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Product system model for distributed renewable syngas production

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posted on 2024-02-08, 20:36 authored by Hongmei Gu, Richard Bergman

This product system model represents the generation of two co-products from forest or wood product mill operation residues using the Tucker Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Thermochemical conversion process. The two co-products are a synthesis gas (syngas) and biochar (a form of charcoal made from woody biomass via pyrolysis, used as a soil amendment, and under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration to produce negative carbon dioxide emissions). As of August 2016, the Tucker RNG process is operational as a pilot scale project in Charlotte, North Carolina. A duplicate Tucker RNG process is designed to take place in St. Regis, Montana along with a chip operation sawmill where the feedstock provided. A wood chip production unit process will be released with a subsequent version of this data set.

The Tucker RNG process uses high-temperature (>750°C) thermochemical conversion in a low oxygen environment to convert feedstock from forest thinning and mill residues into syngas, which can be used for heat and electricity, and co-product biochar for soil amendment or as a precursor in the manufacturing of activated carbon and other industrial carbon products. The system minimizes the introduction of atmosphere using a double air lock coupled with a feedstock compression system that expels interparticulate air from the feedstock before heating. This being an endothermic process, three propane burners are fired to provide heat to the active chamber. The feedstock was transferred into the active section in which the temperature was kept from 750°C to 870°C for pyrolysis reaction. After about 1.5 minutes reaction in the active chamber, the generated biochar and high molecular chained syngas were transferred to a passive section with no external heat source but further reaction with a specific catalyst assistant to produce more low-molecular-chain syngas. Syngas leaving the passive section was then cooled in a tar condenser and a misting chamber to removed oil and tars. The emissions from the Tucker RNG unit conversion were not measured at the test, therefore not accounted for. Only operational data, such as feedstock input, utility use and heat source are measured or calculated to model the process. A more complete description of the Tucker RNG process can be found in Gu and Bergman (2016). See full citation below.

Data for this process were collected in St. Regis, Montana and Locust, NC, where the Tucker RNG conversion process has been tested and demonstrated.

This record was modified on 05/10/2018. The two unit processes previously published were compiled into a product system and the product system model is now available.

Resources in this dataset:

  • Resource Title: USFS-FPL-Tucker Renewable Gas.

    File Name:


USDA-NIFA: 2011-10006-30357


Data contact name

Gu, Hongmei

Data contact email


USDA LCA Commons

Intended use

These data were developed as a part of a crop production product system, for use in "Accounting" situations C2 as described in European Commission - Joint Research Centre - Institute for Environment and Sustainablility: International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook - General guide for Life Cycle Assessment - Detailed Guidance. The modeled "Syngas; produced from thermochemical conversion; at plant; HHV 17.96MJ/m^3" and "Biochar; produced from thermochemical conversion; at plant; 1.84% moisture" are cradle-to-gate LCA intended for the specific Tucker RNG technology to produce bioenergy/bioproduct from forest or mill residues.

Use limitations

This unit process was built to specifically represent the Tucker Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Thermochemical conversion process. Use caution when using this data set as proxy for similar distributed systems or for comparative assertions. The emissions to air for this process were not characterized and are therefore not included in this unit process.

Temporal Extent Start Date


Temporal Extent End Date



  • irregular


  • Not specified

Geographic Coverage


Geographic location - description

St. Regis, Montana; Locust, North Carolina

ISO Topic Category

  • environment

Ag Data Commons Group

  • Life Cycle Assessment

National Agricultural Library Thesaurus terms

bioenergy; LCA; life cycle assessment; life cycle inventory; unit process; computer software

OMB Bureau Code

  • 005:96 - Forest Service

OMB Program Code

  • 005:034 - National Forest System

Pending citation

  • No

Public Access Level

  • Public

Preferred dataset citation

Gu, H., Bergman, R., (2016). "Product system model for distributed renewable syngas production." USDA LCA Commons released December 2016.

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