«Previous    Next»
Wood-Burning Car On Cross Country Tour
A wood-burning car has been driven across the U.S. - from Jacksonville, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif, to demonstrate that wood-gas generators are feasible for cars, pickups and tractors.
With its fuel gauge reading "Untreated Wood Only," the car traveled along at 60 mph or slower, went 100 miles on about 150 lbs. of wood chips or blocks, and didn't pollute because of the absence of hydrocarbons in wood. It could travel about 400 miles without having to stop for a new wood supply.
Called ECAR by its developer Ben Russell, president of ECON (Energy Conservation Co.j of Alabama, the car is a 1979 Malibu station wagon. It pulled a 600-1b. trailer-mounted, wood-gas generator.
Says Gary Chatham, of ECON: "We feel the best future applications of this concept will be concerned with agricultural and forestry vehicles, where scrap wood fuel might be both locally available and cheap, if not free, and in connection with stationary engines, such as electricallypowered generators and pumps, both of which have important applications in agriculture and forestry."
The cross-country trip was made on about a cord of wood. A shoebox full of ashes had to be disposed of daily.
The wood-burning reactor takes about 19 minutes to heat up and start making gas so that the car will start. No modification to ECAR's gasoline engine itself was necessary. However, the conventional gasoline carburetor was replaced by an airblending chamber. Because the gas produced can't be stored, it must be used as it's generated.
The wood-gas generator is a, reactor which partially combusts a solid fuel, wood in this case, to a gaseous state, Russell explains.
Actually, any type of biomass having 30% or less moisture content can be used. The material is introduced into the system from the top and flows down through a drying zone, then it's partially burned. There is no open flame. Air is introduced into a combustion zone and the resultant gases flow downward toward an opening in the bottom of the system.
The wood-gas generator system does not in any way relate to a steam boiler, Russel points out. "It is a reactor which breaks down solid biomass fuel into a vaporous state, not gasoline or alcohol. The gas which is burned to produce power in the engine is CO and Hz, or synthesis gas, which is only about 15% as strong as natural gas. It is not as potent as gasoline fuel, but does produce 60% as much power as gasoline, which is adequate for automobiles - lacking only acceleration and high speed," explains Russell.
He adds that the car could be adapted to run on either gasoline or wood-gas, although such a system has not been perfected.
For persons wanting to build a wood-gas generator for a car, Russell estimates the cost at $3,000 to $5,000.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, ECON, Box 828, Alexander City, Ala. 35010 (ph 205 329-8424).

  Click here to download page story appeared in.

  Click here to read entire issue

To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.
Order the Issue Containing This Story
1981 - Volume #5, Issue #1