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Thank you to everyone who came out for the workshop and made it such a pleasurable success.  As usual, we had a very interesting cross-section of biomass thermal conversion enthusiasts, about 60 in total over the weekend.    Where else but at a wood gas and biochar workshop can you find hippies and rednecks, liberal academics and AM talk radio jockeys, grumpy old guys and well dressed financiers all mixed together, turning wrenches together, and getting along reasonably well in the process.  In fact, most of them get along so well they and were still trickling out on Thursday– over a week after the first enthusiasts started arriving.

Kelpie Wilson of the International Biochar Initiative wrote a nice article and posted a nice gallery of the full show.  It was published in the Huffington Post and Truth-Out. See here:

The goal of the longer workshop format this time was to take on some long-anticipated projects requiring more than the usual weekend to finish.  In the end, and as usual, none of the 4 main projects got exactly to the end state we wanted, but all of them pushed the ball significantly down the road.  We’re extremely happy with what was accomplished, the details of which are elaborated below.

Kubota 10kw Power Pallet Report

The big news of the weekend/week was not the impress of ALL Power Labs’ engineering, but rather the impress of the engineering on display by Kubota.  I’m amazed how smooth running these kubotas 3 cyl engines are.  It is very odd to have a proper industrial design engine at this small of size.  Kubota does very impressive work.  All the workshop attendees stood around and talked about the same.  Given things were so quiet, it was easy to have regular conversation right at the genset.

Pictures of the power pallet and other workshop events are in the forum gallery here:

Our long runs tests, however, turned out to be not as long as desired.  The power pallet worked without hiccup for each of the 5 days we ran it, but fuel preparation, instrumentation and datalogging proved to be more than we bargained for.  Keeping a full instrumentation suite up and running, along with tracking the fuel mass and moisture input, energy output, and char/ash byproduct, proved much more difficult than just operating the gasifier.

This was complicated by our starting with fresh cut cedar wood chips at 100% moisture (dry basis), thus quite a bit of drying was needed to get the fuel to the under 30% range which the GEK can handle.  I’ve been surprised how much higher fuel moisture content a gasifier can handle with a full heat recycling rig like the Hot TOTTI.  We’re regularly seeing good operation in the 20-30% moisture range, which is about twice what is typical.  It is easy to get to the 20-30% range with just air drying if you presource and store your fuel for a bit (which we didn’t).  Still, you can’t run freshly cut wet wood.  We ran out of ready fuel on Thursday afternoon, right about the same time everyone fell over exhausted anyways.

Nonetheless, we put in 5 days of 6-12 hour runs.  The cyclone catch jar was still without any black goo at the end of the 5 days of running.  Just dry soot and ash.  The last two days had the fuel and power monitoring fully online and reasonably accurate.  Here’s what we learned about our “fuel in to energy out” efficiencies, while running at an average of 4kwe.

10/13 (Weds)-
Dry Mass Consumed: 31.4 kg
kWh Produced: 24.75
kg/kWh: 1.3
Average MC: ~24% (mass weighted average)

10/14 (Thurs)-
Dry Mass Consumed: 26.6 kg
kWh Produced: 21.75
kg/kWh: 1.2
Average MC: ~35%

I’m thrilled to see “fuel to power” ratio of 1.2-1.3kg per kwh for this small of gasifier-genset.  Remember that each component in the system (gasifer, engine, genhead) gets less efficient as their size decreases.  High efficiency is always more difficult at smaller scale.  The above “fuel in to energy out ratio” is at the better end of the numbers reported for much larger units.  The power pallet efficiency is mostly made possible by the Hot TOTTI thermal recycling system.

We’ll be continuing these long datalogged runs in the coming weeks.  Now that the fuel tracking and instrumentation solutions are fully set up, ongoing proving runs are much easier to do.

Lister spark conversion

After some technical drama with a cut trace on the ignition control board, the spark converted Lister finally came to life Tuesday eve.  Ron Ohler, Mike LaRosa and Jay did the honors, but Ken Boak, Marcus Hardwick, Michael Shiloh and Peef did much of the preparation that made it possible.  Pictures from the first run are in the workshop gallery here:

This time the spark plug it in the COV valve on the side of the head.  The diesel injection was left intact so we can switch back and forth easily between the two.

