HERA-GIZ micro-gasification manual V1.0

HERA-GIZ micro-gasification manual V1.0
Cooking with gas from biomass
An introduction to the concept and the applications
of wood-gas burning technologies for cooking
Micro Gasification: Cooking with gas from biomass
1st edition, released January 2011
Author: Christa Roth
Cover Photo: Christa Roth
Photo showing the typical flame pattern in a wood-gas burner, in this case a simple tin-can
Published by GIZ HERA – Poverty-oriented Basic Energy Service
HERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from biomass
Introduction ...................................................................................................... 1
List of abbreviations ......................................................................................... 4
Module 1 .......................................................................................................... 6
Module 2 ........................................................................................................ 24
Module 3 ........................................................................................................ 67
ANNEX .......................................................................................................... 93
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Micro-gasifiers: much more than „just another improved cook stove‟
1) Traditional wood-fires are commonly associated with negative impacts such as
Lack of convenience: „not modern‟ like LPG, electricity, or biogas burners
Emissions of smoke, carbon monoxide and soot (black carbon): „not healthy‟
Forest degradation: „non-sustainable‟ fuel-supply from abused renewable resources
2) So-called „improved stoves‟ rarely meet standards expected for clean stoves
In past decades countless efforts have been deployed to improve cooking performance over ‗conventional wood-fires‘. Some successes were achieved to develop
wood-fuel technologies that consume less fuel, are convenient to use and also partially burn cleaner. With the recent increased focus on negative health impacts associated with emissions from solid biomass cooking fuels, better results on emissions
reductions are needed if biomass is to remain a viable acceptable fuel for the billions
of people relying on it to satisfy their daily cooking energy needs.
3) ‗Re-inventing the fire‟ instead of continuing with conventional wood-fire
Micro-gasifiers or wood-gas-stoves approach the concept of generating heat from
wood and biomass in a completely different way. Gasifiers separate the generation
of combustible gases from their subsequent combustion to create cooking
heat. The combustion step is essentially a ―gas burner‖ that gives a ‗quantum leap‘ in
emission reductions while allowing achievement of convenience, efficiency and emission objectives! These are “gas-burning stoves” that make their own supply of gas
when needed from dry biomass that can be safely stored and transported. Gasification advantages have been known for nearly two hundred years, but only recently
could they be reliably accomplished at sufficiently small (micro) scales appropriate for
household stoves.
4) Wood-gas stoves have certain advantages over other improved cook-stoves
Cleaner burning of biomass (much less soot, black carbon and indoor/outdoor air pollution)
More efficient due to more complete combustion (less total biomass consumption)
Uses a wide variety of small-size biomass residues (no need for stick-wood or charcoal)
Biomass fuels are often within the immediate area of the users (affordable access at
own convenience), easy to transport and easy to store after gathering
Creation of gas from dry biomass can be achieved with very simple inexpensive
technology directly in the burner unit (portable, no piping or special burner-head needed)
Performance similar to biogas (but not dependent on water and bio-digester) and approaching the convenience of fossil gases
‗Gas‘ available on demand (unlike electricity or LPG that are dependent on local providers
and imports, and unlike solar energy that is dependent on clear weather and daylight hours)
Pyrolytic micro-gasifiers can create charcoal which may be used for energy purposes
or to improve soil productivity as biochar
Easy lighting permits cooking to start within minutes (contrasted with charcoal slowness)
5) Micro-gasifiers can complement other wood fuel stoves where appropriate
Wherever stick-wood is plentiful and at a low cost, conventional improved cook stoves
(e.g. rocket stoves) are attractive options. In the ever-increasing areas where charcoal
and firewood are becoming a scarce and/or an expensive commodity, micro-gasifiers
will be of growing relevance as an option to cleanly burn alternative biomass fuels.
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Objectives of this handbook:
Micro-gasification for household cooking is a relatively young development. The
principle was invented in 1985 and the first commercial micro-gasifier was available in
2003. Recently many more people are becoming aware of the concept and the potential
of micro-gasification. New developments come up virtually every day.
This book is about biomass micro-gasifiers that are small enough for domestic use as
heat-generating combustion units in cook-stoves and heating applications. The focus is
on „gasifier stoves‟, which is the combination of a micro-gasifier combustion unit and
a heat-transfer unit for effective transfer of the generated heat into a cook-pot.
This handbook is a first systematic overview on micro-gasifiers for cooking energy
a) For project planners and conceptionists: to give them an overview on the numerous technologies and applications of micro-gasification including the risks,
benefits and potential of micro-gasifiers.
b) For project implementers and practitioners: to provide entry points for them to
get started in testing, adapting and disseminating micro-gasifiers.
c) For researchers: to give feedback on open issues and questions they can take
up to bring micro-gasification a step forward.
d) For skeptics who fear the risks and doubt the benefits: to provide them some
This handbook is a compilation of the current state of the art of micro-gasification, which
is still very much in its infancy but growing up fast.
As ‗work-in-progress‘ it is hoped to inspire more experience-creation on the ground that
can help to spread micro-gasifiers and contribute to exciting new developments. Any
reader is encouraged to provide feedback so that new developments can be incorporated
in the regular updates of this handbook.
The content is structured into the following modules:
1) „Wood-gas‟ from biomass and its application for cooking
2) Technologies and applications of micro-gasification to cookstoves
3) Feedstocks and fuels for micro-gasification
In the Annex there is a ‗Bonus track‘ on Biochar:
How cooking on pyrolytic gasifiers can mitigate climate change and enhance agricultural production (by Kelpie Wilson from the International Biochar Initiative)
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A word of thanks
This manual was initiated and supported by Dr. Marlis Kees, the manager of the sector
programme for poverty-oriented basic energy services HERA, implemented by the
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Without her and
the entire HERA-team this resource on micro-gasifiers would not exist.
All text unless otherwise marked or quoted was written by Christa Roth, with contributions and technical review by Dr. Paul Anderson and Hugh McLaughlin, PhD, PE, who
kindly allowed me to quote from their texts without marking a passage as a quote. In that
sense they can be seen as co-authors of Module 1.
Kelpie Wilson (International Biochar Initiative) contributed the ‗bonus-track‘ on Biochar,
found in the Annex.
For the assistance in reviewing and giving helpful suggestions for improvements thanks
go to Dr. Agnes Klingshirn, Gregor Kraft (BauerPauer), Kevin Mortimer, Nathaniel Mulcahy (WorldStove), Crispin Pemberton-Piggott (Newdawnengineering) and Paal
Dr. Christoph Messinger and Stefanie Röder assisted me with their abilities to structure
content and make text readable. They did a lot of work that would otherwise be the job of
an editor.
Thanks also go to Johanna Hartmann and Sabrina Cali for the efforts on sorting out
some formatting issues, especially of the countless tables of Module 2.
Unless another source is stated, all photos were taken by Christa Roth.
Christa Roth, Eschborn in January 2011
Please note:
This manual was made possible by the tax-payers of the Federal Republic of Germany,
administered by the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ).
As such this information is not copy-righted and resides in the public domain. Text may
be quoted from this manual, as long as credit is given to the source.
All links were checked at the time of research for this handbook. Please note that links
might change. The authors are not responsible for links becoming inactive or outdated.
This handbook does not intend to favour any company or specific product. Examples are
given that prove the existence and the source of a certain technology as a reference
point. Any links to commercial websites are not-for-profit of the authors and by no means
exhaustive. This handbook should grow and become more complete over time.
So please send any useful references and links that you would recommend to be included in future updates to christa-roth@foodandfuel.info.
Other suggestions for improvements are also welcome. This first edition should still be
considered as ‗work-in-progress‘. Regular updates are envisaged to incorporate the
changes in this dynamic field of micro-gasification.
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List of abbreviations
Degrees Celsius
Asian Regional Cookstove Programme
British Petroleum
Combined Heat And Biochar (Applications)
Conventional Improved Cook Stoves
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service
Fan-assisted, also meaning Forced Air
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
GmbH (since 1.1.2011),
previously Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit
(GTZ) GmbH, German Technical Cooperation
GIZ - Programme for poverty-oriented basic energy services
Higher heating value
Indian Rupees
Lower heating value
Liquefied petroleum gas
Mega Joule
Natural Draft
Nickel Metal Hydrate
Partnership for Clean Indoor Air
Physical Engineer
Particulate Matter
Research and Development
Top-lit up-draft (gasifier)
United States of America
United States Dollars
Water boiling test
South African Rand
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HERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Module 1
„Wood-gas‟ from biomass
and its application for cooking
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Table of content Module 1:
1.1 Gasifying solid biomass for cooking
1.1.1 Steps of biomass combustion
1.1.2 The ‗uncontrolled‘ open fire
1.1.3 Improving control in a gasifier device
1.2 Practical Applications of biomass gasifiers
1.3 Distinguishing features of biomass gasifiers
1.4 Micro-gasifiers for cooking applications
1.4.1 Comparative advantages of micro-gasfiers for cooking
1.4.2 Design features making micro-gasifiers suitable for cooking
1.5 Example: the Top-lit Up-draft TLUD gasifiers
1.6 Performance of micro-gasifiers for cooking
1.6.1 Performance factors influenced by design or user
1.6.2 Environmentally influenced performance factors
1.6.3 Performance results
1.7 Summary: biomass gasification in a nutshell
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1.1 Gasifying solid biomass for cooking
Understanding the difference between ―feeding an open fire‖ and ―controlling a combustion
process in a gasifier‖ is one starting point for understanding the way biomass and fire are
combined in cooking devices.
Let‘s start with a familiar example: Everybody has seen a burning candle: once lit, it proceeds to slowly melt the wax and burn with a stable flame for a prolonged time. Notably,
wax burns by a multi-step process where it first melts, then travels as a liquid up the wick,
then vaporizes due to additional heat received by the wick. The flame provides heat to melt
additional solid wax at the top of the candle by both radiant heat and proximity. The vaporized wax mixes with oxygen in the air – and the visible flame is present at the interface
where the wax vapours leaving the wick meet the oxygen in the air surrounding the flame.
Wood burns in much the same way as the wax in the candle, with a few specific differences.
Most of these differences are due to the fact that candles are made from highly refined wax,
and wood is a less pure fuel – but much more available and affordable than wax.
Wood and other solid biomass constitute, after all, the oldest cooking fuels. They are even
today the most prevalent source of cooking energy on the planet.
As in the case of the candle, also the burning of wood and other solid biomass is a sequence of transformations – occurring in close proximity, but separated by small distances
in time and space, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Changes in Solid Fuel
The solid substances undergo changes determined by the presence of heat and oxygen:
1. as biomass is heated, it evaporates excess moisture and it‘s surface temperature increases,
2. at elevated temperatures, biomass pyrolyses (‗decomposes by fire‘) into combustible
vapours and a solid, known as ―char‖,
3. red hot ‖char‖ can be converted to ash if sufficient oxygen is available,
4. mixed with oxygen the vapours and gases generated can be combusted when ignited
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During the whole conversion process, temperatures increase from ambient temperature to
well above 800° Celsius, depending on local conditions.
In each step vapours and gases are released and the solids reduce in mass and volume.
If complete combustion is attained, emissions should be clean and only contain carbon dioxide and water vapour. If combustion is not complete, then smoke and vapours composed of
unburned fuel and carbon monoxide will result.
1.1.1 Steps of biomass combustion
Once we know the conditions that influence combustion, we can use them to control and
optimise the process. Therefore let‘s take a moment to explore each step separately:
Step 1: Drying
The first change happens during drying. The amount of water transformed into vapour depends on the moisture content of the raw fuel, which also determines the heat input needed
to evaporate all the water and the loss in mass and volume to get to dry fuel.
Step 2: Pyrolysis (Carbonisation)
Increased temperatures and absorbed heat eventually cause a complete decomposition of
the biomass, which separates into volatile gases and vapours, as a solid char remains behind.1
The vapours contain various carbon-compounds with fuel value, referred to by the term
‗wood-gas‘. As the solid product of this stage is char, it is also referred to as Carbonisation2.
Pyrolysis can happen in the complete absence of oxygen, the regulating factor is heat.
In short: no heat input, no pyrolysis, no wood-gas generation and no fire.
Step 3: Char-gasification
Once char is formed, the next stage of the solid phase is to convert the carbon atoms to
gases and the non-carbon portion to ash.
This only happens if oxygen is available and reaches the char while it is still hot enough to
react. Then ‗char-gasification‟ occurs: oxygen reacts with the char solids, yielding carbon
monoxide, carbon dioxide and creating additional thermal energy.
The fraction of non-burnable solid mineral content of the char remains as ash3.
The regulating factor of char-gasification is the amount of available oxygen around the
hot char.
If the char is cooled and/or the oxygen supply is restricted, the conversion from char to ash
does not take place and the char will be conserved and no ash will be created.
Step 4: Gas-Combustion (see Figure 2)
The final stage of „gas-combustion‟ is where the gases are ‗burnt‘ (combusted) and the
bulk of the heat is released that can be used e.g. for cooking.
Some may have own experience with pyrolytic destruction of a slice of bread in a toaster: first it starts changing
colour from pale-white to golden-brown, while releasing an appetising smell. If left too long in the toaster, the
emerging volatiles will soon turn to thick biting smoke (‗wood-gas‘) while the bread will show various shades of
‗black‘ by charring and carbonisation. In the worst case it will come out as a lump of black char unfit for human
Pyrolysis (Greek: decomposition by fire) and Carbonisation are like the flip-sides of the same coin, depending if
the focus is on the generation of wood-gas or the creation of char.
Ash contains only minerals that the plant once absorbed from the soil. Under normal circumstances completely
burnt ash should not contain any carbon or other substances with combustible value.
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Combustion is a series of oxidisation reactions, which can only take place if sufficient oxygen is available. The main regulating factor of combustion is the amount of oxygen
mixed with the hot vapours and gases.
If there is not sufficient available oxygen, the gases cannot be ‗burnt‘ and combustion remains incomplete and unburnt smoke or carbon monoxide will be emitted.
Figure 2: Burning the gas (or not, if conditions are not conducive)
Thorough mixing of oxygen provided by the air with the freshly generated hot wood-gas and
char-gas (if char-gasification took place), in combination with an existing flame, results in
the complete combustion of the gas-components.
The flame is the visible manifestation of combustion. Ideally only fully oxidised gases, without unrealised energetic value, leave the combustion zone - meaning that all hydrocarbons
from the biomass fuel have been oxidised to carbon dioxide and water vapour.
If the combustion is incomplete due to the lack of oxygen or if the vapours have cooled
down below the point where they will burn, they turn into undesirable emissions: in the case
of wood-gas it is in the form of noticeable, often irritating, smoke. In the case of char-gas it
is in the form of carbon monoxide, an odourless, imperceptible, and highly undesirable toxic
gas. Carbon monoxide is poisonous and a danger for human health.
Energy input and output
The objective of burning biomass for cooking purposes is to provide thermal energy to heat
up food.
Yet, it takes energy to break the chemical bonds within the solid biomass. So the first two
stages described actually consume HEAT, meaning they are endothermic. This is why we
need a match or some other flame source to start a fire. Once the fire is started, the heat
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released by the combustion reactions supplies the necessary thermal energy to continue
the fire and make it self-sustaining.
When designing a device to control the burning of biomass and regulate the rate of heat
generation, it is important to note that the drying and pyrolysis stages are controlled by regulating the amount of HEAT that reaches the solid biomass, while the later steps of chargasification and vapour combustion depend on the availability of OXYGEN.
The two red horizontal arrows in Figure 2 symbolise that char-gasification produces some
radiating heat. Combustion also radiates heat towards the biomass fuel. These sources of
heat continue the initial endothermic steps and generate more wood-gases, sustaining the
fire in the form of the yellow and blue flames above the ―burning‖ wood.
1.1.2 The ‘uncontrolled’ open fire
In this photo we can detect all
these stages of a ‗burning‘ process in an open fire, happening
simultaneously in a rather uncontrolled manner: unburnt raw
fuel (left), yellow flames (centre)
indicating wood-gas combustion,
red-glowing embers and charred
black wood partially covered by
grey-white ash (right).
A stick lying across has the left
end unburnt, a black charred
transition zone and the right end
covered with ash.
Smoke is the result of incomplete
combustion, most visible to the
left, where there are no flames.
1.1.3 Improving control in a gasifier device
A biomass gasifier is the broad term for a device that turns solid biomass into gas that can
subsequently be burnt in a controlled manner. Unlike in the open fire, the gas-generation is
controllably separate in space and time from the gas-combustion, like shown in the next
figure. While open fires and most conventional cook-stoves are regulated by the fuel supply,
most gasifiers are controlled by the air supply.
Gasifiers offer the potential to deliberately optimise the frame-conditions of each conversion
step. By controlling the inputs heat and air, an exceptionally clean combustion of biomass
can be achieved. The major challenge is to get the right amounts of air to the right places.
The step of char-gasification can be suppressed, if the hot char does not get exposed to
sufficient air. In this case the combustible gases are predominately generated by pyrolysis
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and a portion of the char is conserved. This type of gasifier device is often referred to as
‗biochar‘-making ‗pyrolytic‘ gasifier4.
Figure 3: Gas-generation controlled separately from Gas-combustion = „gasifier‟
Although the combustible gases could be piped and sent for other uses5, for cooking purposes it makes most sense to have the combustion zone close-by and burn the gases while
they are still hot.
In a nutshell: „Gasification‟ is the broad term used for the conversion of a solid fuel into
a gaseous fuel. The process to create heat from solid biomass goes in stages: Woodgasification turns wood to char and gases. It is controlled by heat input and can be slowed
by cooling. Char-gasification turns char to ash and gases. It is controlled by oxygen and
can be ‗arrested‘ by deprivation of oxygen. Wood-gas is often used as summarizing term
for the mixture of combustible gases and pyrolytic vapours from both gasification reactions.
It combusts when mixed with oxygen and ignited. In an „open fire‟ all the stages of gasification and combustion occur simultaneously at the same place and with no or little control
over the processes.
The ability of pyrolytic gasifiers to produce charcoal (―biochar‖) as a by-product of heat generation is gaining
increased interest, as the debate on climate change has sparked the search for global carbon-negative bioenergy systems. If the created char is not used for heat production and the carbon converted to carbon dioxide,
but used as soil amendment, it can both enhance soil fertility and fix the carbon in the soil. More on biochar can
be found in the Annex.
The old ‗gas-works‘ piped ‗town-gas‘ generated from biomass for miles to be combusted in street lights and
remote burners in households for cooking. This required cooling and cleaning of the gases.
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1.2 Practical Applications of biomass gasifiers
Substitution of charcoal or firewood by other biomass
residues as fuel for cooking, space heating, process heat
provision and lighting
Char(coal) production for further processing into cooking
fuel (briquettes), filter material or biochar application
Power generation6
Production of chemicals and fertilizers
Production of biomass-to-liquid fuels for transportation
Waste management (agro-industrial, hospital waste,
municipal etc.)
Scale of operation
Households, institutions, cottage industry
Any from households to large
industrial plants
Medium – industrial plant
Industrial Plants
Industrial Plants
Depending on toxicity and
danger of waste
1.3 Distinguishing features of biomass gasifiers
There are many basic designs of biomass gasifiers, so how to tell them apart? The main
differences between the systems concern the following distinguishing points:
The location of the combusting gas-burner (close-coupled or separated from the gasgeneration)
The flow direction (up-draft/counterflow, down-draft/co-flow, cross-draft, etc.)
The gas pressure of operation (atmospheric, suction and pressurized)
The gasifiying agent (natural air, oxygen, steam)
The method of creating draft and vapour flow speed of the gasifying agent (natural draft,
fan assisted, draft-inducted)
The method of gas/fuel contact (fixed bed, fluidized bed, entrained flow etc.)
The feedstock (reasonably dry biomass, naturally occurring or segmented or agglomerated to appropriate sizes, as in maize cobs, wood chips, and pellets from sawdust)
The ash form (dry ash, slagging/clinkers or melting ash at higher temperatures)
The heat for the gasification (authothermal= direct gasifiers with a flaming pyrolysis
process, or allothermal= indirect gasifiers, where the fuel is only heated up but not burnt
with a flame to provide the heat, as in retorts.)
The scale of the operation and the size of the device (micro, small-medium, large industrial application systems)
The gas cooling and cleaning process (relevant for major industrial processes, where
gases are transported and/or stored before subsequent use)
The immediate purpose (heat or electricity generation through product gas, waste management of municipal waste, etc.)
Not all of these features are relevant for the application of biomass gasification for cooking
purposes. Thus the next section is about the properties and features needed to make gasifiers suitable for cooking. It is sometimes useful to think of the gasifiers as the liberator of
heat energy, that comes from various original fuels, and goes to any of a wide variety of
desired applications that include many types of cooking.
Other publications deal with the options for off-grid decentralised electricity generation by diverting the woodgas to the electricity generator unit (normally an internal combustion engine). Though outside the focus of this
book, it is necessary to provide a warning that utmost care is needed to ensure wood-gas is properly cleaned
before being supplied to the electricity generator, or the system will not run properly.
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1.4 Micro-gasifiers for cooking applications
Because gasifiers require high temperatures and heat transfer into cold biomass, making
them small is difficult. As such, it has been a challenge to make biomass gasification suitable for domestic cooking! Commercially viable gasifiers have long been understood and
used in large industry and even in transportation: over one million vehicles were fueled by
biomass (mainly charcoal) gasification during WWII, when liquid fuel was hard to come by.
But there was nothing similar for small applications such as a household stove. The most
common and best known industrial applications are downdraft gasifiers, where the gases
are generated and removed from the reactor (gas-generator), then combusted in a remote
burner, e.g. in an internal combustion engine or in a street-lamp supplied by town gas.
Fundamentally, the challenge in cooking is a question of scale; how to gain control over the
pyrolysis, gasification and combustion in a small enough (vertical) space to be used by individual households.
Micro-gasification refers to gasifiers small enough in size to fit under a cooking pot at a
convenient height. It was conceptualised as a top-lit up-draft (abbreviated TLUD) process in
1985 and developed to laboratory prototype stages by Dr. Thomas B. Reed in the USA.
