Analysis of the performance of an integrated small-scale biomass gasification system in a Canadian context


Small-scale downdraft biomass gasification is a promising technology for off-grid combined heat and power generation utilizing Canada’s vast biomass resources. As small-scale gasifiers are currently emerging into the Canadian market, the current study investigates the required feedstock characteristics for stable operation using Canadian softwood, along with the quality of the biochar produced as a byproduct. It was found that reducing feedstock moisture from 20 to 9% increased overall system efficiency from 8.2 to 12%. Equilibrium simulations were utilized to evaluate the deviation from ideal conversion when using feedstock outside the gasifier feedstock specifications. These showed the gasifier was operating close to equilibrium, with the lower heating value of the actual producer gas deviating by an average of 9% from simulated results. This study provides a novel methodology for the quantification of reliability and efficiency of these systems which can be used to evaluate the economic benefit of these systems in Canada.

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We wish to acknowledge the Bioenergy Program at the National Research Council Canada for funding this work.  We wish to acknowledge W. Stuart Neill for his contributions toward developing the gasification facility and guidance as well as the Bioenergy Program Lead, Jonathan Martin. We also wish to acknowledge Farid Bensebaa for his contribution toward simulation development and overall guidance.


Funding for this work was provided through the Bioenergy Program at the National Research Council Canada.

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Correspondence to J. V. Littlejohns.

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Littlejohns, J.V., Butler, J., Luque, L. et al. Analysis of the performance of an integrated small-scale biomass gasification system in a Canadian context. Biomass Conv. Bioref. 10, 311–323 (2020).

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  • Small-scale gasification
  • Bioenergy
  • Producer gas
  • Canadian biomass
  • Equilibrium simulation