Saturday, 20 October 2012

Wood Gasification

This has to be the way to go!

When my charcoal retort was going full bore the woodgas was burning so well that the cylinder containing the charcoal was getting red hot and the gas kept on coming for well over an hour.  So I thought, there must be a use for this gas other than just making charcoal.  Looking up "woodgas" on the internet opened up a whole realm of opportunities!  In the States and in Scandinavia people increasingly use woodgas to power cars and trucks!  Just look up "wood gasification for trucks" on Google

The range of installations is immense, everything from home made units from oil drums and scrap metal to purpose made stainless steel, scientifically designed retorts costing thousands.  In the States there is even a company turning them out commercially. 

So, I though I'd give it a go!

Mine will be home made from scrap - as usual.

Basically you need a fire tube with grate to contain the fire; this is sealed within an outer container.  The gas exits this container then it enters a cyclone filter to get rid of larger particles, then its cooled and filtered further before being fed into the engine.  The design of the gasifier enables the wood to burn at over 1000 degrees when it is converted to woodgas and a small amount of charcoal dust.  The wood gas comprises nitrogen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane.  Due to the amount of nitrogen in the mix (which comes from the air feeding the fire) the gas provides about 40% less power to the engine than petrol.

First step is the fire tube.  I got a used fire extinguisher from the scrap yard.

Cut off the top and bottom and ground off the paint ready for welding

The dimensions of the fire tube are quite important and mine was a bit short for its diameter.  So I cut one of my ATV wheels in half and welded it to the top of the tube to increase its length and also to provide a base for the fuel hopper which will go on top.

Now I need a container to enclose it in; a 45 gallon oil drum is too large, I'm on the look out for something smaller which will provide an air tight enclosure.  I will make the grate from a stainless steel bowl.  When that part is done I will get hold of a fan to assist the burning and try out its gas producing ability before continuing on with the filtration side of things.


  1. Early days then Nick but a good idea to use the gas. Will you buy a petrol Land Rover as a test bed? Have you checked the legalities for road use? Jim

  2. Looks good dad! I wonder how fast you will be able to go in whatever car/4x4 you put it on?

  3. I think we are some way from using it on road yet! In fact we are some way from connecting it up to an engine at the moment.

  4. Hey Nick, I'm really glad I found your blog and subscribed to the rss right away, I have started a similar one here Looking forward to reading more of your posts, cheers Tom