Independently in the 1990s the Norwegian Paal Wendelbo developed stoves based on the
same TLUD principle in refugee camps in Uganda. TLUD devices have always been intended as biomass-burning cook-stoves and there were some early Do-It-Yourself backpacker efforts, but it was only in 2003 that the first micro-gasifier was commercially made
available by Dr. Thomas B. Reed when he presented the Woodgas Campstove to the outdoor camping niche market in the USA.7
Commercially available models are still scarce, though there is growing interest. Module 2 of
this book attempts to give an overview on the current ‗state of the art‘ of gasifiers appropriate for domestic use.
1.4.1 Comparative advantages of micro-gasfiers for cooking
Small-scale micro-gasifiers offer good opportunities for the use in cook-stove applications
and/or for domestic heating, because they can
 Cleanly burn the woodgas in mainly smoke-free combustion (unlike conventional burning of solid fuel)
 Provide a steady hot flame shortly after ignition (no waiting, as with charcoal)
 Have high fuel-efficiency due to complete combustion of the fuel (little smoke)
 Be operated batch-fed over extended periods without attention (no tending of fire)
 Utilise a wide variety of solid biomass fuels, even inexpensive often discarded small
biomass residues, that other stoves cannot easily handle (no stick-wood)
 Give the user the freedom to decide individually when to use the device, as biomass fuel
is often locally available, within reach of most people. It can be collected or bought directly by the stove user. Hence it makes biomass-gasifiers ‗ready-to-use‘ options, independent from external factors beyond the control of the user that determine the availability of other energy sources like electricity, fossil fuel supply, or sunlight for solar cooking.
More details in Module 2 and on http://www.woodgas.com/, where the stove can also be ordered.
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1.4.2 Design features making micro-gasifiers suitable for cooking
To make micro-gasifiers widely usable for practical and cost reasons they need to
 Operate at atmospheric pressure (no pressurized storage of fuel or air needed, but
could include very small, economical fans or blowers in some situations.)
 Use ambient air as the gasifying agent (available at no cost)
 Use solid, dry biomass as a fuel, if possible inexpensive biomass residues
 Use a fixed fuel bed (the fuel basically does not need to be moved during operation)
 Produce a ‗dry‘ residue, either char or ash, to facilitate removal (not slagging and clogging the stove)
Common properties of micro-gasifiers suitable to heat a cooking pot placed on top:
 Close-coupled combustion of the produced gases: they are combusted directly above
the gas generating zone and the fuel-bed while still hot. The heat can directly reach a
cooking pot. No cooling, scrubbing and piping of the gases needed.
Top-lit: Most micro-gasifiers for cooking use are lit at the top of the fuel-bed. This is an
easy way to keep the heat close under the cooking pot. Many micro-gasifiers work with
a batch-load of fuel, meaning the fuel container is filled once and then lit at the top.
Up-draft: One main differentiating feature of micro-gasifiers is the flow of the gases in
relation to the progression of the pyrolysis front. The air and the combustible gases flow
upwards, while the flaming pyrolysis front moves down-ward. Up-draft design is one
easy option for cooking purposes, because hot gases naturally rise if they are lighter
than cold ambient air. This creates a natural draft through the fuel-bed, facilitating the
oxygen supply to the pyrolysis zone. Depending on the fuel type and the density of the
fuel bed, fans can be added to force air through the fuel-bed for an appropriate flow of
oxygen. The use of fans or small blowers augments the natural draft, and is often called
―forced convection‖.
Most micro-gasifiers are autothermal, meaning the fuel is directly pyrolysed with a flaming pyrolysis. Yet there are hybrid forms specifically designed for biochar-production
with two separated fuel chambers: the fuel in the inner combustion chamber features
flaming pyrolysis or conventional open fire, and the heat generated in this process heats
up the fuel in the surrounding outer container until it starts the allothermal pyrolysis without having been in touch with a flame. 8
1.5 Example: the Top-lit Up-draft TLUD gasifiers
The first known micro-gasifiers from Tom Reed and Paal Wendelbo respectively are pyrolytic TLUDs that can create char with a flaming pyrolysis and a restricted supply of primary
air. The TLUD design principle is ‗open source‘, in the public domain and not protected by
copyrights or patents. TLUD construction plans are publicly available on the Internet or from
some designers. Thus, TLUDs are easy to adapt and replicate in individual projects without
patent infringement or copyright issues. Therefore the TLUD-principle will be explained here
in detail:
Figure 4 depicts the basic design features of a pyrolytic Top-Lit Up-Draft micro-gasifier, derived from the principles of biomass gasification explained earlier.
The Anila Stove is an example presented in detail in Module 2.
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Figure 4: Basic design features of a pyrolytic Top-Lit Up-draft microgasifier
The simplest TLUD can be a single tin-can with separate entry holes for primary and secondary air as combustion unit, like shown on the cover photo9. Thorough mixing of the gaseous fuel with the oxygen provided by the secondary air to ensure optimal combustion can be
enhanced with a concentrator disk or forced air. A riser above the combustion zone can
increase draft and further enhance thorough mixing of gas and oxygen.
In TLUD gasifiers, the fuel does not move except by shrinkage in volume when pyrolyzed.
Two things move:
1) a hot ―flaming pyrolysis front‖ moves downward through the mass of solid raw fuel, converting the biomass to char.
2) The created gases travel upward towards the combustion zone, while the char remains
behind above the pyrolysis front.
The name ―Top-Lit UpDraft‖ denotes two key characteristics of these types of microgasifiers: The fire is ignited at the top of the column of biomass fuel and the primary combustion air is coming upward from the bottom through the column of fuel. The limited
amount of primary combustion air allows only a partial combustion of the created wood-gas,
just enough to provide the heat required to keep the pyrolysis reactions going. Since the
rate of heat generation is determined by the amount of available oxygen, the progression of
the pyrolysis front is controllable by regulating the primary airflow. Additionally, increased
air-flow (with a fan or sufficient riser/chimney) will result not only in faster progression of the
flaming pyrolysis front down the column of biomass, but also in higher temperatures in the
pyrolysis zone. This will impact the characteristics of the created char, which is important if it
is intended to be used as biochar.
In a typical TLUD, the pyrolysis front moves downward 5 to 20 mm per minute, depending
on the nature of the fuel and the amount of primary air.
Above the pyrolysis front, the created char accumulates, prevented from combustion because of the lack of oxygen. The remaining hot inert gases (mainly nitrogen) sweep the created pyrolytic gases and water vapor to the secondary combustion zone. There, additional
The ‗iCan‘ described in Module 2 represents one such example
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air is provided and the pyrolytic gases are burnt in a separate and very clean flame. The
pyrolytic gases are tarry, long-chain hydrocarbons that, if not burned, form a thick smoke.
Unique among the gasifiers, TLUDs operate in an oxic batch mode and do virtually all of the
biomass pyrolysis or wood-gasification before doing appreciable char-gasification. The transition between the two phases is quite distinct, changing from a characteristic yellow-orange
flame (from burning tarry gases) to a smaller bluish flame that denotes the burning of carbon monoxide.
A multitude of videos visualising TLUD microgasifers in action are found on Youtube. The
following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaeanoWZE7E provides a good overview of
a TLUD and its operation by Paul Anderson.
1.6 Performance of micro-gasifiers for cooking
The following paragraphs look into the factors that influence the performance of microgasifiers for cooking. Later some results concerning fuel use and emissions are presented.
1.6.1 Performance factors influenced by design or user
If we want to fine tune the performance of a top-lit micro-gasifier and adapt it to local conditions, we need to know the factors and parameters that dictate successful operation in a
given application. Some of them need to be addressed by the stove-designer at the time of
designing the stove, and others are determined by the user when operating the stove.
Gasifier power and heat-output
The power output of a gasifier unit is mostly determined by the amount of gaseous fuel or
pyrolytic vapors produced at any one time from the solid fuel.
The burn rate, at which solid fuel is pyrolysed to create the combustible vapors, largely depends on
 the peak temperature in the fuel container: higher temperatures in the gasgenerator will create more gases per time unit because of a slightly greater percentage of the volatile matter is converted into gases. Also, the pyrolysis zone travels
more rapidly down the fuel column.
 the available primary air strongly influences heat in the reactor and, therefore, the
speed and intensity of the pyrolysis processes: Less primary air = less wood-gas
created = less conversion of biomass into char.
 the diameter of the fuel container, which determines directly the size of the surface of the pyrolysis front that travels through the fuel: a smaller diameter will have
less surface area, so that the pyrolysis front can ‗convert‘ less solid fuel per time unit
into gas than occurs in a wider container
 the type and the density of the fuel and how much primary air can go through the
fuel for the pyrolysis to take place: chunky, fluffy fuel will burn faster than compact
densified fuel with less air gaps, e.g. pellets.
Regulating firepower by design features
Elevating the temperature at the combustion zone
The combustion reactions can be enhanced at higher temperatures. This can be achieved
by protecting the gasifier from cooling especially by wind, by insulating the combustion
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chamber and/or by preheating the secondary air before entering the combustion zone.
Many gasifier models therefore combine the preheating with the insulation by adding another ‗sleeve‘ around the fuel container: the secondary air enters at the bottom of the gap
created between the sleeve and the original fuel container. The entering secondary air captures the heat radiating from the hot fuel container while rising all along the sides until entering as heated secondary air at the top into the fuel container. This has various benefits: it
acts as insulation (it prevents the heat from radiating directly off the surface of the gasifier)
and recycles part of the radiated heat, boosting combustion efficiency and overall system
Draft speed and airflow
Natural draft (ND) vs. forced convection (FA = Forced Air or Fan Assisted)
All options for providing adequate primary air depend on fuel size. With chunky fuels, natural draft can work, whereas with small particle size fuels, air needs to be forced through the
fuel bed, which is easiest to provide with a small fan or blower. Sources of electrical power
can be the grid, small generators without storage (like solar PV-panels or thermo-electric
generators) or storage devices (like discardable batteries or hand cranked rechargeable
Some gasifiers with the provision of forced air can regulate the fan speed and thus the air
supply. Tom Reed‘s Woodgas stove provides two sockets for the battery pack for a choice
between low or high fan speeds. Other applications have a turning knob that can regulate
the power input from the electricity source. Most systems cannot regulate primary and secondary air separately.
The separate control of primary and secondary air offers further options to adjust the performance of the microgasifier during operation.
With more primary air available, the rate of the pyrolitic reactions can be increased. This will
lead to an increased ‗burn rate‘ and the generation of larger amounts of wood-gas. If the
secondary air supply is not sufficient , a portion of the created wood-gas will not be combusted and unburned gases will leave the gasifier. This situation not only wastes fuel, but
also is likely to create excessive smoke.
If the secondary air is increased at the same time as the primary air, the increased amount
of wood-gas can be entirely combusted, which will increase the power output of the stove.
An abrupt increase of secondary air may blow out the flame in the combustion zone, which
will cause all the wood-gas to leave the combustion zone unignited and unburned. This
would generate a lot of smoke until the secondary combustion is reignited.
Diameter of the fuel container
If constant high power is needed, a fuel container with a greater surface area is advisable.
For simmering where less power is needed, a smaller diameter has advantages. One way
to ‗regulate‘ power output is to have different sizes of fuel containers for different tasks. This
requires certain skill by the users and practice to match the cooking requirements with the
heat production pattern of the variable fuel canisters.
With constant fuel and air supply, the AREA of the fuel container determines the heatoutput of the gasifier. More experience and data needs to be gathered on how to regulate
fire-power or achieve a good turn-down ratio between high-power and low-power operation
of a micro-gasifier.
Regulating the firepower by the user during operation
Primary air control
Primary air is probably the easiest parameter for the user to control to ‗regulate‘ the power
output during operation, especially if its movement through the fuel is facilitated by a fan.
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Even with natural draft systems, the primary air supply can be regulated by opening or restricting primary air entry holes.
Care must be taken that secondary air supply is increased at a similar rate to the primary
air, as more primary air means more combustible woodgas, which only translates into more
power if enough oxygen is available to ensure the combustion of all the created woodgas.
Otherwise too much primary air will cause some woodgas to leave the combustion zone
unburned, wasting the fuel and resulting in smoke.
Duration of cooking time
In a batch-operated pyrolytic TLUD gasifier, fuel is usually not added during operation. The
duration of the cooking time depends on the mass of fuel that can be placed in the fuel container. Mass is a function of density and volume of a substance. This means a low-density
fuel in the same volume of the fuel container will have less mass to burn and will provide
less total heat during the burning of the fuel stack.
Regulation by design features
With constant fuel and air supply, the HEIGHT of the fuel container determines the duration
of burn-time of a batch-fed TLUD micro-gasifier.
The cooking time can be extended, when a sequence of fuel containers is used, with minor
disruption of the cooking cycle as the container with the ‗spent‘ fuel gets exchanged and
replaced by a container with fresh fuel, already lit at the top before inserting it in the stove.
Regulation through the user
Fuel properties
High-density fuels have a higher energy value than low-density fuels. For the same rate of
primary air, the high-mass fuel will burn longer and give more energy, as more solid fuel can
be converted to woodgas. One can fit either 80 g low-density rice husks or 250 g of dry
wood chips or over 500 g densified wood pellets in a fuel container with a volume of 1 litre.
Other consequences linked to fuel properties:
 Fuel species and their energy content: In general, fuels with higher energy values
result in better stove operation and cleaner combustion.
 Moisture content: any moisture content exceeding 20 % will reduce efficiency of
combustion. Fuel should therefore be dry, even if separate drying before use is necessary.
 Quality of fuel preparation:
o Size and form: chunky fuels that allow for some natural draft airflow through
the fuel bed give better results. Particle sizes below 1 mm (like fine sawdust
or rice husks) are likely to need forced air to ensure sufficient draft.
o Size distribution: fairly uniform particle size will result in more predictable behaviour of the pyrolysis front. This is why pellets or small briquettes give better results than do fuels with significant variations in dimensions.
1.6.2 Environmentally influenced performance factors
The major external factors influencing the performance of gasifiers are related to the environment and mostly out of reach for the user to influence.
 Location: wind is never favourable because it increases cooling effects. If wind enters into the combustion zone from above, there is a risk that it extinguishes the gasburning flame and the woodgas can no longer be combusted until the flame is relit.
The best is to use a gasifier in a well-ventilated location sheltered from the wind.
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Altitude: with lower atmospheric pressure at high altitudes (such as above 1500 meters), draft enhancing measures like an additional riser for increased natural draft or
forced convection with a fan might be needed.
Ambient Temperature: low temperatures have a negative influence on the speed of
chemical reactions and the overall energy yield. Higher temperatures favour the
completeness of combustion.
Humidity: very high air humidity may negatively influence the performance.
For any gasifier to operate without problems within all these variables, the design must be
able to handle them all in the very worst situation. Design adaptations might be necessary
to compensate for adverse influences on performance.
More data and user experience needs to be gathered and documented on this topic to better understand the various effects. This calls for more field trials to generate more user
feedback, so that applications can be better adapted to the multitude of needs of the various
1.6.3 Performance results
Micro-gasifier cook-stoves are currently the cleanest-burning stove option for solid biomass
fuels. They feature the lowest emissions, as shown in the graph below which was compiled
by Paul Anderson in 2009, based on then available results. A clearer printing, additional
comments, and updates are available on the Internet at:
Graph Compiled by P. Anderson (2009), Legend: FA= fan assisted, ND=natural draft
CO emissions are shown in red, PM in blue: vertical lines indicate ranges of measured data.
Source data from Aprovecho Research Centre (Comparing Cook Stoves), other tests by the indicated persons
and own estimates. All gasifiers listed are top-lit-up-draft versions.
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CO emissions were, unsurprisingly, lower in the tests when the charcoal was saved and not
burned. They are the devices that stay well below the proposed benchmarks of 20 g CO
and 1500 mg PM for the 5-l-WBT.
Comparable data on fuel consumption are still scarce, because few gasifier stoves have
been tested according to comparable protocols. A challenge is that the currently recognised
water-boiling-test is not well suited for batch-fed stoves. So the test results are not yet easy
to compare with continuously fed stoves where cooking times can be easily extended to
attain the boiling plus the subsequent simmering time of 45 minutes to complete the test.
Anecdotal test results from Stove Camp 2009 showed, that the PekoPe, as an example for
a TLUD, was the cleanest burning of all stoves while still having a low fuel consumption:
with 768 g of wood pellets for the 5 liter water-boiling test it stayed well below the currently
proposed benchmark of 850 g.
For details see http://www.bioenergylists.org/stove-camp-2009 and the report on
Please note that the results for the other TLUD figuring in the report are not representative:
experiments on air control were done during the ‗test‘, as this was the first time this stove
was ever tested under an emissions hood. Furthermore the tests were not repeated 3 times
to be statistically sound. More data will hopefully soon be generated and shared, as many
more TLUD-tests will be done.
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1.7 Summary: biomass gasification in a nutshell
Solid biomass does not combust directly. „Biomass Gasification‟ is the broad term used
for the conversion of a solid biomass into wood-gas. The process of combustion of solid
biomass goes in stages: Wood turns to char, and subsequently, char turns to ash. Woodgas, the mixture of combustible gases and pyrolytic vapours, is easily combusted when
mixed with oxygen and ignited.
In an „open fire‟ all the stages of gasification and combustion occur simultaneously and
with no or little control over the individual combustion processes.
The deliberate separation of the processes is the principle in biomass gasifiers.
A gasifier is a device where the gas-creation is controllably separate in location and time
from the gas-burner where the combustion takes place. Micro-gasifiers are small devices
suitable for cooking purposes, generally small enough to fit directly under a cookpot. The
following table summarises some strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities of using
micro-gasifier burner-units in cook-stoves:
 Clean and complete burning of a broad
variety of solid biomass
 Currently lowest emissions of natural
draft cook-stoves
 High fuel efficiency due to complete
 Can use a wide range of local biomass
including residues that can otherwise
not be burned cleanly in other stoves
 Less tending of fire with batch-loading
 Ready for use immediately after lighting
 Gasifier units can be attached to existing stove structures to broaden the
range of usable fuels, giving users the
choice to use what is available at the
 Can create charcoal as by-product of
 Enable carbon-negative cooking if char
is saved and used as biochar
 Regulation of firepower can be difficult.
 Difficulties to extinguish gas-generation
at the end of the cooking process before
all fuel is consumed
 Inflexibility of cooking times with batchfeeding device that cannot be refueled
during operation
 Require fire-starting material to initiate
pyrolysis in the gas-generator
 If the flame of the combustion unit extinguishes and the gas-generator keeps on
producing woodgas, thick smoke leaves
the unit unburned. How people learn to
avoid this risk needs to be assessed,
and to see how different this is from the
same phenomenon in a regular smoky
smoldering open fire without flame...
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Module 2
Applications of
biomass micro-gasifiers
in cook-stoves
A display of various micro-gasifiers usable for cooking
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Table of content Module 2:
Preliminary notes to keep in mind ............................................................................ 27
2.1 Factory-finished gasifier stoves commercially available ..................................... 31
2.1.1 Gasifier stoves suitable for daily domestic cooking ..................................... 31
a) Devices for chunky dry biomass fuels .......................................................... 31
Oorja (India) .................................................................................................. 32
Daxu (China) ................................................................................................. 33
TN ORIENT JXQ-10 (China) ......................................................................... 34
Champion TLUD (India) ................................................................................ 35
Navagni (India) .............................................................................................. 36
Philips Natural Draft Woodstove (India) ........................................................ 37
Sampada (India)............................................................................................ 38
Vesto (Swaziland) ......................................................................................... 39
MJ Biomass Gas Stove (Indonesia) .............................................................. 40
LuciaStoves (Italy) ......................................................................................... 41
Outlook on gasifiers for chunky biomass fuels .............................................. 42
b) Rice husk burning devices ............................................................................ 43
BMC Rice Husk Gas Stove (Philippines)....................................................... 44
MJ Rice Husk Gas Stove (Indonesia) ........................................................... 45
Models 150 and 250 (Vietnam) ..................................................................... 46
Mayon Turbo Stove ....................................................................................... 47
Outlook rice husk burning gas stoves ........................................................... 48
RHSIS -20 D (Indonesia)............................................................................... 49
2.1.2 Campstoves ................................................................................................ 50
The‗Tom Reed Woodgas Campstove‘ .............................................................. 50
The ‗Beaner‘ Backpacker Stove from WorldStove ............................................ 51
Outlook Campstoves: BioLite CampStove ........................................................ 51
2.2 Prototypes with certain field testing and potential for local adaptation and
production ................................................................................................................ 52
‗PekoPe‘ and ‗MUS‘ designs by Paal Wendelbo (Norway) ................................... 53
‗Champion‘ Designs by Paul Anderson (USA) ..................................................... 55
ESTUFA FINCA in Costa Rica by Art Donnelly (USA) ......................................... 57
ANILA stove by Prof. Ravi Kumar (India) ............................................................. 58
MAGH and AVAN series - Designs by Dr. Reddy (India) ..................................... 59
2.3 ‗Tincanium‘ and other low-cost prototypes of micro-gasifiers ............................. 61
‗iCan‘ concept presented by Jock Gill................................................................... 62
‗1G Toucan‘ by Hugh McLaughlin ........................................................................ 62
‗Everything-nice Stove‘ by Nathaniel Mulcahy (WorldStove) ................................ 63
‗Grassifier‘ by Crispin Pemberton-Pigott (Canada) ............................................... 64
2.4 Other inspiring micro-gasifier concepts .............................................................. 65
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This module gives an insight on existing and potential applications of micro-gasifier burner
units in cook-stoves. Please remember, that a burner unit is not yet a ‗cook-stove‘. It is only
the heat-generating core element of an appliance that can be used for cooking.
There are some basic principles for stove designs that can be adapted to a variety of different user needs and fuel situations all over the world.
Many leading personalities in the ‗stove development world‘ agree that as a consequence,
these applications have to look different too:
There is not one cook-stove-solution, there are many, depending on their use10
A single cook-stove design would be bad genetics11
One size fits some (not all). It is important to first identify groupings of users with similar
cooking preferences, fuel, availability of electricity, etc., and to ...define a ―cook stove user
space‖. 12
Micro-gasifier burner units are fuel-flexible heat generators and offer a wide variety of cleanburning fuel efficient applications to complement or substitute existing cook-stove-solutions
for ‗conventional‘ wood fuels (such as ‗stick‘ firewood) or charcoal.
