Introduction: A Homemade Wood Gasifier to Keep You With Power After the Grid Fails

Picture of A Homemade Wood Gasifier to Keep You With Power After the Grid Fails

After the April 27, 2011 outbreak of tornadoes in the state of Alabama, half a million TVA customers were without electric power for up to five days. I have lived in the region for most of my life, and this was by far the longest period of time without power that I've ever experienced. We squeaked by with a 350 watt inverter hooked up to my car battery and a propane grill to cook on. Ever since that experience, I have studied ways to prepare for another disaster, natural or man-made. One thing I wanted to be sure of was that we never went without power again! I eventually came across information about a centuries-old technology that promised to produce fuel to run any internal combustion engine, provide light or heating a home.

Wood gas has been used for lighting, heat and engine fuel since the 1790s. Gasification uses natural forces to obtain otherwise wasted elements for more efficient use of woodburning. When you burn firewood in your fireplace, the smoke you see rising up the chimney is in fact burnable gases, mostly methane, hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The gasification process draws off these byproducts to make a gas that can run an engine such as a generator, lawnmower or even an automobile! This instructable will show you how I built my first portable wood gasifier to run a 1350 watt generator. If this is successful, I will upgrade to a 4000 watt generator and attempt to run the basic needs of my house. In an emergency situation, this could keep your compound or your bug-in location with electrical power when the rest of the world is plunging into darkness!

WARNING! Working with flammable materials and gases can be very dangerous! Please use all precautions to protect yourself and others from fire and toxic fumes! Do NOT attempt to operate one of these indoors! I will NOT be held responsible in any way, legally or otherwise, if you do anything that brings harm to yourself or others trying to follow the instructions herein. So please don't do anything stupid!

Step 1: First, Do Some Homework

I studied this subject for at least two years in my spare time before I began to gather materials for my gasifier project. I watched dozens of Youtube videos, I read dozens of websites and asked question after question and studied every different individual design to get as much detail as I could about the design and building process before I started my project. I was interested in making my gasifier as simple and inexpensive as I could while still getting a machine that would work decently. My goal was to get it up and running with as little modification and adjustment as I could get away with.

There are several basic designs for a wood gasifier, whereas the variety is mostly in terms of scale and available materials. The two most frequently used basic designs are the Fema and the Imbert. I won't go into any detail about the differences in the two, or debate the pros and cons of each. I chose the Fema design because it's simpler to build. I suggest, however, you should go read up about both designs and decide for yourself which would serve your purposes better.

My design ended up being an amalgamation of all the similar gasifiers I studied in a more compact scale to set on a metal cart to make it portable and use mostly materials I either had on-hand or could easily buy at the hardware store. I made two purchases through eBay, one of which was the 20-gallon metal barrel with locking lid that I will use for my burn chamber, the other an inline marine bilge air blower. I bought several pieces of hardware as I needed them to complete my setup, but the major components were things I already had in my possession. As you will see, I made every effort to reuse items I already had in interesting ways for this project.

Step 2: Gather Your Parts and Materials

Once I knew about how I wanted to build my gasifier, I made a list of the parts I would need. The first major hurtle was a large metal container for the burn chamber. I wanted to keep a smaller scale than most of the designs I studied, while still being able to use certain items. The "hopper" to supply the wood to be burned into the burn area was made from an old, rather large steel funnel my father left me. I've had this thing nearly 20 years without having a real use for it, but now I know what to do with it. I chose to buy a 20-gallon metal barrel with a locking lid because the size suited my purposes and the funnel fir very nicely in the lid once I made an opening for it to set in.

I also needed something to make a 'cyclone filter' out of. This is the first chamber the smoke is drawn into from the burn chamber. The idea is to have the smoke drop down to the bottom as it cools and let the liquids (tars) run out the bottom. I chose to use a balloon inflator tank I had. Once the tars are removed, the gases then go into the next container for filtering out any solid impurities, such as creosote. At first, I was going to use an ammo can I recently bought, but then I spotted an old galvanized 5-gallon gas in the shed. I will be putting some kind of media that will be easy to pour or out of the top for the purpose of capturing the remaining impurities as the gases rise from the bottom and out the top.

