(Not) Starting a forest fire

So Ive been researching building a gasifier of my own to power a motor vehicle for going on 2 years now. Ive read Vesa Mikkonens book and plan to buy Waynes when its made available. I live in forested southwest (northern arizona, mogollon rim, bisbee) and I really dont want to burn down the world. Ive identified the follwing risks to wood gas operation in arid/combustible conditions. Some of the risks are co-current with ICE operation.

  1. Flaring. Obvious danger, fire, flying sparks.

  2. Refueling, again the obvious.

  3. Ash removal. Mostly worried about the risks in improvised conditions/ windy weather. Like on a 300+ mi trip and a cleaning away from homebase is necessitated.

  4. Puffback. Completly unperdictable. This is the one danger I have zero idea how to mitigate.

  5. Gas outlet tubes/ exhaust tubes coming in to contact with flamable materials.

Im sure theres more but those are the major ones. Anybody have experience with starting an unintention woosgas related fire? Anyone have solid ideas to mitigate the risk of wildfire? Tell it to me straight. I already know woodgas for the arid southwest is a pretty bad plan…But Ive got bit by the bug. I wanna drive past the gas staition and not give it a second glance. Is it possible to do this safely? Or is it better left alone in these conditions.
Thanks -Eric


Woodgas is dangerous, but I can give you a few tips on mitigating the risks:

  1. There’s seldom a need to flare a working system. Wayne never flares his except to show folks. No sparks from the flare.

  2. Refueling is very brief and any flames are directed upwards from the hopper. Normally can’t catch anything on fire (perhaps parked in a building or under a dead tree)

  3. Ash is removed with the unit cold. No need to empty ash hot, even on a long trip.

  4. A good lid will seldom puff back. Puffs indicate oxygen leaking into the hopper. A good operator can ensure that all the oxygen is removed on first startup.

  5. The surfaces of a Keith gasifier are cool enough to touch briefly without getting burned, and no paint burns off. Unlikely to start a fire on contact. Best to keep plastic away, as it will melt and make a mess.

Some gasifiers are more dangerous than others. I’ll leave you with this picture, a large bale of dry hay on Wayne’s truck, not 3 feet from the blazing inferno. Every day, all winter long.

Hello Eric,

On the daily basis I haul a thousand pounds of bone dry hay within 18 inches of my gasifier. In the hay field when I am cutting and curing I am driving over bone dry hay near two feet deep.
However I wouldn’t want anyone in a new car to be in the hay field because there have been many fires started in this area usually in the fall from their catalytic converters.
I know of no system that would be fool proof but the examples you give should be the operators’ responsibility.

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