Performance analysis of a commercial fixed bed downdraft gasifier using palm kernel shells

  • Arnaldo Verdeza-Villalobos Departamento de Ingeniería Industrial, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Yuhan Arley Lenis-Rodas Departamento de Ingeniería Mecánica, Fundación Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Antonio José Bula-Silvera Departamento de Ingeniería Mecánica, Fundación Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia
  • Jorge Mario Mendoza-Fandiño Departamento de Ingeniería Mecánica, Universidad de Córdoba, Montería, Colombia
  • Rafael David Gómez-Vásquez Departamento de Ingeniería Mecánica, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Montería, Colombia
Keywords: Fixed bed downdraft gasification, Kernel shells, African palm


This work analyzes the use of palm kernel shells (PKS) produced by the Colombian palm oil mill industry, for purposes of fueling a commercial downdraft fixed bed gasifier (Ankur Scientific WGB- 20) designed to operate with wood chips. Operational parameters such as hopper shaking time, ash removal time, and airflow were varied in order to get the highest gasifier performance, computed as the ratio between producer gas chemical energy over biomass feeding energy. Experiments were carried out following a half fraction experimental design 24-1. Since these parameters affect the equivalence ratio (ER), behavior indicators were analyzed as a function of ER. It was found that the shaking time and airflow had a significant effect on higher-heating-value (HHV) and process efficiency, while the removal time is not significant. The highest performance for palm shell was reached at ER=0.35, where the resulting gas HHV and process efficiencies were 5.04 MJ/Nm3 and 58%, respectively.


[1] Girón, E. A., Valderrama, M. V., Ruíz, J. D., Anuario Estadístico 2017 Principales cifras de la agroindustria de la palma de aceite en Colombia 2012-2016, Fedepalma, Colombia, Tech. Rep. ISSN 2344-8490, Oct. 2017.

[2] Arrieta, F. R., Teixeira, F. N., Yanez, E., Lora, E. and Castillo, E., Cogeneration potential in the Colombian palm oil industry: Three case studies, Biomass and Bioenergy, 2007, 31 (7), 503–511.

[3] Salomón, M., Gomez, M. F. and Martin, A., Technical polygeneration potential in palm oil mills in Colombia: A case study, Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, 2013, 3, 40–52.

[4] Hambali, E. and Rivai, M., The potential of palm oil waste biomass in Indonesia in 2020 and 2030, International Conference on Biomass: Technology, Application, and Sustainable Development, IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science, Makassar, Indonesia, Oct. 25–26, 2017.

[5] Heidenreich, S. and Foscolo, P. U., New concepts in biomass gasification, Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, 2015, 46, 72-95.

[6] Perez, J. F., Lenis, Y., Rojas, S. and Leon, C., Decentralized power generation through biomass gasification: a technical - economic analysis and implications by reduction of CO2 emissions, Revista Facultad de Ingeniería Universidad de Antioquia, 2012, 62, 157–169.

[7] Lee, U., Balu, E. and Chung, J. N., An experimental evaluation of an integrated biomass gasification and power generation system for distributed power applications, Applied Energy, 2013, 101, 699–708.

[8] Asadullah, M., Barriers of commercial power generation using biomass gasification gas: A review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2014, 29, 201–215.

[9] Samiran, N. A., Jaafar, M. N., Ng, J. H., Lam, S. S. and Chong, C. T., Progress in biomass gasification technique - With focus on Malaysian palm biomass for syngas production, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2016, 62, 1047–1062.

[10] Guo, F., Dong, Y., Dong, L. and Guo, C., Effect of design and operating parameters on the gasification process of biomass in a downdraft fixed bed: An experimental study, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2014, 39 (11), 5625-5633.

[11] Molino, A., Chianese, S. and Musmarra, D., Biomass gasification technology: The state of the art overview, Journal of Energy Chemistry, 2016, 25 (1), 10–25.

