Gas Wood Generator


How to build a gas wood generator is one in a series of emergency technology assessments sponsored by the United States, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purpose of the report was to develop detailed, illustrated instructions for the fabrication, installation, and operation of a biomass gasifier unit (i.e. a “producer gas” generator, also called a “wood gas” generator) which is capable of providing fuel for vehicles, such as tractors, cars and trucks, should normal petroleum sources be severely disrupted for an extended period of time. The instructions to build a gas wood generator have been prepared as a manual for use by any mechanically minded person who is reasonably proficient in metal fabrication or engine repair. This publication along with a great deal of other gasification literature is now available at Build a



Fuel gas, produced by the reduction of coal and peat, was used for heating as early as 1840 in Europe and by 1884 had been adapted to fuel engines in England. Prior to 1940, gas generator units were a familiar, but not extensively utilized, technology. However, petroleum shortages during World War II led to widespread gas generator applications in the transportation industries of Western Europe. (Charcoal burning taxis, a related application, were still common in Korea as late as 1970.) The United States, never faced with such prolonged or severe oil shortages, has lagged far behind Europe and the Orient in familiarity with and application of this technology. However, a catastrophic event could disrupt the supply of petroleum so severely that this technology might be critical in meeting the energy needs of some essential economic activities, such as the production and distribution of food.

Apart from learning how to build a gas wood generator, you might also be interested in the historical pages on Electricity from Garbage (1905) and the History of Lighting (from an 1888 publication titled Municipal Lighting).

Other Resources

Over the two Great Wars more than a million gasifiers were in use around the world. There were many gas wood generators used in Sweden during World WarII to run Sweden’s transport vehicles. Here is a link to a document from 1942 outlining the Källe-gasifier (translated from Swedish and notice the front mounted gasifier). You might also be interested in the Roche (French) wood fuel gas producer that is now over 100 years old.

A new website called Build a Gasifier has an extensive collection of literature on gasification and gasifiers.