Gassification is an ancient ground fertilizing method that generates hydrogen power with carbon fertilizer as a byproduct. The carbon fertilizer is said to be so good it has been called "crack for plants." According to an Oct. 19 CNET article, some of the first commercially available carbon negative energy generators are being produced by All Power Labs at The Shipyard in Berkeley, California.
The generators use biomass like wood chips, corn husks and walnut shells. The biomass is set to smoulder instead of burning. This process, in an enclosed, oxygen deprived chamber, produces hydrogen gas that burns cleanly as it generates power. The byproduct is the highly fertile coal. Amazingly, over a million vehicles were powered by gassification during World War II. Those vehicles disappeared quickly after the war ended and the oil and gas industry profited from the growth of the auto industry instead.
Even more amazing is the idea of artists as the catalyst for a potential boom in gassification generators as a global source of power. The artists at The Shipyard in Berkeley were using enormous amounts of electrical power to run their flamethrowers. The city cut their power off and they were forced to find an alternative.
All Power CEO Jim Mason bought a space at the Shipyard and started up his gassification business about five years ago. Now he produces equipment called PowerPallets that cost about $27,000 each. The PowerPallets produce absolutely clean energy that costs about 10 cents a kilowatt hour. No other alternative energy can do this right now.
All Power has sold about 500 machines, mostly in poor nations that otherwise would have to pay about 50 cents per kilowatt hour. Now the firm has orders from Ecuador, Haiti, Thailand and other nations.
Domestically, All Power might be getting a big boost or might be getting ripped off, even if the systems are heavily patented. About 50 institutions bought PowerPallets and are poking through the computer control systems and innards. The machines are very simple right now, which means the common plumbing parts can easily be repaired and replaced. But it looks like more advanced or sophisticated systems might be on the way.
Currently 30 employees work to build systems at 10 kW and 20 kW capacities. All Power has a grant from the US Department of Energy and the University of Minnesota that will help the firm to build a 100 kW version of the PowerPallet.
It is just amazing how ancient technology, the latest in computer science and a power-deprived artist's colony has led to a process that may turn power production on its head in just a few years.