After the filtering process, the gases should constitute a relatively clean-burning fuel. They will rise through PVC pipes, through a ball valve and up to a burner. They will be drawn through by the action of the inline marine air blower mounted inline in the PVC pipe. This acts as a substitute for the vacuum action of an engine pulling the vapors into the combustion chamber until the gasifier warms up enough to produce burnable fuel.

So, a brief list of things I used are as follows:

20-gallon metal barrel

Balloon inflation tank

5-gallon galvanized gas can

Inline marine air blower

3/4" galvanized floor flanges

3/4" black steel nipples, various lengths

old galvanized pipes, elbows

1" PVC pipe

1 1/2" PVC pipe

2" PVC pipe

2" x 1 1/2" PVC reducers

3" x 1 1/2" PVC reducer

Self-tapping screws

1/4" x 1" bolts and nuts

Fire sealant

Ball canning jar with lid

Step 3: The Burn Chamber and the Cyclone Filter

Picture of The Burn Chamber and the Cyclone Filter

I needed to fit the funnel in the lid of the barrel, so I cut a 12" circle in the lid and dropped the nozzle end of the funnel through the opening. It fit fine. The leftover metal will go back onto the opening of the funnel. A 3/4" floor flange is attached to the side of the barrel. It gets adapted up to a 1" nipple than runs over to the side of the balloon tank and enters it at a tangential angle. This would send the smoke spiraling down to the bottom so the tars would drip into a Ball jar mounted beneath. Another floor flange is mounted in the bottom of the tank and a 3/4" nipple drops down to the lid of the canning jar. I put a galvanized adapter under the lid to secure the pipe. A second pipe comes out of the tank at a steep angle for the smoke to be pulled into the next chamber.

I wanted the burn chamber and the cyclone filter to be permanently mounted to the dolly, so I used some lengths of slotted angle to make legs for the barrel and the tank, then bolted the legs to the sidewalls at one end of the dolly. This helped me to visualize where to connect the two together near the top.

Step 4: The Solids Filter

Picture of The Solids Filter

A length of PVC pipe drops down into the spout of the galvanized gas can and to the bottom of the interior. Inside the can will be some kind of filter media, probably wood pellets. As the smoke rises through the media, tars and creosote are caught in the media, making the smoke cleaner and much closer to being a burnable gas. It also protects the rest of the system from gumming up.

Step 5: Coming Out of the Filter

Picture of Coming Out of the Filter

A 1 1/2" x 2" reducer is attached to the screw-on cap of the gas can. A 1 1/2" PVC pipe rises out of the reducer, attaches to the tee, then goes up to a PVC ball valve then runs up to a marine inline air blower, which is used for creating a vacuum and pulling the gases through the system. I will have a burner mounted atop this stack so I can check if the gases are ready to light and to check the quality and color of the flame. If the system is working properly, not only should I be able to light the burner, the resulting flare should approach being blue in color. This is considered a sign that the gases emitted are free of impurities and under the proper amount of pressure.

Once I'm satisfied that the system is running right, I will close the ball valve, uncap the line going to the generator, fit the elbow into the gas tank, sending the gas to the generator. Once the generator starts and runs, it will draw the gas through like the air blower did, feeding fuel to itself.

Step 6: Sealing the System

Picture of Sealing the System

I dry-fitted everything to work out where each section would set on the dolly. I then loosened or removed, as the case may be, each connection along the way and squirted some fire sealant underneath to seal that connection. The worst problems with a gasifier are as a result of leaks in the system. I decided on fire sealant because it claims to be able to withstand heat for several hours. Every point where there is a floor flange got a generous portion of sealant. Where the galvanized pipe meets the PVC on the way to the filter I wrapped with duct tape to close the gap. At that point, I figure the smoke will be cool enough not to be a problem for the PVC.

Step 7: Some Finishing Touches Before First Test

I added a strainer plate near the bottom of the funnel to keep the burning media from clogging the neck. A stainless steel bowl went into the bottom of the barrel to catch any hot ash that dropped from the burn area. I also mounted a length of flat metal across the lid of the barrel to hold it in place because of the need to severely limit oxygen flow through the burn area. I then capped an opening in the center of the lid to complete the sealing of the system.

