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Wood gasification is a proces whereby organic material is converted into a combustible gas under the influence of heat - the process reaches a temperature of 1,400 °C (2,550 °F).
In the 1920s, German engineer Georges Imbert developed a wood gas generator for mobile use. Woodmobiles also appeared in the US, Asia and, particularly, Australia, which had 72,000 vehicles running on woodgas (source). In 1957, the Swedish government set up a research programme to prepare for a fast transition to wood gas cars in case of a sudden oil shortage. A wood gas generator - which looks like a large water heater - can be placed on a trailer (although this makes the vehicle difficult to park), in the boot (trunk) of a car (although this uses up nearly all the luggage space), or on a platform at the front or the back of the vehicle (the most popular option in Europe). Dutch John strongly believes in wood gas generators, mainly for stationary uses such as heating, electricity generation or even the production of plastics. If the back seat is loaded with sacks of wood, the range is extended to 400 kilometres (250 miles). As is the case with other cars, the range of a wood gas car is also dependent on the vehicle itself. The range of electric cars can be considerably improved by making them smaller and lighter. According to Nichols, one pound of wood (half a kilogram) is sufficient to drive 1 mile (1.6 kilometres), which tallies with the Volvo's 30 kilograms of wood per 100 kilometres. Despite its industrial appearance, a wood gas car scores rather well from an ecological viewpoint when compared to other alternative fuels. Moreover, a wood gas car does not require a chemical battery, and this is an important advantage over an electric car. A properly-operating wood gas generator also produces less air pollution than a gasoline or diesel powered car. Furthermore, the use of wood gas limits the output of the combustion engine, which means that the speed and acceleration of the converted car are cut. Even though some smaller cars have been equipped with wood gas generators (see for instance this Opel Kadett), the technology is better suited to a larger, heavier car with a powerful engine.
Another problem of wood gas cars is that they are not particularly user-friendly, although this has improved compared to the technology used in the Second World War.
Still, in spite of the improvements, even a modern woodmobile requires up to 10 minutes to get up to working temperature, so you cannot jump in your car and drive away immediately. Yet, while biofuel-powered car is as user-friendly as a gasoline rival, wood gas has to be the most user-unfriendly alternative fuel that exists. In any case, the woodmobile demonstrates (again) that the modern car is a product of fossil fuels.
If you attach the wood gas generator to the car, thats two sets of mechanisms that have to be maintained, the engine and the generator.
I've written my Diploma Thesis (environmental engineering) about wood gasification in Bio-to-liquid strategies.
Robin Hunt, Simon Chippendale and I built a producer gas unit using old second world war plans at Walcot Reclamation in Bath UK in the early 1970s. It had to be run on small blocks of wood, around 2ins or 3ins cubes, otherwise the pieces did not have a large enough surface area to generate enough gas. Ethanol burns cleaner, cooler, and can get better mileage than gasoline, requires only minor engine adjustment, and you don't have the disadvantages of wood gas.
Pellets can be made from grasses, sawdust, scrap wood, seaweed, and other cheap renewable biomass.
What I'd like to see is a converted electric home generator that can run using this woodgas system.
We throw away a lot of wood at the dump, and if we change our habits, such as and when we grow corn, we grind up the stock and throw that behind the combine which could also possibly be used as well. Biomass gasification should only be used for stationary combined heat and power applications which increases overall system efficiency doubles (at least). In the United States there is a quite a few people who have completed successful woodgas projects.

