Less work? charcoal vs wood

Ok, say I wanted to run a gasifier for 3000 hours. I had 500 acres of woods, and decent equipment such as tractors, chainsaws, and a chipper/charmaker.

Would it be easier to harvest wood, chip it, and dry it. Or would it be easier to turn it to firewood chunks, then make charcoal?

How much charcoal would I get out of 1000 kgs of wood?

If I harvested 100,000kgs of wood chips it would take 100,000kgs of wood.

if I needed 35,000kgs of charcoal to produce the same KW, then how much wood would that take?


Its not about the quantity of fuel you can produce. Its about how much “net” energy you can achieve from the processed wood. Now it gets a bit complicated.

How much you get from chipping, depends on your equipment. How much will be able to process and keep verses how much that will be not usable. How much energy does it take to run the chipper. If you are going to fuel it with a gasifier might as well just charcoal the fuel in the first place. With the chipper you are limited to what you can put into the chipper. Charcoal it really dont mater as long as you can cut it up to fit your retort / kiln.

Drying the fuel from green wood that can be chipped. You may need to create a drying kiln to keep up, if you plan to run this around the clock for 3000 hours. Charcoal you dont need to do this.

Then you have build complexity. A direct wood gasifier will be 4 times more complex than a simple charcoal gasifier and that’s not considering automation. For hands free operation there is no way around automating the unit. Charcoal does not need automation as they run much more stable.

Charcoal will consume more energy to produce the charcoal then raw wood feed stock. However, you can get that back by adding water drip. You can also add in raw fuel feed stock with the charcoal as well if your build is capable. Even so this will still be far less work to build than a full blown engine grade gasifier.

My experience with producing charcoal over chipping wood is I can produce much more charcoal than I can chipping wood. Charcoal I don’t have to run a chipper. I just chop up the fuel to fit the retort. I have no limits of what I can use as I can make just about anything fit that retort / kiln. I dont have to run the retort either. Once the fuel is processed to fit the work is done. Screening the dust out is easy and can be done quick if you had a simple screening system.

Chipping is not just chipping, drying and chucking fuel in the gasifier. You must sort that fuel and get all the small fines out, it must be uniform and you are going to throw a lot of it away.


thanks for the reply!

Do you have to break down the charcoal down at all?

I wonder how much KW in electricity I get out of 1000lbs of wood (800 usuable) vs 1000lbs of wood converted to charcoal. Id imagine needing 300lbs for burning, 600lbs of wood to turn to charcoal, which is around 120lbs of charcoal. ~ 400lbs of charcoal vs 800lbs of raw wood. which is about a 1:2 ratio.

It really depends on harvesting. Can I harvest 2x more wood to produce charcoal faster than I can chip it and dry it

I used exactly 100 pounds of wood. i got 29.49 pounds of engine grade, tar free, charcoal and 3.41 pounds of uncooked wood. This is an old water heater I converted to a TLUD (Top Lit Up Draft). I live in Colorado where we have a very dry climate, so my wood was very dry. And it was a very dry day, 21% humidity. I suspect that if you live in a wetter environment it will be more difficult to get these results.

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I have read tons of books and articles on burning charcoal for gas generators.
I can give links to videos, but they are in Russian))).
When burning, you lose about 80% of energy including wood for burning.
Therefore, charcoal is not very economical, although very convenient.


This summer, when I first started thinking about and then building a charcoal gasifier we had some discussions about ways to make the heat lost in producing charcoal useful. Since then I came up with one solution. If it wasn’t dark I’d go out and take pictures of it so it could be more easily visualized.

I have a greenhouse. It has a rocket mass heater for a heat source with a seventeen foot long heat bed. I thinks there’s pictures of that in the protocol son thread. This greenhouse has a three foot wide by three foot deep by ten foot long concrete water tank built in. The rocket mass heater has never kept the Greenhouse warm enough to grow things like cukes, tomatoes or peppers in the dead of winter. I need more heat. I want to heat that tank full of 600 gallons of water. I built a heater that is yet to be hooked up. It is made from a twenty gallon air compressor tank that was set into a 44 gallon well pressure tank. The space between the heater tank and well tank is water tight. Plan is also to run coils of copper tubing inside the heater tank to thermosyphon hot water into the greenhouse tank to heat the water in addition to the hot water in the pressure tank jacket. The heater is designed so that as the wood in the compressor tank is burning it is forming char and dropping down to an cleanout chute at the bottom of the tank. It will be continuously making charcoal all the while it’s heating water and then it will be producing radiant heat out of the top of the burner unit. If the wood fuel source were chunked to a certain size then I may not have to further process the char before it could be used as gasifier fuel. We’ll see about that. I guess the point is that you have to design systems to overcome some of the faults you may find to make them more effective.

