Yes, this is true. The “cost” benefit of DOW comes only over time. Developing the system and lifestyle that makes DOW a central part of transportation. Hobby DOW will inevitably cost too much to be “cost effective”. While being able to consistently use the technology to “not buy gasoline” . It means having a system of fuel (wood) procurement, processing, cutting, drying, storage, that actually allows you to put tens of thousands of miles behind you on wood. Miles that you would have driven anyway on gasoline or other bought fuel. If that is not the equation, then “cost savings” is not really a part of it.
To be sure, there are many other reasons to get into DOW. Fun, exclusivity, “self/local” reliance for resources, it’s just cool, hobby, etc…but the only way it becomes cost effective is if you replace a significant expense with it, or use it to make lots more money (which means replacing a business expense with it) heat source, transport, hauling, brick kiln, food preservation heat, etc…)
If you’re talking about replacing gasoline for normal driving/transportation, the math is pretty simple. How many miles does one normally travel, how many gallons of gas does that take, how much does it cost per gallon, …do the math and figure out how many miles on gasoline you have to replace with wood (or other) to replace x number of dollars worth of fuel.
Keep in mind that you will still need some gasoline to meaningfully use DOW regularly for regular driving. (probably) I don’t know anyone who drives DOW as an everyday thing (Wayne told me he only knows of 10-15 in the USA doing it) who does not use some gasoline.
Once you know (guess) how much you will actually save per mile/year/etc. you can look at what established systems cost people who are actually doing it.
Add up the cost (if not already available) of gathering the wood (debris/fuel source), building or buying the machine to cut it into pieces you like, the electricity or fuel to operate it, the building (floor space, blowers, kilns, grinders, etc.) needed to dry it appropriately, the bags, buckets, boxes needed to store it, the shed, silo, tarps, old junk cars needed to stack it in. And obviously the mechanism you need to convert it into DOW-able gas. Don’t forget the rebuilding of the hopper or the tank or the replacement of the blowers etc. after a year or two or three of continuous use.
Some of that info only comes from people who have done it…
Then take your two numbers and compare them and you’ll find out how many years it would take to actually pay for DOW from a “cost-efficient” view.
You will find that it takes a very unique lifestyle and set of circumstances to actually make it cost effective. Our family has driven almost 60,000 miles in the past 14 months on wood in 4 different wood powered vehicles. That has saved us some money at the pumps, but when you consider the cost… We have basically broken even with the cost, not including time, and not including a totaled truck, or purchase price of vehicles.
Now, that was all just considering the systems and processes that have been developed already by other people over the course of decades of investment and invention. Well established tech and process like the WK etc., using established parameters on everything from gasifier design, to wood size and engine modification, etc.
You asked the question if a new (less studied) kind of fuel could be used. The short, unqualified answer is “yes”. The practical answer is, “Not for many years.” If you want to be the guy who sets his heart on developing a “new” fuel supply for the “industry” we are all going to be very grateful to you and appreciative of your efforts. But do not be deceived, inventing new technology and proving it always costs more than it produces…at least in the short term. I imagine Wayne has much more money invested in the WK over the decades than he will ever get out of it by driving past the gas pumps. He has gotten a lot of other benefit from the investment. And I would argue that he has made the world a better place for his efforts. But it was not “cost effective”.
I would also suggest that if a person wants to develop “new” tech, first he needs to learn the established stuff. Maybe not everyone has to do that, but I find it much more effective. I make the analogy of musicians. People who start new genres of music all start off learning the classics and then modifying and expanding them. Same is true for most things I think, including the invention of new gasification tech and process.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am in no way trying to discourage you from developing some new way to do stuff, or saying that you can not do it. I actually hope that people do develop things, like the people on this forum who spend their time, effort, money and generously share it with the world. Great stuff. Totally worth getting involved with. It’s a very worthy cause for people who are into it.
But like Steve U said, people that think there is something here (in gasification) for free don’t last long. It is my personal opinion and experience that many of the rewards of DOW are not in the form of $ saved by using alternative fuel. And also, for the cost savings that you will see, it requires a shift in lifestyle over a long period of time.
If you want to use alternative-alternative fuels. My advice is that you set aside any thoughts of cost savings, do a cost/benefit analysis, and decide if you want to invest yourself in learning the alternative first, then from that experience (which will be costly in time, money, commitment and effort) you can develop something new.
That said, what ever you chose to do, everyone here on DOW will hep you all we can.
Apart from cost effectiveness, there are a long list of reasons why one should DOW. In fact, there are entire threads on this forum dedicated to the subject.
The cost/benefit comparison equations I haphazardly threw out above can also change. For example, If we enter some new era (as you mention the destruction caused by COVID19), it is conceivable that the cost of gasoline for instance could go very high, or it could be unavailable at all. I imagine that in such a situation, those few of use who can DOW would be able to make a very good living just driving people and goods from place to place, etc.
My point…there are a lot of other reasons to DOW than cost effectiveness. What I wrote above is only aimed at giving you a realistic view of the money side of the idea, not meant to discourage you from the pursuit.
Sorry to be so long winded.