Wayne Keith Sets a New World Wood Gas Speed Record
by David Bransby(Auburn University/Biofuels Digest) We hear a lot about “drop-in” fuels these days. While this term typically means an infrastructure-compatible liquid transportation fuel, Wayne Keith has come up with his own version of a “drop-in” fuel: wood, or any other biomass you can deliver in small chunks, that can literally be dropped into the down draft gasifier that powers his pickup. While a retrofit to the vehicle is necessary, Wayne considers this minor and does not worry about other infrastructure-compatibility issues, because he has more wood on his small farm than he knows what to do with.
During our first meeting Wayne told me that he used a rather large, very old Ford pickup to do a lot of his farm work, including transporting farm equipment, hay and cattle, and spreading fertilizer on his pastures. The problem was gas mileage: it was about 8 mpg.
So, way back when gas rose above $2.00/gal Wayne decided to do something about it. He knew that the Germans had figured out how to run their military vehicles with small wood gasifiers when they ran out of gas supplies in World War II. Since he had some experience with building wood burning stoves and working on cars, and had a small custom sawing operation which generated endless “slabs”, or off-cuts, that could be used as fuel, Wayne decided that this was going to be his first line of attack.
Fast forward: in 2011 Wayne officially broke the world wood gas speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, independently recorded at 71 mph, with the previous record having been set at 46 mph. And during the six years prior to this achievement, he gave me a sound lesson in Alabama country ingenuity.
…First, I was curious about what other fuel besides wood, this gasifier could use. Wayne assured me that he had mixed many different feedstocks with wood, including garbage and junk mail. We proceeded to test pelletized broiler litter, corn cobs and switchgrass cubes. All worked fine. READ MORE