Wood might have been replaced by fossil fuels as a motor fuel in vehicles for ages, but it hasn’t disappeared at all. Duch John’s twenty year old Volvo 240 woodgas powered car takes us back to WW II era when hundreds of thousands of European cars ran on wood-gas.
One of only a handful in Europe, John’s wood-powered car can run at around 100-110kph with a top speed of 120kph. Fuel consumption is approximately one pound of wood for one kilometer – depending on how the car is driven and which wood is used; and it takes 30kg wood to run for 100km. However, if extra wood is stored in the car, its capacity can be increased up to 400km.
John’s ingenuity sounds great; but every time you make your mind to drive the car, you need to clean up the cyclone bin, dump the char dust on the compost, fill the fuel bin with sixty pounds of wood, stacking a few sacks on the back seat for extra mileage, spark up the gasifier with a diesel glow plug, wait four minutes for it to heat up, flare off the surplus carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Well, it's time consuming and cumbersome!
Making Volvo 240 run on wood-gas was a herculean task and took John 11 months and almost 1,000 hours man hours to build a system that uses wood as fuel to power the Volvo's engine. The whole system plus Volvo cost him around fifteen to twenty thousand Euros. Apart from this, John has also built a wood-powered lawn mower and wood-powered electric generator, out of junk materials. However, as per John, building the gasifier was primarily a political act aimed at increasing the possibility of not engaging with ‘the system’.