Forest foliage gasification?

Well written Billy, the existing technology of DOW use is not cost-effective, especially for general use, … if it could be made useful similar to CNG (compressed natural gas), it would be a victory, but there are still many unknowns, … clean high calorific gas, high pressure compressor, energy of compression and utilization of this energy, …


It’s all about your mindset. Watching TV is not very cost-effective either. If you find pleasure in chunking wood, counting $$ when shoveling and passing gas stations with a smile, DOW can be cost-effective. Especially if you can find free of charge treasures to build your gasifier from.
Seconds off your life keep ticking no matter how you spend your time. Spend it wisely. Most of the time, cutting costs is less effort compared to making money - unless you step over the line into the stock market and make profit from other peoples work.


JO; YOU are one of very few people who consistantly drive on wood. Besides, you would rather be in the woods working than being home and watching TV or wood working or working on vehicles. And then again, you have made the machinery to make trees into fuel more easily.
I have had my truck running on wood, I have built a machine to make wood into fuel, and I have my own wooded property. I just lack what ever gives you the drive to process wood and every day start your truck up on wood and use it for your main source of transportation.
If I was outside right now when I ware a hat, I would tip it to you for a job not just well done but done excellently.:fuelpump: ( I know how fuel pumps make you smile as you drive past them) TomC


When people question my use of DOW technology, my short answer is that is it only practical if you have a gasoline-powered vehicle and cannot get gasoline. I do it because it is a novel way to power a vehicle, a way to entertain visitors, and as a backup to power my electric generator in an emergency should my gasoline supply runs out.


Hi Jo
I believe that your state of mind is typical of the peasant world (in the noble sense of the term). an authentic peasant does not seek profitability for each of his actions. the objective, of the peasant, is global. all of the actions taken by the farmer must, in the long run, make sens .
it is a difficult psychological state to reach in our world of performance. but it is certainly a guarantee of happiness :wink:


Some interesting thoughts here.
I generally agree that it is better to first learn what has already been done before trying to innovate. However it bears remembering, that some big advancements in the industrial revolution were made by someone outside of that field of expertise. Basically, they were too dumb to know that it couldnt be done, so they went ahead and did it!
Regarding the mindset idea. At one point I was getting really frustrated with never seeming to have the right tool or piece with me. Then i thought about all these preppers and such, and started imagining that i was in some post appocolyptic situation, what shall i do? I made it a game to see how i could get the job done with whatever i could find around me. Change in attitude made a huge difference, and reduced stress and frustration. Now it is a triumph each time I can get the job done without the “right” tools.


Didn’t really know where to stick this but since I made it after watching Don Mannes video I put it here. This is a cone shaped charcoal retort made out of a 55 gallon barrel. It took four hours to build this. About an hour of that was grinding the center out of the wheel. I cut the bottom of a 55 gallon barrel including the bottom rim and sliced long ways. I wrapped two ratchet straps a ways up from the bottom and tightened them alternately until the bottom was about a foot in diameter. That was about as far as it would go without cutting material out of the fold. I had a piece of wheel rim that was about that size that I tacked around the barrel skin and having cut the center out of another 14 inch wheel, I welded the rim section on the cone to the full wheel. I cut a slot out of the bottom of the wheel so that a plate could be slid in and out of it and cut up the lid from the barrel with a slot in it and screwed it to the bottom of the wheel and then put the base of a 50 gallon water heater skin under that. The plate slides in to cover that slot in the bottom. The water heater base fits snuggly over a 30 gallon trash can. The thinking here is that the cone will burn sticks like in Don’s retort and then the plate can be pulled out and the char will fall into the trash can. When done the slot can be closed and another load can be burned and cycled though. Then the area above the slot can be sealed with a piece of fire blanket to stop the char from burning. Really wasn’t as complicated as I made it sound,


Hi Tom , boy you do like hard work don’t you :grin: , i hope your a very tall man because i can tell that i would need a pair of steps to get up to the top of your cone to feed and look at it . cant wait to see some photo’s of your burn .Nice workmanship on your metalwork too by the way

Another quick way to use a 55 gallon drum as a fire pit with no holes in the bottom is to tilt it to say a 25% angle and then lite a fire in the bottom and keep filling up with sticks as they burn down when full just place the lid on lightly and allow to cool down , you don’t want to tighten the lid down on hot char as it will implode your drum as the oxygen inside is burned up


I just enjoy building stuff Dave. I keep busy all the time. Just wish I still had better tools and materials to work with. Yes it’s too high. I just stuck it on that garbage can because it fit. There is an area behind where all the junk is that higher and about level with the top of the wheel. It will get moved there to use and I’ll cut some kind of clean out door into the can.

So far I’ve had no result from trying TLUD. The last batch of charcoal I made I just kept filling the barrel like you said while I was working near it. I ended up with over half a barrel of grind-able char out of it but it took about four hours of going back and reloading the barrel. I’ll go out and cut fire wood today and have a load of sticks and stuff I can try out the cone with. I have to say that I can’t see regular people making gas out of charcoal. First you have to gather the wood, then char it, then sort out the brands and grind it and then screen it an finally load it. That’s a lot of messy work. It’s been ten years since I quit building houses and for some years before that I had a hard time finding anyone that actually liked to work or made any real effort at it or thought that stopping every couple of minutes to text something on a phone wasn’t a god given right.


