Hey folks, I recieved this email that I want to pass on as it may have interest to some of you.
Gary in PA
> Charcoal seems to be a good solution for smaller engines and mobile equipment that can’t
> carry a bulky wood gasifier. So I’m itching to try it… in my copious spare time of course (of which I have … none)
I have access to a lot of nail infested wood from a pallet mill nearby. Their procedure apparently involves cutting off the nail flush with the wood, which creates tiny bits of steel embedded in the wood usually 3/8" slats. Then they cut off and reuse the good parts, toss the nail-embedded bits. so I have a big pile of small scraps with a very high percentage of tiny bits of steel. I won’t put this in my truck and risk a plugged grate or other troubles. So I am wondering if I can make some charcoal, leave the nail bits in and run it in a Simple-Fire or similar. What would happen to the steel? There’s no grate, and you empty each load as a batch. Would it melt and puddle? Meaning I could grab a lump of steel and toss it in the scrap pile… Or will I get “nail-gravel”, lots of tiny steel bits that have to be sifted out, perhaps a magnet?
> I’m not going to pick out the nails, too many, too small. And my good wood is spoken for. But if nail ridden charcoal might be acceptable, I could give this Simple-Fire a whirl…
Well, here is my reply:
Nail infested wood will make great charcoal, but it will be nail infested. I recently charred some of my old pine (untreated) siding that had nails in it. After dumping the cold charcoal on a tarp, I stomp on it to break it up and used a high power magnet on the end of a steel rod to pick out the nails. Worked well but I had to make a checker board passes several times before I was satisfied the nails were gone. The reason for removing the nails is that this charcoal was put in the horse stall for them to trample, and then it is now being applied to my garden. Don’t want the horses to step on nails nor have one puncture my gravely tire.
Now you have wood scrap with short 1/2 or so long nail. When you make this into charcoal, some of the nails will stay in the charcoal and some will fall out. You could sweep a magnet through the pile but you will also pick up chunks of charcoal that have a nail in it. You can break the nail loose, but if you pick up a hundred pieces, it becomes too much of a bother.
Here is my recommendation. Char the wood with the nails. Place the charcoal on a concrete surface, spread them out and walk on the charcoal to break it up a bit. Make yourself a sorting screen with 3/4" mesh and another one with 1/8" mesh. I use old bee hive bodys. They are about 16 inches square and 6 inches deep. The screen is tacked on the bottom. Shovel some charcoal into the 3/4" screen and shake through anything less than 3/4" Put that back on the concrete for further stomping. When everything (nail too) pass the 3/4" screen, do the same process but use the 1/8" screen. I do this over a wheel barrow. Anything that falls through that screen goes in the garden. (Here you may want to sweep it with a magnet for nails) What remains in the 1/8" screen goes in a storage barrel as Simple-Fire fuel. (That includes the nails)
In the Simple-Fire, the nails will remain while any charcoal in the oxidation zone will be consumed. Because the temp in the oxidation zone is tempered with exhaust gas, the nails will never get hot enough to melt. At worst, they will oxidize into ferric oxide (black iron oxide) No big deal. Eventually you will get a pile of steel accumulation in the bottom of the reactor, but since the oxidation zone is above it, there should be no problem. My gut feeling is after about 5 fillings of charcoal, you should dump the contents of the Simple-Fire, and clean out any clinkers and “nail gravel”. With all this said, I have never run my gasifer with nail laden fuel. But I would not hesitate to do so. However, I do not know it all and always leave myself some wiggle room just incase something leans too far toward Fisher.
Do you have a small engine you plan to use this nail ladened fuel with?
Gary in PA