Cold Weather Preparations for Gasifiers

Hi all DOW Members, the weather is changing and going into fall, and then winter freezing mode. As you know my 92 Dakota is a southerner born truck, it as not never been exposed to the long hard freezing weather we have up north.
I need your input on how you handle the cold, freezing lock down weather and still run the gasifier during these conditions.
I know water in a container, pipe, barrow, tanks in freezing weather can be a problem with ice clogging and damage from cracking metal and plastics.
I have three places in my truck gasifier system that has standing water all the time. The first place is my haye filter barrow. It is a plastic barrow with a 2" pipe with 5"riser drain tube in the center bottom, going down to a 2" screw in type plug.
First of all I was planning on putting in golf balls in the bottom of the barrow to take up place and keep the ice from freezing into a solid block causing damage.
I am planning on removing the screw plug and put a rubber right angle elbow on with and valve for easier draining after gasifier has been used.
The other place is my tar and water condensation tank in my side panel next to the gasifier. When I open my 1" valve and drain it there is still standing water and tar in the tank about 4" and you would have remove the 2" rubber cab to drain it all the way.
The third place is the big water condensation tank under the truck bed where the spare tire was. I have to remove a 2" rubber plug to drain it.
What are your solutions for draining, the standing water.
Feel free to share what you have done on your truck, or any ideas that you might think would work.
This Thread is for everyone ones input so hijacking is okay as long as it stays on the Topic mentioned above. Please post other thread topic that relates to this, here for easier referencing.
Let’s get a lot of input here for all members to use in the present and future. Thanks.
Bob

4 Likes

I posted this once before and I see a couple of errors in it, but you may get some ideas from it. This is more about the system and not really about your standing water.TomC

2 Likes

couple threads but I think there have been more

http://forum.driveonwood.com/t/building-a-wk-gasifier-for-harsh-winters/421

You pretty much sum up the main issues with driving in the winter with your above post. However also consider water freezing in your cooling rails if the slope isn’t that steep or you have a large cooling surface area. In most cases your pipes will just freeze and only 1/2 or less will stay functional by the concentrated warm gas flowing through them. Also hay filters (wet filters) will freeze and take time to thaw (or not). I remember one year I had to bypass 2/3 of the cooling rails so that I would have enough heat to thaw the hay filter, something to also keep in mind.

As for the other problems there are temporary fixes but ultimately your “southern gasifer” will need to be redesigned for a cold climate if you want to drive reliably through the winter. First is removing the condensate tank you won’t need it. Plum the cooling rails directly into the hay filter and the hay filter does double duty, i.e bottom 1/3 as condensate collector and top 2/3 as filter. That solves one tank freezing. Hay filter will need to be drained every shutdown and I recommend min 2inch drain without a ball valve. Ball valves will freeze solid at some time and be a real pain to work with. a tennis ball blocks perfectly a 2inch metal pipe just need to make some type of external fixation device to keep the tennis ball in place. This has been working for me and is cheap/easy to repair if need be.

Hopper condensate tank. I’ve had best luck with a regular 5 gallon plastic bucket with sealing lid like what you can find at home depot for paint ect. cut a 2 inch hole in the lid and use a shower drain upside down with gasket your 2inch inlet pipe then it can easily be connected with a 2inch rubber coupling. This tank will be removable from the gasifer with 1 hose clamp and easily replaceable. the plastic gives some insulation and i’ve never had one freeze while in operation. This also needs to be emptied every shutdown. however if it is forgotten then one can remove the entire top off the bucket and the ice popped out, lid replaced and back in business, these do not seem to crack if frozen.

so now we have removed one tank (condensate), and solved our freezing issues in the other two (hay, hopper). couple last things.
Plumbing under the truck should be abs and connected with rubber couplings/hose clamps in short enough pieces that they can be removed and inspected/cleared. Frozen water likes to accumulate down there and may eventually cause obstruction (had this experience) very handy to be able to take the pipes off and place in a warm place and allow the ice to slide right out this does not work if everything is joined by abs cement.
you may have issues with wood freezing to the sides of your hopper depending how high your hopper is/ if its past the roof line of the truck. this can be handled by either insulating the outside of the hopper or by putting in a metal screen on the inner side of the hopper to prevent the wood from touching the sides (both have advantages and disadvantages. What I have done is make a heated hopper that the wood gas flows around works well thus far.

this is all well and good but you need suggestions on winterizing what you have now.

  1. Insulate your wood hopper to prevent freezing of the wood to the sides and insulate the condensate tank under the truck the 2inch rubber cap will be good, just need to drain every shutdown. Carry a rod so you can punch out any frozen blockages if needed in the outlets. All outlets should be metal to allow for external heat to be applied.
  2. take out the Screw type plug on the hay filter (I suspect this will freeze solid and will be very difficult to remove. replace with a rubber cap and hose clamp. Personally I think the gold balls is a bad idea they will freeze into your block of ice, just leave as is.
    3)the hopper condensate tank is the biggest issue at this point. personally I’d just drain it as usual and let that 4 inch stay frozen for the winter. May want to look and see if you can retrofit the hopper condensate tank that Described above for winter use only.

One other big thing. When thawing metal pipes or valves with a propane torch etc. make sure the valve is closed or else you can get some pretty exciting results very quickly :slight_smile:

if you need pictures I can share some

5 Likes

Thanks Tom, I like it.

1 Like

Thank you Dustin, alot of good info. here to read. Thanks
Bob

1 Like

I live in northern Minnesota and hope to get back to my build next year. I like Max’s suggestion of running the gas through the condensate tank prior to going into the cooling rails. You just need to make sure it drains backwards.

