Woodchip, Generator and Integration Progress to Date

Created: August 3, 2009
Last Revised: October 22, 2023

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I still haven't run an engine on woodgas yet, but I haven't died, either. This update is just to tell interested parties about a couple of things that are going on currently.

1. I am going to make up a GEK "packed bed filter" before I hook up an engine to the gas producer for any amount of time.. It'll be a little larger, using a 5 gallon pail instead of the 8" X 12" cylinder in the plans.
In the process of figuring out which type of woodchips work best, we "recommisioned" an old small hammermill that had been sitting around here for 30 years. Using the largest (3/4")screen (email me if you don't know what I'm talking about here) we put our "too large" screenings through it.

Hammermill For Shredding Wood
We also tried some other sizes and shapes of woodchips that we had around here.
No matter what we put into the machine, we got "shredded wood".

Pulverized Wood Chips
Probably not a good feedstock. But, the way this shredded material looks, it ought to make a great fuel gas filter material.
That's what we will put in the packed bed filter.

2. I have gotten an old 12 hp Briggs engine going and mounted it on a sturdy cart.
This one is rated 12 hp at 3300 rpm, so I hope it'll still have half that output when I slow it down to about 1800 to 2200 rpm for testing on woodgas. It came with a 4 1/8" diameter 2 sheave pulley.

12HPBriggs With Self Excited Induction Generator

3. A guy gave me 2 5hp 3 phase induction motors several years ago and one of them, after having help to get the 4 3/4" 2-sheave pulley loose, is now mounted on my "breadboard" cart and belted up to the Briggs.
This motor is a 9 wire Wye connected style, 208-240/480 volt ac, 60 Hz motor. I am planning for an output of 2 to 2.5 kw from this setup. I will load it with resistive loads that heat water during initial tests.

4. Since this motor/ induction generator is Wye connected, I intend to take 2 separate 120 vac circuits from one phase and a single 208 volt output from that same phase. Excitation will come from capacitors across 2 of the phases.
After considerable reasearch, I see that I will need to connect the center of the Wye (the neutral) to the frame of the motor. This system will be considered to be a "separately derived" system, according to the NEC.
So, there will be 5 wires exiting the motor: 3 phase leads, one neutral, and one equipment ground.

Doing the research to design exactly how make this motor work as a generator took some time on my part.
I wanted to meter the output well so I know exactly what I'm getting out of the system. So, I went looking for meters; voltage, current and frequency. I wanted some nice panel meters, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money, if I didn't have to.
After finding that the meters I needed cost about $50 apiece, I got out my old $27 "Killawatt" meter.
That's the kind of meter that you plug into the (120 volt) wall, then plug an appliance into to see how much energy it uses.

Lo and behold!!! The Killawatt:
-AC voltage
-AC current
-Reactive Power
-Power Factor

Well, at that price, how can I go wrong? I bought 2 of them. My SEIG (Separately Excited Induction Generator) controller will have 2- 120 volt duplex receptacles and one 208/240 volt receptacle.
For now, all my load testing will be from the 120 volt circuits, so the "Killawatts" will do all I need, on a continuous basis. If I need other readings, I can use a multimeter.

5.What's the holdup? The major problem, besides basic laziness, has been in balancing the capacitance on the generator so that it both self-excites and stays excited when I load it down as much as possible.
There's some sort of governor problem with the engine that allows it to slow down too much when I go much above a 1 KW load.
I have spent a lot of time on this so far. If I run across a 4 to 6 KW Onan 1800 rpm generator set for a decent price, I will snap it up so I can move on.

I see a lot of Youtube videos where the guys point the camera at the multimeter, but you usually can't really see what it says. I hope that IF I get to that point, I will be able to show clearly what is going on there.

For the electrical loads on the generator, I bought 10 of Surplus Center's 1250 watt @220 volt water heating elements for 99 cents apiece. I'll run them on 120 volts and add them in as needed (1/2 the voltage means 1/4 the wattage) to see how much power I can produce. First, of course on gasoline, then on woodgas.

Questions for myself:
I wonder what would happen if I used a farm tractor type oil bath air cleaner to clean up the woodgas.

The engine I am using has a foam air filter that must be soaked in oil before being installed. I wonder if a filter like that would help to trap tar?