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Maker’s Faire 2010, San Mateo, CA.

Last weekend we ran the GEK Power Pallet for two days at the Maker’s Faire to power our “Power Parlour” of food and drink making.  Wood chips in to popcorn, margaritas, cookies and bacon out.  Like this was simple all along (which it unfortunately has been not).  This was a dry run for this coming weekend workshop where we’re planning a long endurance test of the GEK Power Pallet.

So far things continue to be good.  We were able to run two 8 hours days at Maker’s in a fully automated hands-off manner, using common softwood chips.  Things ran satisfyingly well the entire time with no active tending of any system.  We filled the fuel in the morning and once in the afternoon.  That’s about it.

You can see the Power Pallet in this gallery Popular Mechanics did of the Maker’s Faire:
We also have a gallery of Maker’s Faire in the GEKforum here:

Other Art

The Popular Mechanics gallery also has some good pictures of various “moonlighting” projects by APL folk.  When we’re not building gasifiers, most of us also build large scale mechanical, kinetic and pyrotechnic art.  A few of these get airtime in the PopMech gallery, including:  The Rocketship by Nathaniel, who is also the main APL prototyper.  Fishbug is by Jess Hobbs, the co-founder of APL, and Rebecca Anders, previous APL prototyper.  And the Apocalypse Stagecoach, Nick’s current creative indulgence when he’s not running GEK manufacturing with Abram.


Most of these creative curiosities orbit around the institution of Burning Man.  But more generally, they tend to seep up from the art and innovation groundwater under the Bay Area.  The continuum between art and tech has been deeply muddled locally, which is likely why such interesting things get cast up from the region with regularity.  Google, Burning Man and the Maker’s Faire all drink from the same creative aquifer.

We’ve been deeply fortunate to have this rich pool to draw from towards solving the problems of small scale biomass thermal conversion.  Building large machines on fire with slumming Phd’s has been an oddly effective preparation for new engineering strategies on gasification and pyrolysis systems.  Who could have known?  Either way, there’s a little context on how were got here to our two year anniversary.

Weekend Workshop next weekend, June 4-6

We’re putting things in order for our two year anniversary workshop this coming weekend.  If you want to join us but have yet to RSVP, see here:

The focus of the weekend will be on running the GEK, BEK and Power Pallet.  This will be hands-on learning and running more than project building for this round.  Hands will get dirty.  Biochar, clean gas and electricity will be made.  Arrive at the end of the weekend knowing how to make it all work back at your homestead.

The Friday eve talk is expanding with some interesting guest lecturers.  My (Jim Mason’s) gasification intro talk will be shortened so others can also present.  We’re honored to have joining us Dr. Kyoung Ro of the USDA ARS in South Carolina who will present his work on: “Pyrogasification of animal manures to produce combustible gas and value-added biochar”.   Dr. Devinder Mahajan of Brookhaven National Laboratory is also joining us to give an overview of his syngas to liquid fuel work at Stony Brook and BNL.  If you are unaware of Dr. Ro or Dr. Mahajan’s work, I encourage you to consult the internet.  Both are pillars in the field and we’re very lucky to have them joining us in the GEK/BEK collaboration.

Prof. Sundar Narayan will also join us from Lambton College in Ontario, Canada.  Sundar is the owner of the first GEK we shipped, which he’s returning to the mothership for the anniversary workshop.  In return he’ll take home a new v4.0 GEK.  Hopefully we can run the first GEK side by side with the current GEK over the weekend.

Two Year Anniversary Sale Final Week

This is the last week of our anniversary sale. To qualify for the discounts below your order needs to be placed and paid for by the end of Sunday, June 6th.  Here’s the nice prices for the next week.

– $1,000 off: Fully automated Power Pallet
– $750 off: Manual Power Pallet
– $500 off: Level IV GEK with all Hot TOTTI heat recycling add-ons (pyrocoil and auger feed drying bucket)
– $100 off: Basic Level IV GEK kit.

More info on these items is in the GEK store here:  You can find us to go through more of the details of your application at

New Power Pallet Gallery

Here’s a gallery of the most recent power pallet we shipped.  This one went to Latvia.


You can see we’ve gone back to a traditional C channel frame skid under the engine genset.  The CNC cut version turned out to be more work than the benefits realized.  The C channel method is stronger with about the same weight.  On top you can see the new 55gal stainless steel drum hopper.  And on the bottom we’ve added rubber mounting feet under the skid and under the GCU box to further isolate vibration.

Here’s another version of the same with just the engine-genset and wood gas mixing control.  Everything except the gasifier, as this went to a researcher in the UK already with the gasifier part.  See here:

That’s enough for now.  I hope to see many of you this weekend in Berkeley.


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