In the following section existing and potential micro-gasifier applications are presented by
categories according to their relevance for a project:
Factory-finished gasifier stoves commercially available from a known address
2.1.1. Cook-stoves suitable for daily domestic cooking
a) For chunky dry biomass fuels
b) For rice husk fuel
Campstoves to start experimenting with biomass gasification
Prototypes with certain field testing and potential for local adaptation and production
‗Tincanium‘ and low-cost prototypes to demonstrate the principle and create awareness
Other inspiring concepts with potential to develop further for specific applications
Dean Still in http://www.charcoalproject.org/2010/06/to-achieve-cook-stove-scale-we-need-standards/
Nathaniel Mulcahy from WorldStove at the ETHOS conference 2009 in Kirkland, Washington State
Steven Garrett in the report to the US State Department on Next Generation Cook-stoves in November 2009,
document under http://www.pciaonline.org/files/Cook-stoveResearchRoadMap.pdf
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Preliminary notes to keep in mind
‗Hardware‘ alone is not enough to start disseminating a new technology. The ‗software‘
for the hardware to work is needed as well: the operation of a micro-gasifier requires
skills, like any other new technology. And skills have to be acquired through training,
they don‘t come naturally.
In that regard, a micro-gasifier is like a bicycle: the buying of the hardware doesn‘t make
somebody a good bicycle-rider. It takes some time until the technology is mastered by
the user. During the learning curve, people will fall off their bicycles, get a bit bruised,
but continue to learn, until they feel comfortable and eventually wonder how they got
along before they knew how to ride a bike.
With micro-gasifiers, the learning and adaptation curve is similar. The challenge is to
learn how to master even difficult situations. People have done that and will do that in future. With expert guidance and exchanges of experience, learning a new technology is
even easier and faster. But this needs to be considered as a ‗make-or-break‘ factor for
the acceptance of a technology.
User training is of utmost importance for any sizeable introduction of micro-gasifiers. It is
best done by skilled knowledge-bearers who can provide the initial training of trainers in
a new area. Thereafter, the local people who have learned the skills themselves are the
best resource to disseminate the necessary skills.
Many micro-gasifiers are only a ‗burner unit‘. They become part of a ‗cook stove application‘ when combined with additional features that allow the burner unit to be effectively
used for cooking. This usually involves adding any structure that is able to hold the pot
above the flames, like a pot stand, or building the micro-gasifier into the current local
cooking devices of appliances
To make the application become more energy efficient, there are some additional features to route the hot combustion products around the pot and enhance the effective
transfer of the heat into the pot (like a pot skirt or wind shield). As with any cook-stove
application, the fuel, stove, pot and the human factor (user, designer, manufacturer)
should be regarded as related elements in one single system.13
If char should be saved from pyrolytic gasifiers (char-makers), the stove assembly must
allow easy dumping of the char from the hot container in a convenient and safe way.
Four key features enhance this:
The fuel container should have a handle to turn it over and dump out the char or
instead a mechanism to cut off primary and secondary air supply to quench the
char while still inside the container. Wooden handles stay cooler than metal ones.
Light-weight robust structures assist safe and easy dumping of the char.
A fuel container detached from the stove assembly by an independent pot support (a tripod or a supported grate) helps char-removal without moving the pot.
If it is a model with forced air, the ventilator/fan should be detached from the
fuel container, so that no cables obstruct the handling of the hot char container.
The stove structure can be adapted to the local cooking preferences concerning height,
pot or pan size and shape, stability requirements etc. and/or the ease of saving char,
while the burner unit can be similar in different parts of the world.
According to http://www.pciaonline.org/files/Cook-stoveResearchRoadMap.pdf the improvement in
cook stove energy efficiency (i.e. both combustion efficiency and heat transfer efficiency)
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Some burner units can be fitted into existing stove structures, broadening the options of
fuel and enable the choice of fuel type according to what is available at the moment.
Some gasifier stoves can easily be fitted with a heat resistant glass of a paraffin lamp so
that they can provide light during operation. This is a good argument when users resist
to change from the open fire to an enclosed fire chamber because of the loss of light to
brighten the cooking space.
Not enough data are yet available to quantify emissions and fuel consumption of different micro-gasifier models. Some tests like the 5-litre Water-boiling tests to determine
fuel consumption are not applicable to certain batch-feed micro-gasifiers. New testing
protocols are being developed to suit micro-gasifiers.
There is no single answer to the numerous needs of the world. Some stoves can do one
task really well but are not suitable for other tasks. The solution is in a variety of custommade or purpose-designed applications. This variety of designs is imperative and there
is no ‗superior‘ or ‗best‘ design. There is no ‗one-size-fits-all‘ design, but always a ‗onesize-fits-some‘. Some designs are more appropriate in certain scenarios than others.
Therefore we need to know the uses of the different designs and how to make choices
in each set of conditions.
Some features are valued differently by different users: batch-feeding of a stove is seen
by some as a big advantage, as they don‘t need to tend to the fire every 2-5 minutes.
Others consider this a disadvantage, as the entire container needs to be exchanged and
reloaded at the end of the burn.
Some micro-gasifiers have been optimized for specific fuels, making them excellent in
some situations but inappropriate in other places.
Micro-gasifiers are not always an appropriate solution for a household stove, depending
on fuel access. It does not make much sense to chop up big chunks of wood with a machete or an axe, so that the fuel becomes small enough for the use in a micro-gasifier.
Where access to stick-shaped wood is still reasonable, appropriate stoves for this fueltype should be encouraged. Micro-gasifiers should never been seen as a threat to existing systems, but always as a complementing element, as they offer the opportunity to
use available and often discarded biomass as a fuel, that other stoves cannot burn
cleanly. There is more information on fuel and fuel preparation in Chapter 3.
Some developers (Belonio, Reddy, Karve, Anderson, Donnelly, and others) offer many
more designs and models than shown here. Those designs might be important in niche
situations. Links are provided for further reading.
There are also different concepts of producing stoves, ranging from entirely local production
based on scrap or new materials, to partially pre-manufactured and locally assembled production or entirely ‗foreign‘ manufactured imported technologies. Each concept has its own
advantages and disadvantages. On a case-by-case basis, the situation needs to be evaluated for the most feasible option. Sometimes a sequential approach is more effective, starting with one type to lead to another in the long run.
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parts, local assembly
Entirely ‗foreign‘
Lucia stove from Italy,
assembled from flatpacks in Haiti (Design:
Woodgas Camp-stove
(Design: Tom Reed)
as a publicly available
example from
Entirely locally manufactured out of
scrap or tincans
new materials
Lucia stove made in
Haiti February 2010
(Design: Nathaniel
Mulcahy, WorldStove)
Champion Stove
manufactured by Servals Group in Chennai, India
(Design: Paul Anderson, photo during
testing at Aprovecho
While there are many designs for micro-gasifiers, the basic TLUD technology is ―open
source‖ (not protected by patents or copyrights) and there are literally hundreds of variations
and improvements yet to be discovered. All people are welcome (and are encouraged) to
participate. There is quite a variety of cook-stoves around the world that are based on this
open-source, public domain Top-Lit UpDraft micro-gasifier principles, others will be presented in the manual. Paul Anderson has compiled a list of TLUDs as per March 2009 for
the PCIA meeting in Kampala:
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Conclusion: any cook-stove solution must
 satisfy the cook (convenience of use, provide appropriate heat suitable for local dishes,
culturally acceptable, time need to tend the fire, etc)
 use the locally available fuels (without tedious effort for fuel preparation)
 be affordable (local manufacture based on locally available materials, or imported at a
reasonable cost)
 satisfy other needs of the user (like the production of biochar, provision of light, etc.)
Stoves must adapt to people and traditional cooking habits,
not the other way round!14
A PekoPe-design by Paal Wendelbo, locally manufactured in Malawi
Quote from a WorldStove-presentation in 2010
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2.1 Factory-finished gasifier stoves commercially available
This section lists micro-gasifier cook-stoves that are factory-finished from a known address,
have reached dissemination beyond the prototyping stage and that are currently in production. It provides information on their current dissemination, user feedback etc. as far as information could be obtained. Most of the currently known commercial production of microgasifiers is in South-East Asia, more specifically in India and China, with Indonesia and
Vietnam starting up.
Please note that the following listing is by no means exhaustive and comprises only those
micro-gasifiers known to the authors at the time of compilation of this manual. If there are
any other devices that should be included, please forward the information to the authors for
future inclusion. This is ‗work-in-progress‘ and the list of commercially available devices will
hopefully grow fast in the near future.
Factory-finished gasifier stoves currently commercially available
(in brackets country of current production, sorted by alphabetical order of country of production)
2.1.1 Suitable for daily domestic cooking
With considerable
Without considerable known
known dissemination (>
community use or
5,000 units) in commudissemination just starting
a) For chunky biomass
Over 450,000 units:
JXQ-10 (China)
Oorja (India)
Champion (India)
Navagni (India)
Philips (India)
Over 25,000 units:
Sampada (India)
Daxu (China)
Lucia (Italy)
VeSTO (Swaziland)
b) Mainly for rice husks
Belonio (Philippines)
Minang Jordanindo (Indonesia)
Mayon (Philippines)
Paul Olivier (Vietnam)
2.1.2 Campstoves
Targeted at affluent niche market
for occasional use, not designed for
daily use
Tom Reed Woodgas Campstove
Beaner Backpacker Stove (Italy)
2.1.1 Gasifier stoves suitable for daily domestic cooking
This section comprises gasifier stoves suitable for the day-to-day use as cooking
device. It is subdivided by the type of biomass fuel that can be used, as it different
fuel properties required different design features: ‗chunky dry biomass‘ (whereby
‗chunky‘ is broadly defined by ‗an average particle size bigger than 5 mm‘) does perform well with natural draft, while ‗rice husks‘ (the worldwide most widely available
‗fine particle fuel‘) can best be gasified with forced convection.
a) Devices for chunky dry biomass fuels
The only gasifier stove that has been sold in really big numbers exceeding 450,000 units is
the Oorja stove in India. It was developed by First Energy and the Indian Institute of Science
in Bangalore with long-term experience on biomass gasification (http://www.iisc.ernet.in/).
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Oorja (India)
Target area:
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil
Nadu. Only sold in India.
Fuel type:
Pellets from agricult. residues
Indian Institute of Science
and First Energy
Oorja Eco 999 INR
Oorja Plus 1,350 INR
Oorja Super Plus 1,650 INR
Over 450,000 by May 2010
First Energy Pvt. Ltd.
Mr Mahesh Yagnaraman,
Designed by:
Retail price:
3 models: (15 – 35
USD, June2010)
Numbers sold:
Start production:
Manufactured by:
Office No. B-101 to B-105, First Floor, B-Wing, Signet Corner, S.No134, Baner, Pune - 411 045, India. Tel : 91-20-67210500
Product. capacity:
Up to 300,000 stoves per annum, 30,000 tons of fuel p.a.
Short Description:
Power level 2-3 kW, depending on fan speed. Burn rate 9-12 g/min.
450 g pellets give max. burning time of 75 minutes at low fan speed.
Normal load of 600 g pellets (ca. 600 kg/m3) can last 55-65 min.
Fan-assisted, rechargeable NiMH battery pack, fan speed controlled
by regulator. Fan attached on bottom-side. Ceramic combustion
chamber (100mm diameter, 130 mm high), bottom cast-iron grate
Batch-fed from top, top-lit. during operation only small quantities of
fuel (< 20%) can be topped-up for extra 15 minutes of cooking time.
No. Ash ca. 10%, char combustion gives useful 10 min heat at end.
User feedback:
Fast, clean, no soot on utensils, no smoke. Oorja-Super new variant
with flame control as well as Oorja-Plus can also bake chappatis,
rotis, dosas and cakris (a popular type of maharashtra rotis).
Accidents reNo stove-caused safety incidents reported recently. However, wrong
usage in initial years had led to electric shocks and people being
careless with high flames.
Performance data: Boiled 5 liters in 24 minutes with 190 g fuel, emitting 2,2 g of CO and
166 mg of PM15 or 45 g pellets per liter of water to boil, no data on
simmering phase. Emissions: CO 0,7-1 g/MJ, PM 0,75 g/MJ16,
Further information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2XOjT7V_qo
http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/oorja-stove-bp-first-energy (source of photo above)
Comments: The stove was designed to use pellets from agricultural residues that are distributed by First Energy through their fuel distribution network. First Energy has taken over
the business from BP in late 2009. Before that, not many data on sales, user feedback etc.
were available. This will hopefully change now, as First Energy apparently makes serious
attempts to focus on the user and adapt the stove according to users‘ preferences.
Source http://cgpl.iisc.ernet.in/site/Portals/0/Publications/Report2004-2008.pdf
Source: CURRENT SCIENCE VOL. 98, NO. 5, p. 636 http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/10mar2010/627.pdf
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Daxu (China)
In China quite a variety of modern gasification systems using straw and other crop stalks
seem to be developed. Most are more comprehensive downdraft systems that can be operated for 24 hours a day for water heating in combination with a radiator for space heating
and remote table-top burners for cooking. Some even have sophisticated features like remote controls for gas ignition and knobs for power control, just like an LPG burner. It is not
always apparent for a non-Chinese-speaker, who is a producer and who is a trader represented on the internet. Various websites refer to the same product. It is very interesting for
areas with adequate purchasing power and cold climates with need for space heating.
The one Chinese TLUD is the Daxu Stove Series which apparently reached sales exceeding 25,000 units since 2006. It won the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy in 2007.
Target area:
Yangqing County, NW of Beijing
Fuel type:
(Briquetted) crop residues like
straw etc., any solid biomass
Mr Pan Shijao
In 2007 it was Y 1,000 (ca. 90 €),
in some areas subsidized by government to Y 50-200
Over 25,000 (by April 2007), current figures not known
April 2005
Beijing ShenZhou Daxu Bio-mass
Energy Technology Company Ltd.
Zhu Yan, Assistant to GM
Beijing Shenzhou Daxu Bio-energy Technology Company Ltd
No. 6, 5th Floor, Beijing Technology Centre
A48, Suzhou Street ,Haidan District, Beijing, China
Phone +86-10-51051697, Mobile Ms Yan +86-1391091245
Not known
Width 340 mm, Length 340 mm, Height 780 mm, Weight not known,
but heavy, not portable. Stove to be installed, with chimney. Can
have added water and space heater features, assembly for one or
two cooking pots.
Burn rate 2 kg/hour
Not fully known, probably burns to ash.
Faster than coal, clean, less smoke, can make hot water, cheap to
run on biomass briquettes
None known.
According to data found from comparative tests done by the Centre
for Entrepreneurship in International Health and Development
(CEIHD) it had the highest efficiencies of all stoves tested (41% with
loose straw, 42% with straw briquettes).
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Product. capacity:
Short Description:
User feedback:
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
Further info: Product catalogue (Chinese): http://www.dxkj888.com/ArticleShow.asp?ArticleID=109.
Case study and general info on http://www.ashdenawards.org/winners/daxu and
http://www.bioenergylists.org/files/TLUD_Gasifier_in_Ashden_Award_for_Enterprise_2007-0919.pdf, Video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x65M9zX4gAo
Other comments: According to a report on http://childrenofshambala.org/pdf/FR%2077%20%20Fuel%20Efficient%20Stoves%20-%20Pilot%20Project.pdf, a group that wanted to do comparative testing of various stoves in China in 2009 had difficulties to obtain a stove from the factory. Once
they explained that they were no competitors, stoves could be purchased. More details in the report.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
TN ORIENT JXQ-10 (China)
A downdraft stationary model with chimney is a system that is designed to burn straw and
other biomass residues in a combination of a downdraft reactor and a remote table-top
burner which seems to have similar properties like other gas-burners. Over 1,000 units have
been sold in China so far. No field data or any user feedback is known, but it seems to be a
technology worthy of a closer look for scenarios where it could fit. Probably only makes
economic sense, if it is not used for cooking only, but where water heating and radiators for
space heating are required regularly.
downdraft straw gasifier
Target area:
Export worldwide
Fuel type:
Big variety of crop and forestry
residues (straw, stalks, rice husks,
nut shells, sawdust, woodchips)
Designed by:
Company development of product
range over past 7 years
Retail price:
700 USD (FOB) for 1 unit, cheaper
per container-load
Numbers sold:
Over 1,000
Start production:
In 2001
Manufactured by: Xuzhou Orient Industry Co. Ltd
Skype: renewable-energy001
Suite I, 17/F, Success Bld., Zhongshan South Rd. Xuzhou, Jiangsu,
Tel: 86-516-82029972, Fax: 86-516-82029977
Short DescripDowndraft gasifier system, gas piped to burner unit on a table-top
through a gas-cleaning system to remove tars. Should be clean burning.
For continuous use for 24 h/day for water and spcae heating.
Gas output: 5-10m3/h, Gas caloric value:4600-5200KJ/m3
Gas stove power: 4.7—5.1KW
Packing Dimension: 1150*650*1230mm, Weight: Net 190/Gross 240kg
Quantity in one 20‘-container: 34 Units, Delivery Time: 20-40 Days
Fan grid-powered. Some models with electronic ignition, remote control
Claim that gas generation starts 2 minutes after lighting combustion
unit. Gas needs to be lit separatedly, e.g. with a piece of newspaper or
through electronic ignition. Ash removal (ca. half kilogram) every 5-7
Does not make char, burns to ash.
Claim to boil 4,5 kg water in 8-12 minutes. No independent data found.
Further info: http://www.orient-biofuel.com (source of photos above)
Other comments: claims to have received 3 national chinese patents, not suitable for local production. Company invests into R&D for new next-generation products.
In 2008 started production of bigger versions in the same range:
JX 50, with gas output 50 m3/h at fuel use of 25-40kg/h: ca. 8,500 USD FOB,
JX 100, with gas output 100 m3/h at fuel use of 50-60kg/h: ca. 10,500 USD FOB
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Champion TLUD (India)
The Champion –TLUD-ND (Natural Draft) by Servals is based on Paul Anderson‘s TLUD
design that won the Award for cleanest burning stove at Aprovecho Stove Camp in 2005.
Artisanal versions of this design are already in use in several countries, because they are
easy and cheap to manufacture locally. This very reasonably priced assembly with two exchangeable fuel canisters and pot-stand from Chennai is ideal to test the suitability of the
TLUD gasifier technology in a new area. Paul Anderson is ready to assist in any technology
transfer to a new area. More information is given in the section on transferable and adaptable gasifier concepts.
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Production capacity:
Short Description:
Char-making ability:
User feedback:
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
India, export upon request
Any chunky dry solid biomass
Paul Anderson
1,700 Rupees (37 USD, 9/2010)
No current update available
Servals Automation Pvt. Ltd
Mr Parthasarathy Mukundan
Servals Automation Pvt. Ltd,
Chennai - 600 032,
Land line: + 91 44 64577181 /
82, Fax: + 91 44 45540339
Can be scaled up upon demand
Batch-loading top-lit updraft stove. Package comprises set of two
fuel canister/reactor units, one concentrator lid and a tri-pod potstand with pot-rests and a riser that can slide down and be coupled
onto the concentrator lid. Containers, lid and coupler stainless
steel.Width 200 mm, Height 280 mm, Weight of fuel container 1,6 kg
Power output depending on primary air control 3-5 KW
Natural draft (manual regulator for primary air). External fan can be
fitted. Fuel container with handles for easy dumping of char.
Canister is filled with fuel, then one layer of fire-starter material on
top. Lit at the top, then canister placed in the ‗stove structure‘ under
the pot (can be the tripod or any other structure, like the mud-stove
depicted above). Burn time for one batch of fuel depending on type
of fuel: over 75 minutes on 1000 g wood pellets or 45 minutes on
600 g wood chips. For extended cooking time the second unit can be
filled and lit and the containers easily exchanged.
Yes. Easy to dump char because fuel container has a handle and is
detached from the stove structure holding the pot. Char yields typically 20% in weight and 50% in volume of original fuel.
Easy exchange of fuel containers to extend cooking time.
None so far.
Emissions comparable to other tests of Champion stoves published.
In a test at Aprovecho Research Institute Feb 2010, it boiled 5 l of
water without a pot-lid from 11°C in 19 minutes with 384 g wood pellets or in 20 min with 368 g wood chips.
Further info: http://servalsgroup.blogspot.com/2009/05/tlud-gasifier-stoves-wood-stove-with.html
Contains link to a video, where the details and operation of the stove are shown (source of 2 photo)
Other comments: in May 2010 the company won the SANKALP CLEAN ENERGY AWARD in India
for the TLUD production http://www.sankalpforum.com/Sankalp/awards.php
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Navagni (India)
The Navagni stove is a model recently found via internet. No detailed information from people who had used the stove could be obtained so far. Company is difficult to contact via
email or internet. Most interesting feature is the fire-stopper inserted as a cap in the combustion chamber to extinguish the fire. In the video it seems to work without causing smoke.
It would be interesting to get independent performance data from the stove.
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Not known
Any solid chunky dry biomass
No information obtained
No information obtained
No information obtained
Probably 2009
No information obtained
Qpre energy (india) private limited
PHONE +91 80 3200 2130, FAX +91 80 2660 5654
In USA: 17153 90th place north, Maple Grove, MN 55311
phone 612 554 1589, fax 763 494 3903
Production capacity: No information obtained
Short Description:
Sturdy TLUD Gasifier with regulated natural draft,
Estimated dimensions (from video): Width 400 mm, Length 600 mm,
Height 400 mm, Weight 7 kg
Controllable natural-draft air system with rotary knob for power control. Fuel chamber can hold up to 1kg of various types of biomass.
Stopper-cap to stop fire. Drying chamber to pre-dry fuel.
Lit from the top. Can be operated in continuous feed mode, meaning
fuel can be added from the top during cooking. 1 kg of biomass provides 45 minutes cooking time. Ash removal by tilting the stove and
dump ash through a sliding door at the bottom of the stove.
Char-making ability: Stove is too heavy and bulky to dump charcoal while still hot. So
coals burn to ash.
