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Welcome Ben Peterson author of Wood Gasifier Builder's Bible  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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I couldn't find a picture of him, so here's a video.



This week Ben Peterson will be joining us to talk about the ins and outs of building wood gasifiers.

There are four copies of his book, Wood Gasifier Builder's Bible up for grabs.

Ben will be stopping by on the forum over the next few days answering questions and joining in discussions.

From now through this Friday, any posts in this forum, ie the biogas forum, could be selected to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up in Paul's Daily-ish email.

The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours.

Posts in this thread won't count, but please feel free to say hi to Ben and make him feel welcome!
 
Manolis Karamous
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hi!!!1 Am i the 1st?
 
Dave Burton
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Welcome to permies Ben!
 
stephanie gelfan
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So this sounds like a wonderful thing...no need for gas-powered generators, for which people like me have to buy gas and then waste gas because you have to run the generators when you don't need them just to keep them functional..crazy! We can stay warm with wood, so to be able to home-make a wood-powered generator will be terrific.

 
Chris Smaglick
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There are also a great number of resources and an excellent forum at Wayne Keith's site. Www.driveonwood.com
 
Bill Brackett
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Welcome to permies Ben! I'm looking forward to following this thread and learning all that's possible.

Bill
 
travis gregg
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Welcome Ben! Your book was at the top of my Christmas wish list it sold out on Amazon so I didn't get it..but my birthday is a few weeks so either I get it as a gift or I'll have to get it myself!!
 
Elisheba Meyer
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Thank you so much for being here. This is one thread that I want to follow closely!
 
Ben Peterson
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Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. I am stoked to be here and share building tips and answer your troubleshooting questions.

I discovered Paul's stuff about this time last year and gobbled up a dumptruck load of podcasts. He spelled out a pretty cool vision, so I have continued to follow the work and be impressed with what grass root permaculture action can do.

I am a firm believer in the power and goodness of wood.

It can form our hugel beds, it can fill our rocket mass heaters, it can build our homes and it can be turned into wood gas to fuel our spark engines and equipment. Wood is solar energy frozen in time. It's awesome.

I have dedicated the last 7 or so years of my life to bringing Wood Gas back into popular use. I've built with all sorts of materials and l can offer advice on your builds because I have already made most of your mistakes. It is a great tech, but it can be a little tricky if you try to change too many variables at once. The freedom I feel making gas is worth the effort to learn and the time to chunk the wood.

Does anybody have a build under way they want help with?

 
Ben Peterson
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I forgot to mention: To help support Paul's pursuit of world domination, I added my book to Scubbly so when you buy it through Paul's link, permaculture benefits.

Right now, only on Scubbly in addition to the wood gasifier Builder's Bible, I just added (today) a second 26 page e-book of assembly drawings that you get as a bonus when you get the Builder's Bible. The drawings are super nice. Right now you guys are the only ones that have access to this. It's not even on my site yet. I will post a couple pictures from the schematics.

Get The Bonus Drawings Here!





 
Clint Fischer
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very interesting stuff, its on my to do list, but loads more research to do!
 
Shannon Lee
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Hi Ben,
I am hoping to get a gasifier project underway soon on our farm in the mtns of NC. I wanted to know what you thought about the possibility of building a gasifier and rocket mass heater together as one unit inside a large greenhouse ? We are planning to build a large greenhouse that will house a multilevel year round aquaponics system and because of our chilly winters a rocket mass heater would be the perfect fit. While thinking about our design I had the idea that maybe we could do both in one build. I would like to know what you think of the idea and if anyone to your knowledge(or anyone else here) has tried this before. Thanks for sharing with us and glad to have your insight.
 
Ben Peterson
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Shannon,

I think it would be a great idea to have one common water mass that both machines could feed heat into because the rocket mass heater is ideal for sticks and the gasifier is ideal for chips and chunks.

You will need a good blower motor to start the draft in a gasifier, it isn't a self inducing draft like the rocket mass heater. The blower consumes about 60 watts an hour and can make a flame thrower size amount of gas. ALOT. Shoot that flame into your heat mass for a few hours and you will bank up some warmth for you and the fish friends.

If you want to build the two machines as one I can't imagine it in my mind, I would need to see some sketches to tell you if it looked like it worked.

Thanks
 
Lee Gee
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Hi Ben,

Welcome and thank you for sharing 7 years of research with us. I loved the idea of the rmh and the gasifier combo in the year round green house/aquaponics. I also would like to know more about the design that would be best in different applications, up/down/cross draft, which by products are least harmful and best resolved/utilized. For instance running the system when plants in the greenhouse could utilize the by product carbon dioxide in their natural cycles.

