Rural electrification with renewable energy equipments offers several advantages (or may be the only alternative) to rural areas where conventional electricity supply may have constraints in developing contexts, or may lead to self-sufficient systems in energy terms in developed areas. This project aims to develop until the prototype phase a small scale downdraft gasifier. The small scale contemplates the use of synthesis gas (syngas) in an engine-generator to generate electricity in a range of 5 to 50 kWe. Such systems should be suitable for autonomous generation in both industrialized countries and in developing countries. Moreover, they allow replacing traditional diesel generation systems in hybrid configurations, as well as its syngas usage in dual mode with diesel. That is the reason why the project also includes the necessary research and development to adapt existing microgrids to include the use of gasifiers. Currently, this technology is almost exclusively to Indian and American manufacturers. In this context, the objective of the project is to develop its own technology, applicable to remote areas, both in Europe and in international framework led by Catalan companies.

Synthesizing, the main objective of the project can be summed up as the development of a downdraft biomass gasifier till its prototype phase, which is able to supply electricity in the range of 10-15 kWe and to be connected in a microgrid for the electricity distribution. This main objective includes the following specific goals which are needed to reach the main purpose:

-          To develop a pilot downdraft gasifier suitable to gasify a biomass flowrate of 10-20 kg/h, mainly hardwoods with a grain size between 20-50 mm.

-          Establish the design and operation conditions of the gasifier in order to minimize the content of tars and particles in the syngas, and to deal with the biomass ashes reactivity.

-          Design, adapt and optimize the gas cleaning system in order to have a syngas suitable for its combustion in the adapted engine.

-          Assemble an engine-generator system downstream the gasifier-gas cleaning structure and tune the electricity production and control systems with the corresponding stability tests, as well as carry out the correspondent studies of the on and output transient stability service of power.

-           To tune a microgrid of electricity generation (management of the demand-production) in mono-generation mode, or in hybrid-generation model with solar photovoltaic systems.

As competitive advantages, the project aims at developing its own tar free technology, dealing as well with the challenge of the biomass ashes reactivity. In this way, it will led to an advance in the state of the art of the downdraft biomass gasifiers in commercial status, considering too  the dry cleaning of the gas, thus with no aqueous effluent to be cleaned before disposal. It is also an aim to develop a gasification system with a high degree of automation, hence lowering operating costs. With this technology, the UPC wants to achieve the level of the most advanced technologies currently available which are in pre-commercial level, as the CPC (USA), or in commercial one, such as CCE SJ-Gasproducer (South Africa).