Clean-Burning Wood Gasifier

Wood gasification is a curious moment in technology. Did you know that you can run a car, a generator, or a gas appliance using wood? Millions of Europeans were driving on wood during the fuel shortages of the second world war. Today DIYers from all over the world continue to innovate the technology for a range of applications, from furnaces and water heaters to trucks and tractors.
A well-designed gasifier will produce combustible gas from organic material with +90% efficiency. Through processes of drying, pyrolysis, combustion (1200°F-2000°F), thermal cracking, reduction (600°F-900°F), and filtration, a gasifier produces fuel that is both clean-burning and carbon neutral. This gas can then be transferred to a combustion engine and burned 37% more efficiently than gasoline.
... However, there are obstacles to this technology. Engines suffer a 25-30% reduction in power, and improper design and operation often lead to dirty, wet, or tar-filled gas. This is unacceptable for use in combustion engines (unless you're okay with taking your engine apart for a regular cleaning!) Additionally, free and open-source plans for mobile gasifiers are scant.
I will design, fabricate, and test a gasifier for use on a vehicle with a traditional gasoline combustion engine. It will be built for a 30-foot “skoolie” school bus running a 454 /7.4L Chevy engine. The finished design will be released to the public under a free, open-source license, so anyone may use or change the design to suit their needs. I will also produce comprehensive documentation of the build process. The design will draw from existing plans by various makers and aim to improve upon weight, size, and efficiency where possible.
One such innovation is the addition of an electrostatic precipitator. This will help to improve the quality of gas flowing into the engine. This technology, which is commonly used on industrial exhaust applications, uses a static high voltage to ionize particles in the air and then attract them to an inversely charged metal foil. This could provide a critical layer of defense against ash, soot, and oily tars. However it will require careful development to be done safely with a combustible gas. This same technology may be applied to the vehicle exhaust, further reducing air pollution.

For my part, I am excited to take on a project of this scale. I think it will be very gratifying – not just to fuel up with chunks of branches from the side of the road – but more importantly, to unravel yet another thread of that secular fabric that ties our daily, personal experiences to global trade, economics, and unsustainable practices.
The plans animated here represent just a sketch of what the final design will be.
 UPDATE: newest design photos
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Silliam Bims 
Portland, OR

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