On the world-view side of wood-for-engine-fuel, like TomC. I am a book history reader.
On the 19teens through 1960’s USofA story I can give much more live’ve-it perspective.
Here: no-one of the powers-that-be wanted us to persuse any other fuel source than what they could make, and supply to us.
And because first, and still, the USofA was/is a fossil coal proven reserve it was “the-black-rock-that-burns” displacing wood and wood charcoal for all urban/city/industrial purposes. Just needed lots of cheap, replaceable labor to mine it out, process it, and transport/distribute it. One of the reasons for over hundred plus years of sponsored/subsidized pulled in immigration’s waves. From all European mining regions. Not just cheap farm labor.
Second need was for massive amounts of $'s capital to set-up and run these huge we-will-be-your-fuel-supplier concerns. Well that evolved too from our Independence from Great Britain days into the 1850’s. Really ramped up post 1860’s Civil war. More than a few fortunes early-on made on fish, furs, timber, land, and then railroads. Then the “winners side” of Gov/mint war’s contracts. Then a capital-pool useing money to make money. No longer about making stinky “things”.
Then along came competitor black-gold oil. Much tussling for a few decades by the entrenched Big-Coals to the upstart oilmen. Any other like Farmers oil-seed fuels and made fuel alcohol’s were simply price squeezed down and out. Still local pursued? Vilified as dangerous. Farm fuel alcohol as too easily divert-able into drinking stocks.
1940’s post WWII glutted with domestic refined fuel oil products the oil profits were used to buy-out and destroy municipal electric light-rail systems public and private in favor of diesel rubber wheeled buses.
Moving forward to today the current fuel/energy suppliers do the same villifing for any who would dare tread on to their supplier-side energy monopolies.
“Burn wood for home heating!” Air polluter, you! Tree-killer, you. Resource hog, you.
Make your own home electricity NOT GRID DEPENDENT TIED-IN!! Dangerous in-home child killer, you.
DYI make your own vehicle fuel/power??!! You, you, unregulated, unregistered, uncertified air polluter. You, you, anti-social non-compliant tax evader, YOU!
So why In the USofA the no-go with wood gas for so long except in obscure spurts? Too many; with too much money; and invested-in interests, including workers-unions/degree’ed professional engineers, perceiving that they have too much to “lose” if individual folks have independence from their own rice-bowl-filling keep-you-dependent energy supplier systems.
Ha! The reason why us living Rural, and in the parts of the US who at times lost-out are the most active pursuing DYI make your own powers. Grow big food gardens. Unreasonably raise our own meats. For F-R-E-E-D-O-M. For Self-Reliance.
Regards, and welcome to the DOW
tree-farmer Steve unruh