Monday, June 30, 2014

Alternative Means of Power for When the Grid Goes Down

by Mark Werner 06/30/2014

Whether you lose your power from a storm, hurricane, tornado, EMP, or a total economic collapse, having a means to get that power restored quickly can be the difference between getting through the disaster comfortably or living in misery.

Having a generator can be a big help, but is only as good as your fuel supply. Once that runs out, you're back to primitive living. Unless, of course, you can supply yourself with a relatively limitless supply of fuel that is efficient and renewable.

The fuel I'm referring to is wood. Not in a conventional sense. You can't build a fire under your generator and expect to get electricity flowing. You can, though, convert that wood into a gas that the generator can use to run the engine.

This process is called gasification through a process called pyrolysis. You probably performed an example of this as a 9th grade science experiment when you placed a piece of wood in a test tube and cooked it over a fire. You then lit a match and ignited the gas coming out of the tube. The gas is a combination of methane, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide. All of these gases burn and will work well in a generator's engine. It just has to be clean.

People have been using this 'wood gas' for many years. As a matter of fact, thousands of private and commercial cars and trucks ran on wood gas in Europe during World War II, because fuel was needed to keep the military going. They did this using a gasifier, which is a contained unit that converts wood to a gas.

There are many people experimenting with wood gasifiers. Just Google it. There are also a hand full of companies that have refined their gasifiers to a point where they can feasibly sell it. They can be built and sized for different applications such as for running a generator, or a car, truck, or even a tractor.

Below is a set up I put together to provide enough power to run a small neighborhood. I can reconfigure it to run many other things. It's a larger gasifier, built to run large engines. I had this gasifier made for me by Victory Gasworks in Washington State.

Victory Gasifier running a 45KW generator

There are other companies making smaller units from $2,500, or $4,500, or $6,000 and more Victory makes high end units made of all stainless steel and designed to last a lifetime, and they are more expensive

I suggest that you add a wood gasifier to your homestead prepping list. It will make your life a whole lot easier when you need it.