The biomass gasifier is a clean energy technology that utilizes biomass for the purpose of power and thermal generation. With the rising diesel and petrol prices, biomass as an alternate fuel has attracted significant attention in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector.


Biomass as a fuel plays an integral role in the Indian economy, contributing nearly 28% to India's Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES). However, only 2-3% of biomass is utilized in modern, efficient technologies while the majority of biomass is burnt directly and is used primarily in domestic cooking. In order to sustain the high growth rates, access to clean forms of energy at affordable prices is integral, particularly for MSMEs, which contribute substantially to the country's economic growth. There are many energy-intensive industries among MSMEs which use commercial fuels like coal, oil and gas or biomass fuels in an extremely inefficient manner. In most of these industries, energy costs account for nearly 30-50% of the total cost of production.


This case study highlights the application of TERI's biomass gasifier technology for thermal application by an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur applied the technology in a food processing unit in Chennapatana located 60 kms from Bangalore (in Karnataka state) and later replicated to install 15 more units benefitting MSMEs.


The structure of the unit before the installation of the gasifier constituted of two roasters. The first operated at a temperature of 120°C for removing moisture, while the second was used for roasting grains at 250°C. Both units required wood for generating thermal energy. Due to the intense temperature and heat produced in the unit, the brick wall developed gaps and cracks which further required more heat and wood to maintain the temperature in the unit. The chosen unit operated for a period of 12 hours and utilized 3.5 tons of wood on an average. The driver (operator) would continue loading wood depending on the temperature fluctuation, which often led to a rejection rate of 5-6% of the product along with a large amount of smoke and fly ash.





  1. Objective
  2. Target Group
  3. Output
  4. Key Features of the Case
  5. Sustainable Financing
  6. Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment
  7. Building Local Capacity and Skills
  8. Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders
  9. Achieving Co-Benefits
  10. Affordability and Technical Issues
  11. Local Champions
  12. Monitoring and Evaluation
  13. Replicability and Scaling-up
  14. Contact
  15. References and Further Reading



Installation of the thermal biomass gasifier as a fuel efficient technology for reducing heat radiation, fuel consumption and emission of harmful gases.


Target Group

MSMEs having roasters for food processing units such as ground nut roasting, puffed rice units, currently use furnace, firewood and saw dust for producing heat.



  • Fuel saving of up to 50% with respect to direct wood/saw dust fired
  • Smoke less/ free from fly ash
  • Operator is free from loading wood in high temperature conditions
  • High quality of product due to uniform temperature
  • Reduction in wastage
  • Wood loading reduced to once in 12 hours
  • Faster production
  • 60% saving on fuel compared to furnace oil


Key Features of the Case

  • Efficient resource management
  • Successful business model
  • Timely identification of opportunities
  • Financial model
  • Collaboration with suitable organizations


Sustainable Financing

The initial risk and investment was completely borne by the entrepreneur as the intervention was purely self-financed. For this particular intervention, there were no external, governmental or non-governmental schemes used. The business model was particularly successful due to the effective strategy implemented by the entrepreneur by initially investing his own resources and claiming payments from the end users after witnessing the desired results. The intervention was primarily an introduction to the community members, as none of the local end users had been aware of the technology or its benefits. Adopting a new technology without knowing its potential and capability may be a challenging task for consumers, particularly when the available resources are fairly scarce. The end users required a surety from the manufacturer to ensure the capability of the new technology to produce the desired results. Therefore the entrepreneur provided this guarantee by initially bearing all the costs of installing the gasifier and claiming payments or profits upon its successful functioning. The entrepreneur's strategy proved to be effective and 15 new units were installed in the following year. However, due to lack of awareness of the technology, the entrepreneur or the end users were not able to claim any subsidies or financial support from governmental or non-governmental organizations.


Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment

There were no particular institutions or policies that were utilized for this intervention. The entrepreneur did not utilise any schemes or policies that are currently available from the government or the other organizations.


Some of the schemes and subsidies that are currently being offered by the government and various regional banks are targeting and extending their support to the local MSME entrepreneurs as well as the end users.

Various financial schemes are available to initiate the commercialization of the new and innovative technologies. Institutions such as Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), and MSME Development Institute are readily offering support and financial mechanisms for the end users to be able to leverage such support. Among such schemes are, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP) & Technology up gradation schemes, Entrepreneurial awards, Smile offered by SBI and other entrepreneurial schemes offered by the regional banks. The gasifier may also qualify under the technology innovation scheme offered by MSME DI, where new innovative ways of replacing conventional fuels would be awarded.


Building Local Capacity and Skills

A number of challenges need to be tackled to ensure the success of this particular intervention. One of the key barriers identified was the availability of biomass such as dry wood, briquettes, waste etc. which was essential for its smooth functioning. Therefore, the entrepreneur formulated a strategy to ensure the continuous supply of biomass to various units in the community. This process led to generating business for four new suppliers, initiated by the entrepreneur, who currently continue to supply biomass to areas within Karnataka. He was therefore successful not only in generating, income, employment, before & after sales training sessions, interaction amongst stakeholders, but also helped in bridging the gap between demand and supply for biomass. The gasifier owners continue to receive and purchase biomass from these entrepreneurs as well as promote the technology in the community and attract more end users into purchasing and promoting clean energy technologies.


Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders

The community was unaware of the existence of such a technology. The entrepreneur performed a detailed study of the potential of the gasifier in the region for a period of one and a half years before a customer approached for installing the new technology. Therefore, no local stakeholder or community members participated in this particular intervention. However, the entrepreneur educated the community members by implementing mechanisms to spread awareness. The demonstration explained the functions that may be performed by the technology, benefits, as well as the range of applications that it can be used for. The entrepreneur also participated in various events to showcase the technology and spread awareness, thereby eventually disseminating the technology at a rate of 10 gasifiers a month as compared to previously installing 10 gasifiers a year. Also, since this was solely the entrepreneurs own initiatives, there were no stakeholders or local governmental bodies that were a part of this particular intervention.


Achieving Co-Benefits

Raw material required for the biomass gasification process is wood waste, briquette etc. replacing fossil fuels such as petroleum, diesel etc. Since the gasifier is a cleaner technology, fuel savings were as high as 50% contributing to reduction in carbon emissions. The requirement for woody biomass reduced as a large amount of wood was no longer required to maintain the temperature, thus promoting efficient use of fuels. Along with a reduction in the carbon emissions, there was also a significant reduction in the emission of fly ash and smoke which further prevented pollution. Earlier, the frequency of loading wood required for heating was 3 hours, however, after the gasifier had been installed, the frequency reduced to loading wood every 12 hours. The degree of efficiency helped in conserving natural resources as well as efficient utilization of inputs. This contributes towards mitigation to climate change and helps improve the health of operators and the surrounding local community residents. 

Since the food processing introduced efficient use of raw material, the cost of input of production reduced to a great extent thereby increasing income and profit margins.


Affordability and Technical Issues

The initial investment was solely provided by the entrepreneur. However, his financial model differed from the usual installment based payments. The entrepreneur offered to install the gasifier at his own risk, and offered to receive the payment after the gasifier was fully functional and the user began to benefit from its operations.  This strategy was further replicated for certain other end users, wherein the gasifier set up cost was reimbursed only after the technology was functional. It helped in promoting the gasifier as well as provided easy access to the end user, since the end user was free from any commitments or failure of performance of the technology. Since the gasifier is fairly new for a lot of communities, the end users may initially require a number of incentives and financial support in order to proceed with the installation process.


Local Champions

Since not many such technologies have been introduced in the past in the area of Chenapattana, the community as well the local stakeholders were not particularly aware of the technology. Therefore, the target group showed resistance in being able to participate in the process of dissemination. Similarly, the local stakeholders were reluctant in experimenting the new technologies and providing resources for its implementation. Therefore, since the entrepreneur had been one of the few individuals, who performed the intervention with a vision for promoting fuel efficiency and a sustainable future, he must be regarded as the local champion of his community. With his hard work and strategy, the entrepreneur was further successful in installing more gasifiers in the following years without any governmental or external support.


Monitoring and Evaluation

The entrepreneur did not have the necessary resources to monitor the performance of the gasifier, he had to rely solely on the feedback given by the end user. This misleads the evavulation process due to false data, human error, or misinformed predictions. Monitoring of the actual data had been a task that required constant attention by the entrepreneur. Therefore, to generate more accurate results, TERI is developing a thermal biomass gasifier burner control device which can be integrated with the gasifier in order to apply it in fixed temperature applications. Once developed, it will widen the scope of gasifier applications in the MSMEs which will result in accelerated use in various new sectors. This would be extremely helpful to the entrepreneur, the end users and all the involved stakeholders as they would now be able to avoid any ambiguous or misleading information.


Replicability and Scaling-up

After installing the gasifier for this particular intervention, the entrepreneur received a significant amount of appreciation & positive feedback within the region where he further replicated the technology. The technology is currently also promoted and adopted by other entrepreneurs across the country in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. The biomass gasifier for thermal applications is a technology that may be used for a number of applications such as silk reeling, food processing, bakery, foundries, spices processing etc. Therefore, even if the technology is not specifically required for food processing, it may be appropriate for a variety of other applications. The gasifier can not only be used at an industry level, but also on an individual basis for lighting cook stoves in the households etc.


At present, TERI has installed more than 500 thermal gasifiers systems in different MSME sectors and 18 power gasifiers for rural and other standalone applications across the country. A cumulative capacity of 55MW and 850kWe has been installed with an estimated cumulative reduction of around 175,000 tonnes of CO2 as of December 2010.



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


References and Further Reading

1. N Ravi, Licensee manufacturer of TERI (personal communication)

2. Base paper: Towards Accelerated Dissemination of Thermal Gasifiers, TERI Report.


Application of Biomass gasifier technology for thermal application in food processing unit in India






The biomass gasifier technology was developed by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute).

This project was implemented by an entrepreneur in Karnataka, India.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Energy resource:

  • Biomass

Sub type:


    • Energy consumption
    • Commercial


    • Heating
    • Productive uses


    • Off-Grid

    Targeted area:

    • Rural

    Geographical scope:


    Project status:

    Operational project

    Project start:


    End date:

    Installed 3 years back

    Implementing approach:


    Funding Type:

    • Equity investment

    Budget (Euro):