Biomass Gasification
Technology and Utilisation

History and Development

The history of gasification dates back to seventeenth century. Since the conception of idea, gasification has passed through several phases of development. Yearwise development of the technology is given below.

1969 Thomas Shirley conducted crude experiments with carborated hydrogen
1699Dean Clayton obtained coal gas from pyrolitic experiment
1788 Robert Gardner obtained the first patent with regard to gasification
1792 First confirmed use of producer gas reported, Murdoc used the gas generated from coal to light a room in his house. Since then, for many years coal gas was used for cooking and heating
1801 Lampodium proved the possibility of using waste gases escaping from charring of wood
1804 Fourcroy found the water gas by reaction of water with a hot carbon
1812 developed first gas producer which uses oil as fuel
1840 First commercially used gasifier was built in France
1861 Real breakthrough in technology with introduction of Siemens gasifier. This gasifier is considered to be first successful unit
1878 Gasifiers were successfully used with engines for power generation
1900 First 600 hp gasifier was exhibited in Paris. Thereafter, larger engines upto 5400 hp were put into service
1901 J.W. Parker run a passenger vehicle with producer gas
after 1901

In the period 1901-1920, many gasifier-engine systems were sold and used for power and electricity generation
1930 Nazi Germany accelerated effort to convert existing vehicles to producer gas drive as part of plan for national security and and independence from imported oil
1030 Began development for small automotive and portable gas producer. British and French Goverment felt that automotive charcoal gas producer is more suitable for their colonies where supply of gasoline was scarce and wood that could charred to charcoal was readily available


About 2,50,000 vehicles were registered in the Sweden. Out of them, 90 % were converted to producer gas drive. Almost all of the 20,000 tractors were operated on producer gas. 40 % of the fuel used was wood and remainder charcoal
After end of second world war, with plentiful gasoline and diesel available at cheap cost, gasificaton technology lost glory and importance
1950- 1970 During this decades, gasification was " Forgotten Technology ". Many goverments in europe to felt that consumption of wood at the prevailing rate will reduce the forest, creating several environmental problems
After 1970The year 1970īs brought a renewed interest in the technology for power generation at small scale. Since then work is also concentrated to use fuels other than wood and charcoal.

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This page is developed and maintened by :
Chandrakant Turare ,
ARTES Institute,
University of Flensburg
Flensburg, Germany