Contributed by: http://tacticaledge.org
So lets say it’s the end of the world as we know it.
The Iranians have blocked the Strait of Hormuz sending gas prices to almost $20.00 per gallon. An emp weapon has been deployed by an opportunistic China, essentially slapping the United States back to the 1800’s and a highly contagious genetically engineered bird flu is crippling the nation. Within a week, we will have Chinese paratroopers in Seattle and San Francisco while 100,000 more advance through Texas from the south.
I know what you’re thinking…You’re an ant…You’ve prepared unlike the lazy grasshoppers. You have a thousand gallons of unleaded in the barn, a generator, enough food to last a year, an entire room full of firearms, and ten thousand rounds for each one. You’re good to go right? Wrong! Prepping, by nature, is preparing for the foreseeable events and hypothetical situations that may befall someone. Even if everything plays out the way you think it will, you may still run out of supplies eventually and be left in the dark like all the other grasshoppers.
In a scenario like this, communication will be key. Being able to contact members of your group, other preppers, and resistance fighters may very well mean the difference between life and death. Sure, you have your ham radio, cb, shortwave, and weather radio but do you have a way to power them when the gasoline runs out? Solar and wind power are wonderful alternatives unless you’re on the move. So, what do you do? How do you effectively bug out without carrying a truckload of batteries (without a truck)? Ever thought about wood? Of course you have. You have a wood stove in your home for heat, cooking, and water purification. This may be one of the first things you thought of when you started prepping but what does that have to do with electricity?
One of the oldest power generation means available to the world has been all but forgotten in this day and age. The means we will discuss today is wood gas which was once commonly referred to as syngas, town gas, and brown gas. You may have heard of wood gas but did you know you can power an internal combustion engine with it? Cook with it? Light your home with it? As far back as 1801, wood gas was being used as a source of power. The British used wood pipes in 1812 to carry the gas to Westminster bridge in order to light it. In the late 1860’s right here in America, the Siemens company had entire communities running off of this little marvel. Large gasification plants produced the gas from burning wood or coal and would pipe it to homes and businesses much in the same way natural gas and propane are used today. I remember my grandmother reminiscing fondly of the day they “brought the gas” to her small West Virginia coal mining town. Her family still cooked and heated their home with coal. Their only light was from lanterns and to this day, the home has only one electrical outlet for the television. After visiting my great, great aunt who at 98 still lives there, I likened the experience to traveling back in time. She still cooks and heats with coal but has gas lights throughout the home. Nowadays she uses propane but I digress.
The wood gas concept is fairly simple. You see when wood or coal or pretty much any other combustible material is burned, it creates nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a whole host of other gasses as a byproduct in the smoke. This is why creosote deposits in your chimney or stove pipe are so flammable. By capturing the smoke, cooling it and filtering it, you can then use this gas to power engines, cook on a gas stove, or light your home with gas lights. As a general rule of thumb, if you can do it with propane, you can do it with wood.
So what do you need to put together a system like this? The answer is really going to surprise you. While you have been out investing thousands of dollars in a host of alternative power sources, you could have spent an afternoon in the shed and about $200 or less to build a working wood gas generator…And best of all, the information is widely available for free. In 1989, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released a document with simplified plans for a gasification unit that could be put together in a crisis situation using materials which could be easily salvaged or you may already have on hand. The FEMA plans are for a portable model that pipes the gas directly to the carburetor of a pickup truck allowing the system to be moved under its’ own power, completely independent of a gas pump. Try getting your wind generator to start your Ford on a cold morning. The basic unit can be constructed from metal barrels or old water heater tanks and metal pipe fittings. If you have a small wood stove lying around, you are already half way done.
Think of it like an old time still. The smoke cools as it flows through a pipe before moving to the next barrel where the solid particulates fall to the bottom and the product left floating out the top (through a valve or gas line of course) is usable gas. In addition to the FEMA plans, United Nations document FOA 72 and the World Bank technical paper 296 detail other simple gasification device plans that can be found at no charge with a simple google search. There is also a wealth of information and back yard ingenuity with regard to the subject to be found in you tube videos. Adapting a system for electric power generation is really just as simple as modifying the carburetor on your generator. The only limit on the amount of power is the size of the generator itself. Japan currently operates a wood fired power plant that provides electricity to over 80,000 residents. If you already have a solar and wind generation system, wood-gas makes a perfect companion for the days that these systems are not producing.
There is one foreseeable drawback to the use of a wood gas system though. That being how to store your gas for later use. Without the use of expensive compressors to fill tanks, this task is almost impossible. There are alternatives though as some rural farmers have been known to use ag-bags to store the gas they produce. For those who may not know, an ag-bag is a large plastic bag, some as long as 100 feet, used to store bails of hay when a barn or silo is not available. Since having a 100 foot long balloon hovering over your home in a shtf scenario may be a less than desired side effect of this method, others have been known to store the gas in smaller 24 to 36 inch balloons. A 24 inch balloon attached to a gas line can power a small two burner camp stove for a couple of hours. Of course, if you already have a propane or natural gas system in your home, it is just a simple matter of attaching the gassifier to your gas line. When you are in need of the gas for cooking, water boiling, lighting, or any other purpose, you simply fire up the system on demand.
Did you know wood gas is considered by some to be a green technology as well? Wood gas is highly efficient because it is created and used in what is called a closed carbon cycle. This means that while you heat your home with the wood stove, you capture the hydrocarbon filled smoke that is given off and reuse these emissions rather then letting them escape. This allows much less greenhouse gasses to be released into the atmosphere. It is also a highly renewable energy source. Recent news in the United States regarding “Clean Coal Technology” was heavily criticized by the current administration. As you may recall, this is the very industry that President Obama said he would kill in favor of nuclear power generation? Would you care to take a guess at what clean coal is and just what the industry insiders were talking about before being demonized in the mainstream media?…..That’s right folks. Instead of drilling for oil, fracking natural gas wells, burying nuclear waste, and paying out the rear at the pump for oil we didn‘t even produce, we could have been using a clean, green technology as old as the steam engine to power our country right now.
This technology was attacked for the use of coal and the environmental effects of mining operations without ever mentioning that wood and coal are not the only materials that are viable for energy production in this manner. There are over a dozen countries experimenting with biomass fuels as we speak. Corn pellets, cherry pits, and other waste products, including human waste are being used all over the world to produce the fuel. If it burns, you can create gas from it.
Perhaps the future of this country lies with the prepper and his ingenuity.
Self reliance is a good feeling that is contagious and it is said that fundamental change begins at home so have fun experimenting in your own back yard with this affordable alternative technology.