User feedback:
No information obtained
Accidents reported:
No information obtained
Performance data:
No information obtained
Further info: http://www.navagni.com/tech/tbs.htm for the stove (source of photo above),
http://www.qpre.com/energy/eproducts.html for the manufacturing company.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YujomisovTQ&NR=1
Training video in english: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2rlcJ8f4JI&feature=related
Other comments:
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Philips Natural Draft Woodstove (India)
In 2005 Philipps started developing a woodstove with a thermo-electric generator recharging the batteries to power the fan. To avoid technical challenges with the power-supply, a
natural draft model was developed. Apparently it has entered a phase of extensive fieldtesting in India, but not much information or user feedback was made available by Philips.
The stove was also included in a comparative study in a refugee camp in Dadaab (Kenya)
in 2009.
Target area:
India, no details known.
Fuel type:
Designed for small wood pieces
2x3x10 cm, but could probably
use any chunky small dry biomass
No information
No information
First prototype 2006
Philips Electronics India Limited
Vitika Banerjee,
Marketing Manager
Pawandeep Singh,
9th Floor; DLF 9-B; DLF Cyber City; DLF Phase 3; GURGAON 122002; India, Tel: +91 124 4606000, Fax: +91 1244606666
No information
Stainless steel. Power output adjustable from 1,5-3KW
Regulating knob for air control. 5-year life span expected.
The stove is top-loading, needs small pieces of wood or other
chunky biomass. Can be operated as bottom-lit continuous feed or
top-lit batch fed stove. If used as top-lit batch fed stove, it should
not be filled more than half. Can be refuelled during use.
No, usually burns to ash, due to excess air supply
Convenient in terms of speed, clean cooking, portable to allow
cooking outside, saves cost by increased fuel efficiency and wood
has lower cost than LPG and kerosene, Appealing design and attractive alternative to LPG and kerosene, Robust, promises a long
life-time. Users in the test in Dadaab (link below) did not like the
fuel preparation as they did not have sufficient suitable small biomass available and found it understandably tiresome to chop big
woodsticks to small pieces and then feed them bit by bit to the fire.
None known.
Up to 55% reduction of fuel use, up to 90% reduction of emissions
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Production capacity:
Short Description:
Char-making ability:
User feedback:
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
Further info:
technical features on page 10 of http://www.pciaonline.org/files/Cook-stoveResearchRoadMap.pdf,
report on comparative use of 5 wood-burning stoves in refugee camps in Dadaab (Kenya) in 2009:
http://www.hedon.info/docs/USAID_Evaluation-wood-burning-stoves_Dadaab_final.pdf (source of
photo above)
Other comments: It is not very clear which model is manufactured and promoted where.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Sampada (India)
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Production capacity:
Short Description:
Char-making ability:
User feedback:
India countrywide, export on request
Wood chips, pellets, biomass briquettes, small twigs, wood chunks, etc.
AD Karve, ARTI
INR 1,200 (Euro 24, USD 30)
Over 500
Samuchit Enviro Tech Pvt. Ltd
Flat No. 6, Ekta park Co-op Hsg. Soc.,
Behind Nirmitee Showroom, Law College Road, Erandwana, Pune-411004
Phone 91 20 2546013, Fax 91 20
Not known
Portable natural draft TLUD with stainless steel body
Diameter ca. 150 mm, Height 280 mm, Weight 1,5 kg
Low power stove for light cooking tasks such as making tea, snacks
The special feature of this stove is that charcoal is left behind in the
fuel holder after the stove operation.
The fuel is put into the fuel chamber and lighted from the top. One
full charge of fuel keeps the stove in operation for about 1 hour. Additionally, it also has a provision for adding additional fuel through a
side opening for longer duration of continuous cooking.
Makes very good charcoal that can easily be saved as stove is lightweight and has handles. 1 kg of wood leaves 250-300 gm of charcoal.
Clean cooking while making charcoal, fuel efficient and cheap to
operate. It is a source of additional income, as produces charcoal
has a higher value than original woodfuel.
None known
Emissions to cook 2,5 litres of food: 8,1 mg CO, 69 mg PM
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
Further info:
http://www.arti-india.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76:improvedcook-stoves-for-the-rural-housewife&catid=15:rural-energy-technologies&Itemid=52 (source
of photo above)
Other comments: State of current production not known
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Vesto (Swaziland) (Variable Energy Stove)
Target area:
Can export worldwide
Fuel type:
Designed for all biomass including split hardwood,
sawdust briquettes, charcoal, branches and
chunky biomass less than 180mm long; in TLUD
mode can burn wood. Dung, pellets (wood,
Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
440 ZAR (ca. 45 Euro), incl. accessories Barbecue plate+support stand, available separate
Over 3,000
New Dawn Engineering
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Thabsile Shongwe, thabsile.s@newdawnengineering.com
sales@newdawnengineering.com, support@newdawnengineering.com
P.O. Box 3223 Manzini, MZ200, Swaziland
+268 518-5016 or 518-4194
Can produce 100 stoves per day (upon order)
Short Description:
Natural draft Stove with incorporated pot-skirt based on a 25-l paint can. Controllable preheated primary air of three types as well as preheated secondary
air. It can accommodate fuel from twigs up to 110mm diameter wood, preferably less than 200 mm long or less (over-filling a wood stove blocks proper
air flow and creates a smoky burn). Diameter 300 mm, Height 440 mm,
Weight 4,5 kg without accessories, 7kg with accessories, boxed. Power output 4 kW depending on air regulation. Best suited for pots <270 mm diameter, so that the pot can be sunken in the skirt though larger pots, woks and
frying pans can be used.
Designed for rapid fire development (start cooking 1 minute after ignition);
replaceable consumable parts (modular design); stove body has a wire handle; removable, perforated fire chamber with a replaceable grate at the bottom; stainless steel pot-supports.
It can be used as bottom-lit continuous feed stove or batch-fed TLUD. Cooking time typically 20-40 minute without attention, correctly loaded with dense
hardwood up to1 hour. Light biomass requires more frequent refueling.
Only in pyrolytic TLUD mode with restricted primary air supply.
User feedback:
Fast, little smoke, economic and fuel efficient especially with pot that can be
sunken in the skirt. Inconvenience of having to remove pot entirely for refuelling as the pot skirt prevents refuelling with pot inside.
Accidents reported:
None known.
Performance data:
Sunken pots: Wood fuelled: 25-35% efficient, charcoal fuelled 35-55%; heat
can be partly controlled by a combination of fuel or air metering; fuel saving
70% compared with open fire (typical).
Further info: http://www.newdawnengineering.com/website/stove/singlestove/vesto/ (photo above)
Other comments: The Vesto was developed as a mass produced product though components can be
incorporated into artisanal products in villages. It can burn extremely hard wood.
It won the DISA Chairman‘s Award and Housewares division, (South African Design Excellence
Awards 2004); received a Merit Award from the Stainless Steel Manufacturer‘s Association (2004) for
innovative use of stainless steel.
In the comparative study done in Dadaab, the stove was not used to realise the full potential
because a griddle was placed between the fire and the pot which negatively influenced heat
transfer. The detailed report can be found on
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
MJ Biomass Gas Stove (Indonesia)
A new promising stove range is just starting up in Indonesia. According to the producer they
develop models that can burn wood-charcoal or coal fines. The one presented here is designed for pelletised biomass and small wood chunks, but it can also burn small lumps of
wood charcoal, that are too fine to be used in regular natural draft charcoal stoves.
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Urban poor in cities of Indonesia where
charcoal fuel can be used
Pellets or wood chunks can be used or
small wood charcoal lumps
(ca. 1 to 2 cm in diameter)
Alexis Belonio
20 USD
200 units
PT Minang Jordanindo Approtech
Mr. Bima Tahar
Adhi Graha Building 15th floor, Suite 1502 A, Ji. Gotot Subroto Kav
56, Jakarta 12950, Indonesia
Phone 021-5262525, Fax 021-526 24 16
Production capacity: 40 units per month
Short Description:
Stainless steel batch-feed TLUD, fan-assisted
Width 250 mm, Length 250 mm, Height 380 mm, Weight 2.3 kg
Power heat output 1 KW
Fan powered by 12 volt, 0.12 Amp DC Fan; 9 volt battery can be
used in case of power failure
Fuel filled from the top, Lit with some fire starter from the top, startup time 2 minutes. Char removed at the bottom by tapping the grate.
Char-making ability: Very good.
User feedback:
Affordable, convenient to use, easy to ignite, no smoke during operation, flame intensity can be controlled, uses very small amount of
electricity to power fan, safe to operate
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
13 minutes to boil 1 liter of water; Fuel load 300 g; Additional fuel can
be loaded gradually to sustain firing.
Further info and order form: http://www.minangjordanindo.com/biomasgastove.htm
(source of photo above)
Other comments: Although based on the proven Belonio-designs, the product is right now in
a development and testing stage in Indonesia. Currently only small numbers are manufactured, scale-up still envisaged for late 2010 or early 2011.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
LuciaStoves (Italy)
Nathaniel Mulcahy from WorldStove has designed various top-lit pyrolytic gasifier cookstoves that are all based on a draft principle that is referred to as the ‗LuciaStove‘-principle.
Therefore different models all get summarised under the term ‗LuciaStoves‘. All provide the
option for ‗carbon-negative‘ cooking if the inert char created is taken out of the carbon-cycle
by adding it to the soil. More details on http://worldstove.com/about-2/why-pyrolytic-stoves/ .
The stoves are designed for industrial mass production and local assembly. WorldStove
offers concepts and training programs for stoves based on the Lucia principle, with the focus to set up micro industries in communities. WorldStove constructs the base components
and then works with local liaison partners to set up small manufacturing plants. These
plants do not require welding, riveting or drilling. They serve as a skill-based income generating activity for the community. WorldStove provides instructions and guides for assembly
of additional stove parts and will work with local groups to set up the plant, and to adapt the
LuciaStove to local cooking needs. As a single-item, the Beaner backpacker stove is available (see next section 2.2 on Campstoves). The factory-finished example for developing
nations is intended for lots of 500 or more. For bigger numbers, the price drops significantly.
Other models are shown on the website.
Name of stove:
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
LUCIA stoves for developing nations
Export worldwide
Most dry small-chunky biomass
Nathaniel Mulcahy, WorldStove
Set by local dealers or producers
Over 10,000 in 2010 alone
Production capacity:
Short Description:
Electronic contact form: http://worldstove.com/contact-us/
290 North Pleasant ST Amherst MA 01002 USA
Geared at mass production: 32 aluminium stove tops per minute or
8,000 ‗origami‘ versions of the LuciaStove in 40 work hours
Width 270 mm, Length 270 mm, Height 333 mm, Weight depends on
mode. Power output can be regulated through fan speed.
Biomass feed rate: On low setting 300 g fuel can give 1,25 h cooking
time, on high setting it can burn 1,5kg per hour.
Injection-molded high precision basic components to ensure optimal
combustion. Different components shown in
Fan powered AC and DC versions available.
Fuel filled from the top, lit with some fire starter from the top. Fuel
can be added while cooking. Char removed by tipping the stove.
Very good in pyrolytic mode. Produces pH-neutral char and can be
tuned for density, pore size and nitrogen content of the char.
User feedback:
Can use little fuel, optimal with windshield and strong pot-support
Accidents reported: None known.
Further info: http://worldstove.com/products/luciastove-for-developing-nations/
(source of photo)
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An example how versatile the burner unit can be used as heat source in existing stove designs: Fitting of a Lucia burner unit into a fixed brick stove with two plates shown on
WorldStove has come up with a unique 5-step program to build up local ‗stove hubs‘ in cooperation with local partners. The aim is to create local jobs through production and distribution of locally adapted LuciaStoves. It adds two more lines to the value chain: the processing of local biomass residues into adequate alternative fuels to reduce dependency on conventional fuels like charcoal, and the further use of the char created in the stoves as a byproduct of cooking. For details see http://worldstove.com/album/download-area/ file name
http://worldstove.com/wp-content/uploads/download/five_step.pdf or an interview with Nathaniel Mulcahy on http://www.charcoalproject.org/2010/05/a-man-a-stove-a-mission/
An example of adaptation of a natural draft version of the LuciaStove in post-earth-quake
Haiti also including efforts to diversify the fuel access options can be found e.g. on
The flat-packed pre-cut parts were imported at reduced transport costs in the post-quake
emergency, and then assembled by trained local artisans. Once the imported examples
were shown to be working, the local adaptation started, which resulted in the copies made
by the same artisans out of available scrap material.
‗how to pack 1000 stoves into a
small pickup truck‘: flat pre-cut
sheets ready for assembly
64374 original stove and local
copy from local scrap material.
Last but not least, this video on ‗Why we do what we do‘ from WorldStove is worth watching:
Outlook on gasifiers for chunky biomass fuels
There is a KYOTO TURBO stove advertised for sale at 10 Euros on the website http://kyotoenergy.com/kyoto-turbo.html. It seems to be a model based on the PekoPe design by Paal
Wendelbo, which is described in more detail in chapter 2.2. of this module.
Neither a sample nor more detailed information could be sourced yet but will hopefully soon
be available.
Reports from Indonesia indicate two new types of gasifier stoves being promoted. More
information is being sought from Mr Nurhuda from the Physics Department of the Brawijaya
University in Malang. To be included in the next update.
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b) Rice husk burning devices
Rice-husks are an important source of fuel, with the annual world supply estimated to exceed 115 million metric tons. Due to small particle sizes, low bulk density and high ash content, this fuel needs special burner-designs.
The LoTrau stove in Vietnam was directly burning rice husks in a sophisticated way. It was
the basis for the development of the Mayon Turbo Stove and other so called ‗quasigasifiers‘.
It was regarded impossible to gasify rice husks in small TLUDs until Prof Alexis Belonio
from the Philippines proved that it is feasible. The first model conceptualised by Alexis Belonio has been overhauled and is now manufactured in its 2nd generation in the Philippines.
Over 2,000 units have been sold since 2006. Prof Belonio was awarded the prestigious Rolex Award in 2008 for his efforts on making rice husk fuels usable as a clean energy source.
Several commercial rice-husk gas burners are now based on his concept. In 2010 SIAMEX
Biomass Energy LLC was created as a new business entity with the aim to commercialize
the latest improved model of the rice husk gas stove under a new brand throughout Asia,
starting from Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. So within 2011 considerable progress on
the dissemination of rice husk gas stoves is expected.
Design features of rice husk gasifiers developed by Prof Belonio: They all have a fan that
requires an external power source. Various versions of the same stove with fans of different
sizes and power sources are on offer. The stove top is removable to allow filling in the fuel
and emptying the ash. It can act as a pot-support, or the pot can be placed on an outside
structure, e.g. an enclosure for the reactor. The bottom of the reactor is sealed except for
the entry for primary air, which is pushed in by a fan attached outside. The reactor has a
double-wall with a gap open at the bottom.
The pyrolysis front is ignited on the top of the fuel in the reactor,
the stove-top placed on top and the formed gas exits the reactor
through the holes in the stove top with the help of the forced convection. Ambient air rises through the gap between the double
walls as it picks up heat from the reactor and exits through the
upper side-holes. Due to the clever design the preheated air
clings to the metal and is drawn naturally towards the combustible
gas, which The gas can only ignite and combust outside when
oxygen is available.
Photos Christa Roth
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BMC Rice Husk Gas Stove (Philippines)
Model RHGS 15D
Target area:
Rural villages worldwide where rice
husks is available and with access to
Fuel type:
Rice husks
Designed by:
Prof. Alexis Belonio / Center for Rice
Husk Energy Technology-CPU, Iloilo
City, Philippines
Retail price:
USD 30-40
Numbers sold:
More than 2,000 units sold in the Philippines and abroad since 2006
Start of production:
First started to develop the model in
2007, now it is in its 2nd generation
Manufactured by:
Belonio Metal Craft
Mr. Dennis Belonio, Manager/Owner
Source: A Belonio
Purok II, Pavia, Iloilo, Philippines
Production capacity: 25 per week
Short Description:
Width 3f50 mm, Length 350 mm, Height 800 mm, Weight 7.5 kg
Power heat output 1.2 kW
Air supply: 16-watt, 220 volt computer fan; airflow can be varied by
sliding the shutter plate or with the use of rheostat switch; gas
burner is a plate-type for better quality flame and for ease of char
Lighting at the top with a piece of paper or sprinkling 1 ml kerosene, Start-up time 1 minute, Char removal by tipping over the
Char-making ability: Very good, charred rice husk can be used for Bokashi-type soil
fertility amendments
User feedback:
Affordable, cheap to run, uses waste rice husk as fuel, convenient
to use, easy to ignite, no smoke during operation, flame intensity
can be controlled, easy to load fuel and discharge char
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
8 min to boil 1.5 liters of water; Fuel load 0.95 kg; Batch system of
about 40 to 60 min per load of rice husks fuel.
Further info: From 2007: http://www.bioenergylists.org/beloniolowcostrhstove
Other comments: Plans on future development of ‗3rd generation‘ with a thermoacoustic
power-source: http://rolexawards.com/en/the-laureates/alexisbelonio-fightingtheblackbeast.jsp
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A similar design is manufactured in Indonesia since 2009. Towards the end of 2010 the
production is expected to scale-up considerably to a capacity of 10,000 stoves per month.
MJ Rice Husk Gas Stove (Indonesia)
Model RHGS 140-62D
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Indonesian rural villages near rice
husks with access to electricity
Rice husks
Prof. Alexis Belonio
USD 25-30
500 units
First started to develop the model
in 2007, now it is in its 2nd generation
PT Minang Jordanindo Approtech
Mr. Bima Tahar
Source: A Belonio
Adhi Graha Building 15th floor, Suite 1502 A, Ji. Gotot Subroto Kav
56, Jakarta 12950, Indonesia
Phone 021-5262525, Fax 021-526 24 16
Production capacity: 40 units per month
Short Description:
Width 300 mm, Length 300 mm, Height 780 mm, Weight 6.0 kg
Power heat output 1 kWt
Air supply: 16-watt, 220 volt computer fan; airflow can be varied by
rotating the air shutter ring; gas burner is an open-type for ease of
char disposal
Lighting at the top with a piece of paper or sprinkling 1 ml kerosene, Start-up time 1 minute, Char removal by tipping over the
Char-making ability: Very good, charred rice husk can be used for Bokashi-type soil
fertility amendments
User feedback:
Affordable, cheap to run, uses waste rice husk as fuel, convenient
to use, easy to ignite, no smoke during operation, flame intensity
can be controlled, easy to load fuel and discharge char
Accidents reported:
Performance data:
8 min to boil 1.5 litres of water; Fuel load 0.9 kg; Batch system of
about 40 to 60 min per load of rice husks fuel.
Further info: http://www.minangjordanindo.com/ricehuskgastove.htm
From 2007: http://www.bioenergylists.org/beloniolowcostrhstove
Plans on future development of ‗3rd generation‘ with a thermoacoustic power-source:
Other comments: same manufacturer has a steam-injected version of a rice husk stove
which is considerable lower. http://www.minangjordanindo.com/steaminjectedgastove.htm
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A new production of rice-husk gasifiers based on the Belonio-design has just started in September 2010 by Mr. Paul Olivier in a Vietnamese-owned workshop in Dalat (Vietnam). All
three gasifiers (reactor diameters of 150, 250 and 500 mm) have the same height (775mm)
and share the basic design. All are manufactured from stainless steel and equipped with the
same fan, covered by a plate for protection from spills.
The speed regulator is mounted on the fan housing. Two heat sink fins on the fan housing
block the transfer of heat to the fan and the fan speed regulator. Power supply can be from
the grid or for the household-size units via a motorbike battery inexpensively pre-wired for
this purpose. The supplied adapter handles all electrical inputs (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,
USA, Colombia and Europe).
The following prices include gasifier (all in stainless steel), fan, speed regulator and adapter.
Prices as per December 2010 do not include a battery or battery charger:
150 gasifier (burn rate 2-4 kg biomass/h)
= 52 USD
250 gasifier (burn rate 5-10 kg biomass/h)
= 92 USD
500 gasifier (burn rate 20-40 kg biomass/h) = 232 USD (for institutions, greenhouses)
Models 150 and 250 (Vietnam)
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Rice and coffee bean husk
Alexis Belonio
52 / 92 USD. Table-high stove top for
1 or 2 pots, enclosures available
Just starting, < 100
September 2010
Paul A. Olivier PhD
27C Pham Hong Thai Street, Dalat,
Vietnam, Skype: Xpolivier
Source: Paul Olivier
Louisiana phone: 1-337-447-4124 (rings Vietnam)
Short Description:
Top-lit updraft combustion unit (reactor), either with incorporated
burner unit or a stove top at table height with a main burner for cooking and one pot hole for warming. Stainless steel. Reactor with 150 or
250 mm diameter, 775 mm high.
With powerful fan, fan speed controllable by rheostat, powered by a
wet-cell motorbike battery (not included).
In operating the stove, one removes the burner and fills the reactor
with hulls. The hulls are lit and the burner is put back in place. It takes
about 15 seconds for the stove to be fully operational, and over 45
minutes to gasify all of the hulls in the reactor. Generally this is
enough time to cook a meal at the cost of about 1.1 cents of a USD.
Makes good biochar, which can be removed at the bottom of the reactor /combustion unit.
Further info: http://www.esrla.com/pdf/gasifier.pdf also featuring drawings and photos of
various types of enclosures for safety and stability.
A video showing the 150 model is found on http://www.esrla.com/pdf/gasifier.mpg
More info on the Model 250 http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/250-gasifier, or see section on gasification in http://www.esrla.com/pdf/composting.pdf
Other comments: Contact Paul Olivier for a custom-made offer.paul.olivier@esrint.com
The 500 mm diameter model is very suitable to heat greenhouses and to produce larger
amounts of biochar, 800 mm unit for 50-100 kg of rice hulls per hour is under development.
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There is a type of natural draft stove with a conical fuel hopper. It is not a batch-loaded fanassisted TLUD, but a continuous feed also referred to as a ‗quasi‘ or ‗semi‘-gasifier. It is
therefore much shorter than the rather tall and top-heavy TLUD rice husk gasifiers. REAP
(Resource Efficient Agricultural Production) has also introduced the model in West Africa. It
is a promising option for areas, where stove-height might be an obstacle for cultural acceptance, electricity access is challenging and purchasing power rather demands low-cost options.
