Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Ratner, Albert

First Committee Member

Ratner, Albert

Second Committee Member

Udaykumar, H S

Third Committee Member

Lin, Ching-Long


Gasification is a process that converts organics or fossil fuel based material into syngas at high temperature under controlled amount of air. Gasification thus increases the practicality of using biomass as a renewable source of energy. The goal of this paper is to explore corn kernel gasification at the University of Iowa Oakdale pilot scale gasifier. The results of this paper consists of three parts; the temperature profile in the gasifier, gas analysis at 950F and 1050F, and bio char analysis. The temperature profile within the gasifier was obtained and studied; different temperature gasification zones were identified. Sample gases at 950F and 1050F were obtained and analyzed. It was seen that the syngas production (in volume) at 1050 F was 12.2% greater than that of 950F. A 37.4%, 27.1% and 38.3% increase in composition of H, CO and CH4 respectively was also observed. Ultimate analysis, proximate analysis, SEM and BET tests were carried on the corn bio char produced. From the ultimate and proximate analysis, it was observed that corn bio char was similar to activated carbon. Oakdale bio-char was compared with other processed powder bio char. It was observed that char produced from the Oakdale gasifier was more porous than powder bio-char, possibly making it a better soil amendment.

Public Abstract

Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based material to gases such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide at high temperatures using controlled amounts of oxygen. The outcome of gasification is clean “synthesis gas” (syngas), which can be directed into a boiler for electricity production, can be used as a heat source for hot water generation and bio char processing. Bio char is a soil amendment that can be used by farmers to grow crops. Gasification, a member of the renewable energy family, could help a country reduce its dependence on imported oil.

This paper studies the gasification of corn kernels in the University of Iowa two-year-old pilot-scale gasifier located at the Oakdale power plant. About 10% of corn produced by farmers is discarded as waste due to pesticides and fungicides. Gasification can be used to convert this corn into usable energy. Three topics were examined in the paper: the temperature profile in the downdraft gasifier, the composition of sample synthesis gas obtained at 950F and 1050F, and the quality of the bio char produced. These analyses were compared to results from biomasses and it was observed that the char produced at Oakdale had similar properties with activated carbon (a type of carbon used for water and gas purification) under some of the tests.


publicabstract, Biomass, Gasification


ix, 62 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-62).


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Copyright © 2015 Tejasvi Sharma