Robert "Chip" Beam built his own wood-powered pickup truck. The wood-burning, or rather wood-gas burning truck is now a sort of mascot for Beaver Energy, the Williamsport, Pennsylvania based startup company Beam and partners Larry Shilling and Aron Lantz have formed.
If he did it, you could too. Read on for tips and links to learn how to make your own Wood-powered Pickup Truck, with videos of the wood-powered pickup truck in action and a video guide to building your own wood-gas generator.
Video About the Wood-Powered Pickup Truck: "pennies versus dollars"
Chip Beam's wood-powered pickup truck has a top speed of about 45 miles per hour (72 km/hour), which helps explain why it came in last in the rally at the 2008 Green Grand Prix. But he got a consolation prize; the wood-burning Isuzu Trooper won the most unusual car award.
And here is the real consolation: the wood-powered pickup gets 20 miles per 25 pounds of wood chips. MSNBC did the math:
At $225 a cord around here — which can be about 4,000 pounds of wood — Beam could go around 4,000 miles. With gas at $3.75 a gallon, a car getting 25 miles to the gallon would use 160 gallons of gas worth $600.
Plenty Mag is less optimistic:
Beam’s model goes about a mile per pound of wood, which is roughly equivalent, in terms of fuel weight, to a car that gets 6 miles per gallon of gas.
TreeHugger notes: Beam gets his chips for free. Hmmm, doing the math, that means unlimited miles for ... free!
Beam's wood-powered Isuzu Trooper has no gas tank, but the same engine which came from the factory. The technique is in the wood-gas generator mounted behind the passenger seats. At temperatures of 2400 degrees Fahrenheit, the wood-gas generator gasifies the wood, and feeds the resulting combustible gases into the Trooper's engine. There, the gases burn to produce carbon dioxide and water, the main wastes that are produced when burning petroleum products. The difference: Chip Beam's carbon dioxide was taken from the atmosphere to make trees, not pumped up from ancient underground storage reservoirs.
So where can you start if you want your own wood-powered car? You can take some inspiration from this video, showing wood-gas generator construction phase-by-phase:
Then check out some links:
- You can order wood-gas generator plans from Mother Earth News.
- A presentation by Eric Lynch at the Indiana Energy Conference, Biomass Gasification, contains explanations and resources.
- Check out the WoodGas Small Gasifiers page at the Biomass Energy Forum.
Most important, get hooked up in forums and events with other people doing the same thing. Like any technology in its infancy, you will learn the most from others who are there just before you. And your steps will lead the way to a greener, energy-independent, wood-powered future.
If you think you'll just stick with traditional fuels for now, then check out TreeHugger tips on getting the most for your money out of your car:
66 Gas Saving Tips
Learn Why Driving at a Relatively Constant Speed is Greener
Drafting Behind Trucks: Does it Work?
We Want Fuel Economy Feedback in All Cars
Efficiency is Crucial to a Green Future