Wood-Fired Pickup Truck

Yesterday’s (or maybe Wednesday’s) *New York Times *had a story about North Korea. I did not think much of it as the author obviously did not speak the language, so was restricted in what he could report.

He did report seeing a number of pick-up trucks on the road that had been modified to run on wood.

OK, all you motor heads, how could I modify a pick-up to on wood? Frankly, I find it hard to believe.

This was quite common in Ireland during the second world war. Vehicles ran on what was called “producer gas” (essentially, carbon monoxide and maybe hydrogen). Wood was heated in a container that looked a bit like a metal dustbin. The gas that evolved was stored in a big bag on top of the vehicle and carburetted into the engine.

An Otto cycle engine can certainly be designed or modified to run on low-calorie gas (lots of stationary engines nowadays are fired with landfill gas or biogas) but I don’t know how much modification a modern car engine would need. Probably, the older the better, so you don’t have to worry about lambda sensors and catalysts.

You can run an internal combustion engine on wood by using a wood gas generator. Basically the gasification unit converts parts of the wood into hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, ect, and this mixture can be burned by the engine. The downside is that they are bulky & take a long time to start up.

I think you’re looking for Wood gas. IIRC it was relatively popular in Europe during WWII.

I’m fairly sure that diesel engines can in theory be made to run on finely-powdered solids - if so, it’s probably possible to run one directly on sawdust (well, probably wood flour).

Thank you very much.

Another possibility is a wood-fired steam engine.

so if the rumored mad max 4 movie ever gets made, logically with the progression of time they should be running on wood gas and steam engines.

Last of the v8 wood burners?

I recall reading this story earlier in the year: http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/wood-gas-zm0z12amzroc.aspx It sounded like a bit of work, but it’s a step in the direction you’re wanting to head.

Oh, and another thread on the hearth.com forums, where I found it originally: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/great-way-to-get-rid-of-shorts-and-uglies.85908/#post-1107663

I love that, imagine we actually going back to burning wood for fuel, I think we would extinct the last resources of wood in a short while and hopefully us as well…

A picture of a North Korean wood-gas lorry. Thank you Dear Leader!

I heard a podcast earlier this year where the Car Talk guys were stumped by this question, and then the follow-up episode where someone called in and gave them the details. Until then I’d never heard of this either.