History of Gasification
Gasification has grown from a simple conversion process used for making "town gas" for industrial lighting to an advanced, multi-product, carbon-based fuel technology of today and tomorrow. Gasification was first used commercially in the 1800s for industrial and residential heating and lighting. As the use and distribution infrastructures for electricity and natural gas evolved, town gas use declined and gasification development paused. However, history has shown that the technology is revisited when access to natural gas, oil and petroleum products are limited. Today, gasification technology development is enjoying a renaissance as a means for producing electrical energy, synthetic natural gas, liquid fuels or chemical products from coal, biomass, or other carbon containing materials under increasingly stringent environmental constraints.
Discovery and Earliest Experimentation
- In 1609, Jan Baptista Van Helmont, a Belgian chemist and physician, discovered that gas could be produced from heating wood or coal. Following this discovery, several others aided in developing and refining the gasification process:
- 1669: Thomas Shirley performs various experiments with carbonated hydrogen.
- Late 1600s: John Clayton experiments with capturing gas produced from coal.
- 1788: Robert Gardner becomes the first to obtain a patent dealing with gasification.
- 1791: John Barber receives the first patent in which "producer gas" was used to drive an internal combustion engine.
- 1798: Biomass gasification is first conceived when Philippe Lebon led efforts to gasify wood.