MEN dual-reactor gasifier?

IIRC, 10 or 20 years ago, MEN had an article or two or three about building a woodgas generator system for their workshop. I think it was going to be about a 10KWE unit. The last I heard, they were going to use TWO reactors to fuel the generator. Then I heard no more.
What ever became of that project?
Or did I just put too much mustard on my hamburger before going to bed one night and then dreamed it up?
We have the first 100 issues of MEN, but lost interest for a while when they went to shiny paper.

Pete Stanaitis

Pete: I haven’t heard anything about a MEN dual-reactor gasifier. I do know that there was a thread here discussing the idea and I believe everyone was in agreement that it would be a bad idea.

If one unit got clogged up then the “path of least resistance” is into the second unit. This would thermally crash the first clogging unit and make it clog worse.

The inverse would be true if one reactor had too course of char allowing over-pull and burning out the fines which lowers the restriction. That unit would, by far, be the path of least resistance and cause run-away over-pull while the second unit would clog and thermally crash.

Potentially, with enough accurate measuring of all of the variables between the 2 units, a computer could effectively balance the vacuum between the 2 units without causing the above run-away conditions but we aren’t anywhere near there yet…

I don’t think they were planning on running the reactors in parallel. I think the idea was to maximize uptime by being able to keep the engine running while performing maintenance on the most recently fired reactor.
Wasn’t that back in the days of the FEMA and/or the Pegasus?

Pete Stanaitis

So let me try to get this straight in my head… Say you need to do a bunch of wood chunking using the PTO (or other stationary PTO activity):
Load up both gasifiers (G1 and G2) but only light G1;
Do work until G1 starts to run low and light G2;
While continuing to do work with G2, let G1 cool down and then fill G1 (and/or drain ash/condensate as needed);
Wash, rinse, repeat.

I guess another way to look at it would be:
Plow fields using 90% of G1’s fuel;
RTB (Return To Barn) and hook up PTO chunker;
Use first 30% G2 to chunk wood while refilling G1 hopper;
Continue to plow fields with last 70% of G2 fuel;
Stop mid-field for only a minute to relight G1 (as needed);
Continue to plow fields using refreshed G1.

This was to be a stationary setup supplying (mostly) electricity to run a workshop. I don’t think they were talking about fuel hoppers at the time, so maybe they were planning to run one at a time in batch mode.
I don’t know what their fuel source was going to be.
At the time I was thinking that they would switch reactors only when the operating one needed maintenance.

Hi Guys, I have a dual gasifier setup on my black truck with a mixing valve to kick in the second barrel like a 2 barrel carborator. If I planned to pull a trailer on the 4 lane highway I would run the front single to get to the highway and keep the second one slightly stoked and then would kick both in while accelerating and towing. (same sized hearths) I never installed a valve to turn the front one off so I would test new gasifiers on the rear inlet by putting a plug in the restriction on the front gasifier. There are many pictures of the various duals that I have run here.
There are many photos around the 2009 period. I think I went to Wayne’s around 2010 but we never got to play with the duals as it seemed to rain non stop and his place was under water. Then that tornado wiped out our test track and the homes and some people along it …
MEN is OK and got Wayne to the flats. He can see farther over the horizon than I can. I think I can finally look at their website. They would not let me look at it years ago because I am on a slow speed dialup. They finally opened it up a bit. It’s for dreamers anyway and this site is for doers.

… OK… So I am not sure how I read that you were talking about a dual-reactor TRACTOR system. Now that we have cleared that up… >_<

Brian, Not sure if you were addressing me or one of the other gentlemen. I believe that Pete was looking for a follow-up on a MEN article that described a generator setup that could be switched from one gasifier to another so maintainence could be performed on one and the other could keep the generator going. I was just commenting that I have run several setups with a pair of gasifiers. If the hearths are near identical you can split the load between them as long as they are operating within their safe limits. I live in the country and don’t need to drive very fast most places I go so I designed and use a gasifer that suits my needs. If I make the next hill at 45 mph that is good. I run into troubles when I get on 4 lane highways where folks like to drive 75 or 80. The interstate system is relatively level. A pair runs perfect most times. If I was running a tractor, I would simply stop and add more chunks just as I refuel when driving. If I am lucky the truck will keep running on wood while I open the hopper and dump a couple of sacks in it and get the lid back on. I have never generated electricity on woodgas so have no experience there but I would hope if a continuous supply of electricity is necessary I would hope that the design would incorporate a hopper that could be opened or auger fed to keep things rolling. If it is necessary to shut things down for a bit then a second gasifier could easily be plugged in during such periods but it probably would be necessary to shut down and change the motor oil as well … 2 cents, Mike

Mike L. No, I was not addressing you. I was addressing Pete in regards to my own mistake of mis-reading “Reactor” into “Tractor”. Dyslexia (or “Lysdexia” as I like to call it) can cause some really “fun” misunderstandings sometimes.

Brian, Most everyone I know is dislexic including myself. It gets worse as we get older and one hand starts running slower than the other one on the keyboard … fo fo fo etc. :o) Mike

I happen to have these magazines, I believe they ran one gasifier when the other was shut down, Here you go. Chris

They had a saw mill too, This article was written the month and year I was born, September 1981


Chris, You da man … Mike … PS, looks like the stuff was never really run, You tell me … :o) … Not enough burned paint or goo … making some progress on the new one …

Good Morning Chris ,

Thanks for posting , I enjoyed the read .

Do you know the outcome of their California - New York Future Fuels Challenge Rally ?

Hi MikeL and WayneK, sadly I am missing some of the months of 1981 MEN. But there are several I have not looked thru, I might have the rally article, I will look and see if I can find it, I would like to read it very much too. MikeL, yes we are making good progress! We will be very active this spring and summer, we need it to warm up a bit and I can shoot some videos.

BBB Chris

Hi Chris,
I will look through my MEN box and see what I have for 1981 and look for the rally.

Thanks Pepe, its awesome to see these magazines are still out there!


I searched for the outcome of the California - New York Future Fuels Challenge Rally and found this link

and a quote from i the article

"As far as our woodburning vehicle was concerned, our lessons were

even more rewarding. Besides finding out that wood smoke and ethanol

make perfect companion fuels (both are slow-burning, perform best under

high compression and with advanced timing, and thus function well in the

same engine), we learned that certain kinds of wood—such as the

ponderosa pine commonly found on the West Coast—don’t compare

favorably with our old standbys, scrap yellow pine and oak, because of

the western wood’s high ash content and low gas quality. In fact, at the

start of the trip, the research crew had to fabricate a larger filter to

contend with the increased amount of ash created by the inferior fuel … .

but even with these last-minute problems, the 454-cubic-inch Chevyworking

at a 12-to-1 compression ratio and capable of traveling at

speeds up to 80 MPH-covered upward of 100 miles on each of its 150-

pound fuel loads before stopping for a refill."

Hello Paul,

Thanks for the link and hope all is well out your way.

I can see how there might be a little confusion if a $300,000 purse was offered and trying to figure who puts it in their pocket. If it is a race seems like the first one to New York is the winner but if it is a rally someone with a pencil will determine the winner . Participants might not trust the pencil.

Mr Wayne,

It’s been cold here but we have still managed to get some tinkering done on the truck and will do more driving next month.There is another fellow in town that seems keen on building a woodgas truck and I pointed him over here and told him to do some reading.It would sure be nice to have another woodgasser in the neighbourhood.

The truck looks stuck in the snow but we fired it up and drove out and cooked off the accumulation.
Steve U,did you get any of this cold snap?