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Old 05-05-2009, 02:02 PM   #1
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WOOD GASIFICATION!

Hey guys, I'm new here to the board, I have a 84 GMC 6000 Carpenter 40' Schoolbus with a 366 that I bought less than a year ago for $700 in Florida. After a good tune up this thing runs great! I have already driven it all the way here to West Virginia without a hitch. But my only issue is gas mileage! I'm only getting about 5 or 6 mpg, and this has gotten me into looking into fuel alternatives, and at this point I have settled on Downdraft Wood Gasification. You can run a regular gasoline engine, on wood! Which I believe would be great on saving costs on long term travels across the country. I have found plans online for but many of these seem inadequate for such a large vehicle, and i will have to scale it up. My question is have anybody on here experimented with woodgas? And what are your opinions from these experiences?

Thanks,
Dan.
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:03 AM   #2
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

try the search function
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:49 PM   #3
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

Sorry Paul I donít think that your replies are very helpful nor are they encouraging to a new site member. Iím pretty sure they do know how to use the search feature. (We donít want to stoup down to the level of some other skoolie sites on the WWW) In this case it does not provide too much as I donít think anyone on this site has actually gone through with a wood gasification conversion.

Navarredan welcome to the best SKOOLIE site on the WWW.

Here is the only helpful link that the search provides, but you probably looked at that already.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/shopp...itemnumber=762
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:56 PM   #4
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

I'll second that. One thing is for sure.......it won't provide much power........after researching it myself I found that it was really used as a last effort when there was NO FUEL AVAILABLE. War time strategy for getting things at least moving. You could possibly get hassled for emmissions depending where you were. But it is a cool education into what is possible. Think zero to thirty in like a minute and a half. Navarredan, if you are worried about the mileage/cost issue you might consider trading the ride for a diesel and then running waste vegetable oil as an alternative fuel. Lots of info out there on that sort of a set-up! Good luck RECYCLER
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Old 05-18-2009, 03:38 AM   #5
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

This post actually inspired me to create an account here hoping I could offer something useful in the hopes of getting back something useful in the future. (as my handle indicates)

I've done some research on this subject in the past and although it's not all fresh in my memory anymore I figured i'd share what should be pretty accurate info that I seem to mostly recall from intensively researching it at the time.

Although it was a "last ditch fuel" it is not a poor fuel. It's more of a hassle and danger really, and difficult for a city of millions to be clearcutting forests to try and produce usable fuel but for a few individuals probably quite useable.

The danger was perhaps the biggest reason for not using it but I dont want to over or undersell this point. Combines are dangerous, so are chainsaws, and the effects of those are lethal if you screw up too. Heck gasoline is dangerous if you smoke around it. It's just that the gasified fuel coming out of the gasifier is something like 17% pure carbon monoxide, when tiny fractions of 1% will make you unconscious almost instantly. Apparently one good breath straight out of the gasifier = instant death kind of thing, and a tiny leak in a bad place could be sudden unconsciousness. But even one foot above the carburetor its already mixing in the air and unless its malfunctioning all that gas is being sucked down the carb so you can work on the car while its running.

So lets not oversell that - if you are properly paranoid about the gas, have lots of ventilation around the gasifier, never start it indoors (not even with an open garage door) or anywhere gas can accumulate and dont do dumb things like put your head next to the burner and take a deep breath, plus have the windows in the car open when youre stopped youre unlikely to have a problem. It's just the occasional dead farmer with a gasifier powered tractor would stick in everyones minds. (in the same way people who use a match to check for propane leaks and find one tend to stick in our mind, there are ALWAYS horror stories)

