Mark Gregory

Wood Gas cars I did not realize how popular this system was. Anyone know more about them ?

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A bus, powered by wood gas generated by a gassifier on a trailer, Leeds, England c.1943

The first wood gasifier was apparently built by Gustav Bischof in 1839. The first vehicle powered by wood gas was built by Thomas Hugh Parker in 1901.[1] Around 1900, many cities delivered syngas (centrally produced, typically from coal) to residences. Natural gas began to be used only in 1930.

Wood gas vehicles were used during World War II as a consequence of the rationing of fossil fuels. In Germany alone, around 500,000 "producer gas" vehicles were in use at the end of the war. Trucks, buses, tractors, motorcycles, ships and trains were equipped with a wood gasification unit. In 1942, when wood gas had not yet reached the height of its popularity, there were about 73,000 wood gas vehicles in Sweden,[2] 65,000 in France, 10,000 in Denmark, and almost 8,000 in Switzerland. In 1944, Finland had 43,000 "woodmobiles", of which 30,000 were buses and trucks, 7,000 private vehicles, 4,000 tractors and 600 boats.[3]

Wood gasifiers are still manufactured in China and Russia for automobiles and as power generators for industrial applications. Trucks retrofitted with wood gasifiers are used in North Korea[4] in rural areas, particularly on the roads of the east coast.

 

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A wood-gas powered car, Berlin, 1946. Note the secondary radiator, required to cool the gas before it's introduced into the engine

 

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Image result for wood fired cars

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

The Germans seemed to be able to get the systems more compact. A WW2 VW Beetle.

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They were used a lot in WW2 but I don't know if they were "popular". I knew a man who drove a wood gas powered bus in Holland in WW2 and he thought the system inconvenient, dirty, and not good for performance or engine life. But, with no gasoline or diesel available, it was better than nothing and his bus was the only way for people to get around other than walk or ride a bike. A friend of mine built one as an experiment and used it to power a gas engine generator on the farm. He fooled with it for a few months and had it working but again, a lot of work for not a very good result.

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As Rusty points out, they were used during WWII when gas was unavailable in Europe. In most places the fuel for the car, coal and wood, was even harder to come by and people would rather cook and heat their homes with it.

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Popular today, and modern technology makes them run better. I have one in my home town working every day for the last ten years. 

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Posted (edited)

The one my friend drove in WW2 used sacks of wood blocks about 2" square. He had to stop every hour or 2 to drain off creosote, clean out ashes and fill the hopper with wood. The wood would burn with a smoldering fire, the smoke drawn off and cleaned in a water bath filter then the carbon monoxide drawn into the engine and burned. It was better than nothing.

 

If you want more details there are plans on the net and videos on Youtube.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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https://www.build-a-gasifier.com/

Do a Google and should find more  should be some on utube also.

VOVO  still makes them in England.

You can build your own .in a car or truck you want a big motor as you lose some power.

if you are out in the country it would make a back up system.

There was some in service after Katrina  they just don’t get in the main stream news.

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Try this.....the one in my hometown is a Prius. The car was a late model wreck. The guy pulled the driveline out, places it in a shed next to his house. Uses it to heat and power his home for free. In the winter the radiator dumps heat in the house, the engine powers the battery pack with additional batteries so at night the house, which is off the grid has power. During the day they run it as needed. Thus, his home is heated 70 percent by the engine. So he has a zero heating and electrical bill. He runs it on cardboard, sawdust, or other easily sourced material. He is a tree hugger but decent guy. Home is rather small and “super insulated” so the entire project is very efficient. Sort of a less is more style of living, He is an environmental engineer, so he makes decent money. At least he lives the lifestyle and walks the walk. Added all up, not a bad lifestyle..........he supports the family very well on one salary. Off grid land is cheap, and they travel more than most folks. I was impressed with his engineering and frugal application of modern technology. 

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This has me pondering... would a hog smoker create enough wood gas to have an engine turn the rotisserie? Better yet, generate enough electricity to turn the rotisserie and run a radio. 

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23 hours ago, edinmass said:

Popular today, and modern technology makes them run better.

 

Popular?  Although I've read about their use in WWII, I've never seen one.  Are wood gasifiers commercially available as a running unit, or does one have to build one's own?  How much wood would a woodburner burn per mile? 

 

Then there's that whole woodchuck thing ....

