1st experiment making charcoal & woodgas

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by horseman09, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    My purpose in a limited amount of time was to make charcoal (I hate those stupid briquetts) and take step 1 in making a simple wood gasifier to use in my tri-fuel generator.

    I bought a heavy gauge 55 gal drum that was used to ship lecithin. The top is removable and fastens with a steel band. I then drilled 6, 3/8" holes from one end to the other so that when it lays on its side the 6 holes all point down. I added 3 more holes at the end so allow for liquid discharge.

    I split dry maple to kindling size and stacked it in the barrel, alternating the layers and leaving lots of airspace and closed and clamped the lid. I set the barrel, laying on its side on blocks on each end with one end slightly higher than the other to allow for drainage of the condensate, and then I lit a good hot fire beneath. In about 45 minutes or so it began to gasify and in about 1 hour I had 9 blowtorches (one for each hole) flaming, each flaming 10 to 12 inches out the bottom with a low roar just as I had hoped. The gas flame dramatically increased the temp of the fire. It had become self-sustaining.

    After about 3 hours of gasifying I had to leave. I returned 2 hours later to find no more gas flame. I hosed the fire and barrel down but found the barrel was creating its own heat because I left it on the fire too long. So, I opened the barrel to find that the charcoal was indeed, burning, so I hosed it down to, then scooped it out onto some trays to dry in the sun.

    That evening, I put some in the charcoal grill, lit it, and yee haw! Much hotter and burned much longer than those stupid, ridiculously priced briquetts.

    Next time, I'll place a steel "cradle" inside the barrel so the wood inside does not touch the outside of the barrel. That should prevent it from igniting if I let it on the fire too long.

    As an aside, we can sit around the campfire and make our own charcoal all at the same time.

    The experiment continues. Next: capture the gas, clean it, and try it in a cheapy lawmower engine.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2010
  2. saintsfanbrian

    saintsfanbrian Liberty or Death!!!!

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    That is awesome!!

    I will have to try that sometime though I think the City might have words with me.
     

  3. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

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    Stupid question.

    Can you make charcoal out of Bamboo?

    I googled it, but only found information on making it small scale (each piece had to be wrapped in foil). There are large stands of bamboo in my area, that I can get for free.
     
  4. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    MD. OK.........Here it is...........The answer to your question.........Are you ready??????????........Uhhhhhhhhhh.................I don't have a clue.:D:D:D
     
  5. HarleyRider

    HarleyRider Comic Relief Member

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    Well, that's two of us. Sorry MD, I don't have a clue either. :scratch
     
  6. Murph

    Murph Member

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    I am a few weeks behind you...

    I "confiscated" a 55 gallon drum and a 30 gallon drum and am planning on doing the same thing you did, but with a variation. I found videos on Youtube that document how to make charcoal, but avoid the burn you are talking about. You essentially fill the 30 with the kindling and fill the 55 with scraps and burn. By the time the 55 scrap burns down the 30 is "gassing". Neat idea, I will let you know how it works. I am about 2 weeks away from having time.

    How do you "clean" the gas?

    Also, to Md, the first gassifier I saw on the internet ran solely on bamboo.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wubjh8_b4Xg&feature=related]YouTube - Charcoal producing Micro Gasifier[/ame]
     
  7. Expeditioner

    Expeditioner Well-Known Member

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    This is cool. :2thumb:
     
  8. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    Does anyone have a link to how to build something similar to the burner in that video. Cooking dinner and making fuel at the same sounds like a good idea to me. I'd give it a shot if it's not too complicated.
     
  9. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    Murph, I'm looking forward to your report. The 2 barrel concept is fascinating.
     
  10. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    OK, my next step in the experiment (per my original post) was not capturing the wood gas as I would have liked. I couldn't spare the time to set it up. Besides, I had to solve the charcoal-starting-to-burn-in-the-barrel problem.

    So, I cut a piece of sheet steel from an old fridge door 24" wide and an inch shorter than the length of the barrel. I cut a dozen 2" pieces of light 3/4" square steel tubing and welded them at random on one side of the sheet steel. I then bent the sheet steel so it would "nest" inside the barrel like a cradle. I stacked the kindling wood in the barrel on the inserted "cradle", sealed the barrel and lit a fire under it.

    The required Yuengling Lagers were opened and a good time was had by all as we enjoyed the bon fire, watched the barrel shoot wood gas flames out the bottom, told lies about how big the bass was that got away and the size of the bear (freakin humongous!)that walked up behind us in bow season.

    The next morning, I popped open the drum to find it full of Grade A charcoal. None of it burned this time. I also found a bunch of Yuengling bottles on the ground. They didn't burn either.
     
  11. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    Murph, you asked, "How do you "clean" the gas?"