2 Likes

Thanks Bill, that is a great idea that Max suggested. So the gas comes out the twin cyclones filters and goes through the condensation tank then through the rails and the rails back drain against the gas flow into the condensation tank. I think Max also suggests vertical rails.
This is great input, keep it coming.
Bob

2 Likes

Pictures are always welcome, thanks Dustin.
Bob

1 Like

Article in the DOW library:

http://www.driveonwood.com/premium/learn/cold-weather/

3 Likes

Thanks Chris, I have forgotten I have read that thread before, thanks for posting it here.
Bob

1 Like

The temps. are moving down, getting closer to freezing. I think I have come up with a solution to prevent the lower drain pipe from freezing and cracking below the filter barrow. After driving the truck for the day, I will drained the water out of the filter barrow area and not replace the plug. Reason is after using the truck and draining the water out. The next morning I have checked it and more water has drained out of the filter hay by condensation. There has been enough water I feel that it might Crack the piping at the bottom of the screw in fitting plug
So I come up with a plan to try out and hope it works. On the bottom at the drain I will replace the screw in cap with a rubber 90* angle sweep and a 2" rubber cap with claps. Drain it after driving the gasifier each day, and leave the cap off so extra water can drain out over night.
Inside the filter barrow at the bottom place a wheel barrow tire tube that has RV antifreeze in it so it not completely inflated. It will not float on top of the water and lay in the bottom. It should have enough expansion if the water trys to freeze solid into the bottom of the filter barrow.
Inside the drain pipe there will be a bike tube about a 18" long with RV antifreeze in it and tied off off on both ends. If the water does try to freeze it should have enough expansion in the pipe, if I forget to drain it right away if parked during the day.
This is the only area that really concerns me.
My tar/water condensation tank can be drained from the cab of the truck.
The back cooling rail condensation tank does not collect enough water during the day to be concerned about, I have a small ice bit oger that can use if it gets plug with ice in the 2" out let. I have heat tape that is going to be placed at the bottom of the tank to thaw it out when dumping the water out. I have all the parts just need to install them.
I hope it works for this Ex-Southern Gasified Truck. The Truck seems to like “The Great Pacific Northwest” so far, but it hasn’t got COLD yet.
It going to be a cold SWEM soon.
Bob

2 Likes

Sounds complicated but should work
I guess I am glad the west side just has lots of drizzly rain and seldom gets below freezing

2 Likes

Sure sounds like it will keep any ice damage down, it got so cold last year for a day or two that it poped one of my soft plugs in my truck. The motor was on its way out of the truck luckily any way.dirty anti freeze and i lost my freeze checker.

2 Likes

I’m still looking into hot gas filtering system with a couple of slyclone filters, then straight to the condensation tank, and then to the cooling rails like they do on the other side of the ocean. I need to buy another truck 4x4 drive with all the other ideas I have for cold climate gasification, could almost make it a slide in gasifier. The hopper would have 60* slope and be square with the drop box all in one. Okay I’ve been laying awake at nights thinking about this to much. I’M I ADDICTED OR WHAT!
Bob

3 Likes

Most likely you are in need of a wood gas AA. I may be joining the group before long, truck motor sounds good, i am hooking the gasifier next two days.

2 Likes

Ill post details on my thread but to sumarize some of my thinking and finds since this touches this topic allso:
Cold temperstures are close indeed, so l was thinking how to protect the asembly from frost. There arent many spots on my asembly that culd completely fill with water to cause cracking but there are spots with pools of water that culd cause startup problems. So my thinking was if water is a problem why not try and not produce any?
The water eater in a gasifier is charcoal. There is a biger ratio of water/charcoal in favor of watervso we get the unreacted water in the cooling rails. Ading charcoal chunks in the hopper shuld lower that ratio, and so far it seems to work. Its still a bit too soon to say problems are solved but it seems promising.

Edit: l forgot about one other thing; l am allso planing to put smal draining valves on my condense catcher and coolibg rail, sort of lie checkvalves, alowing water to drain automaticly and not alow air in.

4 Likes

That sounds like a great idea, just putting extra charcoal in the hopper. I have been working on my working on my charcoal grinder/fine screen tremble classifier, should have it running today. Putting in the brake drum below my reduction plate today also. Blue skies out there on this beautiful day, the rain has finally stopped for now.
Bob

1 Like

Bob,
Please post some pics of your grinder and classifier either here or under the “Sifting and grading charcole” topic. I am working on a trommel made from alloy car wheels and a piece of heavy gauge screen.

Any thoughts here on what kind of antifreeze to use in the water tank for my charcoal gasifier? Alcohol, glycol, other?

2 Likes

Hi Bruce, I like to use the RV Antifreeze the stuff I use for winterizing my motor home, drains and septic system.
Okay I put some pictures on the " Sifting and Grading Charcoal" topic
Bob

1 Like

KristijanL. energy balance-wise; volatile’s to carbons balancing with outside made charcoal you are re-creating the Brandt gasifier system concept.
Search this one up.
I think our active French DOW member here Francois Pal has made up one version.
His stuff is in the WWII gasifiers section. System diagram posted up July 2012.

Ha! You charcoal guys sure like to make a lot of black-hands, dusty, cough-cough, work for yourselves.
I’ll stick with nice clean wood, thank you. Wood ain’t broke, and does not need fixed. Straight raw wood gasification works just fine.
Cold weather just make your gas piping large enough: your moisture collection areas volumn large enough without water traps that the new-hot gas flow will pass by thaw. Ball valves hold water around the ball - can freeze stuck. Ice crack the ball housing. For freezing: favor gate valves, or half turn taper-plug valves instead.

Wood: the original oxygenated fuel.
Wood: the original clean-burn fuel.
Wood; the only self-regenerating, self-sufficiency fuel, freedom fuel. (Yeah. Yeah. Peat sod, human lifetime regenerates too.)
S.U.

6 Likes