Hi Tom , you are so right and and boy do you make it sound like hard work :astonished:
I guess having 2 wood burning fires in the house it just comes as second nature to fill a pan of charcoal every time i refill and luckily there is no sorting of brands for me as its all so well cooked my crusher is just a tip it in the top let it fall out the bottom done so i guess its as easy as it gets .
By the way did you look at the Hookway retort as a way of making charcoal ?


I haven’t looked at the Hookway yet. I found Don’s retort appealing because of the massive piles of sticks I get keeping my woods somewhat cleaned up. I’m sure I can make charcoal fuel production easier as I work at it. Right now I’m Grinding with a hand cranked grinder I made for Bio-char and it will only pass half inch pieces. Then I take those and shake them through a bucket with a quarter inch screen in the bottom and have a box fan at the side to blow away the dust. I have a rotary sifter I use for separating worms from worm castings that I could sift larger quantities of char though if I need to. My need for fuel is mainly for an emergency, grid-down situation so I don’t really need to make that much right now. I’m happy to use the grid as long as it’s running. So far I have made about thirty gallons of fuel and gotten about 7 gallons of fines after the sifting so that’s a benefit as it will go into the garden after it gets soaked in nutrients.


Nice thing about keeping charcoal for emergency engine fuel is that it stores indefinitely - unlike gasoline - and you can make more yourself when it is gone.


Yes there’s nothing like saving up for a rainy day ! trouble is we get a load of cloudy days here and when the solar lets me down the charcoal bank gets a withdraw !
I fully understand what your saying Tom i have Mountain ash gum tree’s all around my property and they are the worlds messiest tree’s they shed bark and leaf’s all year round let alone the twigs and branches they drop , so i have a large cone that was on a tractor 3 point hitch for broadcasting seed , that’s nice and wide at the top tapering down stands about 3 ft tall when i done burning i shovel coals out into 55 drums , hot work but will get a auger sorted for it one day , i like the low to the ground as i’m a short arse myself and can see how its going .


I’m afraid I’m with Tom on the trouble of making charcoal. I made two 55 gallon drum batches yesterday. And after the work is done. Take a bath, clean the bath tub, wash the clothes. I don’t burn nearly the wood you do, but am interested in how you “harvest” charcoal from your stove. Have you posted photos anywhere? Does your stove have a grate? Your operation sounds very efficient and simple—two qualities which appeal to me.

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Hi Steve , i cant remember if i ever did post pics of me shoveling , what i will try and do is ask my wife if she would be so kind as to make a small video later on and i will load it up on youtube, but its a non rocket science way of harvesting charcoal , instead of throwing huge big logs onto my fires i split them small so they burn faster that way they produce more charcoal a lot faster , or i will use hardwood pallets they are even better at making real fast charcoal , as the flames start to die out in the fire i will open the door and with the shovel move some of the embers over to one side and then place a saucepan inside the fire and shovel the coals into it take it out once full put the lid on then load up another saucepan making sure to leave a good enough amount of embers so when i throw more wood on it catches alight pretty fast .
i then leave in pans to cool down for 20 mins and tip them into 25 litre containers outside to fully cool while i refill and start all over again .

My stove does not have a grate , shame really as it would cut down on the amount of ash , but in a way its all good as i load inside the fire nearly all the ash that fly’s up while shoveling is sucked up the chimney .

I don’t know if you garden Dave, but I’ll take all the wood ash I can get. Excellent source of potassium and lime. I don’t personally, but know quite a few homesteading types that use it to make their own soaps. I just have to many other things going to diversify that much.

I Tom , i garden of sorts we live half way up a mountain so we are on a very steep block , everything here is hard work and so i try and make everything i do easy as i have very few level area’s to work off here .

Steve here is a very short video as promised of me before before i refill the fire with wood this morning ,

also here is a video of my cone burning gum leaf’s notice how fierce they burn and next to it is my version of the hookway i built shame i didnt get more of it in the video last year

and this was a very cheap dc generator running on one of my old gasifiers made from a old propane tank


Thanks for the description and video. The stove in my house is kind of small to work inside of the way you do—outside would fill the house with dust and smoke. However the stove in my shop might work.


Dave, I belong to another small cyber group of homesteaders spread out across the US. Some of us are primarily concerned with self sufficiency and are working to downsize our growing areas and still produce as much food as possible. The main interest now is getting as much as possible into more climate controlled conditions and are finding out that with at least some protection from climate swings and close attention paid to soil composition it is possible to grow much more in smaller spaces than we previously were. For instance, the normal first frost date for my zone 5 area is between Oct 1 and 10 and the first killing frost is about a week past that. About a week ago we got an early frost and I lost about fifty outside tomato plants loaded with green fruit and about a quarter acre of still mostly immature winter squash and pumpkins. Weather is totally unpredictable now. So even though you have a limited grow area, if you study and balance your soil and amend it where necessary, you can get much better production out of a smaller area. I find that things like wood ash and char have a lot of potential for soil improvement with no expense. Even good compost is not complete nutrition. I have found that worm castings come closer than anything else and it takes very little time and effort to maintain a few worm bins. Ground char soaked in a tea made from worm castings and wood ash have been excellent amendments for me. I get kind of carried away on the subject.


you think that is a short growing season here in canada were i live we have the last frost the 1st to 5th of june and the first frost of autum is sept . first just like clock work it is now near the end of sept and the leaves are red the feild are harvested and the gardens were all froze of and we have rain 2 out of 7 day now that is short…