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Carbon emissions generated from mongabay operations (server, data transfer, travel) are mitigated through an association with Anthrotect, an organization working with Afro-indigenous and Embera communities to protect forests in Colombia's Darien region. During the Second World War, almost every motorised vehicle in continental Europe was converted to use firewood.
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. The technology became commonplace in many European countries during the Second World War, as a consequence of the rationing of fossil fuels. A network of some 3,000 "petrol stations" was set up, where drivers could stock up on firewood. In 1942 (when the technology had not yet reached the height of its popularity), there were about 73,000 producer gas vehicles in Sweden, 65,000 in France, 10,000 in Denmark, 9,000 in both Austria and Norway, and almost 8,000 in Switzerland.
Woodmobiles also appeared in the US, Asia and, particularly, Australia, which had 72,000 vehicles running on woodgas (source). After the war, with gasoline once again available, the technology fell into oblivion almost instantaneously.
Rising fuel prices and global warming have resulted in renewed interest in firewood as a direct fuel. 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. This investigation, supported by car manufacturer Volvo, led to a great deal of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience with several road vehicles (one seen above) and tractors over a total distance of more than 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles). 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. Enlarging the "fuel tank" is the only option to improve the range further (except for reducing one's speed, of course, but that is another story).
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. The greatest advantage of producer gas vehicles is that an accessible and renewable fuel can be used directly without any previous treatment. 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. The large amount of (deadly) carbon monoxide produced calls for some precautions, too, since a leak in the piping is not impossible. The same is true for this Mercedes-Benz, in which the installation is completely hidden in the trunk (source). 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. If you look at any civilisation in history, if they chop down their trees, they don't last too long. I've written my Diploma Thesis (environmental engineering) about wood gasification in Bio-to-liquid strategies. Diversification of biomass sources can (that's not a purely technical question) help to gain energy in a more ecological way. The gasifier has hardly any moving parts, so lubricating isn't so much of an issue there. 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. You might want to review your position on ethanol after digesting David Blume's material on the sustainable cropping and production of the fuel. Because much of the crop is not fermented (the roots) and the nutrients can be returned to the soil, it can be both carbon negative and sustainable. 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. Would you really need such a large contraption if you fed your system with a measured amount of pellets?
What I'd like to see is a converted electric home generator that can run using this woodgas system. Could it be that in some quarters in the developed world some of the present day DIY low tech is seen as subversive and threatening, while other low tech is politically and commercially non-threatening?
From this you can see that anyone running a home made mobile producer gas car in peacetime Britain is seen as akin to Mad Max by the local magistrate. 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. We don't haul petroleum refineries behind cars using fossil fuel, so why burden down a biofuel car with extra equipment?
If we leave the gas generator stationary at a gas station, we can make it bigger and more robust.
Pass the gas through several filter beds (lime, zeolite) to remove the carbon dioxide and water.


Finally, compress the gas so you can separate out the methane from the remaining carbon dioxide and the nitrogen. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. The Esse 100 has been engineered from high-grade steel and is suitable for overnight burning, as it has excellent fuel-efficiency and the Esse Multi-Fuel option is perfect for burning logs and other solid fuels. Stove Warranty DetailsManufacturer warranties do not usually include parts deemed to be replaceable in the normal usage of the stove, such as stove glass, door rope seal and fire brick linings.
Esse Stove Specialist would like to remind customers that we strongly recommend only a HETAS qualified installer should perform an installation of any Esse Stove or Range Cooker, according to Building Regulation guidelines. Sign up to receive news and information on new stove models, accessories and special offers. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates on new wood burning stoves, best prices, special offers and related news on sustainable living. It features Yeomana€™s Clean Burn system too, so you will enjoy improved fuel efficiency and a greater control of combustion.
We operate throughout Lincolnshire and Yorkshire including Scunthorpe, Hull, Hessle, Beverley, Doncaster, Lincoln, York and Leeds. 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. The gases were cleaned and dried and then fed into the vehicle's combustion engine, which barely needs to be adapted.
In Germany alone, around 500,000 producer gas vehicles were in operation by the end of the war. Not only private cars but also trucks, buses, tractors, motorcycles, ships and trains were equipped with a wood gasification unit. Finland had 43,000 "woodmobiles" in 1944, of which 30,000 were buses and trucks, 7,000 private vehicles, 4,000 tractors and 600 boats. 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. The results are summarized in a FAO document from 1986, which also discusses some experiments in other countries. Charcoal can also be used, but this leads to a 50 percent loss in the available energy contained in the original biomass. While many recent producer gas vehicles seem to come straight out of Mad Max, the Dutchman's Volvo 240 is equipped with a very modern-looking system made of stainless steel (see the first picture and the two pictures below and then compare to this Volvo, this BMW, this Audi or this Yugo). Again, this is comparable to the range of an electric car if the passenger space is sacrificed for a larger battery, as is the case with the Tesla Roadster or the electric Mini Cooper. 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. Converting biomass to a liquid fuel like ethanol or biodiesel can consume more energy (and CO2) than the fuel delivers.
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.
Furthermore, before every refill, the ashes of the last gasification process have to be shovelled out.
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. Whatever alternative fuel you believe in, none of them comes even close to the convenience of gasoline or diesel.
Surely a more profitable and sustainable biomass resource is Hemp, which will provide a new yield every year as opposed to 25 years for trees to regrow. Haiti is a good example of this, the damage from this earthquake would not have been as bad if trees where around to absorb the mud etc that landlides.
Wood gasification turns this biomass into something that can be handled by an internal combustion engine, and there are lots of those about. Sides, how many kilograms of oil does your car (should you own one) use, compared to it's consumption of fuel?
This way, none of the syngas would have to be diverted for thermal use in keeping the reaction going. We tried it out on public roads, but its main disadvantage was that each time it went over a bump there was a large release of a massive bubble of gas which had nowhere to go, apart from out of an overhead relief valve which immediately lit every time it released the gas, rather like a jet engine. Corn is one of the worst performing crops, but there are many others yielding in the order of 2000 gallons per acre. Many crops can be grown on marginal or arid lands, on waste streams, and without cultivation, fertiliser, herbicides or pesticides.
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.
Auger feeding them is possible, but that's too heavy and complicated for mobile applications. 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.
There are vast areas where this technology is very practical - particularly in managed forests where the fuel is a byproduct of forest maintenance. Woodgas is great stuff not just for automobile transportation but for electrical power generation. Buying from an authorised dealer ensures that you are provided with genuine products and a manufacturer's warranty. The Esse 100 stove is a slimline version of the popular Esse 200 stove, providing a reduced heat-output of 5kW, but with the outstanding viewing window associated with Esse stoves.
These guides and manuals are purely for reference only in case you have misplaced your original.


