Newbie needs advice

I have researched gasification off and on for several years. Its time that i get started building one. I want to make a charcoal gasifer for several reasons. My metal skills are rudimentary at best but I can weld. Making the parts for a wood gasifier would take me forever. Also making charcoal appears to be easier than making a chipper to process wood.

I have 3 items that i could use for the main housing:
A. 2.5 gal pressure paint canister
B. 40 gal hot water heater tank (can this be used?)
C. 20 gal water bladder pressure tank with metal feet

I was trying to get a tall/narrow container which to my untrained mind would flow better and be more efficient. Ideas?

Is there another container that would be better?

I have thought about mating the paint canister (mainly so i wouldn’t have to fabricate a lid) to the top of either the hot water heater tank or to a 100lb propane tank if i can find one cheap enough.

I have watched all of Gary Gilmore’s youtube videos and his system seems simple and straightforward to make. Then i looked at a few systems that gathered the gas from the side lower down. Does this provide any benefit?

Please add any ideas/comments on anything that I missed.

Thanks in advance for any advice.



Welcome to the forum!

The 40 gallon tank would make a great reactor body for an updraft charcoal gasifier. However, I suggest a Flute Nozzle like Kristijan Leitinger has made, also Steve Bowman and his Charcoal powered Toyota Corolla. I’ve also used a flute nozzle in my Mazda b2000. They don’t melt away like Gary Gilmore’s original nozzle design.

The flute nozzle has the benefit of entering the nozzle from the side, but the holes point directly up, keeping the heat above the nozzle. It also allows you to add water drip in from the air entrance, the heat that the nozzle absorbs will vaporize the water into steam and flow up into the reaction to make hydrogen and have the added benefit of keeping the nozzle cool. Kristijan suggests using some thick pipe, for my Mazda I used 2.625" OD .625" Wall DOM tubing I got on eBay and then I welded some 2" NPT threaded ends so I could cap it off for shutdown.

For water drip I had a 1 foot long stainless steel straw attached to a rubber hose and I simply placed the steel straw in the flute, and used a valve to meter the water to about one drip per second. You could use a bucket or plastic tank to hold the water unless you want to strap the water tank to the gasifier body and then I’d suggest something metal, maybe a paint can or fire extinguisher. I wouldn’t suggest anything other than water, waste oil makes a smoky flaming mess.

One other thing to consider is some form of flame arrestor for the nozzle, I simply stuffed a copper choreboy pan scrubber and it kept hot embers and flames from shooting out on deceleration and shutdown without restricting airflow.

What is the diameter of the pressure paint cannister? You don’t want it to be too small, because you will need to check on the nozzle every now and then to scrape slag off of the top. The slag will form around the holes of the nozzles and make volcanoes, but can also clog them at times especially if you forgot to remove any nails. You could also just weld in a 2" or larger coupler that you keep plugged except for maintenance for scraping and inspecting the flute.

For a gas exit I had it exit at the very top, and clamped a rolled up a tube of diamond grate expanded sheet metal onto a 2" pipe. This acts as the roughest sort of filter and keeps the big stuff out, and then I used a bag filter in a tall ammo can. The soot catches on the bag and will filter better as it’s covered in the layer of soot, but you should shake it clean every now and then depending on your mileage/hours.

It’s suggested to add a thermometer at your gas exit, once the gas comes out hotter than normal it’s time to top off the system.

For fuel size and best results, you want to crush down the charcoal in between 1/8" to 3/4" in size, you can screen the charcoal with different sizes of expanded sheet metal. I like to pre screen my charcoal after it’s cooled from the biggest size, and only crush what didn’t pass through that screen. I’ll screen it again at the minimum size to get the dust and tiniest pieces out after crushing. Please wear some kind of mask when processing charcoal, ashes and dust will irritate your lungs.


Hi Gary , if you would have asked those questions a month ago i would have said yeah go with the 40 gallon drum , but having recently worked with a much much smaller tank and still managing to get a 3 too 4 hour run time out of it i would go smaller for one reason and that is cleaning out clinkers or to check on nozzle or just to change the fuel out to clean out the dust is easier in a smaller tank , i still have my 55gallon updraft gasifier , but its on holiday rest up at the moment while i am playing with smaller downdraft units , and yes you are correct a slimmer taller unit seems to work better in delivering the charcoal down to the nozzle , i also have a 100lbs gas tank i used for a few years , i cut a hatch out for inserting a nozzle and clean outs and i cut a small 3 inch hole on the very top side on the tank to fill and took the gas out from the other top side , worked very well , also ran a variety of different style nozzles over the years with it . and the flute and tungsten style nozzles work best in my view .
Good luck with your build


Welcome Gary. The gasifier in the link is built from a 40 gallon hot water heater. It is not a simple fire, which is what you want, but it could have been much easier so ignore everything in the first 10 posts. What you want to see is the clean out hatch around post 17, I think. You will want a fairly large hatch like this and install your nozzle through it. You will need to clean all the charcoal out of it occasionally to service the nozzle and the hatch is good for that. Other than that, this is an updraft charcoal gasifier and works well. The cyclone was unnecessary. I get very little ash or dust into the filter. Also the filter sucked so I have made several different, better ones since. For your purposes look at Matt Ryans latest videos on his Thrive on wood thread. Good luck and don’t get discouraged by a few hiccups. We all get them. All most all of them are due to air leaks.


