Rad for cooling?

I’m new here and this is my first topic. I started to build my own project. It will be for a 15Kw genset or if enought power comes out of it, i could use it on my van but i don’t think so. The engine for the generator is 4 cyl. and the van as a 6 cyl…
Anyway , i was wondering why nobody use rad as a cooling device. I read many many pages here and haven’t seen anything about it. Maybe because of too small “channel” that will clog with tare and dust, too hard to clean, or gas too hot for rad with plastic.
I have a big “all aluminum " rad , about 40"X40” with 4 inches in and out i could use…

Hi Daniel,

Welcome to the forum. You nailed it, anything much below 2" diameter will clog up pretty quickly. Radiators have tiny passageways which plug very fast.

Aluminum is good for heat transfer, but woodgas is corrosive and will break down the aluminum over time. I would avoid aluminum for direct contact with woodgas. Engine parts seem to fare OK, although Sean French can show you some awful pictures of parts he’s removed after use with woodgas.

Steel is very effective and is much cheaper to buy and work with. Most of the coolers you see are made from steel. When painted on the outside, and used regularly to keep oxygen purged from the inside, the steel parts can last a long time.

Hi Chris
Oh well… I’ll have other project for that big rad.
Tank you

Welcome DanielB.
Mike LeRosa a very experienced driving member here tried this last Spring with a Dodge diesel pickup big aluminum intercooler.
He only says he got 200 mile driving useabilty. Now built and switched to a made up vertical tube cooler assembly.

Good idea many have tried but had to bail out on after 20-100 in use hours. No way to swab out and clean these. Why in the old pictures you do see the needed end tank clean out ports on the coolers.
Keep up the asking man.

Steve Unruh

hi daniel
Welcome to the forum
I can’t speak for the road guys but for small genset i use a nissan truck rad for a cooler
I run it vertical down flow with the condencent tank at the bottum
Last may i ran it for 6 days 24/7 during a power outage my choke plate gave out but no clogging problems
I was using a china gasifier that had a bubbler primary filter i don’t know if that made a difference or not
My road unit is not done yet but from listening to the site it seems the road guys have more trouble with soot then me probably cause they are making much more gas then my little unit
good luck

I thought, i would add a picture of the rad. Maybe i could give it a try since it’s for a small engine ( 4 cyl ) , 4" throat opening and not for the road. So if something goes wrong, i’m still at home …

hi daniel
if it were mine i would try it
i would turn it with the tubes vertical and maybe put a plug at the top so you could hose it out
like i said mine didn’t seem to plug but when i get away from the water bath it may we will see
good luck

Hi DanielB
Well I’ve been digging for Mike LaRosa’s hosted personal picture site - it seems to be down. His last posts say he is US SE traveling, probably why he is not chiming in on this directly. You can see his trailer mounted vertical steel tube replacement made up cooler through the comment link I put up by clicking on his name in blue then opening up what pictures he has been able to post up here on site.

Nice picture - thanks. Shows this is an air to air diesel truck turbo system all aluminum intercooler. Well since you seen to own this already no reason not to use this to begin with. Anything that get a fellow up and OC engine running ASAP is the best route to learning woodgas to take.
Max gasman’s and others experienced advice such as Dutch John’s is to turn it 90 degrees and route your fuel gas flow from bottom UP to the top. The always 100% humidity wet fuelgas as it cools will drop out a lot of condensate and the raining down condensate will wash the gas flow, and do some carbon soot washing of the interior tube walls.
Your condnesate amounts will vary a lot depending on your system air in, fuel in humidties; And how good your hearth core heat recyling is. The more heat you waste and bleed iff there the more you will have to upper system over oxidize/burn to make more system needed heats. Formed H2O being onr of the primary products of combustion. Expect having to handle condensate in the order of 20% by wieght of the fuel wood you put in. Standandard/Imperial measures means every for 100 pounds of fuel wood used SOMEWHERE in the system you will have 20 pounds of condensate to have to deal with. With the superior cooling this cooler will give you at this one location you will need to 4" Tee down from the lower cooler neck in to a gallons sized colsed pressure cable container.
Real hard to say just how much wood fuel volume ran trough the system before it does carbon soot plug unusable. MileL repoerted he had to remove his and water trough dunk and then pressure wand blow out to try and clean it. He has lots of corrosive to aluminum woodgas experience also. I think this is why he bailed out on his while he still had a cooler he could re-sell.

I am not contradicing your experiences at all TomasMcD.
Just answering to Daniel why most all trying reaiators after a time have moved on to made up cleanable, individual tube assessible horizontal and vertical steel tube fuelgas coolers.
Now my experience had been on stationary system coolers if you tip them ~30 degrees from vertical then the heat rising from them will not lower to upper re-heat AND the rising heated air will pull up cooler air past the tubes. Most of the time on small stationary systems you can then eliminate to cooler fan completely and just let it free air circulate.

Regards to all
Steve Unruh

Oh well… good to have different point of view. I like the idea of having the rad standing 90° of the regular position to be able to flush it once in a while . ( But i have some doubt that just water flushing can clean tar build-up…) And then, maybe there’s an optimal angle between 0 and 90 for a bit of self cleaning or less clogging or …
I’ll be using chopped hard wood. The same i use to heat the house and last year i didn’t clean the flue even once.
You’ll be the first to know. I already started to build the core and i might give some news on the " project " topic.

Sorry I am a little late in catching up been very busy.
Here is a pic. of an aluminum throttle body I used with woodgas and let set for six months. In an open environment.
I would stay away from aluminum with woodgas. I know the rad is temping to build with but it just wasn’t designed with woodgas in mind.

Hum… A picture that’s worth a thousand words…
And what type of fuel where you using ? And the system was running at a good temperature an efficiency ?
I wonder what element in that gas react with aluminum . Any chemist arround ?

hi daniel, steve and all
I think steve is right on the small tubes and i have not checked mine in three months there may not be much left for it was alum also ,I also spoke backwards i run my gas bottum to top with the drain in the bottum corner either way to get you going
I think when i get my WK going i will build a vertical tube cooler on a skid i can’t use racks like wayne does
I thought about making a spiral cooler out of exhst pipe around the hay filter to save space but i don’t know if it would work
All coments welcome
thanks and good luck

For those premium members I posted on the cooling rack build, I am not sure of my comment if it will be in conflict or open up any of Wayne’s secrets, so I posted this here and my comment on the premium site under the cooling rack build.


Hi Daniel
The gasifier was working correctly and fueled with pine scraps. And I still work with aluminum to some degree I just would not recommend it for a cooler design.
We can continue this topic and many others in the premium section. HWWT Sean

Hi all; I was wondering how many running hours of use do you think 2 1/2-3" 1/8" wall aluminum pipe would do? I have read the suggestions of not using alumium but thought because it radiates heat so well if one could get a reasonable amount of time with it as a vertical tube cooler, it might be worth it. Now I use 2" exhaust pipe but eventually will build aluminum or thin stainless.Any opinions appreciated. Thanks… Dan

Hi all I must have missed this. I use liquid cooling on my more advanced systems. This is very effective compared to air cooling. However, I do not run the producer gas directly through aluminum. I run the gas thru a mild steel tube cooler that is jacketed. I then run glycol through the jacket and pump through a fan cooled aluminum radiator. The whole system barely consumes 5 amps.