Fall Newsletter 2016

Hey gang. I have some updates and answers to your questions, but first check this out!


As I’m getting ready to fly off for a series of trips to study new things and grow as human being, I wanted to blast through any fear that may hold me back. So I went wing walking. This place is called West Coast Spin Doctors in Sequim Washington, a few hours from me. I climbed from the cockpit up to that position at 5,000 feet, then we did barrel rolls, hammer heads, loops. It was unfreaking believable! I will definitely do it again. That’s a 1943 airplane. Fabric wings. Watch where you step!

My fear of heights started when I turned 16. I went skydiving on my birthday and my chute got tangled! As I was spinning toward earth my chute (SHOOT!) looked like Aunt Gurtrudes brazier flapping in the wind. My mental preparation allowed me to transcend that potentially life ending moment, when my outer circumstances looked bleak. Too often we let our outer reality determine our inner reality. That takes us out of our divinity.

I really do believe we co-create this reality with the greater life force. Its our own ceilings that hold us in place. That day I survived, but I put in place a ceiling that has held me back ever since. Wing walking wasn’t about being a daredevil or adrenaline. For me it was simply about trust. Trusting the universe. Trusting my place in it. Trust turned something harrowing into a very peaceful experience. The airplane ride up was the scariest part because of the mental imagery and anticipation, but I pulled myself back to the moment, took a deep breath and felt profoundly open.



Our world is changing. In some ways good, in others really not so good. I just wanted to remind everyone that we are co-creators, not victims. It takes alot of love and consciousness to keep a trillion cells in your body working as one. Envision your desired reality and go boldly toward your dreams…

Back to Wood gas Stuff

Congrats to Pier!. Still looks like a few tweaks are needed, but he’s making gas.

Thanks to the other guys that sent in build pictures. They are buried in my email box between the ads for website design and dick enlargement pills (who spilled the beans) I will find them later and post. 😉

Site updates

1. Physical product sales end this weekend. I was going to end it today at 3pm, but realized it’s Saturday and I still have one last trip to make to the post office early Monday morning, so we can entertain some Sunday stragglers. Don’t dally.

2. Blowers are sold out, but I have been hounding Sohon to offer individual/paired blower sales to our people and they say they will. This pulls me completely out of the equation. You will deal directly with them. There is a little bit of an understanding barrier so keep your emails simple. Ask for a “sample” order. I don’t know if they will give them to you at wholesale, but it should be less than we were selling them for because I don’t have shipping, customs, packaging, discounts, returns, my time and lost parcels to have to account for. Details and a direct link to talk to Ann from Sohon are in the builders area. The link to the builder area is on the table of contents page of the Builder’s Bible.

3. In the next few months I will be shifting the builder area and then all the digital content into a really cool learning environment that will make it easier to follow, like a college course. There will be new content added when I have time. Some folks asked if they purchased already can they get the new stuff and the answer is yes, if you purchased at a Mastery level, discounts for those that bought book sets.

If I go to a completely new platform to focus on power/heat for greenhouses, plastic destruction and growing food, then that will be a more complex and expensive undertaking that requires a new commitment, but I always try to take care of my tribe, so there could be discounts. Those with machines built will have more asking leverage.

Your top couple of questions

#1 When shutting down the gassifier, it takes hours to cool down

In that time, a lot of tar and condensate forms in the hopper, really thick sticker black stuff, it does fall into the space provided but is difficult to remove as it doesn’t flow very well.

The questions I have are

1)      Is there a way to cool the gassifier quicker?

2)      Is there a solvent I can add to help remove it from the condenser ring? Make is less viscose.

Answer- I don’t know of a way to cool the gasifier quicker, but sometimes small air leaks will cause it to stay hot longer. A smouldering effect.

Acetone cuts through tars. So does steam.

The best solution is to only add the amount of wood feedstock you will need to fuel your engine or application for that run cycle. Experience makes it easy to know what that is. Or you can automate it by placing the unit on a scale of some type or use counterweights and make it so when the weight of the wood is consumed the scale is triggered to shut off the blower or the engine ignition. I have tried internal mechanisms to determine when to shut down, but as you have noticed it gets oily inside and that can stick things like pressure sensors.

If you want to run a full hopper and start and stop as you wish, then turning the wood into char beforehand will make the process cleaner. You would want to introduce some water into the condensate ring in the reactor to stimulate steam and thus increase hydrogen production.

A note about the condensate ring on the reactor. It’s really there for a few reasons. 1) to make you mentally aware that you need a condensate catch in your system. The reactor is just your training wheels. When experienced I expect you guys to add real hoppers. 2) Newbies tend to start and stop with full loads and it provides a place for condensate to go during cool down so it doesn’t soak the char. 3) You can fill the condensate ring in the reactor with water to stimulate humidity for hydrogen production when running straight charcoal.

#2  Had there been any testing on the best way to nozzle woodgas into a thermal mass?

– Best way to flare for optimum gas/air mix = most efficient reliable steady flare?
For long term flaring charging thermal mass or use of woodgas for a forge?

– Best way to prevent bridging of fuel?

I get great performance then during a run I loose electric production under load. Opening the gasifier and stomping the fuel down I find a void in fuel then I run business as usual.

Answer- As far as thermal mass, take a look at the rocket stove thermal mass that Paul Wheaton is doing over at Permies. It’s basically a 4” dryer tube that goes horizontal for 6 feet and does a 180 back another 5 feet before venting out. The tube is held in a box of sand or rock that acts as a thermal mass. Swirl burners are a good way to mix air and fuel. See foundry forges.