Lee
 
Shannon Lee
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Thanks for your response Ben. Yea Lee that was on my mind as well. Somehow capture enough co2 to enrich the air inside for more vigorous plant growth.
 
Sean McDade
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question for Ben
Hello Ben

Do you have a plan for heating a property while also pushing the gas to a generator?

Thanks,
Sean McDade
 
Philip Jurkowich
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Hi Ben

I have 2 questions.

1) What is the approximate yield of gas for a cubic foot of wood?

2) What modifications are necessary to convert a gasoline engine to run on the wood gas?


Phil
 
Todd Parr
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Hi Ben. Just a note to say I bought your book a couple of weeks ago, and it's outstanding. I have a friend that is a machinist and I'm working with him to build two of the units you describe. A couple months and I'll be buying your other book so I know how to use the gasifier Again, thanks for the time and effort you put into the book.
 
Chance Lunceford
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Thanks to Ben for spending some time to help the rest of us understand a valuable tool. Looking forward to implementing these ideas into the broader pattern.
 
Jake Parkhurst
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Welcome Ben! Thanks for all of the research!
 
delmar price
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Welcome Ben,

Been followin' your work and research for quite some time now; it has been informative and inspiring. Living in the Saudi Arabia of biomass here in the PNW, have you considered storing power output from a gasifier-generator to a flow cell battery? The waste heat could be of course used on the farm to reduce input costs.

I recently bought a hydraulic splitter to split firewood and was wondering if there might be a way to better utilize hog fuel by compressing it into brickettes for home use. or better process firewood into appropriate blocks for gasification. Any ideas on streamlining fuel preparation for your gasifier? Any thoughts on the feasibility of common sense automation?

Best Regards,

Delmar Price
 
Ben Peterson
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Awesome Todd! Glad to hear we have some builders here.

Lee to start with your question about gasifier applications:
Crossdraft is the basic design of a rocket mass heater. In a traditional WWII crossdraft you would only use charcoal as a fuel. Pretty much the same for updraft, you need charcoal to fuel engines because the oils have already been baked off. Downdraft is the best for running engines because you can use wood and the oils are sucked down through the hot charcoal to break them. If you just want heat, then you can use almost anything because the gas doesn't have to be tar free.

The byproducts are water condensate, ash, activated char which is good for water filtering. The only gunky looking stuff to come out will be condensate from your hopper that has some wood oils mixed with it. I throw it on a pile of composting wood chips and everything grows fine. I wouldn't call it harmful. It's basically liquid smoke.

You could run generator exhaust in a greenhouse if you had some safety protocols in place to eliminate the carbon monoxide poisoning risk from exhaust. I would feel better if you ran it into cold frames since people won't go inside them.

Shannon:
The gas has not only C02, but nitrogen in it, It would be cool to get the gas to flow into porous tubes in the root bed and get it straight to the roots. Might make for a safer setup too.

Sean:
You electric generator is your best source of waste heat to harvest. The exhaust heat and the coolant loop can be tapped for heat. I think the way we heat homes is going to change in the future. Electric and gas are nice, but by using heat storage in water and heat exchange tubes we can heat the water with all sorts of lower tech means like- passive solar, RMH, compost, gasifier flare gas, and engine waste heat recapture. Heat water, pump water where you need heat.

Philip:
Off the top of my head I don't remember the gas to wood conversion. Wood density plays a role. It's better to go by weight than volume. Google Tom Reeds book "The Handbook of Biomass Gasifier Engine Systems" for good charts and conversion data. In practical terms a cubic foot is roughly a 5 gallon bucket of chunked wood and in the conversion workshop our 3 cylinder 1800 rpm Kubota made about 4 kilowatt hours on dense wood from a bucket. 3600 rpm gensets can give a little more efficiency, but they are louder and don't last as long.

To convert an engine to woodgas I like to keep the stock intake in place as best as I can. I tend to tap in between the carburetor and the intake manifold, and put in a new butterfly valve to act as governor for both fuel systems. The stock aluminum valves can get sticky over time. I try to remove aluminum when possible and switch to stainless.

The governor valve will be controlled by the genset's electronic or mechanical governor. You can control the air flow into the genset with something as simple as a butterfly valve to start, but and Electronic Carburetor is a more hands free way to do it. See more on that in another thread in the biogas forums. I posted a video on it.

Thank you for your questions.
 
Amedean Messan
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BEN, FINALLY YOUR HERE!

Lord knows I was wondering when you were going to get your bum over here, HAHAHA! Seriously need to stop by at least once a week.
 
