2010 - Volume #BFS, Issue #10, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story ]
Kits Turn Wood Into "Syngas"
APL uses an open source process to improve, refine and test its products; thus the free plans. All you have to do to get the free plans sent to you is to agree not to sell a product based on those plans, or pay a 10 percent fee to APL if you do sell units. You also agree to share any improvements you make on the plans. In a very real way, anyone who receives the free set of plans becomes a collaborating researcher with Mason and APL. The agreement is called a General Public License.
"The more minds you have working on something, the better it will be," says Price. "The world is littered with good ideas that never went anywhere because people held on to them so tightly. We believe we have solved a lot of challenges in developing downdraft gasifiers because people have supported our work and shared their knowledge."
The company's latest design vaporizes water out of incoming fuel and turns fuel into charcoal. It heats the charcoal and incoming air. It also removes a majority of particulates to prevent soot clogging. The result is more complete combustion for increased total efficiency and elimination of any need for a radiator or cooling system. It's also fitted with a gasification control unit (GCU) that monitors and evaluates gas production.
"We don't tell people our units are turnkey," says Price. "You'll have to play around with it a little. Every kind of fuel you put in will react differently. Balsa and oak won't make the same kind of gas. You have to tweak it a little."
The GCU will make it easier to tweak the system's maximum efficiency. Price explains that different fuels require different flow rates and pressures. The GCU monitors production and provides feedback. It can measure flow rate and pressure and monitor outputs from motors running on the gas produced or on DC motors running off a generator that is running on syngas.
With 107 kits out the door (12 to university research facilities) in the past year, APL is a leader in turning wood and other biomass into fuel. They are also a leader in putting syngas to work. In addition to fueling generators, they have also used it to fuel a Honda Accord and other vehicles.
This winter, the company plans to start offering plans or kits for a gasifier with a 12.5-hp, single cylinder, China diesel. It will contain a separate electronic speed control kit and a butterfly (valve) kit. The speed control kit and butterfly kit can also be used with Lister diesels.
APL's website offers a tremendous amount of information on downdraft gasifiers and how they work. Plans can also be downloaded.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, All Power Labs, 1010 Murray Ave., Berkeley, Calif. 94710 (ph 510 592-4435; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.allpowerlabs.org).
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