Mayon Turbo Stove
(Philippines / Gambia / Senegal)
Target area:
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Made by:
Production promotion:
Short Description:
Char-making ability:
User feedback:
Performance data:
Currently promoted by REAP
in Philippines,
Rice husk, also peanut shell
and other shells and husks
Developed by REAP Canada,
based on LoTrau from Vietnam
15-20 USD
Over 5,000 in Philippines, 500
in Gambia and Senegal
In 2003
Local artisans
Roger Samson
In order to encourage more stove production around the world,
REAP Canada has prepared an International Marketing and Manufacturing Package which includes information on what is needed to
manufacture and disseminate the stove at the local level. It includes
general information on the stove, design drawings for manufacture,
an instruction manual, brochures, and former case studies and can
be obtained for 200 Canadian Dollars from REAP.
Bottom-lit continuous feed natural draft gasifier, dimensions depending on model 165 or 178 mm diameter, Weight 4-5 kg
Made from sheet metal and steel by local artisans.
conical fuel hopper open on top, combustion chamber in the centre
of hopper, secondary air holes enhance the complete combustion.
Can be fed continuously from the open top of the conical hopper.
Tapping to introduce new fuel to the combustion chamber in the centre of the hopper is required every 7-10 minutes.
No, burns to ash, which can be used as a fertilizer.
Fast, convenient, smokeless, economical to operate, enables considerable savings, good pot stability, uses a wide range of cheap
None known.
1 liter of water can boil in 6-7 minutes. More in Report from 2005
done by Aprovecho downloadable on
Further info: http://www.reap-canada.com/bio_and_climate_3_3_1.htm
Other comments: The stove was started to be developed together with local artisans in the Philippines in 2001. It was introduced in the Gambia in 2003.
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Outlook rice husk burning gas stoves
For institutions and restaurants, a 2-3 pot remote-burner stove can be found at
More rice husk-burning stove designs once prototyped and presented at a wood gasifier
workshop organized by ARECOP in 2003 can be found in the handbook compiled by Alexis
A very comprehensive training manual on Rice husk gas stoves updated by Alexis Belonio
and others in April 2010 can be obtained upon request by email from
crhet_cpu@yahoo.com. Further information is available on www.crhet.org. It includes learning modules about the underlying principles and the development of the technology. It features construction and marketing options, testing reports and detailed plans of the rice husk
gas stove.
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Minang Jordanindo in Indonesia also has started to manufacture a model that can burn rice
husks without an external power source, but with steam injection into the flame to enhance
the complete combustion. It has the advantage that it can be continuously operated (no
batch-feed), and it is considerably lower, which might be important for acceptance in certain
cultures with preferences for lower stoves. The stove is still in the socialisation phase, but
samples should be obtainable.
RHSIS -20 D (Indonesia)
Steam injected Rice husk gas stove
Fuel type:
Designed by:
Retail price:
Numbers sold:
Start of production:
Manufactured by:
Rice husks
Prof. Alexis Belonio
USD 25-30, to be determined
Not known
Minang Jordanindo Approtech
Via Prof Belonio or address below
Adhi Graha Building 15th floor, Suite
1502 A, Ji. Gotot Subroto Kav 56,
Jakarta 12950, Indonesia Phone
Source: A. Belonio
021-5262525, Fax 021-526 24 16
Production capacity: Not known
Short Description:
Natural draft continuous-feed rice husk burner with steam injection to
enhance flame. Two models differing by the method of steam injection either from the side or from the center.
Width 350 mm, Length 350 mm, Height 400 mm, Weight not known
Power output (according to the website):
1 KW for side-injection of steam at fuel burn rate of 2,4 kg/hour,
1.3 KW for center injection of steam at burn rate of 3,2 kg/hour
Conical fuel hopper surrounding the combustion chamber. Fuel is
inserted into the combustion chamber on the bottom. Water tank:
Steam is generated around the combustion chamber, then injected
to the flame either from the side or from the center.
Unlimited operating time: the fuel hopper is filled with rice husks,
which enter by gravity (supported by tapping to make the fuel move)
on the bottom of the combustion chamber. Hopper can be refilled
during operation. Lighting at the top with a piece of paper, Start-up
time 1 minute for side-injection model, 3 min for center-injection, ash
removal by tipping the stove.
Char-making ability: Final product is mostly ash
User feedback:
Operates continuously, high power output, no external power
needed, uses waste rice husk as fuel, convenient to use, easy to
ignite, no smoke during operation, flame intensity can be controlled,
easy fuel-loading and ash-removal
Accidents reported:
None known
Performance data:
6 min to boil 2 litres of water with the center-injection of steam at a
water consumption of 1,32 liters/hour
Further info: http://www.minangjordanindo.com/steaminjectedgastove.htm
Other comments: The bigger 5,5 KW-model RHSIS -30 D is suitable for restaurants and
institutions. It has a center-injection of and burns 10 kg of rice husks in 1 hour.
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2.1.2 Campstoves
These stoves are mainly targeted at an affluent niche market for occasional use and not
very suitable for daily domestic use. They are only suited for reasonably small-size flatbottom pots and don‘t allow for the often very big pot size used by normal households in
developing countries. They also don‘t provide the stability needed for regular cooking. They
are rather suited for warming food on a camping trip than preparing meals that require vigorous stirring.
Yet they are important to be included here, as they are ‗a low-cost introduction to microgasification which allows you to begin experimenting with turning biomass into clean, blueburning gas’ (source WorldStove).
The value of these campstoves is that they can be ordered via mail, paid for electronically,
and shipped into even remote corners of the world at reasonable costs, because they are
designed to be very light, compact and sturdy enough to endure being carried around in a
backpack. They can use nearly any type of dry biomass fuel that is found outdoors and
picked up without the need for chopping (leaves, twigs, pine cones, straw etc.).
Currently there are two campstoves readily available on the market: a fan-assisted model
with heat control and a natural-draft model without heat control. Another model where the
fan is powered by a thermo-electric generator unit is envisaged to come on the market in
The„Tom Reed Woodgas Campstove‟
Top-lit updraft campstove with a fan that allows heat control by choosing between high and low speed of the fan. The fan serves primary
and secondary air supply at the same time. It is powered by a separate
battery pack for 2 AA-batteries. Two sockets on the stainless steel
stove body allow heat control. It is calibrated to reproduce the heat of a
normal kitchen stove.
It can be used as a batch-fed pyrolytic TLUD when fuelled up to capacity, or as a continuous-feed when ideally only filled in the bottom
Two different models can be ordered from the Biomass Energy Foundation:
http://www.woodgas.com/bookSTOVE.htm (source of photo above)
WoodGas LE: Weight: 23 oz, Height: 6.25", Diameter: 5‖, mail order price: US Dollar 55
Woodgas XL version: US Dollar 75.
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The „Beaner‟ Backpacker Stove from WorldStove
The Beaner is a bi-fuel fan-free stove without temperature control.
Created for backpackers as a carbon-negative camping stove, it is
also currently being used in developing countries as a small cookstove. It can be used with dry biomass (pine needles, wood, etc.) or
with any alcohol (ethanol, alcohol, vodka, etc.). It is also possible to
add waste plant oil, such as sunflower seed oil, jatropha or olive oil,
to dry biomass for a 21% increase in energy. Campers need only
add on an 8oz soda can as a consumable item. Using the Beaner
with solid biomass fuels creates biochar, which enriches the soil and
sequesters carbon. This means by burying your biochar in the soil
where you have cooked a meal on an outdoor trip, the site is left
richer than you found it.
Compatible with stainless steel pot stand and aluminum flat folding
windscreen. For an alternative to the stainless steel pot stand, there
are instructions to build a micro pot stand out of hardware cloth.
Photo source: WorldStove website
Technical Information
Adding fuel: Top fill. Not batch driven, can add fuel while cooking.
Biomass feed rate: 100g = 42 minutes of cook time, Alcohol: 29 ml = 22 minutes
Weight: 244 g / 8.6 oz
Measurements: 134 mm (height) 51 mm (diameter)
Accessories: Stainless steel pot stand, Aluminum flat folding wind screen
Weight of stainless steel pot stand: 5.7 oz, Weight of windscreen: 0.1 oz
Can be ordered via http://worldstove-germany.com, price was quoted around 50 Euro as
per September 2010. It needs to be assembled using a standard can. Instructions for assembly available from the download area at:
More info from http://worldstove.com/products/the-beaner-backpacking-stove/.
Outlook Campstoves: BioLite CampStove
This campstove is being developed by Biolite. founded by
Jonathan Cedar and Alec Drummond.
The most interesting feature of that CampStove is a
unique thermo-electric generator (TEG) that creates electricity from heat. Otherwise the stove is mainly based on
Tom Reed‘s fan-assisted Woodgas Campstove, but the
fan is powered by TEG instead of batteries. Biolite hopes
to start a commercial production of the CampStove in
2011. The current priority is to get their TEG to power a
fan attached to a side-fed wood-burning rocket-stove for Photo: Christa Roth, 2010
developing countries, with the aim to reduce emissions by
90% as compared to an open fire. This is currently only
possible with proper gasifier technologies. More details on that joint venture with Aprovecho
Research Centre to develop a next-generation wood-burning stove on:
http://www.charcoalproject.org/2010/06/a-great-stove-with-a-killer-app/ and
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2.2 Prototypes with certain field testing and potential for local adaptation and
This category comprises conceptualised micro-gasifiers that
 achieved a certain level of field-outreach through artisanal production
 have prototypes ready for industrial or artisanal production in a new area
 do not depend on external power sources but function with natural draft
 are based on easily replicable, publicly available plans and instructions
The following list is only a non-inclusive selection; there are more designs out there:
Designed by
Paal Wendelbo
Paul Anderson
Art Donnelly
Ravi Kumar
Sai Bhaskar Reddy
Sai Bhaskar Reddy
Name of stove
PekoPe and MUS
MAGH series
Current known field-outreach
Uganda, Zambia, (Haiti?)
India, Cambodia, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi
Costa Rica
AVAN series
The selected designs are open source with downloadable plans or otherwise expertise
available through the designer to assist in establishing a local production. Training of trainers can be facilitated, so that artisans get properly trained how to produce good quality gasifiers, and the end-users can get trained how to handle the devices properly.
A word of caution at this place: to assist in the introduction of micro-gasifiers in a new context, it is advisable to get early practical advice from a skilled knowledge-bearer, who is very
familiar with all the tricks of the technology:
In a new context all the variables and influencing parameters that are to important stove
performance will be different: altitude, fuel, dishes to be cooked, untrained users etc. With
factory-finished products, the quality of the product should not constitute a ‗variable‘.
Though, with a start of a new production, many additional variables are added to the equation like materials used for stove construction, dimensions of the burner, quality of craftsmanship etc. Small variations can sometimes make a big difference. In a new context, it is
advisable to start with a small pilot and adapt the technology in a participatory process together with the communities and the assistance of a knowledge-bearer.
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‘PekoPe’ and ‘MUS’ designs by Paal Wendelbo (Norway)
The PekoPe (‗no problem‘ in vernacular Acholi from Uganda):
probably the simplest TLUD design with field-experience
very clean-burning, pyrolytic TLUD gasifier ‗energy unit‘
char-making optional, the user can chose whether to use
the energy for cooking or save the char for other use
very simple to make from any type of metal, ideal for replication
can be scaled from household sizes to institutional and
commercial sizes.
Technical features: The ‗energy unit‘ consists of an inner cyl- http://www.bioenergylists.org
inder as fuel chamber (or reactor), outer cylinder to guide and
preheat secondary air, a concentrator disk on top. Two vertical
handles on the outer cylinder ease handling and dumping of
char. Inner container fixed to outer container with spacers that
also function as legs to keep the fuel chamber above ground
and let the secondary air enter between the cylinders.
Handling: top-lit, batch-fed, cooking time depending on volume
and mass of fuel, up to 75 minutes is well possible. To extend Local PekoPe production
cooking time, the entire energy unit needs to be exchanged. in Uganda in 1996.
Combining more units under one pot support increases fire- Photo Paal Wendelbo
power, e.g. for use in restaurants, industries or institutions.
Paal Wendelbo is one of the two ‗fathers of TLUDs‘. Paal worked on burner units for stoves,
based on observations making smokeless fire when he was with resistance fighters in the
forest in Norway during the 2nd World War. He started conceptualizing the first natural draft
TLUD in the late 1980s, about the same time but independent from the work of Tom Reed in
the US. After a lot of trying and failing he made a simple cook stove which was found very
clean burning when tested at Copenhagen Technical high school in 1988. It was introduced
in various countries where Paal worked: Malawi (1988, fuelled with grass), Mozambique
(1990, fuelled with cashew nut husks), Ghana (1989, fuelled with residues and chopped
wood) and Tanzania (1990). In 1994, the stove was adjusted in refugee camps in Uganda to
burn straw, bundled and packed vertically into the unit, ‗without problem‘, which gave it the
vernacular Acholi name ‗PekoPe‘.
In all the countries the stoves were locally made by local tinsmiths with their existing tools
from the materials they could get, either new sheets or scrap metal. The artisans needed
only some guidelines, a template and customers for this simple technology.
At a Trade Fair exhibition in Kampala 1997 they were selling 500 stoves in two days at market price, at that time 5 US$. Over 5,000 units were in use by 1999, when Paal left Uganda
for medical reasons. Because he developed the technical aspects but not the business side
in the refugee situation, the ‗stove business‘ did not carry on, though the design has great
business potential. The stove was introduced in Zambia in 2008 fuelled with chopped wood.
At Aprovecho Stove Camp 2009 Paal made a PekoPe from a 3 litre tin and some leftover
sheets: The combustion chamber had a diameter of 150 mm and was 180 mm high. Other
features (according to an email posted on the stoves-listserv in December 2010):
 55 mm free space from concentration lid up to the pot
 105 mm hole in concentration lid
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6 mm gap between the concentration lid and top of the combustion chamber 4x15mm for the stand for secondary air
five 5 mm holes 75 mm up from the bottom on the side of the combustion chamber
five 5 mm holes 25 mm up from the bottom on the side of the combustion chamber
five 13 mm holes at the bottom plate for primary air
15 mm space between combustion chamber and cover for preheating secondary air
This unit was tested and given the Kirk Smith Award for its clean-burning. It boiled 5 l of
water in 28 minutes, using 768 g of wood pellets. The emissions were among the lowest
ever measured in the Aprovecho laboratory up to then: only 23 g of CO was emitted in the
task, nearly meeting the ambitious benchmark of 20 g. The PM was 223 microgram, staying
well below the current benchmark value of 1,500 for a stove without chimney.
Paal always emphasises that you ‗have to start with the fuel‘, as ‗fuel, stove and user is one
system which can not be separated, If you don‘t have the fuel at an appropriate price you
will not manage to promote the stoves.‘
The following videos show Paals work in Northern Uganda:
Construction plans and information on Paal and the PekoPe can be downloaded from:
http://www.bioenergylists.org/wendelbopekope (Wendelbo TLUD Pioneer Experiences)
Further reading on: http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/tlud-nd-peko-pe
http://www.pekope.net/stove.html with the concept of combining energy units
Or contact Paal Wendelbo on paaw@online.no
The MUS (multi-use-stove): a new very promising concept under development
The lowest micro-gasifier so far found (< 15 cm height), while still offering enough power to
cook. Thus it is very interesting for communities, where the acceptable height of the stove is
a limiting factor for adoption like in many parts of East Africa.
 includes pot stand that can accommodate more than one pot at the time
 adaptable volume of fuel container allows to meter the fuel and the cooking time
 allows refueling during use
For details: http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/mus-multi-use-stove
MUS with two pots
Paal cooking on MUS
Top view of MUS
Photos: left Christa Roth, above http://www.bioenergylists.org
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
‘Champion’ Designs by Paul Anderson (USA)
Paul Anderson, (aka ‗Dr. TLUD‘ and a major contributor to this manual) has been working
on the TLUD concept since he saw it demonstrated by Tom Reed in 2001. His design that
won the award for cleanest burning natural draft cookstove at Stove Camp 2005 led to the
name ―Champion.‖
The Champion-design constitutes only a burner unit and requires a separate pot-support
structure to become a cook-stove application that can carry the weight of the cooking vessel
(pot, pan, griddle, mitad etc.), so that the burner unit can be moved during operation.
It is a very simple TLUD design that offers options for air control
 very clean-burning, char-making pyrolytic TLUD gasifier unit
 allows for separate control of primary air and an option for secondary air control
 very simple to make from any type of metal, ideal for replication
 can be scaled from household sizes to institutional and small-business sizes
Technical features: The fundamental features are the concentrator lid and associated secondary air gap, developed independently by Anderson but essentially similar to construction
elements in Wendelbo‘s Peko Pe. Differences between the Champion and the Peko Pe are
the riser, the handle on the separate concentrator disk and a provision to control air supply,
both primary and secondary.
 Fuel chamber/inner cylinder with (adjustable) primary air inlet and fuel grate
 Outer cylinder with secondary air inlet (can be adapted to be controlled)
 Concentrator lid for mixing of wood-gas and preheated secondary air, with handle
 Riser to enhance draft, can be combined with a coupler and concentrator lid
 Handles for easy exchange of ‗fuel cartridge‘ and easy dumping of char.
Handling: top-lit, batch-fed, cooking time depending on volume and mass of fuel, up to 75
minutes with one load of dense fuel is possible. To extend cooking time, the fuel canister
(reactor of the gasifier) can be exchanged.
Construction plans and detailed operational instructions and explanations of concept, illustrated by many photographs and graphs, can be downloaded from
http://www.bioenergylists.org/andersontludconstruction (Construction Plans 1.3MB)
A video showing the basic design features and operation of the Champion is found on
A Champion reactor made
in Malawi with movable
tripode-stand for the pot
(Photo: Christa Roth)
A Champion reactor made
in Mozambique with a fixed
stand for the pot
(Photo: Carmel Lloyd)
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A Champion reactor made in
Uganda, partially loaded with
vertically placed bamboo sticks
(Photo: Christoph Messinger)
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Two pilot projects based on the Champion model have just started in December 2010 in
Mulanje (Malawi) and Pemba (Mozambique). A 2-year project under BEIA-ESMAP funding
by Worldbank is going to start in 2011 in Uganda with the Centre for Research in Energy
and Energy Conservation (CREEC). This project is expected to create more good examples
of Championand other TLUD applications based on further participatory technology development.
Factory-finished stainless steel version is produced by Servals in Chennai, India (see Section 1 of this Module). Other artesian versions in use in Cambodia, and the Marshall Islands.
An edited excerpt of Anderson’s document on options applying the Champion concepts to
many contexts and requirements:
1. ―Hobbyist‖: produced at a residential garage workbench in the USA with materials from
common hardware stores. It is most appropriate for tinkerers, Scouts, and serious stove
2. ―Refugee‖: produced using a minimum of tools and recycled materials found in refugee
camps. It is most appropriate for humanitarian relief efforts.
3. ―Artisan – factory finished‖: produced as a commercial product in a modest metalwork
shop e.g. in Chennai, India. It is most appropriate for primarily manual production as a
commercial product by small factories.
4. ―Industrial‖: Full-fledged mechanized production. Much of the production could be accomplished in factories that already make metal containers.
The designs can be scaled to larger units for cottage industry, restaurant and institutional
More information from Paul S Anderson via email: psanders@ilstu.edu
Further reading by Paul Anderson:
Micro-Gasification: What it is and why it works” by Anderson, Reed, and Wever (2007), at:
An overview of gasification (2004) is at:
The exceptionally clean combustion of TLUD stoves (2009) is presented at:
Paul Andersons draft version of a TLUD-handbook:
‘Bonustrack’: a humorous summary of the ‘Family of tincanium stoves’ by Paul Anderson can be
found on http://www.bioenergylists.org/andersonethos2010
The test results on http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/testing-andersons-tl from April 2010 in
Cambodia are not representative for a proper operation of the stove. The photos show excessive
flames, which is probably due to too much air while in use and excessive gaps between the 10 cm
length stick-wood fuel.
Examples for adaptation and „hybrid‟ models
Michael N Trevor‘s TLUD version from 2010 shows the flexibility of combining elements
from Anderson‘s Champion, Wendelbo‘s PekoPe and Reddy‘s ‗smokeburner MAGH‘ built in
the Marshall Islands: http://www.bioenergylists.org/node/2427
Larger TLUD stoves based on a 5-gallon bucket for institutional use can be found on
More details on the Stove Workshop organized by the Seattle Biochar working group
(http://www.seachar.org) on http://seachar.org/wordpress/?p=176.
As a result of the workshop, Art Donnelly, the co-founder of SeaChar, started the transfer of
the concept to Costa Rica and started the promotion of a biochar-making stove, which is
presented next.
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This is a good example how since February 2010 the TLUD-concept was applied in a new
situation following the demand of a specific target group with specific needs. In a few
months a working ‗stove‘ and an in-country supply chain was developed with a local farmers
association and a group of women. The stove is now retailed at 40 USD.
ESTUFA FINCA in Costa Rica by Art Donnelly (USA)
Starting point: Organic coffee farmers in Costa Rica were looking for a solution to
 provide migrant workers with clean-burning cook-stoves to improve their health
 use farm-residues that need to be burnt for plant pathology reasons for cooking
 create biochar for soil amendment to reduce fertilizer use on an organic farm
 carbon negative cooking to possibly subsidize with carbon credits the placement of
stoves in the make-shift homes of 100,000 seasonal migrant workers.
The result was a TLUD with preheated secondary air:
 Designed for bigger pots, based on an off-the-shelf 20-liter paint bucket
 Converts a multitude of biomass from a coffee farm to biochar: coffee plant trimmings, to
a certain extent coffee husks, corn cobs, goat droppings, blackberry vines
 Primary air through the bottom for easy char-quenching, air control can be added.
 Easy to manufacture using patterns, guides and jigs to create pre-cut assembly kits, that
can be assembled with simple hand-tools and rivets.