Step 8: Preparing for the First Test

The beauty of the wood gasifier is that you can use just about any kind of wood related product as fuel. You can burn leaves, acorns, twigs, wood chunks, wood chips, pellets etc. There is reportedly a wide variety of materials that can be used in the filter to trap the tars and creosote. I will be using wood pellets at first because the size of nuggets make it very easily pourable into the gas can/filter can and just as easily removable for replacement. They also provide plenty of area for the impurities to be captured.

I have nearby to my location a tree service which gives away wood chips for free, so I gather up 5 gallon buckets and fill them up with chips for fuel. There are many sources of free fuel if you just look around. Every time I drive through my neighborhood when people have been trimming trees, I see not piles of branches and twigs by the side of the road but piles of free fuel! So, I have several buckets full of test fuel and a promise of a continuing supply.

Taking the cap off the filter can, I pour in wood pellets (you can buy 40 lb. bags of grilling type wood pellets at Lowe's) and fill the can about 3/4 full. I then fill my burn chamber almost to the top with wood chips and replace the lid, leaving the small opening in the center. I plug in the air blower to start the downdraft and apply flame from a butane torch to the opening to start the fire. The wood should catch quickly and start to burn fast and hot. We want the fire to burn as hot as possible so the process of pyrolysis (look it up) will give us plenty of good clean fuel.

It takes a few minutes even with the best designed system to get up to temperature and become ready to light a flare. Smoke will rise out of the stack, and you can try to light it until it actually begins to burn. You'll know then that you have fuel just about ready to run your generator!

With my design, when I want to switch over to the generator, I would take a cap off the tee'd off 2" pipe, add the 90 degree angle and attach it to the gas tank of the generator. Then I would close the ball valve and try to start the generator. If it starts and runs, then I know I was successful. Once I am sure it will continue to run on the wood gas, all I will have to do is make sure I always have wood chips in the burn chamber burning. And as long as there is wood or wood related products available to burn, I will never be without power!

Step 9: Tweaking and Improving

As with any homemade project, improvements and tweaks are practically inevitable. I plan to fiddle with parts and methods to make this a better more efficient machine. The fun is in the journey, not just the destination. It's my hope that you, dear reader, have your interest in this tried and true, almost-forgotten technology piqued and that you'll go and study its interesting history for yourself and find your own reason to reach for self-sufficiency!

Here are a few resources to get you started if you're interested:

Go to www.youtube.com and type in the search bar: "Wood Gas" or "Gasifier"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasification

www.build-a-gasifier.com

www.driveonwood.com

www.allpowerlabs.com

PLEASE study these materials carefully and PLEASE be careful when designing, building and operating one of these machines! They produce flammable and toxic gases and should NEVER be operated indoors! As the old saying goes: Safety first! Thanks for reading!

Comments

cyborgpigeon (author)2015-06-20

nice project! the only thing id do different is eliminate the pvc and braze or weld where i could. just that the idea of flaming pvc releasing chlorine and other nasty combustion gasses does not appeal to me.

one thing i would like to make is a dasifier up/downdraft gasifier. possibly using sterling cycle fan to provide the intake draft thereby going completely off grid.

one day hopefully sooner rather than later. cheers!

aydonis (author)2015-06-11

Nice work on the gasifier. If you're looking to upgrade a good source is:

buildagasifier.com

The site host has a 13kW Onan genset run off wood chips that is pretty damn sweet. Plus there's a bunch of others that provide examples of their cheaply made FEMA style gasifiers that work in the 4kW range.

I work in the oil/gas industry for the past ten years, and you can get available plans online of oil companies larger scale gasifiers, and just downsize them. They are constructed in a highly efficient manner. I like Shells style as it recycles the gases very well and also has an efficient use for the heat being generated by your pellets/chips/biofuel to convert water to steam. So you get gas production as well as heated steam for the possibility of steam turbine, or just as radiator heating, and the gas generation as well. Waste as little energy as possible.

