My First Design With Electric start

So I cant seem to get the gasifier bug out of my blood, I have looked into it since I was 13 on and off. I mentioned it to my wife she called me insane. So here I am to set myself to do this. Here is the first drawing.image

It is for a 3.8 Ford 160hp motor.

A= 20cm
B= 57 cm
C= 40mm outlet bottom right
D= Glow plugs 5 Attempt at electric Ignition
E= 15 6mm nozzles
F= 19mm air manifold with 3 19mm Inlets

My goal is to remove the trunk lid and fit this into the back of the car. I am hoping to use wood chips and wood pellets as fuel. Possibly corn, It can be found really cheap sometimes.
The grate would be a plate with a couple hundred 3/16 holes.
I thought I might try electric start with glow plugs as they get very hot and they are no different than a bbq igniter. It will have a square hopper for space savings and a round removable hearth made of refractory cement and cloth. So it could be removed and modified and/or cleaned. How does this look? Has anyone tried Electric start? I also was thinking about putting a 12v heater for a diesel in order to try to break the tars apart on the exit more, Would it help produce usable gas sooner?


Welcome to the DOW S.I. (SystemInsider)

You have put up an excellent defining first statement post.

There is much already stored peer-interchanged information here on the DOW on every aspect of your inquiries.
Use the magnifying glass icon in the top tool bar are search up:
Electric heater starting
Grate designs
wood chips for fuel
wood pellets for fuel
corn/maize for fuel

What you have proposed so far would be an old “book” gasifier for chunked up raw wood. And better be dry wood chunks at that.
A great starting out gasifier hearth to get you accustomed and evolving past the many, many challenges of vehicle driving with wood.
This system will choke-out and be a gross tars maker on non-specialized wood chips; wood-pellets; or corn/maize.

Best Regards
Steve Unruh


It seems like the parameters is easy to change in this design, so I think it looks like a fine build as the possibility of fine tuning is always there if it doesn’t work great with your wood chips.

I find the electric start is very interesting.
I was planning to use a automatic start system with a timer so the car was ready to run at the morning.
My idea was to use a gas torch, but electric glow plugs would be easier to setup if they work well.

It says in the FEMA documents that diesel glow-plugs didn’t work, but they did never specify why or what they had done.

Good luck, will be fun to follow this build!


The thing I could see with glow plugs is placement would need to be close to the nozzles, also I wonder what era glow plugs because the ones I would like to use are for GM 6.2/6.5 which are fairly long and are like a 1.25 apiece the last time I bought them so cheap enough to experiment with.


Again glow-plug electric starting has been tried by many here.
Me too. Struggled with this for 3-4 design changes for a year helping out one fellow.
It only works a small percentage of the time.
The problem is not the glow plug energy. It is the one-place location.
The very best learned knowledge promoted here on the DOW is that wood-for-power is only 25% the actual nuts and bolts system; but 75% a working operator experiences MAKING a system work.
And work every time, all of the time under widely variable states of conditions.

Direct exprence is how the ending state, remaining needed char bed from the previous usage IS was determined by just how the operator ending the last use session.
At that one-point glow-plug location will only be just so much charcoal. Or space hollowed - no direct contact charcoal at all. Or a non-combustible ash clog. Or an impermeable wad of tars-goo/ash collected. Etc. Etc. Etc.
An experienced operator can, and will perceive all of these and force a make-work.
Poke clear. Rod down from the top settle-in.
From the top down burrow-lite.
From below the grate up, lite.

I learned to screw all of the no-sense slow liting up with too many cold tars being made.
Oxyacetylene torch force lite thru that single point liting port works 100% of the time. Super hot. The hot flame carries clear across the restriction area. Super quick.
Oxyacetylene burns with least amount of combustion moisture.
I am still working on the same tank fills in my back-pac portable set after 10+ years and hundreds and hundreds of lite-ups.
Single bottle MAP gas works ok. Slower. Less across bed penetration. And more liting-gas combustion moisture.

Another experience learned quick starting wisdom is to use lots and lots of sucking, or blowing, air-watts power for starting up.
Less than ~1000 air-watts and your slow, slow up to all zones operating temperatures will tars-make coat and clog your downstream systems.

The gasifier hearth is only maybe, 20% of a needed complete you will need to evolve into for IC engine fuel making.

