Box 81, Cape Canaveral, Florida 32920
Last year I got curious about the possibility of adapting the old (1860) 'gaso-gen' device to use with stationary engines because an example for such usage was demonstrated here by a team from the University of Florida, except that their application was the propulsion of an old Dodge truck. The device took up the entire truck bed space, plus some cooling tubes festooned onto the front end.
As have many of your readers, I had seen such adaptations in Europe during and after World War II. Europeans and others used the gaso-gen because most if not all their gasoline was expropriated by the Nazis, and most gaso-gens burned charcoal.
The device itself was very simple. It was just a sort of wood stove turned upside down with drafted air passing thru the combustibles, cleaners, and cooling devices to a gas engine intake manifold.
The automotive engines were usually started on a bit of gasoline or benzine then switched to the wood-gas generated.
Several defects were inherent. First, there was approximately a 25 percent loss in engine power; second, there was a tendency to dirty the engines making complete teardowns a must for cleaning out carboniferous deposits. There were, and are other less difficult problems, most of which can be solved.
Carbon monoxide composes about 50% of the wood (charcoal) gas produced. That is sneaky stuff, so any device must either be operated outside any buildings or equipped with fail-safe ventilation devices.
The gaso-gen has had limited use on stationary engines, but the greater portion of its application has been to mobile powered contrivances. Rheingold used them on its New York trucks; in Sweden many uses were made, and some use of the gaso-gen was made in Australia during WW II. Wherein charcoal is burned, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane and oxygen, are released. Nitrogen composes 50% or more, and carbon monoxide about 30%. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases provide the basic explosive components for the engines. Nitrogen reduces power.
However, to return to present projects; GEM is hardly a place for technical intricacies easier found in authoriative sources elsewhere. My goal is to build a gaso-gen, burn wood or charcoal in it, and put the gases to work running my old stationary engines.
Existing designs and specifications abound, so one may either choose one or improvise on his own, I have designed such a device, and it will be simply a prototype with which to perform the necessary experiments in search of cleaner and more powerful results. The present design is for use with a small Briggs & Stratton, or similar gas engine. Larger engines will need larger gas producers. The machine consists of a 40-gallon home water tank with holes cut in it and a door. Flame brick line the lower fuel burning area just over a common grate. Air is forced in one side of the generator, flows DOWN through the flame bucket through the grate, and out the opposite side of the generator. Hence the gases flow into a centrifugal drum device provided with strainer paddles rotating against the gas flow.
From the centrifugal cleaner, the gas will move down through two common automobile radiators sealed up to permit water flow over the core pipes. Now that the gas has been partly cleaned and cooled, it moves into three larger diameter cooling passages. These will have steel wool or other cleaning material stuffed into them, so as to clean the gas further, but not to clog its passage. Just before entering the engine intake chamber, the gas should bubble up through a small vat of oil.
At the engine, a mixing valve and cutoff should be installed, permitting starting on gasoline, then switchover to gaso-gen fuel.
All this descriptive information and procedural explanation is nothing at all new. It is indeed standard operational procedure developed over the past two world wars.
The object of this project will be to produce cleaner gas, and make modifications both in the device itself, and in any internal combustion engine used to enhance compression ratios.
Over the historic period of gaso-gen use, one of the problems has been that the gas works best in high compression engines. These old stationary engines are rarely 'high compression', so some modifications must be made either in the gas-fuel delivery to the engine, or the engine itself, or both.
I am considering a 'ramming device' to force more gas into the engine using a modification of the exhaust gas powered injection method; also of spraying into the mixture at the cylinder, some other chemical. Perhaps atomised alcohol, a little water, propane, liquid natural gas, or whatever is discovered will help keep a clean engine, and raise the power to fuel ratio.
In the construction I will use the water tanks, two-inch iron or copper tubing, auto radiators, and possibly auto air cleaners, one or two 'squirrel cage' fans, some PVC piping, fittings, valves, etc. A 'grant' from the government Energy Department has been solicited to aid in these procedures. If awarded, the project will be expedited. If not, it will take a little longer.
In this connection I would be happy to hear from anyone also interested in this sort of project, and hopefully I may hear from gas engine men actually powering their engines in this manner. Once stationary engines can be efficient when powered by the simple burning of wood or charcoal, many farm operations and small local power utilities and factories can produce their own electricity, shop machine power, pumping, etc., like long before the electrical age. And all this using little or no gasoline at all!!