I have to agree with the poster below though. If you want to get into gas compression, you should be looking at compressing the gas using industry standard equipment or at least your own mock-up of this equipment. There are two ways to compress gas. One is pressurization, the other is refrigeration. Both can be applied and both will create pressure by compressing and/or liquifying the gas. You should probably check local laws/regulations (especially on spacing requirements) before doing so. You can do all the work yourself easily enough, but you may also want to check with your insurance agency to determine if anything extra is required to have your mini compressor station inspected/certified. Cheap power is nice, but if you damage property, maim, or kill, even accidentally, no amount of cheap power will cover the costs. And if you didn't take the time to check local laws/regulations. Your only cost of living savings may be coming from government funded room and board for a while behind bars.

Also, for a compressor station, DO NOT USE AIR COMPRESSORS and be very cautious about using air tanks. Low pressure ratings, not designed for temps or gases involved. Keep in mind, gases heating increase in pressure, water in a tank further increases pressure if the water freezes, though pressurized water requires lower temps to hit freezing point, but this can happen when you push cold gases on top of it. When water does freeze, especially when pressurized it can cause plugs, or if there's enough water, it can exert enough pressure to crack welds, and the greater the pressure on the water, and the lower the freezing temp, the greater it's pressure exertion when it does freeze [for example, water in your house lines are somewhere between 20-100 psi (usually around 30-50psi avg), when frozen it exerts about 2k psi (why copper pipes burst), at it's lowest freezing point, around -170 degrees C, it can reach nearly 10k psi when freezing. We worry about this when flowing back some cold 10k psi CO2 frac wells, but you'll probably never see it at home in a mini compressor station]. Plus there is a higher possibility of leaks in large part due to the pressure rating of the compressor tank and it's fittings, and because air compressors aren't usually designed to prevent moisture from entering into tanks that can further reduce weld strength, or lead to rust plugs, (gas releasing from higher pressure to lower pressure (almost regardless of ambient temperature) can create hydrates if a little moisture gets involved, making you think a tank or line is empty, when explosive gases are just waiting for you to pull off a hose/fitting to blast that ice plug in your face like a bullet. Incorrectly plumbing a line off your compressor to your storage tank without a regulator, or 'big joe' can result in over-pressuring your upstream tank when the gas warms up again, unacceptable hoses/lines/fittings can become dangerously brittle) exposed electrical circuitry, possibility of sparking from regular function (metal to metal piston action malfunction on air compressors), the nearby generator, uninsulated wiring, or explosion proof fixtures/circuits, etc, are just a few of the many possible sources of ignition. Even the tiny speaker on a modern cell phone in the right fuel-air mixture can (and has) detonated a leaky bomb. Any compressor station and gas storage should be between 50-100 meters (150-300 feet) away from open flame or electronics/electrical systems that are not intrinsically safe (Class 1 Div 2 rated at a minimum. But Class 1 Div 1 is best if it has to be close to the station, basically means that there may at any time be an explosive mixture of oxygen-fuel in the air where your equipment is operating. So either use rated equipment or keep anything less out of the area. It will cover your ass if you ever have a leak while your not paying attention, or during servicing of your setup).

There are plenty of carefully constructed, cost efficient, and safe designs out there that still follow even loose regulation guidelines, that can protect you and others around you from getting injured or killed. I'm working on one myself. My suggestion is to build a small scale three-four stage gas separator. Solid ash/particulates that get through filtration settle on bottom with a bottom drainage, liquids form above the ash in the middle with bottom and mid drainage ports to check for liquids and drain, or add oil to help flush tank, gas on top with a baffles and meter run curve to help clear any moisture/liquids from the line that exit the tank before reaching your generator and a pressure release valve downstream of your vessel that is set to blow if the tank/line reach their maximum pressures, and clean the system regularly. The system I use in the field is totally unnecessary for a gasifier, being 2k psi and holding 6k liters of fluid, going into a second, low stage separator that holds 29k liters of fluid at 120 psi max, since these are designed to receive already pressurized gas, and massive quantities of sand and fluid. But you can down scale the same construction to do essentially the same thing downstream of a gasifier prior to entering your compressor station and fuel storage. And even using dual stage tanks like that, though a little more costly, will ensure you retrieve the cleanest gas to your compressor, extending it's life.

tp.pa.12 (author)2015-04-22

Gasifiers did run almost all of the civilian cars in Germany during the war until gasoline was available to them again.

