Hello, I just came across this site after reading about Wayne in Mother Earth News. I’ve been interested in wood gas for several months. Hope to see those plans come out soon.

I also read about Wayne in mother earth news. My boss stumbled across it a couple of days ago and told me he had something he thought i would like to read. I am very intrigued. I got my feet wet in alternative fuel making Biodiesel with my dad as a teenager. Then i got into making a Brown’s Gas Generator which I never finished, (I am recently married and just bought a fixer upper house so free time is pretty well used up, but i would like to get started on it again one day soon.) My Grandpa also used to tell me about a fuel vaporization system that he designed but never perfected. He lost all of his notes and written ideas in a fire before he died so I am kind of stuck on that one also.
Long story short i would love to learn more about woodgas and have already started gathering rough ideas about running a sixties model Ford Ranchero with a 390 engine on wood gas. Another thought I got from the Basics of woodgas article on this site is that basically any dried organic matter will work. what about cow chips? I mentioned the idea to my brother who thought i was crazy and you may also but im curious. Wood can be had but is in limited supply here in Nevada and Hardwood cost over $200 per cord. Using some of the models I found here I could still save a fortune over gasoline but cow chips are easily had on our summer range where we run our cattle. Has anyone here tried it?

Larry, Cow chips make a lot of ash due to all the concentrated minerals in them and they make lousy charcoal but they can be blended in. As I don’t have a grate shaker on any of my units I prefer to run just plain old wood as it is in unlimited amounts here and predictable. My last trip to SE Arizona I found plenty of available wood in that area. They routinely have the prisoners out clearing trees from the right of way. Of course as you go higher in altitude the trees usually grow bigger and near your drainage areas there must be a few trees to be had. When I was there last time I would stop and pick up branches and then run my belt driven circular saw and cut them up for the next drive … Mike L

Would the gasifiers run well on wood pellets? Has anyone here ever experimented with making pellets?

Yes on pellets, although they typically come from a factory (behind a sawmill, etc) and may require electricity to produce. I am working on a pellet fired unit, but also looking at using natural wood chunks in the long run because of the reasons Mike and Wayne point out. I like pellets in this economy because they are half the price of gasoline for equivalent BTU even using store bought prices.

Do some googling around on “pellet mill” equipment… you may be able to get a pellet mill that can be run by internal combustion engine powered by wood gas so you can make your own pellets (however, the first bag will cost ya ~ 800 bucks or so)

A caution on the pellets - gasifiers are very wet inside, producing lots of steam along with the gas. Wood pellets tend to dissolve into a mush. Not impossible, just have a care to the moisture problem.

Right. I almost missed a season of BBQ last year messing around with pellet feed problems on a homebuilt BBQ pellet burner. Really had problems with a long pellet feed path. For gasifier use, I will try to feed “on demand” and make sure whatever is in the burn chamber gets charred to reduce the chance of any breakdown into wet sawdust. My hope is that use of pellets may reduce the overall size of a unit, and simplify moisture handling while giving a uniform reduction layer and good tar free burns.

Kinda doesnt seem worth it on the pellets, since raw wood is easier to come by anyway. Heres another silly question for all you guys that currently drive vehicles on wood gas. What do you do to stop the gasifier if you want to run to the store or drive to work and let it sit for a while?

Thats an easy one. Turn off the engine, close connector valve from engine to gasifier. If you have a shut off on your nozzles, close them also.

does it take long for the fire to go out or will it smolder for a while. I would assume that shutting the air off to it would pretty much put it out in no time.

The fire goes out almost immediately if the draft is cut off from the gasifier intake, but can be stoked up for several hours just by turning on a fan. I let the gas vent out my filter or my heat exchanger as the unit will pressurize after a good run in the truck. The lid is spring loaded so it will weep hopper gases if they can go no where else [ this is bad stuff]. Gas that backs up into the intake builds up goo and clogs the pipes after a short time. Wayne has this all worked out in his plans and maintenance tips.

Thanks for the info. That is basically the answer i expected but figured I would ask anyhow. and yes wood can be had around here if you buy a permit to cut it which is cheap but sometimes you have to travel quite a ways to a burn area in order to find enough dead trees to make a pickup load. It sounds like a load of wood will last long enough to make it well worth it though. I was just trying to explore my options.

Heres another question for you wood gas guys. I hope I can ask this right. If you want to accelerate quickly and the engine requires a lot of gas can the requirements of the engine over power what the gasifier is putting out? In other work can the engine draw to much wood gas and stall?

Hey RobM
That question and solutions have been asked before. Try the new “search” function 2/3rds up on the LH side bar. I think here those answers may have been put up in the suscription/Permium builders section. I’ll summarize.

Won’t pull too much woodgas. Be UNABLE to suck enough flow through to get the quick gas generation needed so stall out from leaned out fuel starvation. Why gasoline carburated vehicles have a to your foot attached pumping squirt accelerator pump shot first then transitioning over to a wide open throttle, with resulting low intake manifold vacuum, “power valve” fuel dumping circuits designed into them.

Most compensate with a woodgas system build in a generated gas storage reservior for this problem. Works. But . . . can go “whoosh-bang-boom” with any air leakage and a sucked through spark from the gasifier/filter train or an engine back fire light off from the cough, sputter, stalling out. Ha! Ha! I had to live the the nick name if “Boom-Boom Steve” for a whole year from a flare I snuffed causing a back burn. Hey! The system “sneeze” actually cleared the trailer travel packed char bed great and then the gen-set started right up and ran really good.
RobM.; Wayne Keiths system does not store ready made produced gas for just this reason. It’s reserve/surge capability is uniquely built in to it’s ability to readily produce more gas on demand.

Good question. keep 'em coming