Fuel for gasifier


Hi Vern,

Coal gas was used in WWII. Coal gasification is actually quite common around the world. It’s based on the same process but you can’t just drop coal into a wood gasifier and expect good results. It has a lot of nasties in it that will corrode the gasifier and tend to form clinkers, and the smoke is quite noxious. Wood burns much cleaner by comparison. Plus it’s much more environmentally friendly and a green renewable energy source, which coal isn’t. Also wood is usually free, while coal costs money.

For me, given the differences in harvesting coal and harvesting timber, I will go with the wood every time. Nobody needs to work in a hole, get black lung, be trapped by cave-ins, etc. Logging is not pretty but it’s much less invasive and destructive than coal mining.

What other fuels are available that are renewable and can be reproduced at the same rate of consumption?

Hi Matt
Coal was big in the steel industry up till the 70’s
Sharron steel had abig gasifier in fairmont to get coke for ther mills in pittsburg and the sold the gas to owins illinoise glass factory
but it took the feds 15years to clean up the site esp hy syanide
I have been around coal for years and it’s not nice you do it to survive but thats all
However that said not to get off the topic nat gas is not the angel they want you to believe I’m in the center of the marcelas schale bed and it has many nasties too
btw i like your gasifier layout

Hi Matt,

We want the most carbonaceous materials we can get with a low ash content. You can burn ag waste like corn stover and rice hulls, but they have significantly higher ash. Paper burns easily when dry but has high clay and mineral content (makes tons of ash). Since we also need good flow properties, woody materials are the obvious choice.

If the goal is to use up trash, a gasifier can be built to run on just about anything that will burn. If our goal is to travel cheaply or free, wood is the clear choice. Of course the ideal is to do both - find wood in the trash. Next time you go to the dump look around at the amount of wood waste going straight into the dumpster - it’s incredible! Everything from tree trimming to construction waste to old furniture, all wasted fuel.

Other sources of free wood:

sawmill scraps
logging slash
trees fallen after storms
fast growing “trash trees”
brush piles
old pallets
old fenceposts
old telephone poles
demolition waste
forest underbrush (prevent fires)

forest underbrush (prevent fires)

That last is another interesting thought - remember the raging fires we get almost every year? What fuels them? It’s not full grown healthy trees that suddenly catch on fire. It’s the abundance of small fuel on the floor, deadwood and undergrowth - like kindling in a stove. Clear all that stuff out and you won’t have any more wildfires - can you light a tree with a match? And of course the thinnings will make excellent fuel. How much thinning will we get? I think there’s a LOT there, maybe a forestry person can answer this better.

Thanks guys I thought it might be great for long trip maybe mixed i no nothing about coal

I have thought about that too. One of the -big- issues is the forest fires are needed to regenerate some varieties of pines. The heat breaks open the cones and releases the seeds, the biochar helps hold nutrients. This is common in rocky/poor soil conditions. In fact part of forest management is setting fires. Not usually to the extent we see on the national news usually they keep those pretty well controlled, but it has happened before.

Hi Sean O, I think those are not the fires we hear about. Intentional fires are easier to plan out and control. I’m talking about Smokey Bear stuff, “only you can prevent forest fires”. We’re afraid of tiny sparks because the forest is so volatile. Only sure method to prevent fire is to remove the fuel. We can have small controllable fires by simply removing most of the fuel. Just don’t leave enough on the ground to get out of control.

I had to ask that, Im sure its gonna come down on me that we are building machines that will destroy the envionment. But infact it is just the oppsite. As I progress I have to look into the future. I do believe woodgas is on the comeback. With the internet bringing together all you great experimenters and companies now emerging all at a time when our energy infrstucture is starting to change. The timing could not be better.

So developing modern gasification technology is one part, however finding a viable renewable fuel source is another part of it. I may have to look into a beta rycycling project at some point. Also isnt there a hybrid tree that grows in the south that grows a rediculouse amount yearly.