But a CAUTION about trying to use a air compressor to compress the flammable fumes into pressurized tanks, you will probably end up dead, air compressors are not designed to pump flammables, and the sparks from the electric motor etc. might ignite the fumes, true pumps have all electrics sealed for the gasses cannot get to an open spark.

Great first run on your gasifier, they all take tweaks here & there to get them just right, just remember you are working with explosive fumes around a fire, be SAFE!

ccronkhite (author)2015-03-24

I wonder how difficult it would be to use an air compressor and large tank to capture and store the gases? subsidize your home heating in the winter with wood and store the gasses for later. Maybe even set it up as a dual system that can also burn the gas for heat. It could be as simple as a gas grill or camp stove burner in the bottom of your wood stove or fireplace.

MT1 (author)ccronkhite2015-03-25

There is a guy on the internet who filled a weather balloon, and is driving around towing the balloon as it fuels his car. The car is duel fuel. It is something like know pub. I think the name was Steve Harris.

kingofrandom92 (author)MT12015-03-30

link?

MT1 (author)kingofrandom922015-03-31

Sorry, I can't find the original link. But here is one where wood gas is stored in a balloon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xmRWw9LWFw&list=PLFE8A76EE3BC8B495&index=1


And another with methane in the balloon running the car.

MT1 (author)MT12015-03-31

Wow . No matter what I do the second link disappears! It just doesn't like me. Going to type it instead of cut and paste: www.youtube.com/watch?v=brpJExF7iXl.

Master of Make-Do (author)MT12015-03-25

I saw that video! That was very cool!

There are a couple of videos on YouTube where that is being tried. I honestly don't know if they were successful, but I can't imagine it not working. I do have one of those huge propane tanks behind the house I have never used, so hmmmmmm....

Using a propane tank would probably be safer now that I think about it. :D Compressor tanks aren't designed for storing flammable gasses so that probably isn't a good idea.

Jeffronix (author)ccronkhite2015-03-30

this reminds me of seeing a popular show at a friend's house where resistance to explosions and bullets and such was tested on a variety of materials. I've long contemplated safety of storage. I saw a masonry wall coated with rhino coat on both sides withstand a pretty huge looking explosion. A small outdoor vented doghouse might answer well for some peace of mind. Of course so will detectors in dwelling spaces. Thoughts on the dangers of explosion warranting such expense? No pressure.

MT1 (author)Master of Make-Do2015-03-27

It worked. But be careful storing carbon monoxide near your house. It may invalidate your insurance. The tank isn't rated for that use and they will use any excuse to terminate your coverage. Also might be a firecode for distance an industrial gas needs to be stored at. Better safe than sorry.

To say nothing of a slow leak in still air....

More Cowbell (author)2015-03-30

Post a video of it running!

A video is forthcoming, as soon as I make the necessary adjustments and perform the next test. There will be a couple of minor design changes that I believe will make the gasifier work better.

Awesome - keep us posted!

Jeffronix (author)2015-03-30

Great work, inspiring. Love the funnel story. I HAVE THE POWEEER

fred3655 (author)2015-03-28

How easy would it be to put the gas tank on a ball valve, making it easily switchable? Very nice, I plan on building a gasifier soon. Thanks for the great info.

It would be no problem at all, I just didn't bother to buy an extra one until I was sure I got the sizing of the pipes right. Incidentally, I've performed the initial testing of the gasifier, and it's smoking out the stack. I've identified several leaks which will be sealed, then test number two will occur later this week.

rebecca.iffinger (author)2015-03-25

your introduction says, "if this works..."

This makes me (and I am sure others, as well) wonder if it does, indeed, work.

Can you provide any reports of sucessful operation?

Perhaps I should have said "work as I hope it will" to be clearer... Anyways, I have the gasifier basically ready to fire up, just need to pour the wood pellets into the filter can and the wood chips into the funnel, then turn on the air blower and light the fire. Just haven't gotten to it yet because work work work lol...

no worries - just curious to see how it turned out. hope you keep us updated on well it works, and any testing and tuning advice.

