loading

Wood gasifiers and safety - Carbon Monoxide poisoning - hospital

Sorry if it is in the wrong section of the forum. If it can be moved to a better place then do so.

This is a quick mention to anyone that is playing around with any burners such as:
   wood gas generator
   bio-gas
   wood gasifier
   'hobo' stove

I am not severely concerned but it did happen, I think it needs a mention, as it is for everyone's safety.

After playing with wood gas and attempting methanol creation from a small gasifier unit for a few weeks, I had started to realize that each day I had a most annoying headache / migrane in my frontal area of my brain / head. They ended up getting so bad that my body could not tolerate them anymore and started to go into shock, causing a rather painful, endless throwing up session for many hours each time even. 

It came to a point where after 3 weeks of playing with a bio-gas generator for about 4 hours a day had started to lead me into temporary blindness an hour and a half at a time. This was when I was concerned as I could not read any more instructables :(

After a quick jot to the local doctors, I explained what I had been up to and I was correct. I had given myself the rather classic, and very close to death, carbon-monoxide poisoning where my doctor insisted I go to emergency at the hospital ( 2 hours away ) immediately and have someone else drive me. Pretty much equivalent to staying inside a garage with your car running for 5 hours, all the doors closed. I was very close to severe carbon monoxide poisoning and death

At the hospital, blood was taken, analysed, and they had discovered large traces of C02 that they attempted to flush with some oxygen, but this only works to a point and they mentioned that nothing else could be done apart from telling me not to use or be near any smoke sources for at least 3 weeks and I should recover fine.

I am still playing with my wood gas generators, and attempting to make methanol, but these days, after 3 days ago, I take further safety precautions to make sure it wont happen again. Such as:

ventilation / exhaust fan ( I WAS OUTSIDE WHEN I WAS POISONED! DONT TAKE THIS LIGHTLY! )
keep a distance, find a better way to ignite / extinguish the burner
keep your face and body out of the smoke
dont watch the flames / smoke from above for any longer than 2 seconds
do not taunt the Criosote by-product of wood. I am not sure which is more toxic. The smoke or this.
  ( criosote / bio-crude, whatever you want to call it, it is the condensate of the burner unit containing more chemicals, very stinky)
do not store criosote indoors withough a sealable container ( the smell likes to soak into things, like my kitchen )
if you know what you are doing, keep oxygen tank nearby
use all protective clothing and masks, etc.

There was a small arrogance in my head when playing with these units. And that is simply that I was thinking 'it is just smoke'. Wood gas generators are generating a much more toxic smoke than just sitting around your camping fire and should not be considered to be something to play with, without proper valves, pipes, burn off points etc. It contains on some scale: carbon-monoxide, methane, acids ( acetic ), tar and many other defects that will cause you issues if you are not careful.

Keep it safe guys, this was a rather difficult one for explination, but I do not want someone other than me to be in that same sickness / position as I was with the poisoning, as it is the most painful experience I had yet had. 

Worse than me hitting a tree head on at 80km/h.
Worse than falling 2 stories off a cliff onto rocks.
Worse than being hit by a car and thrown over it's windscreen.
Worse than the feeling of an unsuccessful home made rocket launch.

All of these above I have had happen to me, and the poisoning was by far the worst and I was scared more for my life than than any above accidents. It is not a very nice feeling, it is a deathly, sickly, useless feeling, blindness is not far away from death if found in this situation. Oxygen / fresh air is the only thing to help you if poisoned, even if in hospital. Keep it safe guys.

If you want me to write up a full on poster on wood-gas / wood-heater safety I can or even just a propper write - up on general safety with this smoke and the wood gas units etc. Ask please and I will.

Hospital staff will most likely give you 'items of interest' for instructables if you just ask them too. I have a heap of things from a stethoscope to vials to 'red dots' for homemade ECG machines. They tend to like crazies like me that make weird stuffs

.. i hope ive gotten the point across anyway. 

 

blindspotting12 months ago

For gasifiers I advise using fuels with maximum 14% moisture. Damper fuels are possible to char but the risk of the flame going out is high so best not to even try. Digital moisture meters are well under £10 online.

discostu9562 years ago

Thanks for that. Very good to know

sle53 years ago

Thanks for the advice/note!