Thank you all for the great info we are getting there. :slight_smile:

Poplar grows very fast, and several trees are very persistent with sapling regrowth (coppicing). Wayne has been testing some paulownia wood that grows extremely fast but is very soft and hollow cored, more like bamboo. He said it does fine.

Matt, did a check of the numbers for normal people driving on wood. All back of the envelope stuff.

  • Around 199 million drivers on the road (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908125.html)

  • The average driver goes about 13,500 miles in a year (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm)

  • Average fuel economy is 20 mpg (.8 pounds per mile on wood) - need about 10800 lbs per driver (2.16 cords)

  • Total wood requirements = 199 million x 10,800 pounds = 2.1 trillion pounds or 430 million cords.

  • One acre of woodland can produce about 1 cord of wood annually (very conservative) - need 430 million acres

  • The national forest is currently estimated at 747 million acres. Contiguous US is 1.89 billion acres, 40% forested.

  • The farmland devoted to corn for ethanol is estimated at 90 million acres, and could produce wood for 42 million drivers (serves about 35 million drivers on ethanol, not counting energy inputs)

  • Current “readily available” logging waste is about 49 million tons per year (http://www.afandpa.org/temp/Forisk_Forest_Resource_Study_July_2010.pdf). This can fuel about 9 million drivers.

OK, what about home power?

Average home uses 11,496 kWh per year. Or 1,000 KWH per month.
Home generators make about 10 KWH per gallon. Need 1,200 gal gasoline per year.
Convert 1200 gal to 19200 lbs of wood, or 3.84 cords

But hold on!

Woodgas has extra energy that can’t be converted into electricity. Heat from the gasifier and the generator can be captured and used.

Most ICE engines waste 70% of their fuel as heat. Lucky for us, we need hot water all the time and heating in winter! If we catch just half of that waste heat, we have 35% of the original energy of the wood - more than we were getting as electricity! This more than doubles our efficiency and so we now need half the wood.

19200 /2 = 9600 lbs = 1.9 cords of wood. Some folks will have to supplement with regular firewood in the wintertime, but I think they will use far less power overall due to lifestyle. So let’s leave the numbers be.

114 million households using 2 cords each, need 228 million acres. Together with the vehicles we STILL have national forest resources left untouched.

I’m sure Steve U will be along to correct me. Please do!

That is the plan Im going to build a flat plate heat exchanger later on to recapture heat.

Hey ChrisKY
I agree with your basic numbers alright. And especially with your ending premiss.
Home useage is about 20% low in comparison with my needing lots of lights rainforest area. And maybe as low as 50% for the AC needing areas. But as you say an average.
Your 16 pounds of woodfuel per US gasoline gallon equivalent is I think a bit optimistic. I use 20 pounds. And 5000 BTU’s usable a pound.
I and others in softwood country have to double the cord equivalencies to get the same energy value as you hardwoods folks. But then we can usually double our growth rates in tons per acre yield. Just have to cut, split and handle more pieces to get the same energy.

Bottom line is us here in the US of A could tell the rest of the world to take a hike and energy wise learn to live on just the trees we could annually grow, harvest and regrow. Really folks we are blessed and could do this. Remember WE DID GROUND ALL OF THE PLANES IN HOURS Sept 11, 2001. We did re-learn in modern times to live on our own domestic resources quite handily twice in the 20th century in the 2-3 years before being dragged into the World Wars.
But this is not likely to happen without some kind of huge Event because that would greatly upset the apple cart of too many of the invested money people here and abroad. They want us to stay addicted to the easy turn key, mail off those checks, sit back, veg out, and just keep clipping your coupon lifestyles.

So it remains for us truly root hog or die’ers to show the way and keep this option alive and viable for not just the US but all other freedom and independent loving people everywhere.

I believe this enough Chris that just last week I bought a new 10,000 watt capable engine driven welder=generator to convert now to woodgas fuel for the home/shop and greenhouse power and heat.
Participation here on the DOW now has show me exactly how to do this and I feel more optimistic than i have in years for a bright future for those willing to just dig in and do it.

