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Generator Powered By "Wood Gas"
When Wayne Keith needs some electricity in a remote location, he just gets some firewood together and fires up his portable generator that runs on wood gas. Keith uses the same wood gasification system that powers his pickups on the farm (see Vol. 30, No.6). Since then he has refined his system, now in its third generation.
"I had to make some changes on the genset to burn the wood gas," says Keith. "On a pickup engine, you just step up the ignition timing. On a small motor, you have to take the flywheel off and cut a new keyway, then put the flywheel back on."
While Keith doesn't have much need for the wood-fired genset at home, he did have fun with it this past summer. It rode cross-country on a small trailer he pulled behind his wood fired pickup. Keith and his truck took part in the "Escape From Berkeley", a three-day road rally where all vehicles used non-petroleum fuels.
Keith drove a wood-powered 1991 Dodge Dakota V-8 from Springville, Alabama to San Francisco and back. The entire 7,388-mile journey was powered by wood pulled from a dumpster at a furniture factory before he left.
"The factory was going to pay someone to haul it away so they gave it to us," he says. "It was more than enough for that trip and a couple thousand miles more."
Keith reports that his truck took first place on days one and three of the three-day road rally. "I found out we were docked points for going more than 90 mph across part of Death Valley," he says.
Along the way, gas from the wood was also used to power the genset. Keith simply ran a flexible pipe from his gasifier to the genset. Once he had it running, he plugged in and used an electric table saw and other electrical tools to demonstrate.
While the system works fine for off-grid use, it requires constant attention. "Wood gasification requires little adjustments as you drive along," he explains. "If you're using a generator as a steady power source, you have to be there all the time."
Keith suspects computer controls could be designed to handle the job, but he isn't interested at this time since he has wind-powered generators producing his home's electricity.
"If Alabama had net metering, where we got paid for electricity produced for the grid, I would have one operating 24 hours a day," says Keith.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Wayne Keith, 1950 Saint Clair Road, Springville, Alabama 35146 (wayne keith01@windstream.net.)

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2