Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The gasification process is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700 °C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The resulting gas mixture is called syngas (from synthesis gas or synthetic gas) or producer gas and is itself a fuel. The power derived from gasification and combustion of the resultant gas is considered to be a source of renewable energy if the gasified compounds were obtained from biomass.
The advantage of gasification is that using the syngas is potentially more efficient than direct combustion of the original fuel because it can be combusted at higher temperatures or even in fuel cells, so that the thermodynamic upper limit to the efficiency defined by Carnot’s rule is higher or not applicable. Syngas may be burned directly in gas engines, used to produce methanol and hydrogen, or converted via the Fischer–Tropsch process into synthetic fuel.
Gasification can also begin with material which would otherwise have been disposed of such as biodegradable waste. In addition, the high-temperature process refines out corrosive ash elements such as chloride and potassium, allowing clean gas production from otherwise problematic fuels. Gasification of fossil fuels is currently widely used on industrial scales to generate electricity.
Syngas can be used for heat production and for generation of mechanical and electrical power. Like other gaseous fuels, producer gas gives greater control over power levels when compared to solid fuels, leading to more efficient and cleaner operation.
Syngas can also be used for further processing to liquid fuels or chemicals.
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