Our project started in 2008 with the open source Gasifier Experimenter’s Kit (GEK), supporting research, education and DIY hacking in biomass thermal conversion. Seven years later the GEK has evolved into the Power Pallet, a full solution for commercial power generation via biomass. Today you can find our systems at work in dozens of countries around the world, and supporting research in over 50 universities.
Our Power Pallet, Power Cube and Powertainer are a new category of energy device. They combine the best usability features of diesel generators, with the clean running of typical renewables, with the potential for a carbon negative impact.
With APL products, you can generate on-demand power for 1/4 the operating cost of diesel, at 1/2 the capital cost of solar. And while saving money, you can shrink your carbon footprint and contribute positively to global efforts against climate change.
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Getting Energy and Climate Right
Short term and long term, the stakes in getting energy and climate right are daunting and growing for all humanity. The shear volume of carbon we’ve dug up from ancient reservoirs since industrialization and returned to contemporary circulation is difficult to get the mind around, we’ve collected . So far we’ve mostly been able to ignore the consequences of this tomb robbing, as the temperature rise from CO2 accumulation lags by decades, if not centuries.
APL Carbon Negative Machinery: Today and Future
APL has long known but seldom highlighted the carbon implications of our work. Our first project was to get the basic electricity generation in order, as that is the economic driver which makes the rest possible. Adding biochar as a co-product along with electricity (and potentially heat) makes the economics of biochar much more attractive and scaled adoption more likely. Thus our grand plan at APL has always been to produce combined energy and biochar machines, with variable output between the two, as each use case may require. Now that our basic power generation systems are stabilizing, you’re going to see progressive attention to the biochar side of the total proposition.
While today’s APL Power Pallets produce a relatively small amount of biochar byproduct (around 5% of input mass), it is still enough for modest carbon negativity in the fuel cycle. The round rule of thumb numbers are as follows:
- 1 tonne of dry biomass in produces about 1Mw/hr of electricity and 50kg of carbon byproduct.
- 50kg of raw carbon once recombined with O2 is the equivalent of 185kg of CO2 in the atmosphere. (mass C x 3.67 = mass CO2)
- 1 tonne of biomass input to the gasifier can soil-sequester the equivalent of 0.185 CO2 tonnes in the atmosphere.
- Avoided CO2 emissions from not burning fossil fuel in the process are added to the wins above.
Future APL machines will introduce features that enable increased biochar yield of up to 15-20% of input mass, while still co-generating electricity. For now we are just using the post hearth char. You can learn more about our carbon analysis here. You can also read fantastic coverage of the run up to COP21 in The Guardian. And for an extraordinary insider’s perspective, we’re really enjoying the blog Winning the Carbon War by Jeremy Leggett.
GLOBAL ON-DEMAND, AFFORDABLE, CARBON-NEGATIVE ENERGY