Wood Gas Effects on Aluminum Parts

Howdy All,

I have read somewhere that Wood Gas does not play nice with Aluminum parts, like intake manifolds.

Is this a true statement, or is it the amount of Tar that some gasifiers produce that make them not work well together?

Just a question that came to mind.

Ken Winiarski

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Hello Ken,

I try to stay away from aluminum.

Sean French has a picture of woodgas vs aluminum here on the site but I can’t locate it.

We will see if we can get him to post the pic again when he reads this.

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Hi Wayne and Kenneth,
With aluminum I think we want to stay away as much as possible. Some areas such as intake manifolds we have no choice because most are made from aluminum.
This has not presented a problem for Wayne or myself. I am still trying to test what exactly caused this problem with woodgas and why the throttle body was eaten up so quick. I still use aluminum intakes to this day and I am not concerned with wear and tear. From constant use I see no signs of corrosion.

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Hey Sean,
Thanks for the post and waking me up a little. Yes on my Dakotas and the V-10 the intake is aluminum and seems to work well. In the past I have used some throttle bodies as valves and wood gas throttles that ended up looking almost like yours. I think they where made of some mixture of aluminum (pot metal).

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Do you still have that piece? If so, try a few drops of hydrochloric acid on it (toilet bowl cleaner). If it fizzes up then it has a high zinc content, which strongly reacts to the acidic woodgas. Acid doesn’t have much affect on aluminum though.

I have tried researching the chemical reaction, but I can’t tell why the aluminum would corrode. Here’s an interesting reference: http://www.usmotors.com/TechDocs/ProFacts/Corrosive-Chemicals.aspx

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Wayne, and Everyone,

I am working on rebuilding the 460 Ford engine for making my gasified work truck. Rebuilding it and high compression (About 12:1 ratio) as wood gas and propane work harder at these compression ratios. Like I tell my students, “More Bang for the Buck !!”.

I will look for an old cast iron intake rather then a single plane aluminum one due to concerns. I think a single plane manifold would mix the gas better in the high rise manifold vs mixing the air/fuel before entering the intake. Besides, Pulses form the valves opening and closing in a large open intake chamber would also mix it better in my opinion.

The downfall is that a duel plane manifold makes the engine run better at lower rpm, where we are going to be getting the most out of the wood gas. Guess It will be a trial and error.

Also planning on using stock cast iron heads. Older heads should work well, but the weight of stock adds greatly to this vehicle. Good thing it’s a work truck and we don’t go far or fast with it. Ha, Ha, Ha,…

Does anyone have any ideas on this, either one way or another?

Ken Winiarski

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Aluminum intake seems to be fine, all the Dakotas use them without issue. Since you’ve got to move more gases to get the same power, you want a big easy flowing manifold. This came stock with the MPFI engines, because they have just air down to the intake valves. TBI or carb motors will have turbulent intakes to keep gasoline droplets entrained in the airflow.

Headers on the exhaust should help too. Anything to get the motor breathing easier.

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The corrosion was also a concern of mine, with the wood moisture in the throttle .The condensate was condensing in the lines and running into the intake manifold and the soot would stick to it and cake inside.I reheated the woodgas to about 110 deg and now it runs dry and any soot in the mixer is a powder and can be cleaned easily.I havnt seen any corrosions on or around the butterfly either.Hope this helps.

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HI All
I too was concerned about wet acidic woodgas reacting to aluminum. Euro drivers assured me this was not a problem in the intakes or on the top of the pistons. They DO mostly overcool, then reheat to dehumidify thier fuel gases as RonL. discribed. I think also an aluminum intake especially on a V engine gets plenty of rising engine heat after shut down to stay dry.
Aluminum out on the gas cooler tubes and piping is a real problem though. Ask MikeL for his experiences. He was giving up on aluminum there.
Throttle/carb bodies? Most the old are die cast zink alloyed “pot” metals. VERY subject to moisture corrosion!!
Machined aluminums ones though seem to vary a lot. Different alloyed aluminum’s I believe.

BTW. Copper also woodgas corrodes badly too. Along with zink alloyed solders. Bronze seems great. Brass back to depends on the specific alloy. Old gasification books like Tylers 1900 Treatise have good pre-aluminum, pre-SS, pre-plastics materials charts in the back indicating they then found Wrought Iron much better than cast iron for corrosion resistance to producer gas.

I agree with ChrisKY - go with the higher flow aluminum intake. Duel plane could lead into some nasty cylinder to cylinder fuel gas straticification mixing problems.
For on site 460 building look into Brent Wolfs 460 engine building up.

Steve Unruh

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Does anyone know if powder coating will resist the corrosive effects of wood gas?

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Hey Steve,
Great post I fully agree I will add to this that throttle was used for 1 year with no problems. The corrosion/destruction happened after being set up not in use.

I looked for the throttle body today and could not find it. Probably wound up in the scrap yard guess I should have hung it on the wall OOOPPSS. I do have others but in new condition. The source I bought them from said aluminum but that could be wrong.

Haven’t tried powered coating yet might be worth a try.

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