This woodburning and multi-fuel stove offers an impressive heat output of up to 9kW whether burning logs, anthracite or smokeless fuels.
We'll be adding new stove manufacturers from Scandinavia, Europe and North America throughout 2014. Furthermore, being a nominal 4.9kW output, no air vent is needed when the Exe is installed. 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 goals of this research was to develop an improved, standardised installation that could be adapted for use in all kinds of vehicles. Swedish (overview) and, particularly Finnish amateur engineers have used this data to further develop the technology (overview, below a vehicle of Juha Sipila). During WWII, some vehicles were equipped with a built-in generator, entirely hidden from view.
On the other hand, charcoal contains more energy, so that the range of the car can be extended. 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.
If this technology fails, too (and we have expressed our doubts about it several times), can we go back to the wood gas 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. An electric car has the potential to do better, but then the energy it uses should be generated by renewable sources, which is not a realistic scenario. Even though the installation can be made smaller for a smaller vehicle, its size and weight do not decrease proportionately with the decreasing size and weight of the car. The forming of tar in the installation is less problematic than it was 70 years ago, but the filters still have to be cleaned regularly. 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. If, one day, the availability of (cheap) oil comes to an end, the omnipresence of the automobile will be history. Plus you have weight considerations, which will inhibit efficiency, and initial purchase and installation cost. Surely Hemp oil would remove the need for a converter to turn the wood gas into combustible gas. After many hair-raising and eyebrow-singeing experiments we finally got it going, welded to chassis extensions looking very similar to your pics, I think to an old Singer or the like.
We gave up trying to work out the bumping gas release issue and the last I heard the mechanics took the car to a field, jammed the steering wheel over and the accelerator down, and shot at it until it stopped going.
If the US stops wasting grain on feeding ruminants, and employs much more productive, ecology based production systems such as permaculture, there won't be a shortage of arable land.
For mobile applications, biomass remains a fuel for crisis times, despite it's carbon negativity and low other emissions. Please, improve your visibility in search engines, there are a lot of people worldwide who would enjoy your articles but no opportunity to find you. Besides the fact that pellets are too small for medium car gasifiers, you still need a large storage to get some milage. 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.
At the end of the 1930s, about 9,000 wood gas vehicles were in use, almost exclusively in Europe.
His most recently-converted car is a 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V, a large, heavy American coupe.
The merit of this is discussable, of course, as to do this Nichols has to stop regularly to refill the tank: if he loaded the back of his pickup with gasoline, then he could drive even further. 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. There is no need for high-tech recycling: the ash that remains, can be used as a fertilizer. Because of this high nitrogen content, the engine receives less fuel, which leads to a 35 to 50 percent lower output. 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. For a quick but comprehensive introduction to the topic I recommend the Alcohol Can Be A Gas DVD. It both allows and forces you to think about how to contribute to a more sustainable world. It consumes 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of wood every 100 kilometres (62 miles) and is thus considerably less efficient than John's Volvo. Of course, the weight and size of the mobile gas factory is less an issue with buses, trucks, trains or ships. These folks have spent piles of time trying to get the word out and also present a clean and professional image with their units.
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. I have talked to farmers who are promoting this idea, so that they can use their farm residue as fuel. Factory Farms produce copious amounts of Manure, why not bio-gas it into fuel and fertilizer?



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