[12] Lenis, Y. A. and Pérez J. F., Gasification of sawdust and wood chips in a fixed bed under autothermal and stable conditions, Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects, 2014, 36 (23), 2555–2565.

[13] Ouadi, M., Brammer, J. G., Kay, M. and Hornung A., Fixed bed downdraft gasification of paper industry wastes, Applied Energy, 2013, 103, 692–699.

[14] Jeya, V. C. and Sekhar, S. J., Performance studies on a downdraft biomass gasifier with blends of coconut shell and rubber seed shell as feedstock, Applied Thermal Engineering, 2016, 97, 22–27.

[15] Sreejith, C. C., Muraleedharan, C. and Arun, P., Energy and exergy analysis of steam gasification of biomass materials: a comparative study, International Journal of Ambient Energy, 2013, 34 (1), 35–52.

[16] Mohammad, N. A., Chong, C., Valera-Medina, A. and Ng, J.-H., Downdraft gasification of raw and torrefied palm kernel shell, 3rd International Conference on Power Generation Systems and Renewable Energy Technologies (PGSRET), IEEE Xplore, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, April 4-6, 2017.

[17] Pérez, J. F., Melgar, A. and Benjumea, P. N., Effect of operating and design parameters on the gasification/combustion process of waste biomass in fixed bed downdraft reactors: An experimental study, Fuel, 2017, 96, 487–496.

[18] Nickerson, T. A., Hathaway, B. J., Smith, T. M. and Davidson, J. H., Economic assessment of solar and conventional biomass gasification technologies : Financial and policy implications under feedstock and product gas price uncertainty, Biomass and Bioenergy, 2015, 74, 47–57.

[19] Lenis, Y. A., Pérez, J.F. and Melgar, A., Fixed bed gasification of Jacaranda Copaia wood: Effect of packing factor and oxygen enriched air, Industrial Crops and Products, 2016, 84, 166–175.

[20] Jangsawang, W., Laohalidanond, K. and Kerdsuwan, S., Optimum equivalence ratio of biomass gasification process based on thermodynamic equilibrium model, Energy Procedia, 2015, 79, 520-527.

[21] Porteiro, J., Patiño, D., Collazo, J., Granada, E., Moran, J. and Miguez, J. L., Experimental analysis of the ignition front propagation of several biomass fuels in a fixed-bed combustor, Fuel, 2010, 89 (1), 26–35.

[22] Sharma, S. and Sheth, P. N., Air – steam biomass gasification : Experiments, modeling and simulation, Energy Conversion and Management, 2016, 110, 307-318.

[23] Basu, P., “Biomass Characteristics,” in, Biomass Gasification, Pyrolysis and Torrefaction, Academic Press, Canada: Greenfield Research, Dalhousie University, 2018, pp. 49-91.

[24] Ninduangdee P. and Kuprianov, V. I., Study on burning oil palm kernel shell in a conical fluidized-bed combustor using alumina as the bed material, Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2013, 44 (6), 1045-1053.

[25] Montgomery, D. C., Design and Analysis of Experiments, 9 th ed. Arizona: Wiley, 2017.

[26] Bridgwater, A. V., The technical and economic feasibility of biomass gasification for power generation, Fuel, 1995, 74 (5), 631–653.

[27] Martínez, J. D., Mahkamov, K., Andrade, R. V. and Silva, E. E., Syngas production in downdraft biomass gasifiers and its application using internal combustion engines, Renewable Energy, 2012, 38 (1), 1–9.
How to Cite
Verdeza-Villalobos, A., Lenis-Rodas, Y. A., Bula-Silvera, A. J., Mendoza-Fandiño, J. M., & Gómez-Vásquez, R. D. (2019). Performance analysis of a commercial fixed bed downdraft gasifier using palm kernel shells. CT&F - Ciencia, Tecnología Y Futuro, 9(2), 79-88.


Download data is not yet available.
Scientific and Technological Research Articles