Monday, 3 February 2014

Liberian ingenuity: Mini Prototype "gasfire" device introduced in Liberia

Two researchers (a Liberian and Nigerian) belonging to a Liberian electric firm have come up with an ingenious device to provide electricity using woodchips, fire coal (locally made charcoal) and solid waste that can provide many Liberian households and families with cheap yet effective electricity that does not involve relying solely on generators for electricity and lighting. The researchers call their electricity prototype Gasfire. Necessity is the mother of all invention. Creativity has given us many useful and life saving inventions. Liberia is no exception to the rule. Original article can also be found here

Monrovia - Wood gas electrification in Liberia now described as a Buchanan Renewable failed project could be achievable by a Liberian firm if the needed support and attention is provide the local firm.

Mr. TQ Harris and Igbo Vincent   two engineer researchers from Liberia and Nigeria have built a mini prototype gasfire that can generate electric power using wood and other solid waste materials.

The device according to the pair is also capable of processing ordinary wood chips intosyngas that can replace gasoline or diesel in operating a combustion engine.

“In other words, the device (gasfire) uses wood to power a typical generator that produces electric light”, a statement issued by the local firm indicated.

Studies have proven that electric power generated from biomass wood, Palm Kernel, Coconut shell, and palm oil amongst others is far cheaper than the petroleum.

Besides being cheaper studies have also shown that biomass causes zero emission and does not destroy the environment.

The two researchers told reporters that Liberia has an abundance of the materials needed for the project and said they intend to convert them to electricity for the benefit of its citizens but wants support from National government and welcome partnership from private entities.

“The use of biomass gas to generate electricity will also create thousands of jobs both in urban and rural communities” the statement added.

They promised to further partner with Universities in the Country to further advance the emerging industry in the research and development of renewable energy.

The two engineers also disclosed plans by their company to introduce a variety of biomass electric power generation system to businesses, communities and private individuals as an alternative or complement in meeting their power needs.

Mr. TQ Harris, a former Presidential candidate said his life out of politics is better and he hopes that his invention could yield results in helping Liberians solve some of their energy problems.

How it works?

The gasfire is a system that converts energy in a burning wood to combustible gas. The combustible gas is introduced into the manifold of internal combustion engine with proper interface and calibration to produce horsepower that drives an alternator in order to produce electricity.

The conversion process is called Pyrolisis and the chemical reaction is long and complex. To operate the prototype gasfire, charcoal is first ignited within the chamber; then, small pieces of wood of sizes between 2 millimeter and five millimeter are then introduced into the wood hopper.

The wood automatically goes down into the reactor chamber due to gravity. At the reactor, the chemistry of gas conversion takes place; gas is produced, cooled and cleaned before flaring or before being introduced into an engine manifold. Gas from a gasfire system can operate both diesel and gasoline engine, except that process of application differs.

With the introduction of this device by a Liberian and his Nigerian partner it leaves many to wonder as to why the multi million dollars company BRE failed to produce a single demonstration of what they wanted to do when they were given the right to cut logs in the name of producing this energy.

Buchanan Renewable Energy during its operation was seen exporting wood chips out of the country in the name of going to process the chips to be brought back for the project, but up to now not a single bud has been lighted from their venture.

To make matter worse BRE has parked and left with all of their equipment, leaving Liberians with no hope of getting any benefit from wood chips they cut and exported.

Background on electricity in Liberia

Liberia has come a long way since its war ended nearly eleven years ago. Electricity is slowly returning to the country particularly in the capital Monrovia, Buchanan and Kakata. Electricity projects have been proposed and some are currently being operable through solar power electricity and traffic lights, mini hydro power dams in rural Liberia. There has been talks between Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Liberia to connect both countries to West African Electricity pool. Inter-state power lines have been planted from Ivorian border towns into Liberian towns and villages on the border and further inside the country. The WAEP lines are still in their planning and will be implemented in stages. For the past five years, Liberia's main power plant Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant that provided the majority of Liberia' electricity prior to the Civil War has been in the beginning phases of reconstruction. Liberians have long argued that the Mt. Coffee plant should've been priority#1 when current President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf entered office during her first term. Liberia would've at least had electricity. Many Liberian homes and businesses would have saved countless of dollars on providing their own electricity through generators some of which have killed several families through suffocation. The Ministry of Lands and Mines and other ministries are working with Liberian government with the aid from World Bank and European countries to construct and renovate Mt. Coffee Hydroplant. 

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