A gasifier works by decomposing organic matter in an oxygen-free environment at high temperatures and then burning the hydrogen that results from that decomposition. It is a smokeless, much cleaner way of providing electricity and/or heat without particle emissions and soot.
The so-called “Fusion Jr.” Home Energy Reactor has an amazing potential to generate energy and it has been used during the Second World War to power cars.
What attracted us to the idea of building a peltier gasifier is that this technology is 100% green, uses an alternative fuel source (biomass) and can be built from a huge variety of salvaged components. Waste is converted to burnable gas which then burns, creating heat. This heat can either be used for cooking, heating, or simply converted into electricity.
It has five key components: gasifier unit, peltier cells, charging module, storage battery, power inverter.
Now let’s follow the three easy steps.
1. Make the Gasifier Unit.
This is the most important component of all. It burns waste without making excessive pollution and smoke, unless there is wind, or it runs out of fuel. The heat that is generated by the unit through a combustion process can last for at least half an hour before the flame goes off. Trevor Nestor, the author of the piece on Instructables, suggests that the best item to use for this is a can either a coffee, bean or a small cookie one. It is important to make many holes, as they determine the amount of oxygen, which is the key to the experiment. Make sure the gasifier is working properly, by inserting fuel into it. You know it works, when the flame is clean and smokeless.
2. Assemble the Peltier Cells.
These are the heat-to-electricity converters. They can be purchased from stores or online, at a reasonable price (better than solar cells). The important thing here is to have a cooling element, fan or even ice, placed opposite the politer cell. This will control the cooling gradient and will prevent the Peltier units from melting. Use aluminum tape to attach it to the cell, normal glue does now work too well. If you do not want to buy peltier cells, then use a small steam engine or a stirling engine attached to DC motor to produce electricity.
3. Install the Battery, Inverter and Charger.
Once the mechanical part of the conversion process is sorted out, the incoming power should be stored somewhere. A 12V rechargeable battery, a float charger and a power inverter are all you need. Make sure you have checked all options and have read all customer reviews so that you are sure you have selected the best and most suitable products. Typical car batteries do not seem to last very long in this case – go for deep-cycle lead acid batteries instead. The power inverter, charger and voltmeter can be easily attached to the battery, paying attention to polarity and charging current.
The efficiency of Peltier units is not very high, but for amateur/DIY conditions they’re excellent as a proof of concept. You will be able to charge you iPhone with the heat you get from the gasifier and even more power-hungry appliances, if you have the patience for the battery to recharge.
About the green credentials of this device, it’s known that burning biomass produces by far less pollution than burning fossil fuels. The pollution is only local, but on the large scale, the CO2 emitted by burning biomass will be reintroduced into the circuit. It’s far that this will happen with a lower efficiency, but it’s still a cleaner solution than burning petrol and/or coal.
Special thanks to Instructables user TheHomeBrewGuru, who actually made this gasifier and unwillingly provided us with the inspiration to pass the information along.