WWII Feedstock

What was the typical fuel of cars powered by gasifiers in Europe during WWII? I’ve heard charcoal and I’ve heard coal. Someone (at a biomass conference somewhere) told me they regulated their charcoal/coal quality control just like our gasoline quality is maintained today.

The cars back then didn’t go fast but they must’ve been fairly easy to operate. I wonder how much of that was due to a consistent feedstock. Coal and charcoal would have a consistent moisture content and btu rating per pound. It adds a step but I wonder if torrefactied biomass would make it easier to operate a gasifier for those who aren’t as into tinkering as we are.

I’ve driven my diesel truck on used cooking oil for over 225,000 miles and have saved tens of thousands of dollars along the way. That’s great, but I’ve also ruined a few pair of jeans and shoes as I’ve learned the tricks of the trade. This goes for collection and fuel prep as well as the equipment on the truck. Could my brother do it? He’s not a gearhead. I helped an attorney get set up to filter the oil for her Mercedes 300D but the coolant line came off and she didn’t notice in time. As a result, she burned up the motor. Any savings on fuel were flushed down the toilet with the repair bills that resulted.

Bottom line: could we bring gasification to more people by a more consistent feedstock?

Todd, I have heard that using woodgas in Germany is now prohibited. I think DJ knows more about that. I read this personally as they were ashamed they had to use it in the first place. I have yet to hear of a German woodgasser in the current era. I may be wrong on this ??? There are many in surrounding countries. I have also read that there were standards set for wood chunks that were sold to the general population in Germany and SERIOUS penalties for selling wood with too high a moisture content etc etc etc … I can’t confirm this either … We are destroying our history books and adopting the internet for our God source of information. Enjoy that cooking oil down south. I can guarantee it would be like a slab of wax here. We are expecting single digit lows here all next week … Last year we set a record high of 79 today. It is 29 here right now at 2:34 PM, Mike L

Thanks for the regards on the veggie oil. I work in paper mills throughout the US (used to do a lot in Canada years ago). I’ve driven on grease all the way to northern Maine, the UP of Michigan and Minnesota in the wintertime. Just got to engineer more heat into the system.

Maybe my contact was talking about how they had consistent feedstock requirements on wood rather than other fuel sources.

By the way, some of my contacts at the Univ of Minn at Morris said they experimented with gasifying densified biomass briquettes. The big cubes didn’t do as well as what resembled a hockey puck.

Todd, They turn to paper machet when the moisture hits them. Wayne knows for sure as he has run all kinds of stuff. Bottom line is you need that char bed to make good gas. My gasifiers are designed for wood chunks but I do use some chips when I am provided with them and I do layers of wood chunks then wood chips and then more chunks and then more chips. I have never messed with pellets as I know they will make a mess I have to clean up but several other folks have run pellets with good results. Then the issue of whether they are pine pellets or oak pellets etc comes up … ML

I was afraid any sort of briquette would fall apart.

Back in '08, I did some research for a group that bought one of those Chinese straw gasifiers and used pellets for the few runs I got to play with it. With our southern humidity, they turned into a mess. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time at the USFS research station where they have a Biomax 25. They run a lot of pulp grade wood chips, cut with a knife chipper. These chips have a very uniform size and shape. They flow through the gasifier much better. I’ve also worked on one of Vesa’s gasifiers, just like in his book being pulled by the Lincoln. Like Wayne and you, it likes chunks instead of chips.

Do you know of anyone who has tried torrefied chips? Seems like it might allow a greater variety of feedstock options such as a more “dirty” chip. Torrefied chips seem like they would flow better with less bridging.