Ha! Ha! Sweat breaks over. Back to chainsaw downed trees while the wife evening gardens. Grrr. That, or more mowing this grass that will not brown out and go properly dormant. Sweat either way.
“Good Works makes for good health.”

Regards to ALL
Steve Unruh

Happy even beyond the Atlantic, that men feel the same way, but so is what were going to wake up our concience and take the right path? …

Reflection on the future locomotion

Appearances can be deceptive,
In this vehicle-style fronted
Rolling with a fuel gauge to zero,
Is it not a dream that one thinks aloud,

Do not believe JEAN Faucher,
Is a man of another time,
With his machine that runs on biomass,
It shows everyone that he is an ace,

The gas burned by the engine exhaust,
Do not grow the greenhouse effect certainly
More intensive use of vehicles Gazobois,
Have developed and beautified our areas of wood,

Prevent ecological disaster in a fire,
Create jobs for our forests gardening that we forget,
If we had maintained a competition for oil,
Many wars and avoided monopolies ended,

JEAN Faucher is a grandpa who is resisting,
He shows us the consumer society,
With the facts today, cyclones, droughts, floods,
He is right and we thank him for his perseverance,

Is it too late?

PAL F 06/08/2011


Well said Pal F
It is never too late as long as one person holds the candle of hope up to shine for others to see.

Thanks for the input Steve. No doubt there are flaws in those numbers. The main quirk is that as soon as it comes down to making your own power, people get way more conservative. If it’s hard work or expensive to make power, you won’t want to make nearly as much of it! Frugality will return to this country. And at that point, our national energy usage will be dramatically less.

Francois, most excellent! Good point about the jobs in the forest. We could create millions of jobs producing wood fuel. So long as we play by the rules deforestation will not happen, rather the woods will be improved as you say. I can see two systems co-existing, the national forest where the harvest is tightly regulated for maximum forest health, and private landowners who are free to cut as much as they like - thus deforestation will be a personal choice, not affecting the whole country. Smart landowners will do much better than the national forest and profit from their increased yields.

Wood becomes the ultimate profitable farm crop - there’s never a glut on the fuel market, always demand. Talk about cutting out the middle man. A farmer like Wayne could make a decent living operating a farm-fuel station. Direct from his own trees making a high value ready-to-use product. Setting his own prices, locally known for quality fuel. A grassroots network of these farmers would serve local markets with local wood. Diversity reigns.

Or another way it could go - the sawmill operators become the fuel processors. Folks bring in their downed trees (including smaller stuff) and request a certain amount of it processed as wood chunks, along with their lumber. Sawmill operator might take payment in wood, using some of it to run the mill. If the log-owners didn’t want their scraps, the sawmiller makes and stores fuel for sale later, increasing his bottom line. Again he becomes locally known as a good source of fuel.

The national forest is regulated and carefully preserved. With a revision to the “best practices” to include removal of the dangerous understory and thinning of weak and dying trees, there’s now a constant supply of wood to be dealt with. Much of the harvest work is done by hand or using light equipment, meaning plenty of new jobs. The forest service supplies all the local stations with combination sawmill and fuel processing equipment, generating both lumber and wood fuel. Small time operators are paid to run these, under strict quality control standards. “Government fuel” becomes known for its quality, not it’s low price. Prices are set regionally to reflect supply, and fuel revenue breathes new life into the forest service, directly increasing the quality of the national forest and increasing yields over time.

Enough daydreaming…

I might conceder using coal if I had to stop and shovel it out of my way in order to get home.

Below are a couple of pics yesterday of pulling wood with wood.

I made a quick trip with the 92 dakota yesterday of about 60 miles and around farm and football practice of about 40 with the v-10.

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Eucalyptus Grandus grow to 130 ft in 3 to 4 years and full maturity. There are other species that even surpass that but are considered noxious weeds that over take an area. Pine takes 18 years to mature.