► Photothread: Wood gas generators

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German-American
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► Photothread: Wood gas generators

Post by German-American » 18 Jan 2010 14:56

Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

( Link to the article and pictures are at the bottom of the article. )

During the Second World War, almost every motorised vehicle in continental Europe was converted to use firewood.

Wood gas cars (also known as producer gas cars) are a not-so-elegant but surprisingly efficient and ecological alternative to their petrol (gasoline) cousins, whilst their range is comparable to that of electric cars.

Rising fuel prices and global warming have caused renewed interest in this almost-forgotten technology: worldwide, dozens of handymen drive around in their home-made woodmobiles.
Wood gasification is a proces whereby organic material is converted into a combustible gas under the influence of heat - the process reaches a temperature of 1,400 °C (2,550 °F). The first use of wood gasification dates back to 1870s, when it was used as a forerunner of natural gas for street lighting and cooking.

In the 1920s, German engineer Georges Imbert developed a wood gas generator for mobile use. The gases were cleaned and dried and then fed into the vehicle's combustion engine, which barely needs to be adapted. The Imbert generator was mass produced from 1931 on. At the end of the 1930s, about 9,000 woodgas vehicles were in use, almost exclusively in Europe.

Second World War

The technology became commonplace in many European countries during the Second World War, as a consequence of the rationing of fossil fuels. In Germany alone, around 500,000 producer gas vehicles were in operation by the end of the war.
A network of some 3,000 "petrol stations" was set up, where drivers could stock up on firewood. Not only private cars but also trucks, buses, tractors, motorcycles, ships and trains were equipped with a wood gasification unit. Some tanks were driven on wood gas, too, but for military use the Germans preferred the production of liquid synthetic fuels (made out of wood or coal).

In 1942 (when the technology had not yet reached the height of its popularity), there were about 73,000 producer gas vehicles in Sweden, 65,000 in France, 10,000 in Denmark, 9,000 in both Austria and Norway, and almost 8,000 in Switzerland. Finland had 43,000 "woodmobiles" in 1944, of which 30,000 were buses and trucks, 7,000 private vehicles, 4,000 tractors and 600 boats. (source).

Woodmobiles also appeared in the US, Asia and, particularly, Australia, which had 72,000 vehicles running on woodgas (source). Altogether, more than one million producer gas vehicles were used during World War Two.

After the war, when gasoline once again available, the technology fell into oblivion almost instantaneously. At the beginning of the 1950s, the then West-Germany only had some 20,000 woodmobiles left.

The same is true for this Mercedes-Benz, in which the installation is completely hidden in the trunk (source).

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/01/ ... .html#more

German-American
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by German-American » 18 Jan 2010 16:28

Does anybody remember these cars ?

California
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by California » 19 Jan 2010 19:23

The Netherlands also had these, only I dont have any figures about it.

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Dan Mouritzsen
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Dan Mouritzsen » 19 Jan 2010 23:31


German-American
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by German-American » 20 Jan 2010 15:26

That was cool. I am more interested in the civilian side of German life during the war with these wood automobiles.

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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by German-American » 21 Jan 2010 16:45

Does anyone have personal stories about the wood-mobiles ? It can be civilian or military. Thank you. :D

Keessmit
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Keessmit » 21 Jan 2010 19:03

Some figures about woodgas vehicles I found somewhere a long time ago:

Belgium 16171
Denmark 16087
France 67623
Holland 21362
Norway 12421
Protektorat 4548
Reich 18793

In 2009, a German book was published on woodgas vehicles was published: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=p ... ex=blended
This book I can recommend to you
Kees

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stril
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by stril » 24 Jan 2010 17:48

Hello
Added a part of a photo.
Notice the wood used as "fuel" :-)
regards
stril

Bill Murray
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Bill Murray » 24 Jan 2010 23:31

Hej Du Stril:

Nice to see you posting here again and not always in the Naval and Fortifications threads.

This is an interesting part of the history of transportation by motor vehicle during the war years and as a mostly English speaking person I wish there were a good history book on the subject in English.

I don't want to make any false promises here, but I do have in my book archives several years of bound issues of Svensk Motor Tidning from about 1938 to 1944 that have both articles and photos/advertisements of gas producer equipment in Sweden in that time. If I can figure out a way to scan some of this without damaging the binding of the books I will try to do so. From what I read in those magazines, Sweden was very aggressive in the use of various types of producer gas vehicles as they had no access to oil based fuels for many years and shall we say, rather a lot of trees.

Bill

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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Bill Murray » 24 Jan 2010 23:40

A few ebay and other photos from my hard drive of examples.
Bill
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Larry Hayward
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Larry Hayward » 25 Jan 2010 00:35

Bill, regarding the photos you posted above, isn't that more likely that the Ford AA is a GAZ-AA with Gas generator, as I know that the Russians produced their own version, which was called the GAZ-42.

Bill Murray
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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Bill Murray » 25 Jan 2010 01:40

You may be correct, Larry:

I took the caption for what it said, Greece, and did not look too carefully at the photo. If Greece, Ford AA I would imagine. If Russia, GAZ AA would be correct. I will have to play with the photo to see if I can get a better idea of which one it is.

Bill

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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by Bill Murray » 25 Jan 2010 01:46

Larry:

Took another better look at the photo in question.

Based on the vehicles represented, ie Citroen, VW Kubel and the style of the road signs, I now believe it is not Greece but somewhere in the East, probably Russia.

In which case, I believe you are correct as the truck also has some GAZ id characteristics.

Bill

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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by A.C.E. van T. » 03 Feb 2010 23:06

I have some dinky toy models.
I believe there are 2 different types.
Some had storagetanks and some had balloons on the roof of the car.
There were also accidents,specially the last ones.
The woodgas is highly combustible.
There are Dutch moving pictures.
On the Discovery Channel last year they manufactured a working pick-up truck.
In Scandinavia there is a guy who is driving around in a modern version.

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Re: Wood gas vehicles: firewood in the fuel tank

Post by AWBG » 17 Feb 2010 18:14

Hi there, one and all!
I was born in 1942 in Sweden, which had declared itself neutral in World War II. With the war affecting all aspects of life in Sweden, being surrounded by warring/occupied nations, even the toys of children were made to look like the objects being used by the adult world. I still have in my possession a lorry (truck to US speakers) with a wood-gas burner behind the cab. The lorry is painted a bright green, whereas the "gengasaggregat" as it is called in Swedish, is silver-coloured. I have also read about this fellow who drives a modern version of wood gas car! A lot of careless drivers were poisoned by carbon monoxide while working these contraptions.
/AWBG

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