What is the Difference Between Water Gas and Producer Gas

The main difference between water gas and producer gas is that water gas is specifically produced through steam-carbon reactions, while producer gas is a broader term for gases generated through partial combustion of solid fuels.

Water gas and producer gas are two types of gases produced through distinct processes. Both have applications in various industrial and energy-related contexts.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Water Gas 
      – Definition, Features, Role
2. What is Producer Gas
      – Definition, Features, Role
3. Similarities Between Water Gas and Producer Gas
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Water Gas and Producer Gas
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Water Gas and Producer Gas
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Water Gas, Producer Gas

Difference Between Water Gas and Producer Gas - Comparison Summary

What is Water Gas

Water gas, also known as synthesis gas or syngas, is a versatile mixture primarily composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Its production involves the gasification of carbon-containing materials, such as coal, natural gas, or biomass. This process typically employs high temperatures and controlled amounts of oxygen or steam to facilitate the chemical transformation.

Water gas holds significance as a feedstock for the production of various valuable chemicals and fuels. Its adaptability makes it a key player in the synthesis of ammonia, methanol, and synthetic hydrocarbons. Ammonia, a crucial component in fertilizers, relies on syngas as a precursor. Similarly, methanol production involves the catalytic conversion of syngas, and this versatile chemical serves as a building block for a myriad of industrial processes.

Compare Water Gas and Producer Gas

The use of water gas extends beyond chemical synthesis; it plays a pivotal role in power generation. By burning the gas in a controlled environment, it releases energy that can be harnessed for electricity production. This application becomes especially relevant as society continues to explore cleaner and more sustainable energy alternatives.

Furthermore, advancements in technology have spurred the development of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants. These facilities optimize the efficiency of syngas utilization, enhancing the overall energy output while minimizing environmental impact.

Water gas also contributes to the emerging field of green chemistry. Researchers explore ways to produce syngas from renewable sources, such as agricultural and forestry residues or municipal solid waste. This aligns with the global effort to transition towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.

What is Producer Gas

Producer gas is a versatile fuel derived from the gasification of organic materials such as coal, wood, or biomass. The process involves subjecting these feedstocks to high temperatures in the absence of air or with limited oxygen, leading to the production of a combustible gas mixture. This gas, commonly known as producer gas, is composed mainly of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, methane, and nitrogen, with varying proportions depending on the feedstock and gasification conditions.

One of the key advantages of producer gas is its ability to serve as a renewable and sustainable energy source. Biomass-derived producer gas, for instance, can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing organic waste materials that would otherwise decompose and release methane into the atmosphere. Furthermore, producer gas can be employed in various applications, such as heat generation, electricity production, and even as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

Water Gas vs Producer Gas

As technology advanced and cleaner fuels became more readily available, the use of producer gas declined. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in producer gas due to its potential role in sustainable energy solutions.

The gasification process itself has evolved with advancements in engineering and materials science, allowing for more efficient and environmentally friendly production of producer gas. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants, for example, utilize producer gas to generate electricity with higher efficiency and lower emissions compared to traditional coal-fired power plants.

Similarities Between Water Gas and Producer Gas

  • Both gases are produced through the gasification of carbonaceous materials.
  • These gases exist in a gaseous state at standard temperature and pressure conditions.
  • Water gas and producer gas have applications in energy production and industrial processes.

Difference Between Water Gas and Producer Gas


Water gas is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen produced by reacting steam with hot carbon, while producer gas is primarily composed of carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and small amounts of other gases through incomplete combustion of carbonaceous materials.


Typically, water gas is produced through the water gas shift reaction, where steam reacts with carbon at high temperatures. On the other hand, producer gas is generated by the partial combustion of solid carbonaceous materials, such as coal or biomass, in the presence of a limited supply of air or oxygen.

Energy Content

Water gas generally has a higher energy content due to the presence of hydrogen, which is a high-energy fuel. Producer gas has a lower energy content compared to water gas, primarily because it contains nitrogen and lacks the high-energy hydrogen component.

FAQ: Water Gas and Producer Gas

Why is water gas a better fuel than producer gas?

Water gas is a better fuel than producer gas because water gas has a high calorific value.

Why is water gas a good fuel?

Water gas is a good fuel because this gas serves as a more efficient heating fuel than the common coal gas.

Is producer gas renewable or nonrenewable?

Producer gas is renewable as it originates from renewable biomass sources.


The main difference between water gas and producer gas is that water gas is specifically produced through steam-carbon reactions, while producer gas is a broader term for gases generated through partial combustion of solid fuels.


1. “Water Gas.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.
2. “Producer Gas.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image Courtesy:

1. “KimreformerV” By Smartsantokr1 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Holston Army Ammunition Plant Producer Gas Plant Kingsport-sullivan-county” (Public Domain) via Jenikirbyhistory GetArchive 

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

Leave a Reply