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Gasifying truck travels 10,000 miles Answered

From the first time he saw Emmett "Doc" Brown fire up the Mr. Fusion home energy reactor in the "Back to the Future" movies, Dave Nichols has always wanted to make a vehicle run on garbage.

Two decades after the trilogy, the 42-year-old home builder and auto shop owner from eastern Connecticut isn't traveling through time in a DeLorean, yet. But he's modified his 1989 Ford F150 pickup truck to run on wood, leaves, cardboard and other "biomass" with a fuel system that he says expels virtually no pollution.

The technology is called gasification, and it's been around since the 1800s, when it was used for street lamps and cooking. It even powered some vehicles during World War II, but faded away under oil's dominance.

Associated Press Article

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Kryptonite (author)2009-07-12

Nice, any one see this becoming a movement and possibly replacing common fuels? I don't personally but I hope that it goes some where.

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Tool Using Animal (author)2009-07-02

This is the "If can't see it, it doesn't exist" definition of pollution?

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PKM (author)Tool Using Animal2009-07-02

I think his point was that if run on biomass it is carbon-neutral. "Pollution" has many meanings, from particulates to NOx to CO2, and that sentence probably meant specifically carbon balance.

My question about this process is, surely it would be easier to gasify the biomass on the ground and store it in a tank in the car? Gas storage technology has progressed beyond those big gas bags on WWII cars, hasn't it? The energy required for compression will presumably lower the efficiency somewhat, but if it's that straightforward to run a car on it and it's a biofuel you can easily generate from waste biomass...

Jones, I want to have your van converted to gas. There's a war on!

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PKM (author)PKM2009-07-02

Wait, Wikipedia has the answers.

Under no circumstances should wood-gas ever be compressed to more than 15 psi above ambient, as this may induce condensation of volatiles, as well as lead to the likelihood of severe injury or death due to carbon monoxide or deflagration if the vessel leaks or fails.

The second one I understand, but I thought fuels liquifying under compression was the whole point? Surely your gas barbecue has a big tank of compressed volatiles?

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Kiteman (author)PKM2009-07-02

Possibly the condensed volatiles are also powerful-enough solvents to damage seals? Or maybe it's a sudden condensation? Condensation releases heat, so maybe there's enough heat released to cause an ignition?

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I think it's more to do with the heavier volatiles like all the wood tar that is present in the mix. ~shrug~

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kelseymh (author)2009-07-01

Just FYI, the gasification Honda was at the Maker Faire here in San Mateo. Very cool!

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Kiteman (author)kelseymh2009-07-02

I do hope the Makers wore labcoats and metallic shades as they drove around...

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