I know what the danger is and I wouldn't feel all that concerned actually since I know what not to do. But I largely passed on it due to the hassle. The hassles are obvious - you have burning material on your vehicle, and it takes awhile to heat up before you are providing useable fuel (its like starting a campfire then suddenly cutting the oxygen off - the gas coming off the hot wood/coal is what burns) plus regularily refueling a hot hopper, cleaning out ashes, and trying not to inhale the carbon monoxide gasses that can kill. If youre willing to put up with that, you basically can use any dried biomass from dried prairie grass to newspapers (though at such low btu output that you wont get far) to of course hardwood or coal. Its just even if hardwood is 'free' it still takes fuel to drive out somewhere, chop it down, let it air dry, chunk it down further thru a chipper to properly feed the gasifier and so forth. In the end I figured I might build one for "emergencies" and use it with a generator for the house rather than for a vehicle. (or build an electric homebrew conversion for a pickup, and be able to throw the gasifier and genset into the bed and power the pickup from it)


If you wanted to do it anyways, emissions could be a problem. Gasification is really dirty from what I understand and although plenty of states dont enforce federal EPA laws much using any newer vehicle at all is going to involve putting out dirty exhaust. Its no dirtier than a campfire burning the same amount of wood or a home wood stove, but by comparison most cars are far cleaner. I wouldnt' feel "evil" burning a wood gasifier powered car from an emissions standpoint but 300 million people doing it would be a problem.

Maintenance was the other big reason I decided "not for daily use" but mostly for emergencies. By some reports they were rebuilding car type engines after 10,000-15,000 miles during WW2 because the particulates dirtied up the engine in some non-self cleaning manner. I'm not sure if it was just a basic overhaul to get out gunk, or if it was actually vastly increased wear/particulates in oil or something, but I remember seeing that factor of rebuilding engines 10x faster than gasoline power.

Power apparently is NOT a problem. It puts out something like 70% of the power of gasoline. Not "a tiny fraction", but in often already underpowered schoolbusses you might find yourself driving 45mph at full throttle unless it can do 75mph now.

I decided if I had a gas powered engine I would try and make my own alcohol fuel instead of wood gasification for 'daily use'. You cant make it efficiently from corn or anything you have to grow yourself, but if you can get free feedstock from someplace like a candy processing factory or whatever it can be worth the time to distill. However ethanol also gives a power hit especially without modifications to take advantage of higher octane but lower btu content. But at least once distilled you just turn the key and drive and dont have a campfire three feet behind your head.


Hope this is useful to someone.
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Old 05-27-2009, 05:57 AM   #6
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

Thought I would followup.

http://freeweb.deltha.hu/zastava.in.hu/wood-gas.htm

Here's someone that converted a Yugo to run on wood gas. The startup procedure is about 20 minutes or so, that alone makes it hard to just "get in and go", even worse than WVO in the winter, and perhaps the biggest disadvantage of it. Despite that it still has reasonable power and seems to drive well. The inconvenience of clearing out ashes and stuff periodically too.

It may be that the lack of filtering in some ww2 conversions is what caused the rebuilds every 10-15k miles. That would make sense in a way since tars and such would build up in a hot engine in a way hard to get out. Wood gas has the main advantage that anybody living in a rural area or collecting scrap wood can drive for darn near free minus a little chopping time, and unlike biodiesel where competition is making previously free WVO now cost as much as diesel the availability of wood shouldn't hugely change. (if youre already in an area that has it for firewood and such)

Also i've heard arguments that it's not actually all that "dirty" either, since trees store carbon and act like a solar battery turning solar energy into building the tree, all burning it does is just release the carbon back into the atmosphere where another tree takes it back again.

I would very seriously consider doing a wood gas conversion if I had a second bus, I wouldn't do it on my primary. But if I happened to have a second gas powered bus for cheap I would probably make a gasifier for it and use it for like less important hauling duties or something. It would make a hell of a firewood hauler! If I get my crap together and live out of my first one fine and have land somewhere to park a second one, you'll probably hear about a wood gas conversion shortly afterwards.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:38 AM   #7
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshoisasleep
Not sure if someone went over this above, but the main off-putting factor in my research is the amount of wood it uses. I thought of converting a Toyota Landcruiser, but the amount of wood I calculated it would use was immense! My conscience simply could not take it unless I lived next door to somewhere that produced a lot of waste wood products. I can't imagine how much a bus would use!
Well what do you think the weight of 60 gallons of fuel is? O_O That's non trivial too. But the knowledge that filling up a garbage can sized hopper full of wood but then being able to drive for "free" the next 200 miles would probably make up alot since it's money back in your pocket with every fillup. FWIW the size shouldn't be much bigger than for a big block pickup though since the engine is similarily sized there, just a bit heavier loaded.

