done is a low oxygen environment and causes material breakdown at the molecular level. Once the molecular breakdown occurs, the gasification process recombines them to form a syngas, a gas similar to natural gas, and biochar, explained below. Below is a high-level process flow summary of waste gasification:
Gasification Reduces Landfill Volume, Fees, and Handling Costs
Landfills remain as the most common way to dispose of municipal and industrial waste. Waste gasification provides an opportunity to divert waste from landfills and use it in clean energy production, keeping landfills from growing and reducing landfill fees.
Electric Power Generation through Combustion of Syngas
As organic materials like wood and sewage sludge are gasified, the chemical process creates a clean syngas, a fuel that can then be used like natural gas. Compared to other waste-to-energy methods like burning, or incineration, the gasification process allows the syngas to be cleaned of contaminants prior to its use. The energy embedded in the waste can be used to power engines that generate electricity.
Lower CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Gasification can be one of the tools used in our shift to a lower carbon economy. In particular, the gasification
process releases no GHGs as landfilling and incineration of waste do. When trash sits in a landfill it releases significant amounts of methane as it decomposes.
No Burning or Incineration
In the gasification process, the input waste is not a fuel, but a feedstock for a high temperature chemical conversion process. The process takes place in a low oxygen environment that limits the formation of dioxins and of large quantities of SOx and NOx.
Byproduct is a Valuable High-Carbon Biochar
Another benefit of gasification is that it outputs two usable materials. The first, clean syngas mentioned earlier. The second, a “high-carbon biochar.” In a downdraft gasification process like this, 95% of the input waste is converted into syngas. 5% becomes biochar, which can be used again.
With gasification technology, one ton of waste can be used to produce up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Gasification = huge energy benefit – we can reclaim more energy while powering a cleaner world