    I haven't done it yet, but I've read that you fill a 55 gal drum with dry wood chips, seal it, then run the dirty gas in the bottom and clean, dry gas comes out the top. Makes sense. Seems like it should work.

    After the garden and some essential pre-winter projects are done, I hope to give you a first person account on cleaning gas that way.
     
  12. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

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    That sounds like a cool project, Horseman. Do you have any pics you can post? And just as a thought-this may be a dumb idea- I remember years ago when a buddy and I toured the Jack Daniel's distillery they had these huge tanks that were full of charcoal that they dripped new whiskey through and filtered it. That made it "Tennesee Whiskey", rather than just regular bourbon. My point-could you charcoal filter your wood gas in some way to clean it?
     
  13. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    Ya know, I never thought of that. I'll bet that would produce a purer gas than just wood chips. Maybe get the real crap out of it with wood chips, then run it through a second tank of dry charcoal to finish drying it and purify it. I like your idea, Jason.

    I'll take some pics next time I "burn a barrel" but I'll have to have one of my daughters put it on the forum. I'm not a techy. Better yet, I guess I should bite the bullet and learn how to do it.

    How's your Mom after her surgery? Hope things went well.

    Horse
     
  14. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

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    She's doing real well. Recovering faster than they expected her to. She still isn't allowed to drive, and she still gets tired a little quicker than she'd like, but overall she's ahead of the curve. She has a doctor's appointment on Sept. 27th to see if she's ready to drive and when she'll go back to work. (She's a teacher's aide for emotional support kids). Thanks for asking. :)
     
  15. Dukehorse1

    Dukehorse1 New Member

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    To clean the gas you simply use a shop vac filter. If you really want to learn everything you need to know there is a book called "consruction of a simplified wood gas generator for fueling internal combustion engines in a petroleum emergency". It is one of many books on the subject published by Biomass energy foundation press. This link has lots of information Biomass Energy Foundation: Woodgas Home Page
     
  16. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    But, how would a chop vac filter handle the condensate? Even with cured hardwood, tarry vapor condenses as passes out of the cooker and cools. The same stuff (creasote) that coats chimneys.
     
  17. Dukehorse1

    Dukehorse1 New Member

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    I don't know how well it works. I've never built one but I have done quite a bit of research. Some of the info in older books like the one I have is a little outdated due to having new and different materials more readily available that maybe were'nt there in the world war. I've read of filters made from water, like the old oil bath, but they would freeze and increase the friction loss through the system. Some war era systems did use wood chips. Some modern designs are using air filters. I agree it's hard to imagine a filter that wouldn't plug up. Here is a pretty good site with some modern designs. Woodgas truck
     
  18. Murph

    Murph Member

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    1st experiment was exactly that...an experiment.

    Ok, so I used a 30 gallon and a 55 gallon drum to start. I was forced to cut off an end of each barrell with a sawzall, because both lids were rusted on completely. I drilled half-inch holes just below where the 30 fit inside the 55 and pushed rebar through to hold the 30 gallon above the fire. I cut a 10" x 6" notch out of the bootom of the 55 for a place to feed the flame and drilled 25 3/8" holes for added oxygen. I loaded the 30 gallon with 1 year seasoned maple roughly 4" in diameter and "rebarred" it in. I also added 20 3/8" holes to the bottom of the 30 gallon to release the woodgas.

    When I lit the initial fire, there was not enough oxygen reaching the coals, So I got out the hot pads and lifted the barrell onto 6 inch retaining wall bricks on four "corners". This added enough oxygen, but left the flames too far from the 30, unless overstocked, so I found myself feeding the fire every 10 minutes or so. I did get to witness the woodgas burning, but it was in scant quantity and, again, only occured when the fire was stocked. After 3 hours, I abandoned the project to cool and see the results believing it was a total failure.

    Upon opening the next morning, I was suprised to find about 4 inches of beautiful charcoal closest to the bottom of the 30, but the remaining logs were juts nice and dry. What I am going to do differently? I need to find a 30 that has a removable and re-sealable lid. I will cut additional air flow holes into the 55 so I do not have to raise the barrel, but still get ample oxygen to the fire. Finally, I will either use a chop saw to cut the 4" logs horizontally into disks, or I will split into roughly 1" lengths. I believe that additional surface area will allow for quicker drying and allow more wood gas to escape from the wood.

    Any thoughts on where to source an additional 30, that is resealable, would be great, and any comment on the design would be appreciated. I am looking to do this for the best price of all...free. Thanks everyone. I have been lurking for some time, but this experience has made my transition to commenting much easier.
     
  19. horseman09

    horseman09 Well-Known Member

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    Murph, you might wanna try a car shop. Unless things have changed (don't I just sound like an old fart?) they used to get grease in 30 steel drums. Ya'd just have to burn them out good.

    Good luck.
     
  20. sailaway

    sailaway Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait to try this myself.