Wood Vinegar as fuel

i am doing tests with wood vinegar, to be used as heavy fuel for hot water boilers

might be worth looking into for home heating / off grid ?

Heating value 21 mj / liter


Hi Koen, I’ll bite! How do you use wood vinegar as a “heavy fuel”? I can see using wood alcohol (methanol) as a fuel, but not vinegar.
Gary in PA


Hi Koen

Could not you inject wood vinegar into the burning coal (as you do with water or oil ?)


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Hi Gary,

Some basics: http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Pyrolysis_Oil

I have designed many pyro installations in my old day’s … even from rubber waste from recycled tyres…
Making it from wood is easy…

I will make some sketching from a simple “divider” to separate the heavy from the light tars, during the charcoaling process.

Actualy i am building one charcoal set + prototype 50 Kwh generator set for the largest Rice Noodle producer from Thailand.

He wants to support our work.

The biggest challenge he has for me is an old Cat 12 Cyl diesel to modify… ( 1 Megawatt set )
( using the charcoal gasifier to clean up his sewer biogas at the same time )

He’s sponsoring now old stuff from his factory to do experiments ( engines, stainless … )

Lot of fun on the way…


Koen the link to the red mud in that article is very cool. I like the idea of using the waste product from aluminum production to make wood vinegar more useful. As I read that article I was wondering if once the pH was brought back to a reasonably nurtal level why some of the other chemicals can’t be split out of the red mud. The 60% iron seems pretty concentrated and worthy of refining. Plus some of the other elements listed are used in fertilizers. Seems like there is a real chance to combine two waste streams and produce some good products. One thing is for sure if you come up with a viable process of refining it there is a huge supply of red mud.


Hi Thierry,

Yes it can and yes its good…

It eliminates some problems with excess water AND it increases overall gas power…

Same i did with plastic waste and charcoal , the gas from plastic is powerful pyro oil…


Using a slightly modified "waste engine oil " burner does the trick… it has a preheater…

or for example" http://www.ulmatec.no/Installations/fwk/sites/ulmatec4/pyro_serie_4.pdf

Turned up as search result for pyro oil burner on google

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Hi Dan,

This link show’s a nice thinking: http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Babington_Burner


That is very interesting. I have been wonder about a good method of combining a wood gasification boiler with a waste oil furnace to simply have s means of disposal of my waste oil small volume. Well to he honest I could probably get about half my heating for free that was as I have a good friend who is a transmission repair mechanic. But it would have to burn clean or I wouldn’t want it here. I am debating building a wood gasification boiler from scratch maybe one or the Russian masonary designs I think all my building are close enough I could heat both houses and a shop here with one bigger unit making it more efficient with a bulk storage tank and solar thermal collectors on the barn roof. This is a big part of why I want to design a system that takes hot water and makes electricity. I figure if I can run a stirling all the time I don’t need much battery storage. Hot water is alot cheaper and environmental friendlier storage.
Well off to go do some scrounging and experimenting.


If you just need -heat-, you can use a waste oil burner, it is supposedly akin to a #6 heating oil. A babington burner is probably the best way to go, but you need to get rid of the water.

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“Heating value 21 mj / liter”
Is that about 20,000 Btu/hr?

I guess I am really getting old.
joules used to be watt seconds.
Hertz used to be cycles
Seimens used to be mhos
Pressure? Well, I give up!
inches of mercury
inches, water column
microns of mercury (vacuum)
now bar, pascals, torr, etc.
Force- Foot pounds to newton-meters
furlongs per fortnight; where will it end?
When will the world give up on this darn metric system?

Pete Stanaitis


I am guessing he meant MegaJoules. In which case it would be roughly 20k btu’s or roughly half of what you get from fuel oil.

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Koen is just talking energy density. The per hour rate is dependent on how much volume your burner burns in one hour. You just have to size the burner to the energy density of your fuel to get whatever btu per hour you want. Two different things are being measured here.

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I don’t know. I just tested the stuff I collected, out of my retort to try and kill the smoke smell. Which it killed the smoke smell, but it doesn’t burn. It also didn’t freeze. It appears like there was also a white layer at the bottom, which I am not convinced isn’t just how the light is reflecting, and it seemed to have disappeared. I thought it might differentiate into layers, but either stuff got stuck to the side of the vessel and I can’t see, or it didn’t separate in the last 6 months. It also lost the really pungent smoke smell it had.

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Now that sounds remotely useful. Maybe you should see how much heat it will store by volume. A big tank full of doesn’t burn or freeze could be a great heat storage system. Well that assumes it also doesn’t destroy the pipes that carry in and out the heat. I am guessing it is thick like mud and wouldn’t pump well.


It isn’t that thick. at least the little bit I dribbled off the top. It was like a brown color, and it evaporated without any noticeable residue on the cement yesterday.

In the winter I was able to shine a light through the container to backlight it, and I can’t do that now. It is really a dark color.

Silicon is actually the new hot topic for thermal storage.

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But I can’t get silicone as a byproduct of anything I would Normally do. I could get wood vinegar and I do need to build a thermal mass for one on my projects. The idea is to use your local resources to the fullest.


Hi Dan

In the event of an accidental spill of wood vinegar, would this cause a problem?

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Good question I have no idea what it’s chemical makeup is. Just sounded like something that might make a good storage medium.


It might if it burned. I probably have to dewater it, and then test. I didn’t make mine with a closed retort like you are supposed to. And I have very little idea what the chemical make up of what I have actually is.

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