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I prefer to use wood directly in the gasifier. It is much more expedient and less energy consuming than burning coal from wood and then using it as fuel for the engine.

Я предпочитаю использовать дерево непосредственно в газогенераторе. Это намного целесообразнее и менее энергозатратно чем выжигать из древесины уголь а потом использовать его в качестве топлива для двигателя.


to significantly reduce the cost of time and effort to prepare fuel for a wood gas generator, a branch cutter will be quite convenient.


You mix your set up premise too complex confusing to get good answers.
What you will get is each promoting their own chosen pathways.

“I wanted to run a gasifier for 3000 hours” What? A home 2-12 kW electrical generation system for 3000 annual hours? Some doing this here.
What? A high speed all roads worthy vehicle gasifier system for 3000 operating hours? Some doing this here.

None here doing this needing 500 acres. The harvest off of 500 acres. Only one acre to ten acres.
500 hundred acres and you are NOT DIY, but big multi-persons operations making sold out power Henry is so fond of putting up. The DOW is a DIY forum exchange.

This use charcoal versus raw wood for your PERSONAL use gasification come out so very simple.
Below a 1000CC engine - USE CHARCOAL. IF you can make it where you DYI live.
Above a 1000cc engine use wood. Wood chunks can be made anywhere.

Now non-personal use. Making fuel for sale. Local, close, make wood chunks. For long storage and ship-to sale go charcoal. Then back to not DIY. Not really.

Esoteric one factor discussions are useless lip flappings. Real world things and ALL factors must carry weight. DIY and you will never be juggling less than 4-5 factors at any given time. Good. DIY forces you to become a very good juggler. Good.
What you see in the two newest non-English speaking DOW contributors. Good all-factors juggling.


there were four years before I had a path to get approval .

I am hoping that the below response from ComEd Interconnection is what you are seeking:

I believe what the customer is trying to ask is whether the utility interconnection relay (“Utility Mains Decoupling Relay”) manufactured by Deep Sea Electronics is an approved device. I have reviewed the attached data sheet from the manufacturer’s website for the DSEP-100 USA and it does not appear that is has been tested to any of the applicable US IEEE/ANSI standards. Even though I see Deep Sea Electronics has a local USA office in Rockford, IL they are a European company located in the UK. Thus is appears their relays have only been tested to European standards and not any of the applicable US IEEE/ANSI standards. In addition I am not aware of any relays which are manufactured by Deep Sea Electronics that meet the applicable US standards required to be approved as an interconnection relay.

However in reviewing the email string below it also appears that the customer is installing an OutBack Radian GS8048A inverter (8 kW) which is UL 1741SA tested and listed and on the list of ComEd approved inverters. Thus the installation would still meet the requirements to qualify as Level 1 lab certified installation and no other protection would be required even if the Outback Radian inverter is used in conjunction with the DSEP-100 USA interconnection relay. If the DSEP-100 USA interconnection relay however is used with a non-lab certified inverter that is not on the list of ComEd approved inverters than it would not be acceptable. Hopefully that makes sense. The other caveat although it is outside of ComEd’s purview is that the AHJ (Electrical Inspector) may not accept the DSEP-100 USA interconnection relay if it is not an UL/ANSI listed device. To summarize the short answer is the OutBack Radian inverter is lab certified and meets the requirements for a Level 1 interconnection. The Deep Sea Electronics DSEP-100 USA interconnection relay however is not an approved interconnection relay nor does it appear any of the other Deep Sea Electronics relays are approved relays for interconnection. Hopefully all of this makes sense. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

I had to wait for predecessor to retire who wanted thousand of dollars for an application and inspection that for the above reason would not be approved

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