 

Cheers,

Grog

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Grog, the wood gas thing goes up and down with the cost of oil. With the new “off the grid” crowd, it seems to have taken off over the last ten years. There was a million dollar prize for a cross country trip in a vehicle that starts with “zero” energy, and crosses the US in the fastest time. Some MIT kid started with a new F150 and made his own smoker kit. He ran from San Francisco to Nee York averaging 50 mph, starting with no fuel.......he used a wood gas design he came up with, and ran across the US on cardboard from dumpsters he plotted ahead of time, carrying a large supply in the bed of the truck. The hard part is starting and warming up the engine from dead cold.....once warm, it’s rather easy to run wood gas. Look on YouTube. Lots of videos last time I looked a few years ago. With current oil prices, I expect interest to drop again. Up north it’s similar to wood fired home boilers........they burn junk and trash wood, making them cheap to operate...........but often times a bit labor intensive.

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My Friends son Terry, has worked with wood gasification quite a bit. Here is a video of his riding mower. He also has a gas setup on a Ford Ranger truck. He said a 5 gallon bucket of sawn wood cubes will give him approximately 17 mile range. Yep, it's finicky and requires maintenance, but it does work, fuel prep, cleaning, etc. Post WW2 Europe seen a lot of vehicles converted to this for a short period as there were vehicles but no gasoline. Obviously, gasoline is much easier to use.

 

And too this is another reason, the modern steam car is not practical, virtually any combustible substance can be gasified and burned in an internal combustion engine far more efficiently. For instance, a 5 gallon bucket of wood would do well to simply raise steam pressure on a steam boiler, forgo, the 17 miles of driving.

 

-Ron

 

 

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Basically it’s a money versus convenience issue.........wood gas is much better than walking. They are a fun project like we use to build in popular mechanics...........we heated our pool with our AC system in Massachusetts for years, worked great. Then made a solar system for under 300 bucks, and it worked even better. With the current oil price war it looks like energy is goi g to be very cheap the next two years. 

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Eustice Conway had a wood burning truck on the History Channel TV show "Mountain Men". He and his friend Preston Roberts put it together on the cheap and it seemed to work quite well. Unfortunately the parking brake failed and the truck rolled down a hill and smashed into a tree. The episodes are probably in the 2015 or 2016 season.

Lew Bachman

1957 Colonial White Thunderbird

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Posted (edited)

A friend has two factory built units from WW-2 time frame. One is NOS, he has never fired that one just uses it to display. The other was used by previous owner during the 70's gas shortage, I think in a Datsun or Toyota. That one he has restored and runs a 4cyl Wisconsin engine hooked to 110v AC generator. Since he uses wood as a primary fuel to heat his house he figured in a real pinch he could use it to power the house but it does take some work. He primarily uses charcoal in his.

 

I sent him a link to this thread, I hope he will jump in with more details or correct me.

Edited by Jim Bollman (see edit history)

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 Some of the us use the  pellet’s that they have for the wood stoves.

One could chunk up some wood and run it through a old  hammer mill and chop it up more.

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On 3/11/2020 at 5:48 PM, edinmass said:

Grog, the wood gas thing goes up and down with the cost of oil. With the new “off the grid” crowd, it seems to have taken off over the last ten years. There was a million dollar prize for a cross country trip in a vehicle that starts with “zero” energy, and crosses the US in the fastest time. Some MIT kid started with a new F150 and made his own smoker kit. He ran from San Francisco to Nee York averaging 50 mph, starting with no fuel.......he used a wood gas design he came up with, and ran across the US on cardboard from dumpsters he plotted ahead of time, carrying a large supply in the bed of the truck. The hard part is starting and warming up the engine from dead cold.....once warm, it’s rather easy to run wood gas. Look on YouTube. Lots of videos last time I looked a few years ago. With current oil prices, I expect interest to drop again. Up north it’s similar to wood fired home boilers........they burn junk and trash wood, making them cheap to operate...........but often times a bit labor intensive.

 

Thanks for the education, Ed. I'd seen an article in a Classic Motorcycle magazine about twenty years ago about a WW2 era bike in Scandinavia powered this way. I thought it was rare than it actually is. Seems like a legit alt fuel source.

 

Quote

He is a tree hugger but decent guy.

 

LOL! Good to know that people like that actually exist.

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