Gary, Wecome to DOW. Could you tell us what you are wanting to supply gas to? How many horsepower or what the displacement is?


Ultimately I am going to use it to power a dual fuel 5kw generator. For testing purposes I have a Harbor Freight Predator 212cc Honda clone with a bracket and a car alternator that I will be using. The generator is wired directly into the main breaker box via a transfer switch panel.


Just bear in mind, that horsepower loss results in that generator putting out less watts. Account for it running at 50% capacity.


Thanks for the in-depth reply. I’m going to research the Flute Nozzle and hopefully find a picture of it. The ID of the paint canister is 9". Will that be big enough?

Here is a picture of the canister. The one that I scrounged doesn’t look nearly as nice. Actually I was ashamed to post a picture of it but it should clean up pretty nice. My plan was to cut a hole out on the top of the tank just big enough to slide the canister into, then weld it up. It will be any easy way of adding a lid and gasket without a lot of fabrication.

How far off the bottom should the nozzle be placed?

Hi Gary , looking at that generator it looks like a typical pull start non inverter type generator if that’s what you are going to use let me suggest a couple of things .

Take the pull start assembly off when your ready to run it on charcoal and get a drill with a socket on it so you can spin the engine over when starting on straight charcoal , it will save you a lot of time and frustration than pulling a starter rope .

You want to be carful what household items you are going to run on the generator as most modern day items do not play happy with that style of generator due to frequency / voltage issue’s when the revs start to change , don’t be put off just remember to start off maybe running something that’s not too fussy on the type of power it gets like a bench saw or vacuum cleaner or lights rather than a expensive fridge freezer or tv .
Great tank by the way is this what your considering using ? should run that generator for at least 4 hours maybe a lot more on that size genny .


The nozzle should be as close to the bottom as you can get it.

That isn’t aluminum is it?

With a unit that small try to find some Schedule 80 or Steam sized 1" iron pipe. That will be plenty with 3 or 4 holes drilled in it about 3/8" sized holes.

9 inch dia by how tall ? will depend how long you can run , you must always have a amount of charcoal on top to cool and to make the gas , so if you were to say its 20 inches tall and the flute is say 1 inch off the bottom of the tank then you would only get around 6 inches of charcoal before it would be running too hot so maybe less than a hour run time .

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I’ve already planned for the loss of power. I only really need 1.5kw or less to do most of what I need. I can turn the power on to only one circuit at a time in the transfer box. By spacing my power needs out I can get by with a lot less power than I would need to run the whole house at one time. The well pump is the only thing that I’m concerned with and I can run that on gas or propane if I need to.

Our power here goes out quite frequently. If a hurricane comes through it could be out for days. A freak ice storm a couple of years back put us without power for 5 days.

The pressure water system in the house is run strictly off solar with battery backup.

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The generator is electric start. That was one of my must have items. I’ve pull started too many boat motors!!

The drill and socket is a great idea. Cheaper than the external starter for a racing kart.

We’ve run this setup on propane and it seemed to do okay. Everything is run through house wiring so none of the problems of having multiple extension cords.

My plan is to replace the house appliances with marine units when they finally die. That will allow me to run them off of solar which will take some load off of the generator.

I was only going to use the paint tank for the gasketed lid. I was going to weld it onto the top of another larger tank. it would save me a lot of fabrication time. Right now I’m thinking of using a 40 gallon hot water heater tank.

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Its not alumimum. I’m only using it for the lid with gasket.

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Great idea to use the pressure pot as a welded on unit on top of the 40 gallon tank make filling easier , and great news about the electric start .



Found the picture of the port. I was wondering how I was going to clean that thing out.

Was the inside of your tank steel or did it have a ceramic lining?

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Mine was a propane tank just steel lined is all

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Mine was steel. Gas fueled tank. I have built stuff out of the electric tanks with the glass lining. Didn’t cause any issues. Charcoal is very forgiving. It doesn’t produce anything corrosive and the heat is centered right around the nozzle and pretty much absorbed by the charcoal in the hopper so it exits already cool enough to use the rubber vac hoses.
As Cody advised, You will be better off using the fluted pipe nozzle developed by Kristijan. Or you can use one like this, made from a pipe cap. I have used both, experimenting with a simple fire and they both work will and are much more durable than just a steel pipe nozzle. You will want to weld a one inch coupling into your access hatch cover and then screw the pipe for the nozzle into that and then a nipple into the outside that can be capped to shut off the air to the unit when you want to shut it down. The pipe cap will require a 90 degree elbow on the pipe going in to hold the cap in the video.


Yup thats where networking solves those issues. Need more run time add another gasifier dont build it up so you cant service it.


I cut the bottom off of the paint cannister today and set it on top of the water tank to see what it will look like.

I marked the top of the water tank where I need to cut. The paint cannister will be slid in about halfway up from what you see in the picture and I’ll trim it flush with the water tank so I won’t have an inside lip to trap gas. Would it be better to extract the gas from the top or the side of the paint cannister?

I was thinking that the easiest way to clean the inside of this would be to upend it and flush it out with a power washer. Any thoughts?