Ben Peterson
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Amadean:
I know! Guilty as charged. The weather has been so dry this winter that I have been working outside as much as possible to speed things up and maybe get to take next summer off. I will definitely poke around more often.

Delmar:
Saudi Arabia of biomass is right! You have been tuned in for a while.
I haven't heard of a flow cell battery, I will have to google it.
Pellets and briquette quality varies so much that I don't generally get behind it. They can pop apart when the steam leaves the wood and the fines plug the machine. What does show excellent promise is compressing pre-dried hog fuel through a HOT extruder to drive out the oils (which are burned to heat the extruder) and what you have is a semi-charred briquette that is the ideal gasifier fuel. The process is called torrefaction. It's probably too expensive for the single home owner to afford on top of all the other stuff you need to be independent, but I think it would be awesome on a small village scale. I am slowly working on village scale solutions, but it's expensive and complicated, but if the energy hardware cost was shared among 10-20 small well insulated homes, then I think it can make good sense.

As far as feedstock prep, there are some great videos on youtube of what some guys have done. I get lots of construction debris and pallets (being more in the city) so I use a table saw to cut out the chunks with nails and rip chunks. I don't like getting covered by sawdust, but when I batch prep over a weekend I am good for a while.

Maybe later in the year I can put together a book on wood chunking. Its hard cause some guys want a pto powered chunker. Other guys want to use engine and drive axle and others want to use 5hp electric motors.

Thanks!
 
Ben Peterson
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Robbie:

There is a sizing chart in the book based on my experiences that is similar to the WW2 dimensions, but a little different.

After building my first couple of tinker gasifiers I wasn't happy with the results so I set out one summer to build a new reactor every other day to test different heart dimensions. I learned alot by placing fireplace glass over the top of the reactor and watching the last few minutes of the burn to see where the jets were shooting air.

Probably the most important thing besides hearth dimensions was the absolute critical need for a powerful suction source. When I finally sourced a really good blower I became a much better builder and operator over night. I was initially using a harbor freight dust collection blower, but it didn't have the suction power and no books told me how fast to make it go, so I made it spin slow to get a nice blue flame, but the actual gas quality wasn't great as I dug into the filter and found tar.

Since suction is so important I generally recommend to undersize the hearth a tiny bit rather than oversize it. You can always open it up for more flow later.

Once you have dimensions and suction handled, then focus on putting in some nice natural lump charcoal about the size of your thumb knuckle. This will give you just the right surface area to start off the reactions.

Here is a snippet of the chart and how it's formated in the book:


"
The "air jet tip ring is just the distance from jet tip to jet tip. "Choke plate to jets" is the vertical height from the choke restriction to the center hole of the jets. "Choke opening dia." is the hole that all the gas and reducing char must pass through. "Jets" are the number of jets and "size" is the diameter of the jet hole.

The book's chart goes up to 7 liters, but this design with cheap propane tanks is really only good up to 5 liters in size. To go bigger you would need to scale.

Great question.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I am lost between "biogas", "gasifier", "TLUD"....
I thought it was about making gas through anaerobic fermentation!
As some topics in this forum...

Then I see it is about burning, and this is not even like a TLUD!
Confusing for me...
Hope to understand more through reading more...

HO, was off internet this week, so might not be in time to get an answer to my draft question!!!
 
Cassie Langstraat
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So I ran the winner picker app in the forum software and we have 2 winners.

Dan Popovici
and
Dave Dahlsrud

Congratulations Dan and Dave!

I sent you an email to ask for the email address of the person that first referred you to Permies.com. That person (if qualified) will also get a copy of the book and a permies care package.
 
Ben Peterson
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Thanks for having me guys. When I get the addresses I will send out the books!
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Hi, Dan Popovici and Dave Dahlsrud , why don't you write a review of the book for us on permies.com. It would be nice to know your impressions on the book. You could write the review using the acorns scale, starting your review like this: I give this book ... out of 10 acorns. Ehere you give the book a number from 0 to 10 on a scale fo 10 acorns, base don your impressions. To learn more about the acorns scale here on permies.com visti this link:
acorns scale for books

Why don't you write a review at this link:
wood gasifier builder
 
Rhys Firth
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Just found this... too late to enter, so I guess it is off to check out scubbly.

I am looking at running a V8 turning a generator to create power to charge a battery bank rather than installing a hydro setup since the place I am looking at has no hydro handy and solar can be iffy in the wet of overcast dank winter.

This should be a useful book if it's not too expensive
 
Justus Walker
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Hey there Ben!!! Thank you so much for putting your knowledge into an easy to use book format! Could one buy AutoCAD drawings for you to order precut parts from a metal cutter??
 
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