I use a wood gas camping stove its a great piece of kit, these things are monsters in comparison.
I went to Germany in 1946 as one of the 1st military dependents and was fascinated by all the wood powered trucks.
Our wood gas truck has racked up 1,500 miles running on wood chips and wood scrap, and is still going strong. Wood gas cars (also known as producer gas cars) are a not-so-elegant but surprisingly efficient and ecological alternative to their petrol (gasoline) cousins, whilst their range is comparable to that of electric cars. The first use of wood gasification dates back to 1870s, when it was used as a forerunner of natural gas for street lighting and cooking.
Not only private cars but also trucks, buses, tractors, motorcycles, ships and trains were equipped with a wood gasification unit.
At the beginning of the 1950s, the then West-Germany only had some 20,000 woodmobiles left. Dozens of amateur engineers around the world have converted standard production cars into producer gas vehicles, with most of these  modern woodmobiles being built in Scandinavia. However, this is not an option with their wood gas cousins because of the weight and the volume of the machinery. American Dave Nichols (the man who shows the wood on one of the pictures above) can load 180 kilograms (400 pounds) of wood into the back of his 1989 Ford pickup truck. The American has set up a company (21st Century Motor Works) and plans to sell his technology on a larger scale. Conijn not only used wood as a fuel, but also as a construction material for the car itself (picture above - video here). Then, biofuels and compressed air took over its mantle role, whilst today all the attention is focused on electric cars. Wood gasification is slightly more effiicient than wood burning, as only 25 percent of the energy content of the fuel is lost. Wood gasification is considerably cleaner than wood burning: emissions are comparable to those of burning natural gas. Wood gas consists roughly of 50 percent  nitrogen, 20 percent carbon monoxide, 18 percent hydrogen, 8 percent carbon dioxide and 4 percent methane.
If the machinery is placed in the trunk, the instalment of a CO-detector in the passenger compartment is by no means a luxury. If we built cars especially designed to be powered by wood, and produce them in factories, chances are that the drawbacks would become somewhat less significant and the advantages would become even greater. Wood gasification turns this biomass into something that can be handled by an internal combustion engine, and there are lots of those about. Farm grown ethanol powered America's auto fleet into early last century, before gasoline got the upper hand by crook. It is impossible to plant and harvest enough biomass to maintain the present milage per capita. The next evolution of the woodgas car is stationary refining of the syngas into liquid fuels for longer travels and better mileage without the extra weight.
I am allowed to drive on woodgas in the Netherlands, although customs already sees me as a threat. Woodgas is great stuff not just for automobile transportation but for electrical power generation. A lot or them used a dual chambered burner with a sealed gasification chamber and an open wood,charcoal or coal burner to heat the wood in the sealed chamber. Rising fuel prices and global warming have caused renewed interest in this almost-forgotten technology: worldwide, dozens of handymen drive around in their home-made woodmobiles. Some tanks were driven on wood gas, too, but for military use the Germans preferred the production of liquid synthetic fuels (made out of wood or coal). The difference is, of course, that John has to stop regularly to grab a sack of wood from the back seat and refill the tank. The smaller cars from World War Two only had a range of 20 to 50 kilometres (12 to 31 miles), in spite of their much lower speed and acceleration.

This takes him 965 kilometres (600 miles) far, a range that is comparable to a fossil fuel powered car. The energy consumption of a woodmobile is around 1.5 times higher than the energy consumption of a similar car powered by gasoline (including the energy lost during the pre-heating of the system and the extra weight of the machinery). In the case of a wood gas car, no further energy is used in producing or refining the fuel, except for the felling and cutting of the wood. Moreover, a wood gas car must not be parked in an enclosed space unless the gas is flared first (picture above). Quite the contrary, in fact: if we were to convert every vehicle, or even just a significant number, to wood gas, all the trees in the world would be gone and we would die of hunger because all agricultural land would be sacrificed for energy crops. Surely Hemp oil would remove the need for a converter to turn the wood gas into combustible gas. Wood gas cars are an interesting novelty and a good demonstration of this old technology but of course they're not a solution for sustainable transportation.
So if you guys could see the amount of wood that could be used for this, that is already being burned anyway, I believe many would be shocked. At the end of the 1930s, about 9,000 wood gas vehicles were in use, almost exclusively in Europe. His story has caught on in the US, and the reason can be summed up by his license plate: "Freedom". If the energy required to mine, transport and refine oil is also taken into account, however, then wood gas is at least as efficient as gasoline. This means that a woodmobile is practically carbon neutral, especially when the felling and cutting is done by hand.
Some have built wood gas-powered motorcycles, but their range is limited (a motorcycle with sidecar does better, though). Indeed, the woodmobile caused severe deforestation in France during the Second World War (source).
If you had to cut wood for three hours just to make a trip to the beach, you would probably decide to take the train. I hope that these cars become more common, I see a large surplus of this fuel being burned already, just to dispose of it.
It consumes 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of wood every 100 kilometres (62 miles) and is thus considerably less efficient than John's Volvo.
Personally I prefer wood above pellets, because pellets require more fossile fuel for manufacturing and transportation and they make you dependant on suppliers. If this was small enough you could attached it to your RV and camp in way out places where there wasn't any electricity. The final product also contains a good deal of nitrogen, along with some unconverted CO 2 and traces of tar and ash.The carbon dioxide and nitrogen are inert, and such non-fuels pose no threat to the powerplant.
By referring to the accompanying color photograph, you can see that the extreme left (silver) clevis controls the forward (wood gas) throttle plate, the central (red) fastener governs the movement of the rear (fresh air) valve, and the far right (black) U-clasp puts the gasoline carburetor's accelerator rod in motion.The broad blue arm in the middle of the assembly functions as a master control, and is connected to the truck's "gas" pedal.
As it moves laterally, this simple arrangement regulates the operation of either the gasoline or the wood gas (or both) throttle. When the handle is pulled to its midway position, both the wood gas and petrol throttles function, allowing the motorist to pull away while rapidly bringing the gasification unit up to a good fuel-producing temperature. Furthermore, our local electric company was more than happy to get rid of a truckload of chipped trimmings cut from trees that had been encroaching on the powerline's right of way. And, even though the fuel hasn't cost us anything, we've found that the truck is thrifty with the wood it uses.

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30.07.2013 | Author: admin

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