#1201: 20 Miles Per Wood Chip

Did this car really run on wood chips?!

Original Air Date: 01.07.2012

   Best Moment :36

This week on Car Talk, Hans recalls fleeing from Germany during World War II in a car powered by woodchips, but he's never been able to figure out exactly how it worked. So who better than two car experts with MIT degrees to figure this out? Well, maybe anyone would be better in this case. Tom and Ray will likely do better helping David figure out how a three-pound bag of Hershey Kisses disappeared from his Civic overnight, and why his car now smells of melted chocolate. Elsewhere, Victoria's Mom needs to trade in her Corvette after surgery, so Victoria's wondering what car's right for a hip Mom with a new hip; Aaron's windshield wipers are stuck in a salute position; and, is Mary-Ellen wearing out her brakes parking in "The Gulch" every day? A box of doughnuts is riding on the answer, so this is serious business. All this and lots more, this week, on Car Talk.

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woodchip cars

by bearpaws

My dad talked about the potato sacks full of chips used to power cars during the war. Hans is exactly correct. How great to hear the story being told again

Coal dust and wood chips

by Realist1948

It looks like you've already received a few dope slaps about WWII era wood powered vehicles. Here's another slap regarding the use of coal dust as engine fuel. It was Rudolf Diesel (inventor of the Diesel engine), not Nikolaus Otto, who attempted to use coal dust as a fuel for internal combustion engines. BTW, I found the following about the wood chip fuel in a Mother Earth News article: "A German textbook I found on the subject states that a generator fueled with hardwood will produce a gas with a heating value of 1,250 kilocalories per cubic meter, consisting of 10.5% CO2, 0.4% CH, 1.6% CH2, 22% CO, 47.3% N2. The N2 and CO2 are non-combustible and contribute no power. Therefore, it helps if your vehicle has a big engine to start out with." Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/producer-gas-vehicles-zmaz74zhol.aspx?page=2#ixzz1ispJiFra

Favorite Moment: Confusing Otto with Diesel.

Opal Blitz

by PHGamer

Gentlemen, This is in regards to the Opel Blitz wood burning truck. I am a student of military history, with the WWII Eastern Front being a specialty. While I do not doubt Han’s word that he witnessed this vehicle, I do question that this was a normal set up for the Opel Blitz. While your show was being aired, I had, in reach, my copy of the “Handbook on German Military Forces “ which was written for the US War Department in WWII, and has comprehensive information on all things German Army. Page 420, German Trucks Opel Blitz Type 3.6-36, Sub section Power. “The engine is a water-cooled, straight-size O.H.V. gasoline unit of 3.6 liters (219.6 cubic inches) capacity developing about 68 brake horsepower. The Gasoline tank (21.6 gallons) is situated under the driver’s seat…” Other trucks are listed, most gasoline, some diesel, none are listed as running on wood gas. Yours Phil Gardocki

Wood Gas

by thearmyguy

www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/fema.woodgas.pdf FEMA likes it so if the government likes it, it can't be all that bad right? This illustrates how useful converting a carbureted engine to run on wood gas can be. It is not the most powerful but at least it works

Surprised you didn't know about these

by projectman

Wood burning cars are nothing new. There is a good article at http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/01/wood-gas-cars.html I saw several wood burning cars in Holland/Belgium in the 60's - also some that burned wood to heat chicken droppings and other barnyard waste in a tank to create methane. These had a large pipe from the burner on the back over the top of the car to the engine compartment.

Wood chip engine design/build


Details on wood chip engine: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/1981-05-01/Wood-Gas-Truck.aspx

Favorite Moment: Wood chip segment.

20 Miles Per Woodchip

by rsduhamel

Great show, as usual. However, I'm surprised you didn't know that carbon monoxide is flammable. It is part of wood gas, along with hydrogen.

Woodchips - it actually works !

by johncohn

Guys... Guys.. I loved Han’s call today on running a car on wood. Some friends and I actually made this work a couple of years back . We were on a Discovery Channel TV show called The Colony which was a post-apocalyptic survival show in which ten nutjobs (including yours truly) had to live in an old warehouse for two months . One of the challenges we had was to make electricity . We actually used the wood gassification method Han’s described to run a simple homemade generator. (see (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFQT3ya7BCQ) Han’s memory was basically correct. When you do destructive distillation of wood in an airtight container you get a mix of many things. What actually burns is carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). There’s also a bunch of other things including steam, methanol and lots of volatile oils and tars whose main purpose is to gum up the engine over time J . Hope this helps ! Ps. Greetings from VoMIT.. Vermont’s own MIT club !

You shoulda known this one!

by Annagassan Mechanic

Wood gas powered cars (converted petrol powered engines) were common in WWII when gasoline was in short supply (see lonk at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas_generator)

Other suggestions for Hip Mom

by Leonidosaurio

I drive a Kia Soul. It also have higher seats than other cars. And it's hip enough :D Maybe she could also test drive it, and similar cars, like the Nissan Juke and Honda Fit :D

Favorite Moment: Mice studies with infrared camera, ha ha.


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