For the first run, we fired it on diesel then switched over to woodgas while running.  It was surprisingly easy to switch over, much easier than with a carburetor on gasoline, as you could get a sharp switch off of the diesel via the shut down lever.  No usual fuel wandering back and forth as the carb runs out of fuel.

The timing was fussed with quite a bit.  We ended up with it about 45deg advanced, and it still didn’t seem fully enough.  One problem we found with the coil over plug arrangement is you can’t get a timing light on the spark plug wire, as there isn’t one.  The inductive clamp won’t work over the plug boot.

We had the kill-a-watts hooked up on each of two legs and topped out at 2.9kw.  That was pushing the absolute max. 2.5kw was easy to maintain.  This was at about 600rpm.  A little below the standard 650rpm.  Shaky shake started above 600rpm.

The compression is the 13.3:1 of last time.  The injector is leaking a bit too.  We’ll likely get a bit more power once we return to 17:1 and get the injector better sealed.

All in all, i’m happy how much power it made, and how smooth it ran. It seemed to run about the same as it did with the spark plug in the injector hole.  The biggest difference was in the timing adjust. so given the lack of good control on that last time, it is difficult to compare properly between the two modes.  But it was clear that it works just fine in the COV valve, and this is good news, as this is a better place to put it.

The ability to start on diesel then switch over with a hard “fuel off” switch was very nice.

Thank you Ken, Marcus, Ron, Mike and the others that made it go.  Another very impressive effort by all of you.

The rest of the Workshop: — Biochar making and Planting– Fischer Tropsch experiments

Many interesting things happened.  We’ll report on them in the next Geknews.  This is getting too long already.

In the interim, there pictures of the 10-10-10 biochar planting in a Berkeley community garden here:

The biochar talks were fabulous too.  All the talks are available on the APL YouTube channel here: .

Germany Workshop, October 22-24

The Germany workshop starts in about 5 days.   We’re hoping this workshop will be easier for the GEK interested in Europe to get to than flying all the way to Berkeley.

The Power Pallet arrived in Frankfurt on Friday.  It should be at the workshop site by mid week.   We’ll be on the plane over on Tuesday.

Holger Roswandowicz, the sponsor of the workshop in Germany, has posted an update on the event here:

excepted text:

Jim Mason from Allpowerlabs, Holger Roswandowicz from and Herbert Hornung from Hornung Energy have planned to do the first EU GEK-workshop in Zellingen near Würzburg.

It is planned, that Jim is speaking about the Basics of Gasfications on Friday October in the eveneing.
If possible a GEK run with the new Kubota Motor is planned for the evening

On Saturday, the major workshop day Jim plans to make 4 RUNs in a day
He will make explanations before, during and after a run.

Meanwhile Holger Roswandowicz will explain the major differences between the markets and properties of the wood gasifier power gens and chps.

Holger is CHP-project consultant / engineer and has many experiences with standard chps,
Biomass CHPs from Talbotts and the Biomass CHP from Stirling Denmark and has experience with many applications out in the industries.
He is specialized in flow and heatmetering solutions in different applications (metering).

Herbert Hornung is the owner of the large Store Möbel Hornung and naturally the founder of Hornung Energy.

He is the owner of the GEK now with the Kubota Motor and allows us all to make this workshop at his loctaion in Zellingen.

On Sunday the 24th we will repeat the runs and go more in depth with the technology of gasification and speak about the capabilties of your planned applications, if you like.

Jim, Herbert and Holger are williing to serve the GEK-owners and its later modifications in the EU.

The workshop starts on late Friday after 6.00 pm (18.00 Uhr).

You can call Holger under ++49 171 1988 926
His mail is
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4 Responses

  1. When will be the next European Workshop?
    I would love to be at one, meeting other gasifiers from around the globe…
    Hendrik from Belgium

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