Biomass Gasification

Biomass is one of the most significant renewable feedstock FastOx gasification can accept. Find out why it makes such a great material for the process.

What is Biomass?

Biomass is organic matter, such as plant material and animal waste, that can be used as a source of fuel. Through its vast stores of chemical energy generated through natural processes, biomass provides a substantial energy source that is both renewable and sustainable. FastOx gasification systems can take this vast energy store and efficiently convert it into electricity, hydrogen, biofuels, and ammonia.

The Energy Information Administration’s estimates that there are 590 million wet tons of biomass available in the United States on an annual basis. Of those, 20 million wet tons (enough to supply about 3 gigawatts of capacity) are available today.

Biomass is a cost effective primary feedstock for FastOx systems and an economical feedstock supplement for low-carbon waste streams such as electronic waste, medical waste, and glass.


Gasifying Biomass with FastOx Gasification

Biomass is an ideal primary feedstock for FastOx® gasifiers because it is high in carbon. Biomass also makes an excellent supplementary feedstock to wastes that are low in carbon.

Biomass is relatively low in ash content (typically, less than 5% ash content on a dry basis.) Its low ash content allows FastOx systems to run at much higher efficiencies.


Case Studies

The energy content of dry (i.e. no moisture) biomass is roughly 19-20 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg), which translates to about 18-19 million BTUs per metric ton (MMBTU/MT).

This energy content allows for FastOx systems to generate one of the following valuable end products from 100 metric tons per day (MTPD) of municipal solid waste:

  • 80.8 megawatt-hours of electricity per day (MWhe/day)
  • 3,234 gallons of diesel per day
  • 5,800 kilograms of hydrogen gas per day


Crops that are specifically grown for use as fuel that offer high biomass output per hectare with low input energy. Some examples of these plants are wheat, which typically yields 7.5–8 metric tons of grain per hectare, and straw, which typically yields 3.5–5 metric tons per hectare in the UK. [2]


Rice Straw

Sierra Energy has tested small amounts of rice straw during research and development of FastOx gasifiers. No issues were experienced with a FastOx gasifier as a result of the high-ash content of the rice straw. However, every system will vary slightly in operation procedures due to variations in the feedstock being used. For that reason, a feasibility study will be necessary to determine the impact of processing rice straw for any specific project.

For those who already collect rice straw, gasification is an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to combustion/incineration. For those who do not currently collect rice straw or have access to it, partnerships may be developed with producers to centralize the disposal or rice straw and lower the cost of processing it.