This is like a joke. But those who worked at the logging in the taiga in the 30s, it was no laughing matter. No gasoline - drove on the wood. And to this day, this technology is still used. How are these cars? Parse the details.
Say at once: if the car drives wood, it does not mean that he is a locomotive without rails. The low efficiency of the steam engine, with its separate firebox, boiler and double-triple expansion cylinders, left steam cars among the forgotten exotics. And today we will talk about the "wood" transport with our usual engine, engines that burn fuel inside.
Of course, no one has yet been able to push firewood (or something similar) into the carburetor instead of gasoline, but the idea to get combustible gas out of wood right on board the car took root for many years. We are talking about gas-generating cars, cars, whose classic ICE runs on generator gas, which is produced from wood, organic briquettes, or coal.From the usual liquid fuel, by the way, these machines also do not refuse - they are able to work on gasoline.
Generator gas is a mixture of gases consisting mainly of carbon monoxide CO and hydrogen H2. Such a gas can be obtained by burning the wood placed in a thick layer under conditions of a limited amount of air. The automobile gas generator works on this simple principle, a simple unit, but cumbersome and structurally complicated by additional systems.
Also, besides the generator gas production itself, the automobile gas generator unit cools it, cleans it and mixes it with air. Accordingly, a constructively classical installation includes the gas generator itself, coarse and fine filters, coolers, an electric fan to speed up the ignition process and pipelines.
Refinery carry with me
The simplest gas generator has the form of a vertical cylinder into which fuel is loaded almost to the top - firewood, coal, peat, pressed pellets, etc. The combustion zone is located at the bottom, it is here, in the lower layer of burning fuel, a high temperature is created (up to 1,500 degrees Celsius),necessary for the selection of more advanced layers of the future components of the fuel mixture - carbon monoxide CO and hydrogen H2. Next, the hot mixture of these gases enters the cooler, which lowers the temperature, thus increasing the specific caloric content of the gas. This rather large node usually had to be placed under the body of the car. The filter-cleaner located next in the direction of gas eliminates the future fuel mixture from impurities and ash. Next, the gas is sent to the mixer, where it is connected with air, and the finally prepared mixture is sent to the combustion chamber of the car engine.
As you can see, the fuel production system right on board a truck or a car took up quite a lot of space and weighed a lot. But the game was worth the candle. Due to their own - and, moreover, free-of-charge - fuel, enterprises autonomous transport could afford their own autonomous transportation facilities located hundreds and thousands of kilometers from the fuel supply bases. For a long time this advantage could not overshadow all the shortcomings of gas-generating cars, and there were a lot of them:
- a significant reduction in mileage on one refueling;
- decrease in car carrying capacity by 150-400 kg;
- reduction of the effective volume of the body;
- troublesome process of "refueling" a gas generator;
- additional complex of scheduled maintenance work;
- start of the generator takes from 10-15 minutes;
- A significant reduction in engine power.
No refueling in the taiga
Wood has always been the main fuel for gas-generating cars. In the first place, of course, where there is an abundance of firewood - in logging, in the furniture and construction industry. Traditional technologies of wood processing in the industrial use of wood in the heyday of "gasgens" about 30% of the mass of the forest were discarded. They were used as automotive fuel. Interestingly, the rules for the exploitation of domestic “gasgens” strictly prohibit the use of industrial wood, as there was a surplus of forest industry waste. Both soft and hard woods were suitable for gas generators.
The only requirement is the absence of rot on the chocks. As shown by numerous studies carried out in the 30s in the Scientific Automotive Institute of the USSR, oak, beech, ash and birch are best suited as fuel.The chocks with which the gas generator boilers were refueled, most often had a rectangular shape with a side of 5-6 centimeters. Agricultural waste (straw, husk, sawdust, bark, cones, etc.) was pressed into special briquettes and gas generators were also “filled” with them.
The main disadvantage of "gas", as we have said, can be considered low mileage at a gas station. So, one load of wood chocks to Soviet trucks (see below) was enough for no more than 80-85 km of run. Given that the operator recommends “refueling” when the tank is empty by 50-60%, then the mileage between refueling is reduced to 40-50 km. Secondly, the installation itself, which produces generating gas, weighs several hundred kilograms. In addition, the engines running on this gas, give out at 30-35% less power than their gasoline counterparts.
