Massachusetts Maritime Academy Senior Design Project

Hello all!

My name is Thomas Young and I am currently a senior at Mass. Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA. Myself and a couple of friends of mine decided on taking a course this semester where we can build anything we would like with a budget of $1500. We have been waiting all summer to do this and finally the time has come. After seeing an article in MotherEarthNews regarding Mr. Keith and what he has accomplished with his trucks we have decided on building a gasifier or something that will result in producing a combustible product. Hopefully we can get this done by the end of the semester and I was hoping I found the right place to ask questions in case we need some help or suggestions. Any advice would help, thanks!!

Welcome ThomasY
Well assuming you are going to use wood as the fuel source than I highly recommend you build/design around a spark ignition internal combustion engine usage. Here there are people with working systems from ~5 horsepower to ~70 horsepower on woodgas.
With your tight time frame you need to clone/copy something already in existence and proven and get it up and engine running for a purpose.
You do not have the time to step by step different systems types explore around, and get tied up with flaring staring game.
The loaded engine fuel needs and suction capabilty will be driving the whole gasifier design process and how well it will operate.

For the 5 to 20 horsepower stuff look into the Small Engine Users Corner and the Charcoal Gasifiers under the forum tab.
For 30 horsepower and larger applications read everything in the General Discussion and Projects topic areas to decide.
Do not rule out even a marine application if an inboard four stoke motor hull is available for this project. This is actually a 1940’s Baltic Sea Sweden/Finland and Soviet river traditional. I think Sean French is currently building for a marine application. For the larger horsepower usage once you have an application picked out consider a Premium membership buy-in to get immediate access to the proven WK system specs, build videos and live direct open topic advice.
Believe it or not their are now fellows started solo building Keith system vehicles for themselves in late May now up and driving around.
See my pictures of distractions that led me astray for 2+ years.

Steve Unruh

Hi Thomas, If you want to run an internal combustion engine you can go with wood or charcoal. If you want a very easy build for under $100 and in less than a day, let me suggest the Simple-Fire type design. It can be found on this web site under the Forum and then Files section.
Pay special attention as to what Steve U has to say. He has lots of experience in building wood gasifiers and spends most of his time in a water ladened environment, similar, but not quite the same as a Maritime experience. (He actually lives in the temperate rain forest located in Washington) Anyhow, welcome on board and be sure to let us know how your project proceeds!
Gary in PA

Hi Thomas! Welcome to the site.

We have lots of free info for you to read in the Resources section. However Steve is correct, on a tight schedule you’ll want to pick a design and get building. We do recommend the Keith unit for trucks and the Simple-Fire charcoal unit for very small engines. A pickup conversion will be hard to do under $1500, you’ll need access to lots of tools, scrap materials and a beater truck (hopefully donated and not in the budget). But it can be done, at least to “look Ma it runs” level. Then you might finish the truck with more time and cash. However I hate to see a rush job on this. For proof of concept easy-to-build I’d go with the Simple-Fire, however this will not use up your $1500, and will only run small engines for an hour or so. Still your best bet for fast and easy.

Tell us more about your goals and we can help you get started.

cool! your budget for the gasifier is bigger than mine! XD haha we need to know if your thinking big or small motor,
there are some advantages to certain design’s but ill tell you everyone says its easier to design a system to crack tar than filter it out.
the cooling proccess is half of filtering, tar falls out with condensate. a good cyclone helps, and a large hay filter has been proven aswell. theres alot of good info on this site, but theres some info that ties everything together in the premium side, i wish i could elaborate, but well you know…
the WK design has proven itself, and the ideas that go into its construction are centered around a good clean gas, with efficiency in mind
and with what gary said a charcoal design is way simpler to fabricate, but more fuel prep is needed
let us know what you really want to do, run a car generator boat ect… we can help further

Did we scare them away?

haha no sorry about that, we only meet on thursdays for 3 hours so the amount we get done is limited however we did finish a rough sketch of it. Obviously this is nothing as extreme as some made by professionals please keep in mind, we are only amateurs looking to create a basic gasifier to create a combustible gas. It is unlikely we will be able to use the gases for a motor but more likely have it end with a pipe and hopefully combustible gases coming out of it. Attached is our CAD drawing in jpg form. I appreciate the comments and have looked into some of the resources supplied. Everything has been helpful so far and I will try to get on more often for commenting. Thanks!

the outside drum ideally will be a 55 gallon drum i believe

Our maritime division is looking at sticking a wood gas v8 into a pontoon party boat. So I can snag salmon at the bend all day, while my wife works as our fireman.

speaking of pontoons and v8’s, i was thinking the other day, and ran some numbers, for the average vehicle car or light truck up to 3/4 and 1tons…

if you put 55 gallon drums along the full length each side of the vehicle, like single pontoons, with the drums fully submerged they displace enough water to more than float the vehicle,

ie a 20ft suv that weighs 4k lbs

drums are cheap, i kinda want to build a party barge out of them, just bc i get mine for free, it would be dirt cheap… but you could also make an amphibious woodgas truck lol