The Mechabolic: Technology of Gasification
Gasification is the general term used for processes where heat is applied to transform solid biomass into a "natural gas like" gaseous fuel. Through gasification, we can take nearly any solid biomass waste and convert it into a clean burning, carbon neutral, flammable fuel. Whether starting with wood scraps or coffee grounds, municipal trash or junk tires, pistachio nut shells or avocado pits, the end product is a flexible gaseous fuel you can burn in your gasoline engine, cooking stove, heating furnace and/or flamethrower. Apply a little additional effort through liquefaction technologies like Fischer-Trospch or other catalyst based processes, and methanol, ethelyene, and diesel are possible too a modest complexity.
Well, over 1,000,000 vehicles in Europe ran onboard gasifiers during WWII to make fuel from wood, as gasoline and diesel were rationed and/or unavailable. Long before there was biodiesel and SVO, we actually succeeded in a large-scale, alternative fuels redeployment. That redeployment was made possible by the gasification of waste biomass, using simple gasifiers about as complex as a traditional wood stove. Gasifiers are easily reproduced (and improved) today by DIY enthusiasts, using simple hammer and wrench technology. (see www.woodgas.com
for more background info).
The Mechabolic project intends to reintroduce this technology for contemporary DIY enthusiasts, with improvements in design following from the many sensing and embedded control potentials that were not available during the previous "woodgas" deployment. We intend for this "artistic deployment" to seque into a growing collection of usable wood gas converted cars and other machines for off playa purposes. In fact, we are currently in the process of converting Ritual Café on Valencia street to run entirely on its own coffee grounds waste. Coffee in: electricity, heat and gaseous fuel out. (our current DIY gasification efforts are here and here