Today the large scale introduction of biomass gasification is hampered by health, safety and environmental issues which present a major barrier in the deployment of this technology. The condensate in particular resulting from producer gas cooling before use in gas engines is highly toxic and carcinogenic which, if not adequately controlled, can lead to detrimental impacts on human health and the environment.
The study was therefore aimed at assessment of pollution levels resulting from biomass gasification organic condensates. The study involved assessing the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and BTEX (i.e. benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) in the condensate deemed toxic and carcinogenic, mention their impact on human health and the environment as well as recommend measures aimed at minimizing pollution levels resulting from biomass gasification.
The gasifier installation at Makerere University was run in downdraft mode using maize cobs as biomass fuel. The producer gas was cooled using a water cooled condenser connected to the exhaust pipe of the gasifier. The condensate was then transferred into sampling bottles made of opaque glass to minimize photochemical reactions in water samples and preserved in a cooler at 2oC to 6oC until the time for analysis to minimize volatilization and bacterial degradation of the hydrocarbons. The capillary gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detector (CGCMSD) was used to analyze the condensate for the selected hydrocarbons.
Author: Menya, Emmanuel