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Author Topic: Practicality of wood gas electricity.  (Read 5105 times)

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Offline Jim Timber

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2013, 10:38:35 PM »
I'm at "knee deep in other work and not even sourcing parts or materials."   :D

Living off the grid is a novel idea.  I'm more concerned with how to raise the 12K I need to bring power in for my home and shop in the middle of the 80 acres than how to bypass needing the PowCo.

I also have a 18KW 3ph generator head which may one day be turned by a steam engine, but that's not the reason I have it.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2013, 10:43:23 PM »

I hear you,we all tend to have too many irons in the fire. :)

The maintenance issue is another straw man argument.  You're talking about fueling an engine with a gas that has the potential to glue the valves shut.  You can't assume that you'll always have the tar cracked before it reaches the engine.  I'll take a stab in the dark here and say you have never rebuilt the heads on a car before when you say this is just a maintenance issue.  1500 miles on a car?  Really?  That's not even one oil change.  How many hours on the engine with that mileage?  If you were using it to power a dwelling, that might get you a week, maybe, probably not; as it's likely under 50 hours run time.


If you are addressing me,I would say it is a full blown case of assuming making a...,well you know the rest.I enjoy the tinkering aspect of woodgas as a hobby and have no illusions about it being a replacement for liquid fuels.Your stab in the dark about rebuilding engines was as misguided for certain.
Personally,if I wanted to be off grid(i don't) then a search for land with a good water source for power generation and irrigation would be the top of my list.We heat almost exclusively with wood for 6 months a year but by the time Spring arrives I can't wait to abandon the daily chore of feeding the woodstove.
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2013, 11:13:16 PM »
Steam engines are not exactly modern technology  ;) :D

They were patented in 1781, so that's the level of technology you would need to actually make one.

In the "something you could knock up in the shed on a rainy weekend" category is this.


OK it could do with a bit of development and refinement, and efficiency is probably not great, but it's making electricity out of wood. All constructed of basically scrap metal.

Ian
Weekend warrior, Peterson JP test pilot, Dolmar 7900 and Stihl MS310 saws and  the usual collection of power tools :)

Offline Jim Timber

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2013, 11:18:24 PM »
Thanks for the welcome.

Paul,
It was a general statement from my observations across numerous forums over the past few years, not directed at anyone here specifically, but at the generalizations people employ in their reasoning when trying to argue for the process.

Last week I stumbled across a perpetual energy generator where some guy spins up a motor, then unplugs it, then turns on a grinder and a drill press to show that it's making juice.  ::)  What he failed to do was show that when a load was applied to either tool, it no longer functioned.

Where I was going with the engine rebuild comment is that the perception of economy through readily available parts is a fallacy in itself.  That you can source an engine cheaply, doesn't make using that engine more economical over the long run.  Durability with the given fuel source hasn't been proven to be 100% reliable, so you can't argue a best case scenario when that's certainly not the average outcome.

Offline mad murdock

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2013, 02:57:49 AM »
For power production (electricity), I think water is the best, if available, wind and solar are not steady enough, for total dependency on their own, and if one is looking at practical off grid living, some combination of power generation is required, for dependability and redundancy, so if a portion of your point source "grid" requires a temporary shutdown and maintenance, you don't have to go without power for any length of time. I think "point of use" power is a good idea. Using things such as LED lighting and Joule Ringers to maximize power for certain applications can really ago far to provide a little energy "independence". If one is going to need serious power even intermittently in the course of day to day living, major storage capacity, or increase generation capacity even if only 10-12 hrs a day is a necessity to have real off grid power, IMO. Steam is a reliable and feasible source to look at, in my view, engines may cost more than an internal combustion, but they will outlast many a liquid internal fuel burner, unless you can feed one natural gas or LPG. Everything has its place. There are even opportunities to utilize local methane production if you have animal waste or other organic materials at your disposal. Knowing how to use what you have around you is key, there are lots of alternative resources around, unless you live in one of the many concrete "deserts" scattered around.
Turbosawmill M6 (now M8) Warrior Ultra liteweight, Granberg Alaskan III, lots of saws-gas powered and human powered :D

Offline grweldon

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2013, 08:24:13 AM »
Guys,

First off, from what I've read (I have zero personal experience) the gas from a gasifier can be filtered through wood chips and sawdust to remove a great deal of the tar.  As has been mentioned, a properly designed gasifier would generate gas that would contain a relatively small amount of tar and not be considered a "tar generating machine".  When I build my gasifier, I have several old engines around that I will test to determine longevity and mode of failure with the intent of improvement of the gas quality.  I believe the issue of "dirty gas" can be addressed to the point that it is a non-issue.