Read. Study the actual being worked systems here on the DOW to see the why’s of all of this.
Read past the speculators; the I heard’s; and the better-idea talkers.

Proof of merit is always hundreds of hours of year around Using’s. Carving off all of the froo-froo woo-woo’s. Adding only, and keeping only, what is truly beneficial.



it would be great to try an electric start of the gas generator given the ability of charcoal to conduct electric current. It is known that coal passing through the core of the gas generator becomes a good conductor and to ignite it, it is enough to poke around with the electrode in the nozzle hole. That is, if you want electric fire, insert a ring on the insulator in the core and supply electricity to this ring. I was able to start the gas generator even from 12 volts …


Good Morning Joni
What has been done here.
People use diesel engine electric glow-plug heaters. Direct contact.
I helped set up for this in 2009/10.
It works perfectly 40-60% of the time with chunked/chipped fuel woods charcoal.
An electric super heated blown hot air system worked at a much higher percentage. Became too expensive to put into production. And drained the batteries.

Why the failures?
The state of condition that the previous gasifer user left it in.
Used up ALL of the charcoal!
Failed to grate shake/agitated and let too much inert ash to build up shielding the charcoal chunks.
Operator left some port open; or failed to see a developed air leakage and the char self-burnt up from system residual heat after shutdown.

You will see here at some time Wayne Keith with his manual fire up tube. Boring down from the opened up top thru the remaining fuel stack and charcoal stack to cold fire up.
A Tee-handled hollow tube.
He mostly fires up from the center grate level. Using a propane torch down thru his bore tube made hole. Mostly sucking normal down.
He has his multiple blowers stack set up to be able to western European like reverse blow too. He does this to burn open up, a too fines become tight, charcoal bed.
Ouch! I saw this. How crude. No. Operator smart.
He is judging his cold system state of condition. Some times he will decide to torch light from below the grate.

Wood gasifiers in real life use it became always this:
Train the operator-users to be able to operate in ALL conditions?

Or make your system to allow dumb-dumbed down operation by anyone under all conditions able to push a button? Compromising road side and forest found wood fuels to do this. This “one button” always is driven to only use perfectly standardized wood based fuels like pellets.

A real Cook can make a meal from anything found. And feed the family.
A Chef insists on only the finest ingredients. With many assistants helpers. To deliver perfect “plated” presentations. Serving to those demanding to be served.

Oh, yes. My newly assigned name.
Best regards
Smarty-pants SteveU.
I am only as smart as I have had many burned fingers, DOing.


This project Car died before it had the opportunity to get a gassifier.


Using a glow plug you must pulse the plug so it can not exceed 1200C On my systems I would pulse multiple plugs four or five of them. So fire #1 for 8 seconds then #2 and so on. By the time you get back to #1 it has cooled down enough to be pulsed again. The later pellet fuel reactors had just two of them however they would need replacement and were considered a consumable part. Early flare ignitors had glow plugs and they would fail after 10 or 20 cycles until figured out the duty cycle. I now use an GM LS coil pack and fire with logic. Those coil packs with appropriate spark plug have no issue at all get a flare lit.

The new charcoal systems will have auto ignition but charcoal Ill probably only have to pulse that plug once; two time tops. I also blow air over the plug tip.


Sad to hear this, maybe you could build a smaller one for a generator for electricity?

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I have thought about it. I recently got a van with a 350 in it. I am just debating if it is worth was I only have access to soft woods I also found info on running wood chips and how to do it right. Chips and pellets are even cheaper here and I could probably even get chips for free almost. In the end is the cost offset worth running a car on wood. When I was going to grow and have fuel as a byproduct it made more sense.

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While I have 40 acres of woods to use, I typically use wood that I have gathered from my workplace. Typically wood pallets that I take apart and remove the nails. I also will sometimes drive around town and pick up people’s yard clippings for the small branches they cut off. This winter I am starting my coppicing project so I will have a sustainable way to harvest wood.

You could maybe put up an advertisement offering a service to pick up branches from people that need it disposed.


And people will pay monies for you to take the stuff away too, and then you turn it into fuel for you own personal use. Become a true tree hugger. Find dead trees, branches wood scrap, and use it for fuel. It is all Carbon neutral and not causing any green house affects.