People‘s reaction to the fuel-flexible clean burning stove: ―this is re-inventing the fire.‖
ESTUFA FINCA in the Santos Region
Designed for big pots
Burner unit with primary
air control
Retail price 40 USD, excl. shipment (June 2010), production by
APORTES women group. For a sample stove contact Carolina
Abarca mandarinaynaranjas@hotmail.com,
More info on the ‗Proyecto Estufa Finca‘from February 2010 on
An update from June 2010 and more photos on
http://www.biochar.bioenergylists.org/content/proyecto-estufafinca-update-seattle or http://www.hedon.info/1825/news.htm
Contact the designer: art.donnelly@seachar.org
Photos: Art Donnelly, co-founder of Seattle Biochar working group (http://www.seachar.org)
The latest video from Costa Rica gives a good insight in the stove program and the context
of the coffee growing area. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGIVh-zMWgY
The next challenge is to see if the TLUD concept can be applied to dry coffee.
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ANILA stove by Prof. Ravi Kumar (India)
Charring small biomass without electricity, just by natural draft.
Design is a bit more challenging concerning craftsmanship, as some joints need to be made
air-tight to avoid smoke escaping from the allothermal pyrolysis zone.
Design consisting of two concentric cylinders of different diameters (see diagram).
The inner is a TLUD, filled with chunky biomass that allows flaming pyrolysis with natural
draft. The outer ring is filled with small-size biomass (like husks, sawdust etc.), which would
not work in a TLUD without forced convection. The fire is lit on top in the center cylinder, the
TLUD. Heat from the central fire pyrolyzes the concentric ring of small biomass fuel without
flame (allothermal). The gases can only escape downward and to the center where they add
to the cooking flame as the ring of biomass turns to char. The stove produces two types of
char: autothermal from flaming pyrolysis in the TLUD-part, very pure allothermal char from
the outer ring. Secondary air supply not shown in diagram. Developed by U.N. Ravikumar,
at India‘s National Institute of Engineering.
(Adapted from: http://www.biochar-international.org/technology/stoves)
More information on http://www.bioenergylists.org/anila, report with examples from use in
communities in Tamil Nadu province in South-East India can be downloaded
http://www.bioenergylists.org/stovesdoc/ravikumar/Biochar_Anila.pdf (9.8 MB)
Anila type stoves were recently compared to other models in Cambodia, details on
http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/testing-anila-stove. Over 2,500 units were made, see
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MAGH and AVAN series - Designs by Dr. Reddy (India)
Dr N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy Nakka, founder and CEO of Geoecology Energy Org. is a very
productive designer of TLUD gasifiers and other biomass stoves. He has designed over 40
models for different fuels, varying in construction materials, production costs, sizes and optional fans. All designs are open knowledge. A selection is presented here, others can be
found on http://www.goodstove.com/ and http://www.e-geo.org/ .
The MAGH-series: Several charmaking TLUD gasifier designs are summarized in the MAGH ‗smokeburner‘ series.
The MAGH CM is a very low cost version of the MAGH series, for the common man. The community retail price based
on production from recycled material is quoted to be less than
8 USD.
Details on http://e-maghcm.blogspot.com/ and
http://www.bioenergylists.org/node/2410 (source photo right)
The MAGH IV includes an option to provide light during operation. http://e-maghlampstove.blogspot.com/.
A factory-finished fan-powered MAGH-1 was found at Aprovecho Research Centre in Oregon (photos Christa Roth). It is very lightweight and simple, but according to Dr. Reddy not
manufactured regularly. Thus it was not included in section 2.1.
The MAGH-3G represents an interesting concept of flexible multi-fuel ‗all-in-one‘ stoves,
that can be adapted to burn all types of biomass for cooking: wood (in form of sticks, chips
or shavings), leaves, pellets, briquettes, cow dung cakes and charcoal.
It has a micro-gasifier insert, a shutter for air control and a grate that can be adjusted in
height: as a TLUD it burns small-size biomass cleanly, with an optional fan.
MAGH 3G stove in use as fan-powered TLUD, as rocket stove with firewood and as charcoal stove.
(Source: http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/magh-3g-stove-all)
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With the shutter open, the grate at the bottom, and without the gasifier insert, it can be used
as a rocket-type stove for firewood. Putting the grate higher and closing the shutter to control the excess air, it becomes a conventional charcoal burner.
It was found that many families have at least two or three types of stoves in rural areas for
using types of biomass as fuel. Now with just one stove they have the freedom to use all
types of Biomass as fuel. There is an option to control primary air, to control air from the fuel
feed side opening, and secondary air (when using TLUD adapter). Weighs 1.3 kgs, 9 ― high,
7 ― diameter, price is Rs. 120 (less than 3 US$), easy to transport, efficiencies from 25% to
40% based on the type of fuel and mode of operation, easy to cook in open air conditions,
low transportation cost, can meet the cooking needs of 5 to 10 people, all types of food can
be cooked, less time required to train people on how to operate it. Detailed description,
plans and a video are found on http://e-magh3g.blogspot.com/ or
Drawing of a MAGH-3 stove:
AVAN series of fixed and portable continuous-feed gasifiers
The AVAN models combine bottom-burning continuous feed gasifiers
and rocket stove principles with insulated vertical combustion chambers. The fuel is gravityfed (semi-automatic
feeding) continuously
through a hopper from
the side just above the
pyrolysis zone.
Source: http://www.bioenergylists.org/node/1932
The fixed model is made up of 25 ordinary bricks, four bricks with slits, one piece of flat tile,
one steel grate 7x7 inches and clay mixed with cow dung. The approximate cost of construction is $ 2 (USD). All types of biomass can be used as fuel (Sticks / twigs / chips of
wood / dry leaves / grass / saw dust / cow dung cakes / paddy husk etc.).
More info on: http://e-avanstove.blogspot.com/ http://www.bioenergylists.org/geoavanstove
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2.3 „Tincanium‟ and other low-cost prototypes of micro-gasifiers
This is the ‗do-it-yourself‘ section on how to demonstrate the principle of micro-gasification
and create awareness. Unlike the factory-finished, ready to use campstoves, it is not ‗learning-by-observation‘ but ‗learning-by-doing‘ for own experience and understanding of the
processes. Not only for school kids.
It features micro-gasifier burner units which are
 not yet proven in extended field tests
 not commercially available and
 not directly suitable for large-scale replication,
 very educational to trigger interest in an initial phase and start experimenting with gasification, because they
o rely on existing construction elements like discarded tin-cans
o have clear and easy step-by-step instructions how to make them
o are easy to construct even by people without tin-smithing skills
o need few special tools, mainly a ‗church-key‘ can opener, tin-snips and nails
o are very educational to prove the technical concept and general viability of micro-gasification
o based on natural draft, no electricity needed for operation
o have clear and easy instructions that might serve to build some local trial versions in a new area and inspire local adaptation by local artisans and users
 suitable to generate prototypes of burners to convert conventional stoves into fuelflexible gasifier-stoves
Caution: The use of gloves is highly recommended when handling tin cans, as the edges
can be very sharp!
4 models of ‗burner concepts‘ were selected with the main features and properties:
Name of burner concept
Preheated secondary air
Concentrator disk for thorough
mixing of wood-gas and air
Ability to save char
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‘iCan’ concept presented by Jock Gill
Simplest All-in-One TLUD made from one tin-can, just 17 holes in the right places in one
can. No tools needed other than a can opener and a nail or punch, takes less than 10 minutes to make. Very suitable for school projects or elsewhere to demonstrate the TLUD principle and have people cook something on the ‗stove‘ they just made themselves. Similar
concepts have been presented by other designers (like Paul Anderson‘s ‗Willie-OneCan),
but the most recent and nicely illustrated version was posted by Jock Gill on
More designs by Jock Gill on http://www.bioenergylists.org/taxonomy/term/1508/0 and on
‘1G Toucan’ by Hugh McLaughlin
Probably the second simplest TLUD micro-gasifier made essentially out of two cans placed
on top of each other: typically a 1-gallon paint can and another slightly smaller can (called a
―Number 10 tin‖ or a coffee-can in the USA) for the secondary air. The ‗Toucan‘ is very educational to demonstrate the TLUD-principles. The combustion zone is very visible so that
the convection flows and flame shapes are easily understood.
It is very suitable for the production of small quantities of consistent high-purity and easy-touse biochar.
This is due to its unique construction features: primary air is fed through the bottom of the
1G-can (which is slightly raised) and secondary air
through the second can on top.
The main fuel container has no air holes on the
side. Thus char-gasification (which depends on the
availability of oxygen) might easily be halted by
sealing off the air supply: once the tin is placed
directly on the ground and covered on the top with
the paint can lid, it prevents char-gasification in an
oxygen-starved environment.
This ensures the safe and easy saving of the char
inside the container without having to quench the
char in water or dump glowing char out of a hot
container at the end of the wood pyrolysis stage.
Makes also a good and powerful burner unit, ideal
for a camp-stove or a make-shift stove as backup
for power-cuts.
Can also be used as a fireplace insert.
Photo: Various 1G Toucans with risers at CHAB-camp in Massachussetts in August 2010
For further information see http://www.bioenergylists.org/mclauglintoucan, from where you
can download easy and clear instructions at
2010%20-%20final_0(3).pdf (0.6 MB)
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‘Everything-nice Stove’ by Nathaniel Mulcahy (WorldStove)
The only construction instructions with flexible and relative measurements. This allows to
adjust plans to the dimensions required and/or to available material like existing cans in
various parts of the world. Ideal for easy construction of a gasifier burner unit for retrofitting
in existing stoves and make them multi-fuel stoves (below see photos of a retrofitted charcoal stove from Benin or a carbon-negative grill).
For easy and clear construction instructions: click on the link at the left edge of the window
at http://worldstove.com/products/#
Burner unit made out of two cans with a slight difference in diameter, so that one fits inside
the other with a small gap for the secondary air. Features preheated secondary air. The
publication of these plans in 2009 lead to multiple versions tried out all over the world:
Many of them are demonstrated in youtube-videos. Some examples come up through this
It also inspired Andrew Ma to make an ultra-light and most accessible burner unit by wrapping some woodsticks in aluminum foil. Not so practical to cook with, but great to show-case
the concept of woodgas-application
An unnamed contributor used it to make a wood gas lamp and a stove:
http://www.youtube.com/user/jw934, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XxL6pPGGCE
The concept also inspired Kelpie Wilson from the International Biochar Initiative to come up
with instructions on how to make micro-gasifiers in a school project:
The same ‗Everythingnice‘ burner unit made from standard European size cans (425 ml and
580 ml) used in different applications.
Retrofitted in a charcoal stove
from Benin for the alternative
use of un-charred biomass
instead of charcoal. Here run
on pellets made from straw.
The stove can still be used
with charcoal, if the hole for
the riser of the gasifier burner
is covered with a perforated
piece of metal as a grate.
(Photos Christa Roth, June 2010)
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As a burner unit to power a
make-shift carbon-negative
barbeque-grill with 150 g raw
wood-pellets. A lamp-glass
was used as a riser to be able
to see the flame.
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
‘Grassifier’ by Crispin Pemberton-Pigott (Canada)
It shows the viability of grass-pellets as a cooking fuel, which can be potentially an important
source of solid biomass energy especially in developing countries.
Can be made in 30 minutes with some more metal-working skills and simple tools: tin snips,
a sharp punch, a hammer, a fat washer for making ‗spouts‘ (not just holes) and a ruler or
tape measure. It helps to have a piece of steel pipe which is shown being used as an anvil
to fit the bottom plate.
General info and video on http://www.bioenergylists.org/taxonomy/term/1518.
Construction descriptions http://www.bioenergylists.org/en/crispin_25-kw-grasifier
No downloadable plans (yet).
The design is based on the ‗Vesto‘-principle (see previous section) and it can burn grass
pellets but also a wide range of other solid fuels. The secondary air is preheated in a sleeve
between the double walls, all the way up to the top of the unit, well above the secondary air
entry holes.
The jets of well-preheated secondary air ‗shoot‘ into combustion chamber through small
holes and thoroughly mix with the wood-gas. The burner unit has no concentrator disk and
still burns cleanly. It manages to keep the flames rather low above the fuel bed.
The designer estimates, it would cost about $1.00 to produce from thin stainless steel.
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2.4 Other inspiring micro-gasifier concepts
Many gasifier concepts have been developed in the past to various levels of sophistication.
Some never went into sizeable production, but might still be valuable for specific applications where they can be developed further. Some examples:
Designs developed by AD. Karve from the Appropriate Rural Technology Institute ARTI in
Pune, India:
The ‗Vivek‘ stove for sawdust and the ‗Agni‘ stove for briquettes and wood chips, More info
Other special design for briquettes:
Richard Stanley and Kobus Venter: Holey Briquette Gasifier Stoves (2003)
Holey Briquette Gasifier Stove, rated at 1,1 KW
power output with 35% efficiency
Source: Bhattarcharya and Leon, 2005: Prospects for Biomass Gasifiers for Cooking Applications in
Asia, page 5,
Gasifier conceptualised in 2004 in India by Krishna Kumar
http://www.bioenergylists.org/stovesdoc/kumar/KK NDG.pdf
Woodgas stove made out of ceramic by Saibaskar Reddy: Interesting alternative for gentle
‗one-armed-cooking‘ with only light stirring: http://e-woodgasstove.blogspot.com/. Unknown
practicality for ‗two-armed-cooking‘ involving heavy stirring for which a certain physical
strength of the structure is needed. In this case retrofitting a simple gasifier burner unit in a
sturdy (clay) stove might be an easier option.
Example of a cross-draft gasifier mentioned in a report from GERES in Cambodia:
In the efforts from RETSASIA, some cross-draft gasifier models were developed, the one
mention in the report on page 12 is was adapted by Planète Bois to be used for extended
cooking times e.g. in cottage industry production (tested in Cambodia for sugar-extraction
from palm juice) or where space heating is needed (field trials in Morocco). The gasgenerator and the gas-combustor are both vertical chambers, connected in the lower part by
a horizontal channel to take the pyrolysis gases across into the combustion chamber. Power
is regulated by the primary air supply. For easy comparison a graph of a TLUD is depicted
next to it.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
A cross-draft stove in Morocco
Source: http://www.geres.eu/fr/etudes/122-publi-etude-nls, page 12
Videos and other instructions:
There is a multitude of contributions found on the internet these days. Some selected highlights:
Lanny Hanson: a very productive designer of useful prototypes who shares his inventions
on http://www.youtube.com/user/lannyplans
Robert Flanagan (China)
Robert Flanagan has some designs that are being tested especially with bamboo as a fuel
in China. Videos on
Or documents on:
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Module 3
Biomass feedstock and fuels
for micro-gasification
Samples of natural and densified fuels
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Table of content Module 3
3.1 Solid biomass suitable as fuel in a micro-gasifier ............................................... 70
3.2 Factors influencing fuel properties ...................................................................... 72
3.2.1 Moisture content........................................................................................... 72
3.2.2 Particle size and particle size distribution ..................................................... 73
3.2.3 Fuel density and Bulk density ...................................................................... 75
3.3 Feedstock ready to use without major processing .............................................. 77
3.4 Fuel processing techniques ................................................................................ 79
3.4.1 Drying ........................................................................................................... 80
3.4.2 Sizing ........................................................................................................... 80
3.4.3 Densification ................................................................................................ 81
I) Manual briquetting options (wet pulp, low pressure) ...................................... 84
a) Hand shaped briquettes ............................................................................. 84
b) Briquette shaped with a simple mould from a perforated bottle ................. 84
II) Lever-presses (wet pulp, low-moderate pressure) ....................................... 85
a) Paper-brick Maker ..................................................................................... 85
b) Wooden presses by Leland Hite ................................................................ 85
c) Wooden presses by Richard Stanley and the Legacy Foundation ............. 87
III) Briquetting options: medium pressure, moist-dry feedstock ......................... 88
a) Screw-type extruder presses ..................................................................... 88
b) Piston presses ........................................................................................... 89
IV) Pelletising Options ....................................................................................... 90
a) Flat-die presses ......................................................................................... 90
b) Ring-die presses ........................................................................................ 91
Summary of benefits of densified fuel for use in micro-gasifiers........................ 92
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3.1 Solid biomass suitable as fuel in a micro-gasifier
Micro-gasifiers can handle a great variety of biomass that must be solid, relatively dry, and
of sizes that allow the proper passage of primary air. Although mineral coal could be used
in a significantly altered micro-gasifier, the focus here is on the vast resource-base of RENEWABLE SOLID BIOMASS FUELS that other burners cannot handle. A wide range of
renewable biomass residues beyond conventional firewood sticks or charcoal can be used
as cooking-fuel in a properly designed micro-gasifier.
...using biomass that does not require the destruction of timber resources means
less stress on the local environment17:
For optimal fuel use and combustion efficiency the biomass fuel should
1) Be dry: moisture content preferably below 20%. High moisture content results in less
stable stove operation and decreased available energy output of the fuel because more
energy is used simply to evaporate the moisture.
2) Be slightly chunky to allow air/gas passage: particle size should exceed 4 mm in the
smallest dimension. For finer feedstock like sawdust and rice husk, a fan-powered micro-gasifier, using forced convection to control the flow of air, is advisable
3) Have relatively uniform particle size distribution to avoid compacted zones or oversized voids in the fuel container which would prevent the uniform progression of the pyrolysis front through the fuel-bed
4) Be sufficiently energy-dense enough to achieve a reasonable balance of the ‗burnable
mass‘ in a given volume of a fuel-container with cooking duration and refueling efforts.
There are some general issues about choices of biomass fuels to be considered:
The fuel should not compete with resources necessary for food production (like land,
water, labour etc.) or a higher value use, such as a building material.
Fast growing fuels should not negatively impact the biodiversity of the locality.
Any fuel must be economically available in the long-term.
Fuel must be convenient to use and appropriate for the intended use.
The supply of any biomass should be sustainably managed, so that it can be a truly
renewable energy source
The fuel should not contain or release any toxic or harmful substances. In general, any
previously living material is non-toxic when combusted, but some fuels may have been
treated with toxic substances required by a previous use, such as treated lumber for insect and rot resistance. Such treated materials should be avoided, especially in cooking
applications where humans are often in close proximity of the combustion gases.
In areas with irregular and scarce rainfall, drought tolerant species are preferred. Many
‗anti-desertification plants‘ that are suitable for restoring vegetation cover in arid areas can
also provide good biomass fuels. A selection of suitable plants is found on
http://desertification.wordpress.com/3-interesting-plant-species/. Some examples mentioned are pigeon peas, flax, jatropha, bamboo, switchgrass etc.
Here are some examples of biomass successfully used as cooking-fuel in gasifier stoves in
Haiti e.g. peanut shells, rice and coconut husks, corn stalks and stover, small twigs and
branches, sugar cane bagasse, wheat chaff, animal waste, bamboo, citrus fruit rinds,
Partially quoted from http://www.charcoalproject.org/2010/05/a-man-a-stove-a-mission/
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mango pips, cardboard, wood shavings, processed biomass briquettes or pelletized
grasses, sawdust, lumber yard scrap (Photos Courtesy of WorldStove):
Although not all are yet tested for use in a micro-gasifier for cooking, additional candidate
fuels and biomass resources are discussed at
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3.2 Factors influencing fuel properties
3.2.1 Moisture content
What is the impact of moisture in the gasification process?
Moisture reduces the net usable energy output of a fuel: Any moisture contained in a fuel is
water that will consume 3,21 MJ of energy per kilogram (litre) of water to be evaporated in
the process of heating the fuel from ambient to the pyrolysis temperature around 400°C.18
This energy is not available for cooking, yet increases the weight of the fuel that needs to
be provided to the stove.
What is the right moisture content?
There is no definite answer to this question. The fuel should be as dry as possible in tropical climates. A moisture content between 8 to 20 % seems to be best. Though some stoves
with forced air claim to be able to burn fuel up to 30% moisture content, this is definitely not
desirable, as too much energy will be wasted to dry the fuel.
What happens if the fuel is too wet?
 Lighting wet fuel is much more difficult than lighting dry fuel.
 Some micro-gasifiers handle wet fuel better than others:
o Micro-gasifiers with a flaming pyrolysis front have a limited tolerance for wet fuel,
as the cooling effect caused by fuel moisture cools the flames in the zone of
flaming pyrolysis: Imagine the evaporated steam, mixed with the combustible
gases, acting as a fire-extinguisher putting out the flaming pyrolysis. In that case
the ‗engine‘ of the wood-gas production comes to a halt and the micro-gasifier
goes on to a slower oxidation mode known as ―smoldering pyrolysis‖. This oxidation mode does not generate enough useable heat to allow cooking, wastes the
fuel, and has a negative effect on the emissions.
o allo-thermal (retort) gasifiers, where pyrolysis is only caused by heat in the total
absence of oxygen handle moist fuel better. They just lose fuel efficiency due to
the energy expended during the fuel drying phase inside the retort.
 Super-heating water vapour causes cooling of the pyrolysis zone, resulting in less efficient use of the fuel and slower cooking times.
Not enough information was found on the effect of higher moisture content in fuels on emissions. This is an open issue for further research.
Moisture has negative effects on fuel economy and emissions.
A substantial amount of the energy generated through the combustion of fuel is wasted due
to the moisture present. The higher the moisture content of the fuel, the bigger the energy
loss through evaporation and less energy value of the fuel is available for the intended purpose of fuel use like heating a cookpot.
An example with a detailed calculation can be found in the Annex to this module.
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3.2.2 Particle size and particle size distribution
What is the impact of fuel size on the gasification process?
The size of the fuel in the fuel-bed determines how easily gases can flow and travel through
the fuel-bed, whether this is incoming air or outgoing wood-gas or char-gas. The fuel size
also dictates how fast the heat from the flaming pyrolysis conducts down the fuel stack. The
fuel size and shape is not generally critical to a stove operation, but the fuel has to be in the
range of the acceptable properties to allow use of proven stove designs without modification. Any new fuel needs to be tested and the operating conditions adjusted for the particular properties of a new fuel source.
What is a suitable size of fuel for a micro-gasifier? What is „too small or too big‟?
In general, granular and ‗chunky‘ material, which will enable an appropriate and steady gasflow through the fuel-bed in the combustion chamber is preferred for a natural draft device.
