Small scale gasifiers

Barriers to success: A technical review on the limits and possible future roles of small scale gasifiers

Abstract:  Literature and manuals refer to biomass gasification as one of the most efficient processes for power generation, highlighting features, such as residual biomass use, distributed generation and carbon sequestration, that perfectly incorporate gasification into circular economies and sustainable development goals. Despite these features, small scale applications struggle to succeed as a leading solution for sustainable development.

The aim of this review is to investigate the existing technological barriers that limit the spreading of biomass gasification from a socio-technical point of view. The review outlines how existing technologies originated from under feed-in-tariff regimes and highlights where the current design goals strongly differ from what will be needed in the near future. Relevant market-ready small-scale gasification systems are analyzed under this lens, leading to an analysis of the reactor and filtration design. To help understand the economical sustainability of these plants, an analysis of the influence of capital expenditures and operating expenditures on the return of investment is included in the discussion. Finally, a literature review on prototypes and pre-market reactors is used as a basis for spotting the characteristics of the system that will likely resolve issues around fuel flexibility, cost efficiency and load variability.

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