I don't necessesarily intend to have a mobile gas generator, but it's nice to believe that I could if I needed to.  My intended use of wood gas would be to reduce my reliance on the need for power from an external source, nothing more.  I'm not investigating wood gas as a method to save money on power, rather, how to survive relatively comfortably if/when the day should come that power isn't available.  As for steam, not to mention the issues I brought up previously, again, it doesn't seem to be practical for my purposes because  I rely on municipal water.  It's quite expensive.  Even then, if power is not available, my only water source for the moment won't be available either as pumps are required to get the water from the ground to the towers for pressure.  I could collect rainwater, but my use for that will be more important, I will treat it to make it potable (again, reliance on raw materials for treatement).

As Mad Murdock mentions, a wood gasifier would work best in a multi-generator approach using other methods of power generation in combination.  Personally, the way I would use a gasifier would be to charge (or assist in charging) a bank of batteries and using an inverter powered by those batteries to produce AC.  That would mostly overcome the on/off issues with firing and fueling a gasifier.  Batteries are still a maintenance item and force you to be dependent unless you know how to make your own.  Myself, I'm not a chemist or have any background in chemistry.  I don't know how to make hydrochloric acid and if I did, I'm sure I would have to buy raw materials... again, more dependence.

My desire is to have the ability to be self-reliant, either for a specified period of time or indefinately.  I have acres of readily available wood.  My sawmill is driven by an internal combustion engine.  My tractor is driven by an internal combustion engine.  If push comes to shove, I'll have to run them on something.  It's not practical for me to amass hundreds of gallons of liquid fuel (removing the conventional generator from my list of options as well).  Of course I'll have to have some amount of fuel on-hand for chainsaws until they break and require parts (cudos to y'all who have large chainsaw collections).

I don't consider myself a prepper, but I DO think the day will come in my lifetime (only have a couple, possibly a few decades left) where the modern conveniences we have all come to rely and depend on will disappear.

Just my take and my reasoning for exploring "producer gas".  If I were looking for a way to reduce my energy cost and assume that everything including infrastructure and economy would not change, I'd go with a grid-tied solar system since I live in Alabama and we have plenty of sun.  Obviously I'm looking at a different scenario.
Timberking 1400, Ford 3910 Tractor, John Deere 350B Crawler/Loader

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2013, 09:29:01 AM »
It was a general statement from my observations across numerous forums over the past few years, not directed at anyone here specifically, but at the generalizations people employ in their reasoning when trying to argue for the process.



Reading and studying is one thing but building and operating is another entirely.There was a fellow named Mark on a woodgas forum I look into occasionally and he joined up and right away began to argue for steam and even against folks like Wayne Keith who has driven across the country coast to coast a couple of times.
What struck me was this fellow had zero practical experience with either technology and yet he argued for one and against the other.He had no intention to build a steam system but was strongly urging members of the group to build.

I think of him as a Tom Sawyer,a fellow with no ambition to paint the fence himself but wanting others to do it for them.
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Jim Timber

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2013, 09:43:03 AM »
Just finished a logging arch, and will be starting on my own bandsaw mill as funds allow.

Here's a little thread on the log arch:  http://www.qdma.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60228

Dealt with wood gasification briefly in HS 20+ years ago (special project for industrial tech class).  Was a helicopter tech in the army (jet engines), and have spent numerous years in automotive and medium duty truck repair.  I've also gotten a naturally aspirated wankel rotary 1.3L up to the same HP levels as it's turbo incarnation with 30lb/ft more torque and still able to idle down to 399rpm (at which point the ECU no longer thought the engine was running and would kill the spark).  But that's not really an achievement at 160HP per litre using nothing but a die grinder.   ::)

I may have just signed up here, but I wasn't born yesterday.   :)

The other option rather than gasifying the wood would be to make alcohol out of it.  Stills are pretty easy and nearly fool proof.  Carb adjustment just needs to be about twice the jet size, and be sure to change out all the gaskets from cork.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2013, 10:00:25 AM »
So if I read all about helicopters and spoke of them with authority you would be duly impressed?  :)

I read and studied about sawmilling for a few years before purchasing and operating and found that nothing beats practical experiences and that my view of milling production before hand wasn't reality.
I know a member here personally that is a steam engineer and has many more impressive achievments but he is too humble a man to list them.
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Jim Timber

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2013, 10:13:55 AM »
I suppose I should've mentioned my stretch in the molecular effusion cell fabrication industry too. You might know what that is, since it's a higher form of what the gasifiers do.

I'm not here to toot my horn.  You called me out as a book worm with no practical experience, and I just told you why it's not true.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2013, 10:21:29 AM »
Impressive credentials if authenticated for sure but I don't believe I called you out on being a bookworm only but more of an armchair quarterback on woodgas and steam.
To generate the power(by steam) you want for your home one day,what volume of water and wood do you expect to use?
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Jim Timber

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2013, 11:15:30 AM »
Why would I calculate the energy needs of a building which not only doesn't exist yet, but hasn't even been designed?