In general particle sizes seem to work better when the minimum is 6 mm length for the
smallest dimension,, so the dimensions should preferably be between 6x6x6 mm - and
60x60 mm x height of the combustion chamber (like a big briquette or straw bundle, that
can be placed vertically in the combustion chamber).
A rule-of-thumb by Hugh McLaughlin says that the average of the lengths in all 3 dimensions of a fuel particle should be less than 10% of the diameter of the fuel container. In
other words, if a fuel container is 15 cm in diameter, the particles should not exceed an average of 15 mm length over the 3 dimensions.
Too small particles will block the gas-flow. The restrictive effect of fine particles like sawdust
or rice husks on flow can be overcome either by forced convection through a fan or a
blower, or (less desirably) with more draft through a tall chimney.
Large chunks of fuel create three problems. First, a thick object takes longer for the pyrolysis to reach the center of that biomass particle. The initial pyrolysis leaves behind a layer of
charcoal that actually insulates the center of the particle. As air continues to reach that part
of the pyrolysis front, this favors the conversion from char to ash and can result in a considerable increase in temperature (which may cause physical stress on the material of the
fuel chamber). It adversely affects the char yield, which is an unwanted effect if char should
be saved for further use. It is also harder to get the flaming pyrolysis front to progress compactly and uniformly down a bed of larger particles, with the result that the end of the burn
is less precise, resulting in some uncarbonized material in the center of the lowest large
particles and other sections of char being burned to ash.
The second problem is that too big chunks create big spaces between the fuel, which are
filled with air under normal conditions. Unrestricted air-flow might lead to excessive primary
air in the fuel-bed.
The particle size distribution defines the ‗pore space‘ between the fuel and therefore the
ease of gas passage: Gas will follow the ‗open corridors‘ that are not blocked. So if fine
particles block gas passage in a particular zone of the fuel bed, the gas will find its alternative ways through other zones in the fuel bed with bigger gaps between bigger fuel chunks.
This will lead to a very uneven flaming pyrolysis front, likely to result in smoke and incomplete fuel use.
Third, when big chunks create cavities between them and finer particles rest above, ignited
finer material can fall by gravity in the cavity beneath the pyrolysis front. This will cause an
abrupt increase in the gas production, which often cannot be combusted with the available
secondary air. The result is undesirable smoke.
Paul Anderson suggests that the longest dimension of the fuel particles should not be
greater than 25% of the diameter of the fuel container, so that fuel that is casually dropped
into the container can fill in the voids between the particles.
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An exception to this is the use of longer fuels that are intentionally placed (not casually
dropped) vertically into the fuel container. Examples include segments of bamboo, bundles
of grasses, and some stick-wood that is not excessively contorted. These vertical piles often have many long channels for the primary air. In this case, a second type of fuel that is
smaller can be added to the top and (usually with some shaking) loosely fill those channels,
preventing any ignited fuel from dropping to lower positions.
In general, the initial difficulties about fuel selection and loading are soon overcome when
local people gain experience and have their own preferred fuels and procedures.
a fuel should be reasonably uniform to prevent blockages and unequal movement of the
pyrolysis front, as this may create smoke.
Micro-gasifiers have a big comparative advantage in the range of fuel sizes,
including those fuels that are otherwise too small to easily be burnt cleanly in other
stove models.
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3.2.3 Fuel density and Bulk density
What is the impact of fuel density on the gasification process?
The density of a material usually relates to ‗mass per volume‘, measured e.g. in kg per cubic litre or even per cubic metre. However, in the context of fuel as an energy source, the
term ‗fuel density‟ is often used relating to the available energy in a fuel on a weight
basis. It indicates how much burnable carbon-material is contained per kg of a fuel, and
how much are other unburnable substances like water, solid minerals (ash content) are
contained in 1 kg. This gives an energy value19 of a fuel, commonly expressed in Megajoule per kilogramm (MJ/kg), or in America as Btu per pound.
Energy values vary mostly due to variable levels of moisture and unburnable components
(‗ash‘) of a fuel feedstock. If the fuel is moist, it has an increased mass (it is heavier) in relation to the combustible components, and the total energy value is lower, as 3,21 MJ have to
be used per kg to evaporate the water from the fuel during combustion.
The bulk density is the ratio of weight over total volume of a solid substance when it is
poured into a container. Bulk density includes the volume of air between the fuel pieces,
and measures how well the fuel packs together. The bulk density of a fuel determines, how
much ‗burnable mass‘ of the fuel can be fitted into the volume of a fuel container at any one
time. This determines how much biomass feedstock is available for the creation of woodgas and char and how much energy can be created from one batch of fuel. There are great
differences in bulk density of biomass feedstock, depending on size and shape of the loose
A 1 litre-volume fuel container can approximately accommodate either 100 g of lose rice
husks or 700 g of densified wood pellets. So density does matter!
The following table gives more answers to the questions, based on the comparison of selected fuels:
Solid density = How much would 1 solid m3 of the fuel weigh, if it were compressed to a
solid block without air gaps (equivalent to grams per litre)?
Bulk density = How much mass of a fuel can fit in 1 litre volume of a fuel container?
Energy per weight (or technically per mass) = What is the net energy value (lower heating
value) or the energy yield of 1 kg of fuel if it is completely combusted?
Energy per volume = How much energy can I get out of fuel loaded in a fuel container per
litre volumetric capacity (without compressing the fuel)?
There are ‗lower heating values‘ (LHV) for net energy released and ‗higher heating values‘ (HHV) for gross
energy. The main difference is in the assumptions about the water content. For the LHV the energy used for
evaporation of water is subtracted. LHV is used here as it is more relevant for applications. Individual samples
may differ. Heating values can vary greatly even for one single species because biomass originates from previously living plant organisms, that can be different depending on the growing conditions in each location. More
information on http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/techline/fuel-value-calculator.pdf
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Fuel type
green saw dust
air-dry saw dust
green woodchips
forest-dry wood chips
dry pellets (wood, sawdust, peanut shells etc.)
10 %
1,000 –
367 g
250 g
550 g
400 g
650-700 g
per mass
Energy per
Source: table of fuel densities on http://www.woodgas.com/fuel_densities.htm
Values for individual samples may vary with the moisture content, size and shape of the
fuel particles.
For comparison some other LHVs (rounded in MJ/kg):
LPG 48, Kerosene 43, Ethanol 27-30.
The values for charcoal can range between 25-30 MJ/kg, depending on the quality of the
charcoal, the temperature and the feedstock that it was made from.
It is clear, that saw-dust from green, freshly cut wood has a similar solid density as dry
compressed pellets from woody biomass. Yet the energy yield per load of fuel per litre of
fuel container is less than a third of the pellets: reasons are the high energy losses from the
need to drive out moisture and the low bulk density of the sawdust.
If the fuel is neatly stacked with a minimum of empty spaces in between, nearly double the
mass can be accommodated in the same volume20.
Vertical stacking is a good way to pack straw or stick-type fuel in a fuel container. However,
vertical stacking can cause problems with the uniform progression of the burn within some
stove designs (the class of stoves known as TLUDs), where the flames travel down individual sticks of fuel and ignite the entire fuel mass from below – leading to excess smoke production.
Conclusion: The relevant questions for a cook operating a stove are how much power and
heat can be generated at any given time, over the course of the entire cooking cycle and
per batch of fuel. This ‗how much cooking can be done with one fuel load‘ is especially important for batch-operated micro-gasifiers.
Net energy yields from a fuel depend greatly on the type of biomass, the moisture content,
size and shape, way of stacking and the resulting bulk density of the fuel.
Low-grade biomass residues with high volume can provide better energy yields in a gasifier
if they are dried, properly sized, compacted and densified.
Some biomass is ‗ready-to-use‘ in a micro-gasifier, for other feedstock some processing
steps might be required to prepare biomass feedstock for optimal use as cooking fuel in a
micro-gasifier: Drying, sizing and densification.
Biomass for cookstoves comes in three sizes: too small (so make briquettes, etc.), just
right, and too large (so cut it smaller). All other fuels are processed or sized, some at great
expense as in oil refineries. It is reasonable to expect the biomass fuels supply industries
to substantially grow and mature as gasifier devices become widely used.
An example can be found in the Annex.
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3.3 Feedstock ready to use without major processing
The list of usable feedstock is nearly endless and depends on what is readily available in a
certain location. The following table from FAO gives some ideas, where to look for appropriate feedstock. Municipal by-products are not recommended for use in micro-gasifiers for
cooking or space-heating, due to high variability and the presence of potentially toxic ingredients, such as used motor oil and rechargeable batteries.
Source: Unified Bioenergy Terminology ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/007/j4504e/j4504e00.pdf, page 9
Agricultural residues are generated in large volumes season by season and often discarded
as waste - not put to use at all. Crop residues are the largest source of non-timber biomass
fuel: straw, stem, stalk, leaves, husk, shell, peel, lint, stones, pulp, stubble, etc. which come
from cereals (rice, wheat, maize or corn, sorghum, barley, millet), cotton, groundnut, jute,
legumes (tomato, bean, soy), coffee, cacao, olive, tea, fruits (banana, mango, coco,
cashew) and palm oil. In the developing world, most agricultural residues that are burnt as
fuel are used in their natural state with some pre-treatment like drying, and cutting, and
compacting in rare. Compared to wood-fuels, crop residues typically have a high content of
volatile matter, lower density and lower burning time. The next table provides a comparison:
 Agricultural residue is a fuel which is available free of cost to the poor rural families.
 It is also a useful way to dispose of the
crop residues in the field, instead of burning them in situ.
 Agricultural wastes remain safer than LPG
which poses some safety concerns in local
transport and use;
 It is easy to handle and transport;
 Low impact on women‘s time for harvesting
 Agricultural wastes are much easier to light
than wood and charcoal
 It is responsible for extreme cases of
air pollution when it is burned in open
fires or traditional improved stoves.
But it can burn well in gasifier stoves.
 It is very bulky and has to be carried to
the homes.
 The seasonal availability of crop residues can be limit for its use.
 Its burning time is shorter.
 Its storage requires more space inside
a house or shelter and protected from
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Some of the disadvantages associated with the bulkiness of the residues can be addressed
by shaping and compressing the raw fuel, a process called ―densification‖. Unfavorable
burning properties of native residues when used in conventional burners can be overcome
by the use of micro-gasifier burners that can handle this type of fuel best. Some other examples show that use as fuel can contribute to decreased environmental pollution. People
get encouraged to use waste biomass that otherwise would be left to rot or burn, accumulate in large piles or unnecessarily consume precious land-fill-space.
An example of an unprocessed feedstock with excellent fuel
properties to be used in a gasifier stove: the rind of some kind
of large citrus fruit called ‗chadeck‘ commonly found in Haiti.
According to Nathaniel Mulcahy in March 2010, they got 37
minutes of pure blue flame with the rind of only 3 chadeck
Source: http://tweetphoto.com/13064693, courtesy of worldstove
Also from Nathaniel Mulcahy, unprocessed sugarcane stalks forming one load of fuel for a locally
made Lucia stove in Haiti, burning
with a clean flame.
Courtesy of WorldStove,
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3.4 Fuel processing techniques
A homogeneous fuel with uniform sizes and shapes, like 6-10 mm diameter pellets are a
very recommendable fuel for a gasifier. Therefore Nathaniel Mulcahy concluded after the
assessment of available fuel sources in post-earthquake Haiti, that ‘clearly pellets are the
single best fuel option for Haiti right now’.21
The following table provides some guidance on feedstocks and their potential processing
Too small particles
particles size
Too bulky
(high volume, low
Correct size
Small particles block
Produce bigger
Rice husks
gas flow
Wood shavSmall particles block
Produce chunks
ings mixed
gas flow
of homogenewith sawdust
ous size
Big volume combusNeeds to be
shells, straw,
tion chamber needed,
made more
hay, etc.
transport cost
Anything that can be used directly in the fire chamber: wood
shavings, twigs, nut shells, sheep dung, rabbit droppings,
corn stovers etc. (see 3.1)
Wood chunks, Cannot fit in combusProduce smaller
bamboo, cotion chamber
conut shells
Too big particles
Sizing: cutting,
shredding etc.
Carbonisation of biomass is not a processing technique described here, as micro-gasifiers
can handle uncarbonised biomass very well, unlike conventional charcoal burners which
depend on carbonised fuel. In the Annex there is a description of some techniques, how to
convert the char created in pyrolytic gasifiers into briquettes.
Find the full article on http://www.bioenergylists.org/content/fuel-options-post-ea
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3.4.1 Drying
Drying by sun and wind are feasible and cheap options in most scenarios where drying of
biomass cooking fuel is needed. Subsequent dry storage complements the efforts to keep
the fuel from regaining moisture from the elements.
One has to differentiate between core moisture of a fuel and surface moisture. Surface
moisture (when e.g. a core-dry fuel got wet in a rain shower, but the moisture has not penetrated to the core of the fuel) can be removed in a couple of hours, while core-moisture
needs days, weeks and even months to be removed, depending on the diameter of the fuel
Biomass fuel can easily be pre-heated with the effect to remove residual moisture if the fuel
is kept close to the stove before use. Some stoves offer special options like a warmingdrawer for fuel underneath the stove for that purpose. Drying by kilns and ovens is typically
irrelevant for household fuels, so it is not discussed here.
3.4.2 Sizing
Sizing is understood here as Size reduction of compact, high-energy fuels to microgasifier-compatible size by chopping, cutting, chipping, grinding, breaking, sawing, etc. This
applies mainly to wood or other solid predominantly woody biomass that comes in too big
chunks to fit in the fuel container of a micro-gasifier for cooking.
For ‗up-sizing‘ to create bigger chunks from small or inhomogeneous particle sizes the
processing needed is ‗Densification‘ which is dealt with in the next paragraph.
A word of caution: in an area with abundant supply of wood in the form of big logs or sticks,
it has to be considered carefully, if down-sizing of fuel to a micro-gasifier-friendly format is
the most feasible option, or if there are other alternatives to burn that type of biomass
cleanly. Chopping of wood by hand is a big physical effort which most people dislike and
therefore complain about. In a scenario where there is no scarcity of big-sized wood, other
stove-models like e.g. rocket stoves, that can burn stick-wood well and cleanly, might be
more acceptable and appropriate for household cooking. If the production of biochar is the
major interest and household cooking not required, bigger units such as the Adam Retort
should be considered.
Sizing-requirements by hand can be a make-or-break- factor for the acceptance of microgasifiers in an area. If too much additional effort is required to prepare the fuel, gasifier
stoves will not be liked and successful adaptation is less likely.
If possible, it is recommended that a fuel-supply chain of down-sized wood (e.g. woodchips) be established at reasonable cost and convenience using mechanised equipment.
For areas without other smaller sized naturally occurring fuels, this will improve the acceptance of micro-gasifier for cooking.
The main tools for manual sizing operations are knives, axes and splitters. For mechanical
operation there are some shredders and chippers with fly-wheels driving rotating blades
and grinders. Hammer-mills use mainly impact forces, whereas cutting-mills cut the material
to pieces with rotating cutting ‗teeth‘ out of hard metal22.
The most common equipment for larger-scale operations depend on external power by
combustion engines or electricity: Larger equipment might be needed as a pre-processing
step for densification: the input material has to be smaller than the densified output product.
In other words, to produce a pellet of 6 mm diameter, the feedstock has to be smaller. Industrial equipment is based on shredders, grinders, or hammer mill-type choppers. Equipment of all sorts of sizes exists and has to be selected according to the specific needs of a
location and scale of operation.
http://wiki.gekgasifier.com/w/page/6123688/Chippers,-chunkers,-loppers,-splitters,-shredders,disintegrators,-etc gives a good overview on available wood-sizing equipment
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3.4.3 Densification
The most important processing need is densification of bulky low-grade biomass materials,
available as wastes and in high volume that can otherwise not be used well as cooking fuel.
Compacted and densified fuel has several advantages:
It has a higher heating value per volume (more carbon per volume).
It reduces transport costs (more fuel, less air to be transported)
It has more predictable performance in a stove due to more uniform size, shape, density
It is often easier and cleaner to handle (less dust, easier packing etc.)
It is more convenient as it comes in the right size ready-to-use (no chopping required)
It has better storability (less moisture absorption, less mould, less spontaneous fires
through self-ignition, less insect-infestation than natural fuel)
It can be a solution to waste management problems
It adds value to low-value residues, often creating employment in the process
However, densified biomass is not the magic bullet! Additional equipment and labor are
required. To establish this capability locally, outside investments are recommended.
 Only where fuel is already a commodity (like in many urban areas)
 Only where households have purchasing power
 Only where there is a large source of un-used ‗wasted‘ residual biomass (do not compete with the use as manure or compost)
 Only where there is a feasible link between the source of biomass and the market of the
densified fuel (relation of distance, transport costs and the value of the fuel)
 Only where fuel densification can be run as an income generating business
 Only where there is electricity so that larger scale operations can be done without electricity only manual production at a small scale is feasible
How can materials be densified for use in micro-gasifiers?
Various binding and compaction methods are used to ‗glue‘ the loose biomass material
together to form a compact dense shape, which does not immediately fall apart during drying, handling and use a fuel. The intended use of the product and the envisaged scale of
operation determine size, shape and the needed degree of compaction of the product.
The processes of biomass densification can be clustered in three main groups23:
The wet, ambient temperature, low pressure (10-15 bar) process: an added binder is
optional, as binding is effected through random rearrangement of softened and detached
natural fibres in a wide variety of agricultural residues and in other waste feedstock. The
process accepts sawdust, rice husks, bagasse, coffee/ peanut shells, and other granular
feedstock as well as charcoal dust and crumbs -or purposefully charred agricultural residues- as part of the matrix, as long as the fibres can encapsulate them into a tight nonelastic mass when compressed. Emphasis is on careful blending and pre-preparation of
feedstock for pliability, combustibility and other behaviours. Once the principles are mastered, a far wider variety of ingredients are possible as compared to other processes. Densification and shaping can be done using a hand to squeeze the material into shape, or
human force to press the material in a mould. Over 25 designs of hand operated or mechanized versions of presses are in use, based on various ways to create pressure: levers,
hydraulic jacks, screw platens, treadle/peddles etc.
Costs range from $50 to $750. The density of product is commonly 0.3 to 0.5 gm/cc.
based on an email by Richard Stanley from the Legacy Foundation in May 2010.
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The moist-dry ambient temperature, low-medium pressure (10-50 bar) process: The
next level would usually start at similar the pressure as the previous process, but go far
beyond, depending on the type of machinery. It uses some form of binder (clay, starch, banana peel paste, waxes, glues, molasses, etc.). Temperatures are still near ambient but the
water is minimal or absent. The relatively dry feedstock mix allows the use of loose augurs
(‗screws‘) and rams or pillow compression cylinders, as well as the above "wet process"
presses. Over 10 designs of hand driven or mechanized presses using various augurs and
rams are in use. Costs can start at 50 USD for hand-driven devices. Fuel density ranges
from .3 to .7 gm/cc. The product range includes waxed logs and products from char dust
products, finding increased acceptance in the third world.
Dry high-pressure process: The next kind of densification involves a great jump in pressure
(400 to 600 bars), and requires drying equipment to assure a moisture content below 20%.
Compression by ram or augur often requires added heating jackets which raise the barrel/cylinder/die temperatures up to around 200° Celsius. This combination of pressure and
temperature effectively scorches the exterior wall of the resulting log, and tends to melt the
lignin of the biomass to accomplish binding. The process requires an assured supply of
feedstock of a known type, grade and moisture content. These are more industrialized machines costing between 3,000 and 30,000 USD.
The term ‗briquette‘ is used for a sizeable ‗chunk‘ of densified product of any shape and
compaction level where the smallest side-length is above 2 cm size.
If the final product of a high-pressure compaction is a short roundish stick of 6-12 mm diameter, the term ‗pellet‘ is used. Pellets are shaped by pressing dry biomass at very high
pressure through a die with many holes (like an oversize spaghetti-maker).
Various briquette- and pellet- presses are available mostly for the industrialized world. Fuel
densities can even go beyond 1.0 gm/cc, as some highly densified briquettes and pellets
are heavier than water and don‘t float (an easy test to determine fuel density). There is a
risk that dense but super dry pellets and briquettes tend to crumble apart in more humid
conditions, as they regain moisture. In general the product quality increases with rising
compaction pressure, which entails:
 Higher temperatures: causing the lignin contained in the feedstock itself to ‗melt‘, so it
can act like wax as the sole binder. Added binders become unnecessary.
 Less water needed for the feedstock preparation: thus less drying time and space
needed afterwards; lower moisture content of product, thus higher heating values
 Rising electricity requirements and higher costs for investment and operation
 Decreasing labour intensity which reduces job creation in the production phase, with the
potential of more local job creation in the fuel distribution chain
Many factors influence the feasibility of biomass densification in a given scenario.
The following tables attempts to give guidance for the choice of densification options according to the desired pressure and intended throughput per hour. It reflects methods of
feedstock preparation and compaction, binders, etc.
The availability of required inputs like water, electricity, capital, labour, space etc. is critical
to the success of any densification project. These can potentially be limiting factors for the
feasibility of a densification option and should be used initially as part of the ‗make-or-break‘
arguments. Please note that the factors described are in a continuum and have no clearly
defined concrete values that would determine a clear-cut boundary to the next category.
Examples for some technologies are shown in continuation after the table.
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Guiding tool to identify appropriate biomass densification options
Developed by Christa Roth
Low-pressure moulding by hand or low-cost light levers require a wet preparation of the
feedstock and drying space after production. It might yield enough output for single household consumption or a family-business. Economies-of-scale with outputs of densified product above 1,000 kg/h require capital-intensive machinery and tri-phase electricity supply
above 20 KvA, which might be limiting factors in certain locations. Some examples of options are presented in the following paragraphs.24
There is also a fuel briquette online network - a great resource for sharing information, further support and/or
broadcasting your own work: fuelbriquetting@googlegroups.com.
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I) Manual briquetting options (wet pulp, low pressure)
a) Hand shaped briquettes
The simplest way to make small briquettes: a
slurry of biomass in water is left soaking for
some days to enhance binding properties.
The pulp is either squeezed by hand or
pressed into a mould e.g. an ice-cube tray.