Side note: one other downside to gasification is its more suited to highway than city. Remember the gasification process is running constantly and the amount of gas coming out is also going to be fairly constant, you dont have a real way to store it, and i'm not sure if there's any effective way to throttle down the production of woodgas all that much. Once moving the woodgas keeps the engine running, but driveability and throttle response may not be beautiful making around town driving more difficult.

After reading about other converters of modern woodgas engines i'm actually more interested than before however, if I got a second bus at some future point and it was a gas i'd probably do the conversion just to see.
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:49 AM   #8
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

Quote:
Originally Posted by joshoisasleep
yeah but I don't think a garbage can full of wood would get you 200 miles. I think you'd need to fill up half your bus with wood for that... I don't think it's similar in energy density to liquid fuel in terms of how much gas you get out.
Half might be excessive...

A report I heard from a full size pickup was about 2lbs of wood per mile, so if we assume 3x worse for 1/3 the mileage or 6lbs per mile thats 1200lbs. More than a garbage can, its about 24-30 cubic feet of hardwood, this is about 3-4x 55 gallon drums if you want a visual size. Yeah filling up would be a bit of a PITA, but at 5mpg for a 200 mile trip on gas it's about 40 gallons saved or $80-160 depending on the going rate. But making $80-160 for a little physical labor when youre poor isnt all bad so maybe it's worth converting anyways.
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Old 06-29-2009, 04:42 PM   #9
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

This may be a stupid question but can you supplement burning regular propane with wood gasification or vise versa. You will still be using propane but raising your mpg usage of it by supplementing it with gasification. Maybe you could find the best ratio for retaining power and still using a considerably less amount of propane.
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:17 AM   #10
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Re: WOOD GASIFICATION!

i have also been researching wood gas... what i have found is.. you will need to find a way to adjust the timing on the fly if you want to run on gas and switch to wood-gas on long trips.. retard the spark for Gas advance the spark for Woodgas.... you should look into installing a turbo,or better yet a Small Supercharger!.. i saw a few cheap electric supercharger that may do the trick without braking the bank... about $200 Bucks.. this may do the job... the biggest problem with wood-gas is the motor has to suck the woodgas into the combustion chamber creating a big power loss!
You need to Ram the smoke down the intake or you will never get over about 30mph, and forget about a hill.. lol .. you will also have to shave the heads to raise the compression, or use high dome pistons. Use a good quality copper head gasket.. i believe you will need at least 10 to 1 compression with the blower dialed in.. caution must be taken when dialing in your setup or you could blow the bottom-end right out of your motor.. some of the guys are looking to megasquirt-with MSD ignition.. megasquirt will allow you to fine tune your setup with a laptop-pc .. . i believe you can get by with a smaller burner if you build a holding tank on the roof. The tank should also have a Large spring loaded blow-off valve in case of backfire!, it should also have a drain plug to expell moisture, the tank will also help cool the smoke... ALL fittings must be (AIR TIGHT) a small air leak can leave you sitting along the roadside.. Pressure test all your fittings and welds.. i have not built one yet so do your Owen DD... from what i have gathered, (i think) you may also need Stainless Steal exhaust valves. the stock camshaft will work just fine. if you shave your heads to raise compression you should Never add a cam with Lift! PS, Never run boost when on fossil-Fuel with your timing advanced, and never run coil-Pack ignition with a Wast spark stroke. if you advance the timing to far the Wast stroke can cause Backfire!. . .. i personally would toss the gas tank and install a propane tank/propane kit. the kit is about $150 a used propane tank should also cost about $150 .. Woodgas and propane is the way to go IMHO

Good Luck
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