Invention1 (author)2015-03-24

Having studied disaster preparedness for large industrial clients as a Professional Engineer, I am totally on board with getting ready for a power outage up to two weeks long. At the same time, I am not too keen on the idea of preparing for a highly improbably complete breakdown of society. Best way to prepare for such a time is to be tenaciously and creatively resourceful. Pack a bug-out-bag, which I have. Do I have a bunker stocked up with guns, food and ammo? No. Absolute chaos is absolutely impossible to plan for. I have two weeks, at most, of nonperishable food at any time. Also have some ways of making backup power. Power outages up to a couple of weeks can and do happen if you are in hurricane country, ice-storm country, or earthquake country, or way out in the country (I am in at least two of those categories!) Longer power outages are increasingly less likely, unless you live in the Lower Ninth Ward or straddle the San Andreas fault. St. Louis had two week power outages in a few neighborhoods after a bad ice storm a few years back, my neighbor was out for a week in the same storm, mine was out for a day.

Most disasters, in the developed world, are local. Huge F5 mile wide tornado? You've likely got a neighbor two miles away who still has a roof. Massive earthquake? Destruction over about 40 square miles in most big shakers, someone ten miles away probably a house still standing. Hurricane Sandy? People ten miles inland lost a window, not a whole house. All of these neighbors, most of them in walking distance, would be glad to help. In a disaster, a smile is a lot more powerful than a gun.

This is a great Instructible, and I'd like to build one myself!

Tom Hargrave (author)Invention12015-03-25

I've watched a few survivalist shows and I understand the "pack-out bug-out" idea. In theory you would escape where you are, but escape to where? Even in Alabama which does not have near the population density of the metro areas of the North East there are people everywhere.

tvengineer (author)Invention12015-03-25

I agree with most of what you say invention1... My plan is for two weeks as well.

After living thru Katrina, I would want to be able to ride out the first two weeks, but after that, if things are not improving, it is time to move on even if it means walking for 10's or hundreds of miles to get out of the disaster area. The electricity in the area where I lived was out for almost two years, but within five months I had moved to another part of the city where things were not as bad.

One thing that I have learned and that most seem to miss is that the biggest part of being prepared is to have the means to live with A LOT less. You can not store enough fuel to run even a modest generator 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. And I am not sure that you could even prepare and have enough dry wood for a gassifier to run that generator for that length of time.

What i have done is to lower my need for electricity for my home by conservationi (LED lighting, insulation, efficient appliances, etc) and plan for a variety of sources..

Small inverters and batteries for lighting at night. Solar to replenish the batteries and small generators to run a few appliances for a few hours during the day time.

MT1 (author)2015-03-24

I think you mis-spoke. You should attach the gasifier to the generator's air inlet. Not the gas tank opening. And make sure no gas is left in the tank in both cases.

Master of Make-Do (author)MT12015-03-24

The gas tank leads directly to the intake port, so I didn't think it makes a lot of difference. But, I agree that I should have the gasoline totally depleted before introducing the wood gas to the tank.

MT1 (author)Master of Make-Do2015-03-25

Your engine has to regulate the gasoline flow to the piston(s). Usually this is done with a carburator. The holes ( on the order of 1/16 inch or less) on the gas supply from the tank, and the carburator to the intake to the piston, are too small to allow the engine to breathe. You need to attach the gasifier gas to where the air filter was attached, by passing the fuel line and carburator.

onedumbtrucker (author)2015-03-25

great project. Thanks for sharing. would be really neat to use the burner to heat a home with a thermal exchange system. collect the gas to power a generator and use the generator to charge deep cycle batteries for DC voltage living. with a well planned system you could run on solar in daytime and the gassifier at night. Could be really great off grid living :)

I've seen where people are designing in other uses for the gasifier. One I liked was to insert a big coil of copper pipe to heat water! There are many possibilities we could explore.

Quester-59 (author)2015-03-25

Great Idea, though I'll stick with a ALL STEEL, Wood-Alcohol Still, It's far easier to build, And use the Product. my Evaporator/Condenser tube is made from S/Steel Break lines And Cooled by the winters snow.

Conversion was a little tricky, but it works to power a 5000 Watt Generator, Thus keeping an Electric Car running.