Rearranged fibres assisted by a binder like
paper pulp to keep the briquette in shape during drying and use. Feasible for small-scale
b) Briquette shaped with a simple mould from a perforated bottle
Another simple manual method for small-scale production is promoted by the Foundation
for Sustainable Technologies (FoST) in Nepal: The wet biomass slurry is fed into a perforated bottle, intermittent with some discarded CDs to separate small ‗pucks‘. Pressure is
exerted with a stick from the open end of the bottle and the water squeezed out through the
holes of the bottle. FoST also promote larger lever-presses.
‗Bottle‘ press shown
at the PCIA conference in Uganda in
March 2009 by the
founder of FoST, Mr
Sanu Kaji Shrestha.
Various shapes and
sizes of briquettes
for sale in Nepal
Photo Christa Roth
HERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
Photo: http://www.fost-nepal.org/
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
II) Lever-presses (wet pulp, low-moderate pressure)
Levers are good tools to create elevated pressure just with the input of human power.
Longer or multi-compound levers increase the achievable pressures. Levers are faster to
use than screw platens or hydraulic jacks.
There is a multitude of different lever presses out there. This section showcases only a selected sample of models which are easy to replicate or where plans for replication are
a) Paper-brick Maker
from Newdawnengineering
at ca. 300 ZAR
Makes a 230x90mm fuel
brick out of waste paper
which can be mixed with
other combustible fuels
like wood chips, grass or coal dust. Paper is a very good binder and
should be used in combination with any other waste fuel that is
available. Pressure generated by two small levers.
Ideal for decentralised small-scale production. More details at
Reference to a bigger unit from the same company is made at
b) Wooden presses by Leland Hite
A very simple and low-cost biomass fuel briquette press made from wood can be found on
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt0QQe6Eetw. The very instructional video showcases
simple yet powerful and versatile versions of wooden single-lever and multi-compound lever
briquette presses, which can produce square or round biomass briquettes at a speed of
less than 1 minute per briquette. Measured drawings in inches or metric measurements in
english and french language (incl. link to the video) can be found on
Source: http://www.home.fuse.net/engineering/ewb_project.htm
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Example from the instruction manual with metric measurements in English language
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
c) Wooden presses by Richard Stanley and the Legacy Foundation
Richard Stanley and the Legacy Foundation are probably the most active promoters of
manual biomass briquetting all over the world. The website http://www.legacyfound.org/
has comprehensive resources on manual briquette-making and numerous publications (for
There are various versions of the common ram-type press, cheaper ones from wood,
stronger lever-presses can also be made from more durable metal at a higher cost.
Samples of biomass briquettes from all over the world
Source: http://www.legacyfound.org/html/photoGallery.html
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
III) Briquetting options: medium pressure, moist-dry feedstock
This category comprises versions of presses, that can be either mechanically powered, e.g.
by a large fly-wheel or electrically, with electricity requirements depending on the pressure
and the intended throughput. The speed of densification or achievable throughput per hour,
the energy consumption of the press and the quality of the briquettes produced depend
largely on the properties of the feed material (flow ability, cohesion, particle size and distribution, etc.) The moving parts, which generate the pressure against a die are either rotating
screws or back-and-forth-moving pistons.
Typically outputs per hour are limited by the diameter of the die. Operation times depend on
temperature build-up, with stopping required before the machine gets overheated.
a) Screw-type extruder presses
In a screw press / extruder a rotating, often conical screw takes the biomass feedstock from
the hopper and compacts it against a die which assists in the build-up of pressure against
the screw. The friction between the material and the die cause the material to heat to 300 °
C when the lignin gets mobilised as a binder.
A heating mantle around the die is
common to enhance this. The created
log-shape briquette exits at the front
in a continuous stream and needs to
be broken off to the correct size. The
screw is subject to wear-and-tear and
the material quality of the screw
greatly influences its life-span. In developing countries extruders can often
be manufactured by skilled artisans.
Figure and text quoted from:
http://www.gate-international.org/documents/techbriefs/webdocs/pdfs/e019e_2003.pdf, page 5
Depending on the shape of the die,
the log is usually cylindrical or
hexagonal. The produced briquette
typically has a hole in the centre
from the screw (hollow-core). From
the partial torrefaction of the biomass by heat (‗toasting‘) and the
high degree of mobilisation of the
lignin the surface of the briquette
becomes dark and shiny like wax
(‗waxed log‘). This type of briquette
is becoming increasingly popular in
urban areas of Asia like in Bangladesh.
Briquette sale by bicycle in Dacca
(Photo Robert Heine, 2010)
Hollow-core briquettes have been used in micro-gasifiers, but no test results for performance or emissions are known. They are expected to perform slightly better than the compact briquettes produced by piston presses described in the next section. More testing is
needed to judge the behaviour of these fuels in micro-gasifiers.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
b) Piston presses
A usually vertical screw transports the feedstock
from the hopper into a feedzone in front of the die.
A horizontally moving piston punches the feed material from the feedzone into a die with very high
pressure (‗die-and-punch‘). The press can be a
mechanical ram-type version powered by a massive fly-wheel, or hydraulically operated. The briquette is solid (no centre hole) and naturally breaks
off at a less-dense layer between two blocks created with each impact of the piston. The product
looks more like ‗pucks‘ or flat disks.
Hydraulically operated presses are very heavy, as
the hydraulic oil adds to the weight. For tropical
climates added oil-coolers might be necessary to
prevent overheating of the machine, which also
limits their operating time, as they need to cool off
every couple of hours. Piston-presses have less
wear-and-tear than the screw-presses.
Source of diagram:
http://www.gate-international.org/documents/techbriefs/webdocs/pdfs/e019e_2003.pdf .
Briquette-making from saw-dust with a hydraulic press in Karamoja (Uganda)
Photos: Christoph Messinger
Suppliers of briquette presses should be selected according to the continent and the availability of after-sales services. Here a selection of reputable manufacturers with very longstanding expertise on hydraulic briquetting equipment from Germany. They could serve as
an entry point for a more detailed product overview.
Gross, http://www.gross-zerkleinerer.de/english/index-english.htm and Ruf http://www.rufbrikett.de/herstellung.php. Useful discussions of mechanical versus hydraulic equipment
and briquettes versus pellets can be found on the site of a Danish supplier
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
IV) Pelletising Options25
In a pellet press, the feed material is pressed with high pressure between a roller and a
hard-steel die. One of the parts is moving, while the ‗counterpart‘ remains stationary. The
feedstock has to be dry (within 10-16% moisture content) and ground finely to sizes smaller
than the final diameter of the pellet. Common pellet diameters are 6 mm (standard size of
wood pellets for automated space heaters in Europe), and 8 mm. Some ‗maxi-pellets‘ with
20 mm diameter are currently being tried out in Germany for use in micro-gasifiers. No
binder is needed as the lignin melts under the extremely high pressure, which forces the
feedstock through the small hole of the die. Pellets exit the machine at high temperatures
and often need to be cooled before packing. The achievable throughput is determined by
the fuel properties as well as the size and the total square area of the holes in the die.
Electricity requirement is generally high and increasing with output per hour of the machine
as well as hardiness of the feedstock. Woody material has less output per hour than softer
materials, thus needs more electricity per kg of pellets produced.
The main types of pelletisers are differentiated by the die, whether flat or ring-shaped.
a) Flat-die presses
In a common flat die press, the rollers move and the die is a stable, flat disk of a hard steel
alloy with a dense array of holes, normally placed horizontally in the machine, so that the
pellets fall off by gravity. As the die is a flat piece, its diameter is the prevalent factor determining the material throughput. Flat-die presses rarely exceed 1,000 kg per hour, otherwise
the diameter of the press would become too large.
‗Maxi-pellets‘ pressed through 20- Rollers pushing sawdust through the holes of a
mm-holes of a flat-die at a rate of 50- small 210 mm diameter flat-die disk below.
Photos displaying an Ecoworxx Pelletiser
80 kg/h, depending on material
Pelletising was originally developed as a method to create uniform densified animal feeds. Only in
recent years wood-pellets have become the number-one renewable clean energy source in Europe,
with growing importance worldwide.
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b) Ring-die presses
In a ring-die the die is in a ring/drum shape and moves against fixed ‗rollers‘. This is normally used for bigger machines with outputs starting at 200 kg per hour. Ring-die presses
are normally more expensive than smaller flat-die presses, but can achieve usually higher
outputs per hour, as there are many more holes in the outside walls of the drum-shaped
ring die than in a flat sheet-style die. Most industrial-size pelletising plants use ring-dies.
Ring-die press: the die is fixed and the rollers move,
thus pressing the feedstock through the lateral holes.
Source: Reed/Bryant, Densified Biomass p. 9
Ring-die press from AgriconSA in action
(Photo Christa Roth)
The choice for the appropriate pelletising equipment is highly dependant on the material
specification of the envisaged feedstock and the envisaged scale of operation. Hardly any
experience on the topic has been gathered so far, thus it is difficult to make recommendations. Many small-scale pelletisers seem nowadays to be made in China. The life-span of
the Chinese dies is not well known yet, but expected to be the most vulnerable part. Pelletisers often need to be combined with hammermills or other sizing equipment to bring the
feedstock to the right size.
Ecoworxx in Germany have started in 2010 to produce an ‗all-in-one‘ pelletiser with an included grinder http://www.ecoworxx.de/index_en.html. The machine seems promising for
initial trials. Required electricity input is only 3 KWh, but tri-phase. Some manufacturers in
the USA also have single-phase equipment running on 220 V e.g.
http://www.pelletpros.com/id68.html or http://www.buskirkeng.com/.
On the African continent the only currently known manufacturer of pelletising equipment
with self-regulating feed-options to avoid clogging of material is Agricon in South Africa.
Their machinery is designed for less-skilled users for handling. They make larger-scale robust ring-die equipment focusing on agricultural uses.
For further information see http://www.agricon-pelleting.co.za/.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Summary of benefits of densified fuel for use in micro-gasifiers
 Easy and clean handling
 More heat per batch load or Longer
cooking period with same size and
volume of fuel container
 Less handling tasks
 Predictable performance
 Uniform properties
 Better storability (easy to stack)
 Less storage space needed
 Less moisture
 Fuel ready to use (like charcoal)
 Less transportation issues
 Less transaction costs
 Less insects in the fuel
 Add value to biomass residue matePRODUCER
 Reduce transport requirements
Make use of biomass otherwise too
small for fuel use, thus reducing the
pressure on forests
Less spontaneous fires of large crop
residue heaps
Waste management: turn uncontrolled dumping sites into mining
sites for fuel, while reducing methane emissions
Biochar creation better from densified fuel
Pellets achieve one of the highest bulk densities
and have proven to be an ideal fuel in microgasifiers: they have very uniform burning properties and provide more energy output per given
volume of a fuel container. The created char
promises good properties for further use. In a test
done by Christa Roth in July 2010 in a gasifier
burner unit made from tin-cans, the result was
that 200 g of raw 6 mm diameters softwoodpellets burnt for 120 minutes and yielded 55 g of
char. The volume of the char was roughly 50% of
the initial volume of the raw pellets.
HERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
 Densified fuel is more expensive than ‗natural‘ fuel
Investment costs into densification equipment
Poor collectors of natural
biomass fuels might not
participate in value chain of
Organic material used as
fuel instead of green manure on the fields, can be
overcome by feeding biochar and/or ash back to the
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
Annex for Module 3:
Here some rough calculations to demonstrate the magnitude of energy needed to deal with
moisture in a fuel:
It takes approximately energy in the order of 1 MJ (MegaJoule) to convert 1 kg of dry wood
into char, but much more energy if the wood has high moisture content.
The calculation is based on the following assumptions:
It takes 0.00417 MJ to heat 1 kg of water by 1° Celsius (= 4,186 Joule per g and 1°C)
It takes 0.33 MJ to heat 1 kg of water by 80° from 20°C to boiling point at 100°C
It takes 2.25 MJ to evaporate 1 kg of water, meaning to bring it from its liquid stage below
boiling point into the vapor stage just above boiling point
It takes 0.63 MJ to heat 1 kg of water vapor from 100 °C to 400° C.
Conclusion: Every kg of water contained in a fuel takes up to 3,21 MJ of energy with it when
it exits as steam or water vapor.
Let us imagine two equal-sized piles of 2 kg of wood with different moisture contents to see
the difference in energy needed to convert both piles into wood-gas and char:
Input in pile: 2 kg of
oven-dry wood26
fresh-cut wood
Moisture content in %
Kg dry biomass contained
2 kg
1 kg
Kg water contained
0 kg
1 kg
Energy needed to evaporate water content
0 MJ
3,21 MJ
Energy needed to convert wood content to char
2 MJ
1 MJ
Total energy need to convert wood-pile to char
2 MJ
4,21 MJ
Calculated energy need per 1 kg of dry biomass
1 MJ
4,21 MJ
Conclusion: A substantial amount of the energy generated through the combustion of fuel is
wasted due to the moisture. The higher the moisture content of the fuel, the bigger the energy loss through evaporation and less energy value of the fuel is available for the intended
purpose of fuel use like heating e.g. a cookpot.
To chapter 3.2.3: Density of stacking
The method of stacking fuel in a container also influences the air gaps in between, which
has an impact on the gas passage and the energy per volume.
According to data from http://www.ruf-brikett.de/quality.php?lang=en, the difference can be
considerable of the mass contained in 1 cubicmeter:
380 kg/m3 for solid softwood with no air spaces in between
323 kg/m3 for neatly stacked split logs of 33 cm length, including the empty spaces
270 kg/m3 for stacked piled round timber of 1 m length with the empty spaces
190 kg/m3 bulk of loose dumped split logs of 33 cm length
Of course this thought experiment is based on the rather theoretical use of oven-dry wood, a typical moisture content of wood after drying for 3 months is 10-20%. Still, it shows the advantage of
letting the sun and air drive out the moisture from a fuel for free than using fuel to generate the extra
energy to do that in the ‗burn‘ process.
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
„Bonus Track‟: BIOCHAR
The ability of pyrolytic gasifiers to produce charcoal as a by-product of heat generation is
gaining increased interest, as the debate on climate change has sparked the search for
global carbon-negative bio-energy systems. If the created char is not used for heat production and the carbon converted to carbon dioxide, but used as soil amendment, it can both
enhance soil fertility and fix the carbon in the soil. Such an approach takes the carbon in the
char out of the atmospheric carbon cycle for hundreds of years. Recent controversial discussions on biofuels and the need to strike a balance between ‗food´ and ‗fuel´ to ensure
the nutrition of the fast growing world population, is drawing even more attention to pyrolytic
gasifiers and ‗biochar´27. The following figure gives a simplistic insight to biochar.
Biochar Simplified (source http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/)
How Biochar-Producing Stoves Can Benefit Climate, Health, and Soil
By Kelpie Wilson, International Biochar Initiative (IBI) Communications Editor
There are many challenges faced by stoves designers who are helping to bring cleaner
cooking technologies to the millions of people who still cook on open fires. At the same
time, there are many new objectives other than clean cooking that stoves are asked to
meet, such as reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. New objectives also
include generating electricity with Thermo Electric Generators (TEGs) and producing biochar for use in soil and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Stoves that work on the principle of pyrolysis can easily produce charcoal in addition to heat
for cooking and other purposes. Charcoal has many uses, but perhaps the most beneficial
use overall is to add it to soil as biochar.
Biochar is charcoal that possesses measurable characteristics making it suitable for use as
a soil amendment. In almost every case, charcoal produced in household stoves will be
suitable for use in soil, either directly as is, or in combination with nutrients like compost or
urine. Biochar can free small producers from the need to purchase fertilizers, increasing
food security. Biochar can also help with sanitation in several ways: it can be used to filter
water and it can help in the processing of human waste into fertilizer.
Finally, biochar is highly recalcitrant – its half-life in soil is hundreds to thousands of years.
Biochar can store biomass derived carbon in soils, resulting in a net drawdown of CO2 from
the atmosphere. According to a recent study of various geoengineering alternatives (Lenton
and Vaughan 2009) biochar can potentially sequester nearly 400 billion tonnes of carbon
over the next century, reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 37 parts per million
Biochar is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass, and differs from ‗conventional‘ charcoal only
in the sense that its primary use is not for fuel, but for biosequestration or atmospheric carbon capture and storage (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar).
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Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
What Is Biochar and How Does It Work?
Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil
management practices, used most extensively in the Amazon where it is known as Terra
Preta. Japan also has a long tradition of using charcoal in soil, a tradition that has been
revived and exported over the past 20 years to countries such as Costa Rica. Scientific
investigation of legacy Terra Preta soils in the Amazon, along with recent field and greenhouse trials, has led to a wider appreciation of biochar‘s unique properties as a soil enhancer.
Biochar has physical, chemical and biological facets which interact to produce a beneficial
impact to soils. Physically, biochar is a very recalcitrant (not easily oxidized or metabolized
by microbes) form of soil carbon with a highly porous structure resulting in a large amount
of surface area where nutrients may be adsorbed and chemical exchanges can take place.
Biochar-amended soils are better able to hold water in drought conditions, have reduced
bulk density, and retain air and other gases. The pores in biochar provide a suitable habitat
for many microorganisms by protecting them from predation and drying while providing
many of their diverse carbon, energy and mineral nutrient needs. Studies of Terra Preta
show a dramatic increase in soil biodiversity compared to adjacent, unamended tropical
Recent studies have indicated that incorporating biochar into soil reduces nitrous oxide
(N2O) emissions and increases methane (CH4) uptake from soil. Methane is over 20 times
more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2, while nitrous oxide has a global warming potential that is 310 times greater than CO2. Although the mechanisms for
these reductions are not fully understood, it is likely that a combination of biotic and abiotic
factors are involved, and these factors will vary according to soil type, land use, climate and
the characteristics of the biochar. An improved understanding of the role of biochar in reducing non-CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will promote its incorporation into climate change mitigation strategies.
Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas
with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical
fertilizer supplies. Biochar provides a unique opportunity to improve soil fertility for the long
term using locally available materials. Used alone, or in combinations, compost, manure
and/or agrochemicals are added at certain rates every year to soils, in order to realize benefits. Application rates of these can be reduced when biochar is a component of the soil.
Biochar remains in the soil, and single applications can provide benefits over many years.
International Recognition of Biochar Potential for Climate Mitigation and Food Security
In 2008 and 2009, leading up to the Copenhagen climate meeting, multiple countries and
the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) made submissions in support of
biochar to the UNFCCC. The countries include Micronesia, Belize and a consortium of African governments (made by Swaziland on behalf of Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique,
Niger, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). The submission
by Belize suggested the need to develop global baselines of soil carbon pools, and monitoring systems that will allow soil carbon improvements based on the use of biochar as a soil
amendment for mitigation and adaption, under the existing Clean Development Mechanism
(CDM) and under other mechanisms that may be considered in the future. The joint submission by the consortium of African governments signaled a desire to include the potential
of dryland soils in sequestering carbon, including with the use of biochar. The submission
highlighted ―the intricate linkages between climate change and frequent and severe droughts, land degradation and desertification,‖ and its particular impact on developing countries,
the poor and vulnerable inhabitants of dryland areas.
The submission from the Federated States of Micronesia noted that biochar also has potential as a ―fast-start‖ strategy to mitigate climate change in the immediate near-term. For inHERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
Micro-gasification: Cooking with gas from dry biomass
stance, substituting low-emissions biochar-making cook stoves for traditional, high emissions cooking fires can reduce formation of soot and the impact of black carbon particulates
on atmospheric warming and ice field albedo changes resulting from soot deposition, while
protecting people‘s health and productivity. There will be a double savings if charcoalmaking stoves can replace charcoal-using stoves.
Additionally, both the FAO and UNEP have submissions that would potentially support biochar. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) made an in-depth submission on the
use of soil carbon sequestration as a scientifically valid and previously recognized mitigation technology which should be further adopted and enabled in the post-2012 process. The
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also has a submission that supports increased carbon sequestration through improved land use and reduced land degradation.
The 2009 UNEP Climate Change Science Compendium (a review of some 400 major
scientific contributions to our understanding of climate that have been released through
peer-reviewed literature since the close of research for consideration by the IPCC Fourth
Assessment Report) highlights biochar as "an innovative approach to soil carbon sequestration" that "may offer a low-risk and very efficient way to mitigate climate change and replenish soil fertility.‖ While acknowledging that biochar‘s impact on soil fertility is not completely understood and more research is needed, the report notes: ―However, farmers are
moving ahead with the use of biochar because of its ability to reinvigorate degraded soils.‖
Rapid Adoption of Biochar in Africa and Elsewhere
Biochar science as a modern endeavor is still very new. While scientific field trials underway had showed good results, only a few years of data exist. Still, the need for solutions to
current crises in food security, energy and the climate, has prompted many knowledgeable
individuals, organizations and companies to explore the potential of biochar by initiating
extensive pilot projects.
One of the most successful projects is Biochar Fund‘s work in Cameroon with poor farmers
who typically make less than $300 a year from their crops. A 2009 field trial involving hundreds of villagers farming 75 different test plots showed that adding biochar at the rate of 10
or 20 tonnes a hectare was as effective at increasing yields as heavy application of fertilizer. The farmers are reported to be pleased with the result and are enthusiastic about continuing the experiment.
World Stove Corporation is operating a multi-faceted biochar-making stove manufacturing
and distribution program that is operating in several African countries. World Stove also
launched a relief effort in Haiti following the January earthquake that will eventually include
a soil-building and watershed restoration effort using biochar in Haiti.
Another example of biochar in use is an Organic Farmers Association (APODAR) in Costa
Rica. The 26 members supply the main supermarket chains with organic vegetables. All the
farmers have been using biochar with bokashi, a microbial inoculant developed in Japan,
for their organic production for the last 15 years. Productivity using these organic methods
is comparable to the productivity of conventional farms, and the technology is spreading to
other Central America countries.
Biochar gives poor farmers a self-sufficient alternative to expensive fertilizers that must be
trucked in. Once they have the knowledge of the techniques for using biochar, the only barrier remaining is the technology to produce charcoal cleanly and efficiently from agricultural
waste or other local biomass feedstocks. Developing and disseminating charcoal making
cookstoves and small kilns is a task that must be undertaken in order to realize the full potential of biochar
HERA – GIZ Manual Micro-gasification Version 1.0 January 2011
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