To preserve traction characteristics, especially for trucks, with lower engine power transmission ratios made higher. The speed of movement fell, but for cars used in the wilderness and other desert and remote areas it was not decisive.In order to compensate for the weight change that was changed due to the heavy gas generator, in some machines the suspension was strengthened.
In addition, due to the bulkiness of the “gas” equipment, it was partly necessary to re-arrange the car: change, shift the load platform or trim the cab of the truck, refuse the trunk, carry the exhaust system.
The golden era of "gasgen" in the USSR and abroad
The heyday of gas-generating cars occurred in the 30-40s of the last century. At the same time, in several countries with large needs for automobiles and small proven oil reserves (USSR, Germany, Sweden), engineers of large enterprises and scientific institutes set about developing vehicles with wood. Soviet experts have more succeeded in creating trucks.
From 1935 until the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War, at various enterprises of the Ministry of Forest Industry and the Gulag (Main Directorate of LAGerei, alas, the realities of that time) GAZ-AA half-shirts and three-ton ZIS-5 buses and buses were reworked on their base to work on the wood. Also, in separate batches, the gas generator versions of the trucks were made by the machine manufacturers themselves.For example, Soviet auto-historians cite the figure of 33,840 - so many GAZ-42 gas generator “lorries” were released. Gas-generating ZIS models of ZIS-13 and ZIS-21 in Moscow produced more than 16 thousand units.
In the prewar period, Soviet engineers created more than 300 different variants of gas generator sets, of which 10 came to mass production. During the war, serial factories prepared simplified installation drawings that could be manufactured locally at car repair shops without the use of sophisticated equipment. According to the recollections of the inhabitants of the northern and northeastern regions of the USSR, trucks on the wood could be found in the outback until the 70s of the twentieth century.
In Germany, during the Second World War, there was an acute shortage of gasoline. The design bureaus of two companies (Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz) were assigned the task of developing gas-generator versions of their popular compact cars. Both firms in a fairly short time coped with the task. The Volkswagen Beetle and Mercedes-Benz 230 got up on the conveyor. It is interesting that the additional equipment of the serial cars did not even stand for the standard dimensions of the “cars”. Volkswagen went even further and created a prototype of the "wood" army Volkswagen Tour 82 (Kübelwagen).
Wood car today
Fortunately, the main advantage of gas-generating cars - independence from the network of gas stations, has now become marginal. However, in the light of modern environmental trends, another advantage of wood-fueled cars came to the fore - working on renewable fuel without any chemical preparation, without additional energy consumption for fuel production. As shown by theoretical calculations and practical tests, the engine with wood burns less harm to the atmosphere by its emissions than a similar engine, but already running on gasoline or diesel fuel. The content of exhaust gases is very similar to emissions of internal combustion engines running on natural gas.
Nevertheless, the topic with cars on the wood has lost its former popularity. Forget about gas generators are not given mainly by enthusiastic engineers who, for the sake of saving on fuel or as an experiment, will re-equip their personal machines for working on generating gas. In the post-Soviet space there are successful examples of “gasgens” based on the AZLK-2141 and GAZ-24 cars, the GAZ-52 truck, the RAF-2203 minivan, etc. 90 km / h
For example, translated by Zhytomyr engineers in 2009, GAZ-52 consumes about 50 kg of wood chocks per 100 km of run for firewood. According to the designers, it is necessary to throw up firewood every 75-80 km. The gas generator unit traditionally for trucks is located between the cab and the body. After ignition of the firebox, it should take about 20 minutes before GAZ-52 can start moving (in the first minutes of the generator’s operation the gas produced by it does not have the necessary combustible properties). According to the calculations of the developers, 1 km on the wood costs 3-4 times cheaper than diesel fuel or gasoline.
How do you like this refueling in about nineteen years? The resource is renewable, so nothing is impossible ...
Today, the only country in which wood-fueled cars are used in large quantities is North Korea. In connection with the total global isolation there is a certain shortage of liquid fuels.