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Global Markets for Gasifiers

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Bharat Book introduces a report "Global Markets for Gasifiers"  Gasification is a centuries–old thermochemical energy conversion technology that has slowly achieved modernity over the decades.

The technology is undergoing its third evolutionary surge. Fuel shortages in WWII spurred widespread adoption for vehicle fuels..

The oil crisis 1973 spurred a re–evaluation and renewed development. Rising oil prices, globally increasing fuel demand, and overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change have spurred this last leg to full industrialization.The central concept of gasification is that by raising carbon–rich materials to high temperatures in an oxygen–deficient containment, the material will break down thermochemically instead of burning. If the same material is combusted (burned), it emits carbon monoxide and a host of pollutants, besides being incompletely consumed. If gasified, the products are hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). This is synthetic gas, simply called “syngas.” It can be burned, captured, stored, or its molecules rearranged to form fuels and chemical feedstocks.

The process is moderately more efficient than incineration, has significantly fewer emissions and waste, and the syngas can be shaped into a myriad of products for power production, chemical industries, liquid fuels, and heat.Feedstock for gasification can be coal, the organic components of municipal waste, industrial waste streams, chemical feedstocks, forestry residues, forest products and crop residues, medical waste, unrecycled plastic or, in the case of plasma gasifiers, almost any nonradioactive material.

A gasifier is the central component of a gasification plant. Surrounding it are the feedstock conditioning and delivery systems, oxygen, steam and air input systems, waste removal components, syngas cooling and cleaning systems, power plants, heat recovery units, Fischer–Tropsch molecule rearrangers, and so on. This report focuses on the markets for gasifier units that are in place and will be installed by application segment and geographic location through the year 2017.


Gasifier technology is actually a group of technologies that has emerged commercially in a number of applications and is being evolved for others. For several decades, gas and oil refiners, chemicals companies, remote–from–grid communities, and techno–hobbyists have been advancing the design and functional performance of gasifiers. As oil prices have risen and the specter of carbon emissions regulations draws nearer, the intensity of interest in gasifiers has grown apace.From a 5,000 ft. altitude view, an industrial scale gasifier plant appears remarkably similar to an integrated circuit. There are connecting pipelines (circuits) everywhere, and various specialized devices (subprocessors) to provide input and take the output of the central processor, the gasifier, and do something with the syngasAs in the semiconductor industry, there are only a few major, very large unit, central processor (gasifier) integrated chip “fabs,” but a host of suppliers for the smaller on–chip support components.

It is becoming more difficult for new technologies to emerge now that gasifiers have reached truly large proportions, capable of processing thousands of tons of feedstock daily, mass–producing a product (syngas) that is at the foundation of many essential industries (energy, plastics, medicines, liquid fuels, and more).Gasifiers can also be standalone fuel conversion devices that range from a rural home cook stove to a megawatt–scale, micro–industry gas supplier.The number of companies producing gasifiers increases in inverse proportion to the output capacity of the gasifier product. Output, usually expressed in megawatt– or kilowatt–thermal, can range from hundreds of watts to hundreds of megawatts.Only a few companies are capable of supplying and servicing gasifiers with utility–scale output capabilities of hundreds of megawatts–thermal. Well over a hundred companies manufacture gasifiers with outputs in the tens of megawatts–thermal. The smallest gasifiers, for individual or small commercial use, are produced by a large array of manufacturers spread throughout the world.


This study of the markets for gasifiers recognizes that the various market segments involve different operational characteristics, economics and feedstocks. The financing arrangements for gasification systems are different among municipal, utility, industrial, gas and oil, and low–level economies.Gasification provides a venue to power generation using carbon fuels without exposing project developers to risk from environmental and health concerns. Gasification also empowers users to utilize high carbon, low value fuels (e.g., lignite, sub–bituminous coals, peat) and derive electricity, industrial chemicals, clean fuels, synthetic transportation fuels, and inert re–usable waste.

It also provides a way to deal with trash. All societies with operating economies must deal with garbage, and the bigger the economy, the more garbage generated. It all must go somewhere, for reasons of public health and fiscal responsibility, real estate values, and as a source of raw materials. Besides the energy carrier (syngas) that is produced from organic material in refuse by gasifiers, a major side benefit is a significant reduction in the volume of feedstock waste material, and possible economic value in the solid waste remaining after gasification.Another global situation is a dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal, which is abundant, relatively low tech and low cost, but accompanied by significant environmental risk at all stages of use. IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) power plants have been and are currently being built that demonstrate that gasification technologies meet the conceptual goal of “clean coal,” at least at the consumption stage, as well as on the emissions side.

Gasifiers are pre–combustion devices, providing operators an opportunity to capture carbon before combustion, when it is easier than after combustion, when the thermochemistry is much more complex.A confluence of forces in developed nations (economic upheaval, recession, rising energy costs, inexorable generation of waste, environmental regulations, municipal money shortfalls) is a perfect storm to spur gasification markets to expand. Utilities, municipalities, heavy industries (petrochemicals, chemicals, metal refining, others) need large energy supplies, have large amounts of waste, must economize, and must reduce their carbon footprints.

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