German Adler Diplomat circa WWII with a gazogene-type wood-gas fuel generator.
A wood gas generator often known as a gasifier, is a wood-fueled gasification reactor mounted on an internal combustion engine, to provide a wood gas, a form of syngas. These devices are also known as gas producers.
Gasification was an important and familiar 19th and early 20th century technology, and its potential and practical applicability to internal combustion engines were well-understood from the earliest days of their development. Town gas was produced from coal as a local business, mainly for lighting purposes, at least initially, and experience in the trade was widespread; most practicing technical people would know a good deal about it. When stationary internal combustion engines based on the Otto cycle became available (and especially after the Otto engine's patent expired and entered the public domain), internal combustion engines began displacing steam engines as prime movers in many works requiring stationary motive power.In 1873, Thaddeus S. C. Lowe developed and patented the water gas process by which large amounts of hydrogen gas could be generated for residential and commercial use in heating and lighting. Unlike the common coal gas, or coke gas which was used in municipal service, this gas provided a more efficient heating fuel. Gaseous-fuelled internal combustion engines were commonly fueled by town (lighting) gas during the late 19th century; however, the high price of town gas caused many stationary engine works to switch to using producer gas during the early 20th century. Producer gas has less heat content, but was substantially cheaper to make than town gas was to purchase, due to its generation by partial combustion of coke, a byproduct of coal, rather than through the town-gas process of destructive distillation (pyrolysis) of coal.
By the time World War II arrived in United States and Great Britain, many internal combustion engines of the Otto type were in use in automobiles; however, they were fueled by petroleum-based gasoline, not coal or wood-based town or producer gas. Due to the war, civilian uses of petroleum were sharply curtailed in both nations. In Great Britain, petroleum shortages and rationing were common; in the United States, petroleum rationing was the law of the land, as almost all petroleum was diverted to the war effort. Due to the lack of gasoline from petroleum, older people recalled how to build gasifiers for both wood and coal, and how to convert internal combustion engines to run on gaseous fuel, and wood gas generators were in active production. Large numbers of such generators were constructed or even improvised; commercial generators were in production before and after the war, for use in special circumstances or in distressed economies. -- Wikipedia
Imbert Wood Gasifier.
Definition of GASOGENE
gas·o·gene, noun \ˈga-sə-ˌjēn\
1: a portable apparatus for carbonating liquids
2: an apparatus carried by a vehicle to produce gas for fuel by partial burning of charcoal or wood
Years ago when I was reading up on the French Resistance of World War II, I ran into mention of "gasogene" taxis, that beat the German restrictions on gasoline by using the gasification of wood chips as fuel in wood gas generators of the "Imbert" downdraft type. The system was originally designed around 1920 by French inventor Georges Imbert. (See schematic above.)
Here is the Wikipedia citation on wood gas generators. Here is an article on the 1942 Swedish Kalle-type charcoal gasifier which burns cleaner than wood chips.
Kalle charcoal-gasifier mounted on the front of a World War Two-era sedan.
More info can be had by going to Build A Gasifier: The One Stop Shop On Gasification, where you can download a 1989 FEMA manual on the subject.
I was reminded of all of the above by FG's forwarding me this link about a modern version built on an El Camino in Finland. It strikes me that these are going to get very popular very soon. Heck, I have a 1999 Chevy Blazer that needs a $400.00 fuel pump that I can't afford. Maybe I can convert it.
"Juha Sipila's El Camino pick-up can cover 125 miles on a hundredweight and half of wood chips but carries enough timber for 800 miles."
Fifty years ago the Swedish government set up a research programme, but it was later dropped as too cumbersome and the equipment needed to be towed in a trailer.
But now as engineers appreciate that wood gasifiers are highly efficient - about 75 per cent of the fuel energy is extracted from the wood - more experiments are being carried out.
In addition the vehicles don't need a conventional chemical battery which gives it an added advantage over electric-powered cars - and the burnt residue ash can be used as fertiliser.
Clearing out the burners - and the fact that it takes twenty minutes to get them hot enough to produce gas - are seen as minor disadvantages.
An earlier incarnation on a Volvo.