Driving cross country numerous times on alternate fuels is fine and dandy as well, but the hours of run time are miniscule in comparison to a 100% duty cycle application like running a building.  Engines which do well in those applications are not four stroke gasoline either, they're diesel.

Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2013, 12:12:47 PM »
Driving cross country numerous times on alternate fuels is fine and dandy as well, but the hours of run time are miniscule in comparison to a 100% duty cycle application like running a building. 

Yes,but he is thousands of mile ahead of you in knowledge and experience with woodgas so when he speaks,I tend to listen.

You read right about the diesel engines being a better choice because woodgas likes a high compression engine.
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline grweldon

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2013, 01:49:57 PM »
Paul, Jim,

How about let's cool it on the teat-for-tat stuff? While y'all haven't yet ceased being civil, seems as if there is potential to get there.  I would rather (maybe others would too?) talk about the subject at hand rather than debate credentials.  I see that both of you are highly qualified to comment.  Could we please remain productive?  I was enjoying the thread until it digressed...

BTW, that is a super-nice log arch Jim!
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Offline Paul_H

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2013, 02:00:52 PM »
Thanks for your comments but I wish you would allow me to do what I am doing.I am not hot under the collar and haven't used my credentials although I did mention two others who I respect.

Thanks for your concern but I will continue as I see fit.
eg  tregar  meste  p  Tulla, for  ho  var  krulla  i  ulla.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2013, 02:53:01 PM »
I'll not be making any welcoming statements.  But I do have a few comments. First, grweldon, please don't try and moderate my fellow admins. I don't like it.


Jim Timber. I was called in to read this topic over to form an opinion on why it is heading in the direction it headed. I've determined it went south because of possibly two reasons. Both related to you. It is either your writing style, or your attitude.  Either one or both need to be adjusted to be a member here. If you would like to continue without the air of superiority, then fine.  I will always always always side with my admins on an issue, but in this case, I'm not siding with an admin. I'm siding with someone that has been there, done that, documented it for all to see against someone that thinks he knows something because he thinks he says he knows something else, comes in swaggering on a forum that 99.9% of the time is civil no matter what the discussion and causes this sort of disruption.  I don't know where you came from, or what was deemed appropriate conduct there, but here, this ain't going to fly.
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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2013, 06:28:19 PM »
 :o Wow and I didn't even liven up the conversation .

Anyhoo some comments .Producer gas,char gas ,coal gas or whatever you call it was in use before wide spread distribution of natural gas .The later did not come into effect until the 30's .The first use of syn gas was around 1901 to power an automobile.

If you do a Google on the subject there is some interesting methods and pictures  such as transporting the gas in what actually is a large balloon type envelope on top of an automobile .--more --

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2013, 06:43:36 PM »
Now this boiler business .Firstly a wood "boiler" ,OWB is a water heater not a producer of pressurized steam neccessary to power a form of usable rotational power .

So that said it takes 34.5 pounds of water heated to vaporization at atmospheric pressure to produce one boiler HP or approx 34,000 BTU per HP per hour .A boiler is around 80 percent efficient so it takes about 125 percent of that .One pound of 20 percent moisture content firewood produces about 8-9,000 btu of heat .Going from heat to mechanical would be around a 90 percent
"coupling coefficient " and likewise going from mechanical to electrical with a generator would be another 10 percent lose .

You do the math on say 15 HP of steam to run around 10-12 KVA of power and look at the amount of wood it would take .

What I'm trying to point out is as they say nothing is free .You might like to be free of the power company but small scale production of electrical power you'll never beat them at their own game .

Never the less small scale production of electrical power is an interesting subject and worthy of a discussion . :)

Offline WmFritz

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2013, 10:18:22 PM »
   I'm sure some of you guys have heard of Ben Peterson.  I did a quick search here and came up empty. The company he started, called Victory Gasworks,  sells components for gassifiers or complete turn-key systems.  A look at the spec sheet shows it takes 2.5 pounds of biomass for 1 kWh of electricity. It also supplies hot water.  I think he has a very nice system but, pricey.


http://victorygasifier.com/
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Offline WoodenHead

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Re: Practicality of wood gas electricity.
« Reply #39 on: October 27, 2013, 06:01:10 PM »
I live off grid using solar primarily, but also wind.  I have a backup diesel generator.  I looked at the GEK gasifier, a few others, and steam options.  Unless you scrounge and manage to piece together a very cheap system, the cost of the equipment is as much or more than I could buy solar panels and racking for.  I will need to replace or overhaul my diesel generator someday, so I am still toying with the idea of a gasifier.  But my best option may be to simply add more solar panels.


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