Welcome to Wood Gas Adventures!

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Wood Powered Isuzu Trooper 

If the price of gas were $10 dollars a gallon, filling the gas tank on my car would be around $150. When this happens — and I believe it will very soon — the price of everything else will be much higher.

Hi, my name is Chip and I am glad you stopped in. I started a company some years ago called Beaver Energy with a friend and neighbor of mine, Larry. We currently hold the land speed record for a car running off wood gas produced by a gasifier and have been working to make this type of fueled combustion motors more reliable. (To learn more about the world record, read Beaver Energy Sets World Record! and LDG Employee Sets World Record for Wood Powered Car.)

I would like to see more people working on this idea and I am willing to share my experiences and knowledge with you. There are many uncertainties in the world today that could easily affect the flow of oil, which we rely on for just about everything. That is not the only thing that could happen, what if there was a major disruption in the electricity grid? Now that is something that for the average person would be hard to imagine. I don’t think, however, that it is out of the realm of possibility, considering all the potential things that may cause a mass power outage lasting for months. These thoughts have brought up many conversations of what would I be able to do without electricity? I could list all the things that wouldn’t be possible, but I think the most devastating disruption would be in the manufacturing and delivery of gasoline. You would have to secure all your needs without the help of any gas-powered equipment, which would make for a long day of hard work with little time for other important things. I feel strongly that without an alternative source to power the most useful and prolific invention of our time, the combustion motor, we would be in some pretty dire straits.

 

This is why I have devoted a large part of the last five years to preparing myself for just such a reality. How to run the combustion motor on something other than liquid fuel has been the research of many people, and from what I have seen it is still a long way off. So in the time that we may have to come up with a solution, I believe producer gas is a good alternative. There is a lot to learn about producer gas, and in future posts I will explain in detail the basics you need to know to make it happen at your house.

Just about any plant material could be used to power a motor; not just wood. The material needs to be in a solid form, either chipped in the case of woody plants or pelleted for most other plant forms. You just can’t throw in the grass clippings and compost without first making them into a compact solid form like pellets or small briquettes. So that being said, one of the more difficult aspects of generating my own gas is the fuel preparation. This topic is very important because this is my replacement for gasoline — homegrown plants of all kinds.

In the coming months, I would like to share some of my designs and experiences making cars run from plant material. If you are doing this already or would like to, feel free to share your experiences with us. If you are lucky enough to live next to a sawmill or have access to chipped wood, the supply of that will most likely dwindle quickly in an emergency situation. So relying on that, in my opinion, would not be a good plan. Owning a small wood chipper would be a good idea, you could run it with producer gas and keep up with your needs. But what if you do not have access to wood? That is where grass and other plants can be used to produce the fuel you will need. Small pellet machines can be purchased that will turn most of this type of fuel into pellets. So what else can be done to make the fuel that will be needed to run our cars, tractors, generators or other motors? That is what I have been exploring. I have a few ideas, but would like to hear yours, too. Let’s look at that next time on Chip's Wood Gas Adventures.