Question, Have you've tried Dried Bailed hay for your Burner?

good Luck with your Generator.

onedumbtrucker (author)2015-03-25

heck you could even strap some peltier modules to the burn chamber to supply the power for your blower fan

heathbar64 (author)2015-03-24

I have built a tiny fema style gasifier and am running an old lawn tractor with it. My plan was/is if it proves to not gunk up the engine to switch it over to the generator.

the fema style is known to make a lot of harmful tar so I don't think I will do the next one that type.

I'm also working hard on a unit for my truck.

The tar situation is thee reason I put two different filter chambers into the design. I want the resulting gas to be as clean as I can get it.

Apature (author)2015-03-22

this looks awesome, i saw some one on dooms day crazy prepers make a car that Runs off wood gass

instructible01 (author)Apature2015-03-24

if you have ever watched Escape from New York, I am pretty sure Ernest Borgnine's taxi was supposed to be run off of wood gas.

LOL I'll have to look at that movie again, I think you just may be right!

The first time I ever heard of a vehicle being run off of wood was back in the early 80s. I saw an article on TV about a guy who was driving cross-country in a pick-up truck with a trailer stacked with equipment to make it run off wood. I didn't know what the process was, but I thought it was very cool. There is a man on YouTube who runs all his trucks on his farm using wood gas. He has several videos you might like.

hminnich (author)2015-03-24

Very cool. After a storm where I lived, we didn't have power for a couple of weeks. It is incredible how creative one can get! I will try this, to teach my kids about an alternative fuel as a by-product. Thanks!

I appreciate the kind words. We're all interested in trying out new ideas or ways to reuse existing items to make something completely different, and most of the fun to me is figuring it out and making everything work. And, of course, sharing my handiwork with the good folks on Instructables . (c;

ventura38 (author)2015-03-24

i have a some questions. how do you determine the size of the gasifier to HP of the engine. can you refill it while the generator is running. did you say you would take a cap off the tee'd off 2" pipe, and attach it to the gas tank of the generator? not the intake on the carburetor

There are several good sources of information and data to help you with design decisions. This link sends you to a pdf with a huge amount of data concerning biomass gasifier designs:

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/old/3022.pdf

I expect to be able to add fuel while the generator is in operation. Just lift the lid and pour more wood chips etc. in.

Ottoclav (author)2015-03-24

Freaking Amazing!! Been wanting to do this since I watched that TV show where they ran a truck on Wood gas. My grandfather told me that when he was in Germany he saw vehicles converted to running a wood gas system since wood is about the only fuel that people could find after the war.

Snerdguy (author)2015-03-24

Mother Earth News publishes information about constructing wood gasifiers. If you look in their archives, you can even find how to run a vehicle on wood. It needs to be a vehicle with a carburator. They are not terribly efficient and they pollute rather badly and can be kind of dangerous if not operated properly. If you feel the calling to build one, make sure you know as much as possible

BG_instructs (author)2015-03-24

Great experiment, the efficiency is rather low but you could use the gas to drive an old engine, modern cars angines have to much electronics and will not work.

It is a way to create electricity at no cost with just thing syou can find in nature, but something tells me there are more efficient ways to generate electricity with natures resources?

More Cowbell (author)2015-03-23

I've had good luck with charcoal.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Charcoal-Fire-Powered-Generator/

tim_n (author)2015-03-23

Keep us updated as to when you've got it working!

I think a flaw in many preppers ideas are that they are trying to maintain a lifestyle at current standards, whereas having the ability to survive without fancy modern attachments is much easier, cheaper and more fool proof.

Obviously as a standby this is fine. But I'd rather keep some fuel oil in storage and use the generator as designed when required than build specialist kit.

If I'm planning a long term solution (a full failure), I doubt I'd have the expertise, tools or materials to build spares for generators, so it's easier to prepare in other ways with lower tech. No point having a gun when you run out of bullets unless you've got the ways and means to make your own etc. Even then, you'll run out of casings and bullets eventually, or the chemicals to make them.

Master of Make-Do (author)tim_n2015-03-23

Well, I figure if I can keep a supply of electrical power that will run any tools and lights I would require, then I would be capable of producing any standard of living of which I'm physical capable. By the same token, I like the concept of living on 12 volts DC, and will be working on projects in that realm as well.

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