Woodgas to Electricity Update November 10, 2010

Last Revised: October 23, 2023

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This is an update on my progress or lack thereof on building my woodgas to electricity net metering system

Yes, things look slow, but I have made progress.. The biggest things that are slowing me down are:

1. I have now got 3 small (6.5.kw, 6.5kw and 2.5kw) generators ready to go on woodgas.
Onan and Briggs Generators for Woodgas
Here you can see the Onan Generators at the left and the JXQ10A Gasifier at the right. In back of the Onan's is a pile of bags of dried, sorted wood chips.
The reason for all the work to get these Onan's going is that they run at 1800 rpms to output 60 hz, and since they tell us that woodgas doesn't do well at high rpms, these engines should be ideal.
The red cart's bottom shelf holds the gas tank and battery for one Onan generator and on top is a control panel with current transformers for later use. The Briggs generator is is the background. See picture below for better detail.

Briggs Generator for Woodgas and JXQ10A Gasifier
This back-side view shows the Briggs generator setup better. It also shows the control panel mentioned above. You can also see the belt-driven 5hp 3 phase induction motor that I have connected as a single phase generator. The generation system works well but I have to dismantle the Briggs and fix the governor so it will maintain speed better. The engine is rated at 3500 rpms, but I have it belted so it runs at about 2200 rpms to get 60 hz out of the generator

This took several months to accomplish, during which time I learned a LOT about turning induction motors into generators and even more about 6.5kw Onan RV generators. While reviving the 2 Onan's I had to learn a lot more than I already knew about removing rusted and stuck bolts. Most of the stuff I learned during that time is documented elsewhere on my website.

2. I am trying to save an old 24 X 72 foot outbuilding to use as an engine house.
Woodgas Generator Engine House Before Restoration
This is a "Before" image of the old machine shed
I got a lot done on my own, but it turned out to be a lot more work than I thought, so I hired a barn-restorer guy to take over where I lack the expertise. He came here in late August to do his thing.
Woodgas Generator Engine House After Some Restoration
Here is the same building after quite a bit of additional work. You can't see all the steel rod ties and new internal trusses, etc.., but it sure is a better building now. We still plan on residing it in the spring.

3. The grid connection circuitry is a really big deal. I located a guy (samll company) in east central Wisconsin who had exactly what I needed (for $15,000), but he apparently did not survive the financial crisis. so I am on the hunt again.

As you can probably see, the whole system that I currently have is only a prototype and not even an Imbert reactor.
Of course I still do want to run engines from the JXQ-10 for a while anyway, just to see what happens.

The good news (for me) is that our local electric co-op has increased the amount of power that they will accept from 25kw on a single phase line up to 39 kw on a single phase line. That will make life easier for us.

Also, Jim Mason and his crew at:
has been making good progress, which will utltimately benefit me, except that I wish he was producing units of a bigger size.

Then there's Ben Peterson
He did produce a gasifier that was almost big enough to do what I eventually want to accomplish. Now he's on to slightly smaller things.

Both of the guys above hold training sessions and seminars, on roughly a quaterly basis. I really want to get to one or two of them. It's tough to schedule because we have a lot of conflicting activities going here, and it's somewhat expensive to go, because they are both located on the west coast, and here I am in Wisconsin.

A final excuse, if you will, is that the price of propane has come back down, so, for the moment, it is easier to become distracted by other things in life.