Gas engines are mainly used for power generation with biogas, landfill gas, natural gas, combustible industrial gases and producer gas. The most common type of gas engines available in the market are those that are designed for the natural gas. Few equipment suppliers modified their gas engines specifically for biogas and LFG application. These engines have reasonable efficiencies and the market rates are also high when compared to other gas engines.
Some leading gas engine manufacturers have engines with capacities ranging from 25 kW – 3 MW and also have operating hours of about 60,000 before the first major haul. Few European suppliers are quite successful in supplying gas engines using biogas or landfill gas and their electrical efficiency is around 40%. These engines are also having good efficiency even during low load operation.
There are some Chinese gas engines available in the market for biogas and producer gas usage. However they have not been being tested for reasonable number of operating hours in order to come out with the performance figures.
The engines used to produce electricity through gasification are often facing major problems because of the tar in producer gas. Enough attention is not given by equipment manufacturers in this aspect and the R&D efforts are still going on. A few Indian and Chinese based suppliers are supplying low cost engines to the market.
Producer gas has a very low air to fuel ratio (1.3:1) compared to other gases (Natural gas 17:1). Hence the engine has to be operated with different carburetors for producer gas and natural gas. Also, the producer gas can be operated in an engine which has a higher compression ratio. Engines used for producer gas have generally lower efficiency and they are cheaper. The efficiency of these engine varies from 25 – 35% depending upon their make.
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