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Woodgas storage question ?  RSS feed

 
Scott Hoelscher
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Location: Ohio
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Welcome to Permies Ben!
I've looked at woodgas generators a couple of times and understand the basic workings of it. Your book ( The wood gasifier Builder's Bible ) does look like the answer that myself and many others have looked for, a concise easy to understand guide to building a modern wood gasifier.
My question is, Do you offer any insights into gas storage in your book? OR future books? It seems like a good storage system similar to propane could prove to be a long term, sustainable answer to replacing petroleum based gasses. Seems like the volumes of gas produced by a wood gasifier makes it a prime candidate for a sustainable replacement IF storage and portability are addressed (like propane). Overcoming the storage/potability issue could spur adoption of woodgas as an alternative fuel.
 
Ben Peterson
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Scott,

Great question. Woodgas isn't as dense as propane and it doesn't liquefy, so it's not a great candidate for compressing large volumes. Some people do compress it, but there are safety concerns if you are new to this type of thing. Compressors have a cost as well

Biogas membranes are a good way to store the gas for short periods of time, but they are a little bulky.

Wood itself is a good storage medium. Batteries are an OK storage medium because of their cost. Thermal mass is a great way to store some of the energy.

What is going to end up being the solution in the future is we will take the wood gas which has hydrogen and use it to re-refine plastics into liquid fuels which are the best storage medium so far. I don't have a book on that one yet and there is still lot's of expensive research to do. But if you ask me that is where it's at.

Ideally we can use pairing to match woodgas and solar power together. For example you could run a batch load of wood to start off the day, then the sun comes up and helps out, at the end of the day another batch load to recharge batteries and thermal mass, then it's off to bed. That has proven to be the least work prepping wood and the fewest hours run up on the old generator.
 
Iain Adams
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Hey Ben,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Your book looks great, and I'll be ordering a copy today.

Do you have any safety recommendations for those who wish to compress into canisters? Wondering about best practices to avoid mixing in oxygen, and if the high hydrogen content of scrubbed gas will quickly deteriorate a metal tank.

Thank you!

-ian

 
Ben Peterson
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Ian:

Avoid leaks at all costs because it sounds like you know that fire requires three things: fuel-air-spark. 1 out of three is safe. 2 out of three is dangerous. 3 out of three can be bad. A compressor with a hot head, fuel gas and an air leak is dangerous.

Maybe consider a biogas storage membrane or even a weather balloon for tests.

Hydrogen is very small and it will slowly leak out over time so I would consider keeping my storage cycle to a few days to avoid loosing too much hydrogen gas. Metal embrittlement can be an issue over time, but it's not an immediate concern. Air compressors are made of metal which is why I cover my butt and recommend biogas storage membranes. I picked up a bunch on Alibaba for a few hundred each.

This is an area where the large scale methane digester folks can really help us out.

This may sound sacreligious from a woodgas gas guy, but propane is really a better bet for canned gas.

That being said, if you want to can some gas, instead of using woodgas, consider heating up plastic in a retort (pyrolysis) and taking the gases that come off because they will be free of nitrogen unlike woodgas (making them more dense) and they will be in methane or propane form and not create embrittlement issues. Google "plastic crude" and see what other tinkeres and makers are doing.
 
Iain Adams
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Excellent. Thank you!
 
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