A brief history of woodgas
Rocket stove videos and links
Useful misc electronic projects
The basic principles of biomass (wood / coal) gasification have been known since the late 18th century. Commercial applications were first recorded in 1830. The first historically credited wood / coal gasifier was built by Bischof in 1839. Because of this by 1850 large parts of London had gas lights. Coal rather than wood proved to be the best resource for fueling the gas lamp era.
It was that by 1850, an industry had grown up using "heat gasifiers" to make "producer gas," mainly from coal, to supply the gas lights of London. In about 1881, producer gas was used for the first time to power an internal combustion engine; thus, the "power gasifier" was introduced. Historically, the first motor vehicle powered by wood gas was built by Thomas Hugh Parker in 1901.
Around 1900, many other cities delivered wood gas (also produced from coal) to residences. By the 1920s, producer gas systems for operating stationary engines as well as trucks, tractors, and automobiles were demonstrated in Europe and elsewhere. Natural gas on the other hand was not used until 1930. (Wood gasifiers are still manufactured in China, Singapore, and Russia for automobiles. And as power generators for industrial applications.)
Wood gas for use in farm machinery such as tractors and trucks has long been used in the past 20th century by many nations around the world. Up to these times. Even Volkswagen had a line of wood gas powered vehicles in the 1940's. (Link to some historical photos of vintage era wood gas powered vehicles is at the bottom of this post.}
As you will see in your leaning about this interesting renewable energy technology. The technology has advanced considerably. And so, has come into its 21st Century state of the art expression. And this technology will be advanced even more as time marches on ~ because of the things that it can provide the world through the use of wood as a renewable fuel resource. Likewise it is very efficient on lowering the typical carbon emissions as compared to previous wood burning devices. And so, is environment friendly with respect to carbon output. (Of course it has always been efficient when used for fueling combustion energies.)
Wood (bio mass) gasifiers re~emerged again in the 1970's era fuel crisis. By the early 1980s, more than 15 manufacturers (mainly in Europe and North America) were offering wood and charcoal gasifiers as electrical power plants, in powering capacities from 50 to 250 kilo watts (50 ~ 250 kW).
As for general knowledge and awareness of this technology among the general public in the USA, it appears that knowledge of wood (as well as coal) gasification was suppressed in the media and movies. Articles of this process did not appear in Popular Mechanics or Popular Science to our knowledge (it however is possible that some brief passing mention did occur, we do not know for sure). In the mid 1980's articles of wood gas powered motor vehicles did appear in Mother Earth News Magazine. Such articles and publications by Mother Earth News are primarily responsible for the current interest in wood gas in the USA 20 years later. And so, we have to appreciate all of the good work of Mother Earth News Magazine from those 1980's days onwards.
As of 2010 we have had 180 years of wood and coal gas technology who's use has been suppressed from the publics knowledge here in the United States. Especially since wood gasification electrical power systems can be obtained from various manufacturers ~ capable of producing 250 kilo watts of electrical power. And today here in the USA, you can buy wood gas kits for use with small engines as well as 6 and 8 cylinder engines. To power tractors, trucks, and automobiles as well as Briggs & Stratton powered electrical generators (a big hint for potential future investment applications).
If there is anything that we can say has truly been suppressed from the minds of the citizens here in the United States, it is this technology. Which has had a long history of use around the world (since the first gasifier in 1839) Well over a century and a half ago.