To minimize bridging you want to have the vibration of the engine connected to the gasifier with wheels underneath to allow movement or some spring feet. Round branch chunks tend to work a bit better than squares because less surface area touches when the oils release. Partial precharring is also an option. Put your chunks in a barrel and set over a fire or rocket stove with a hole in the barrel on the bottom side so the gasses escaping get burned cleanly and don’t cause smoke. There is a youtube on it. Search “rocket stove char maker.” Would be good to have hot water heat exchange in that.

#3 My question is this: Sufficient temperatures exist in internal combustion engine exhaust to gasify some fuels. To use this heat in the fuel generation process would be inherently more efficient than current processes. Is anyone looking onto this?

Answer- Exhaust temps are hot enough for pyrolysis, but not full conversion at 1000C+. You can run exhaust to the gasifier, but the way we recycle post reduction heat is very similar and doesn’t require a bunch of flex line. If you use engine heat to pre-dry your wood that works great and accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

#4 Why no cyclone?

Answer- Cyclones are hard for the home fabricator and they are flow range specific. The cyclone you use for a 2 cylinder would be sized different than for an 8 cylinder. I am trying to keep it simple for you guys, but if you want to add a cyclone after the heat recuperator then refer to Tom Reeds book Handbook of Biomass Gasifier Engine Systems for the calculation.

I also built the design so in the future you could move from organic filter media to hot filtration by simply changing the order of the filter and cooler. Run hot gas from the recuperator heat junction to the filter housing and use welding blanket as the filter medium before sending gas to the cooler. This is ideal for advanced users, but new users tend to plug up their filter blanket and get frustrated. Hot filtration requires a little more flare time to make sure the gas is hot. It cleans out more soot, but it can restrict flow and low flow means low heat inside the reactor. Which means tars. So a simple filter is a good way to start and then progress to hot filtration later. Since most intake manifolds are aluminum, a little soot is a benign way to coat the inside and prevent corrosion as long as the gas is pre-warmed. Could polish those valves a bit too? Soot sounds dirty, but its really just micron scale activated carbon. It’s not evil, just misunderstood.

#5 We built a thick woodchip auger  autofeed (that doubles as the agitator similar to the German Spanner gasifier) instead of monorator hopper; it works well,  but the woodgas has too much moisture even with 17% moisture woodchips. What can we do with your design- eg. could we modify the moisture collection ring to collect the moisture better?

Answer- I don’t know, it’s hard for me when you guys go custom. Can you preheat the auger to accelerate drying and make a monorator off of it somehow? Don’t get it so hot it releases oils.

If it’s just moisture in the gas and it’s not causing tar, then add more cooling. The base design is one size fits all and can definitely be tweaked there with added cooling. If the moisture is cooling the hearth reaction and you are getting tars, then read below:

Try boring a set of jets slightly larger to get more air in to balance the increased surface area of the wood chips. That will add more heat and then try making your reduction tube 1-3″ longer to allow enough time for the carbon surface to shift that water vapor. If you have a thermocouple aim for a temperature at the grate of around 550 C. You will need to lower your grate to allow that much reduction tube. It may require minor metal surgery.

Fresh charcoal turns into activated carbon after about 45 minutes of run time (initial break in run). If you are doing initial testing, make sure you flare that long to let the surface activate and it will shift more water, after that you are golden. If you are burning out your activated char, try not to. Set a timer for shut off.

Sometimes a leak in the grate area will burn gas and cause some moisture too.

In the Builder Resource Area is a photo of the Victory Hearth with the angled fins to funnel gases into the hottest area and force combustion. Take a look into that.

#6 Why bring the gas up through the heat junction and then out unlike the WW2 designs that had a vessel inside of a vessel?

Answer- Hearth load. When you bring the gas all the way up in a vessel/vessel, you release the moisture in the feedstock bin with that heat. All that moisture from the wood expands and hits the charcoal over a short period of time, cooling it. This is called hearth load- The carbon reactions ability to process the moisture and oils.

The bigger the heated hopper the more load. Plus on WW2 designs they were running bigger engines in cars (sucking more air), and driving down the road to compensate with air cooling the outer vessel. Most stationary power producers use tiny engines and have no outer air flow plus there isn’t enough air passing over the char to heat it up to break down the moisture and oils if it gets hit all at once. You have changed the context of the WW2 machine when you go stationary and small.

Also a vessel within a vessel requires more weight and doesn’t have the insulation.

My belief is that you want a focused blast of heat in the pyrolysis area, some heat rising for drying, then in a monorator hopper you want it as cool as possible to condense out loads of water. Hot where it makes char, cold where we want to liquefy and remove moisture. That was the accidental discovery of the inventor of the monorator hopper. He made it wide to store more wood and magically it was able to take wetter wood chunks, because the wide walls were much cooler than the narrow walls.

Design Sketch

This is a design sketch for a greenhouse heating unit with power generation potential. The horizontal gas exit replaces the cooler and charges thermal mass. It also acts as a settling chamber for soot, doing what a cyclone would do in a way. I would like to get to the point of having a filterless gasifier so the flow is always fast in the hearth. Slowing down the gas velocity during cooling so settling can occur is one way to approach it. The flex line is important so the engine vibration can shake the gasifier and keep the wood falling.

thermal gasifier

Charge the thermal mass and you can heat your greenhouse in a more passive way. Power at the ready for lights or water pumping.

That’s it. Thanks for reading!

Share the message of woodgas. Cheers!




  1. Kenneth e Boyd August 27, 2016
    • Ben Peterson August 27, 2016
  2. Steve Unruh August 27, 2016
    • Ben Peterson August 27, 2016
  3. Pierre Samuel Rioux August 27, 2016
    • Ben Peterson August 28, 2016
  4. Pierre Samuel Rioux August 27, 2016
    • Ben Peterson August 28, 2016

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