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Grant-o-vations Building something crazy? Trying something totally out of the box? Post it here. Lets see what all those wacky minds are doing out there. These posts should be somewhat technical in nature, but dont necessarily have to be 4x4 related.

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Old 11-23-2016, 06:52 PM   #1
snowbear
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Default Wood gas boilers

I've been studying them a while now and curious if anyone else here has or has attempted a wood gasification build. I am specifically interested in the down draft style where the gas box is below the wood pile.
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Old 11-24-2016, 11:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

I have an Atmos coal/wood gasification boiler, works good.
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Old 11-25-2016, 12:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

I'm jealous
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Old 11-25-2016, 05:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

What's the benefit over a normal boiler? Looked into a Central, but it carried a $10k price tag for just the boiler.

I have a few customers with boilers. Don't know if they keep their places at 90*, but they seem really fuel thirsty. One guy has one that is wood or naural gas. He just switched it back to wood, he was saying it was about $900/month on gas.

I heat with a Blaze King, use about 3-3.5 cords a winter. At the shop we have a homebuilt stove built from a piece of TAPS pipe. We burn mostly scraps and poplar in it, no idea how much cord wise, roughly 3-5 wheelbarrow loads a day. Shop is around 3500 Sq ft and not sealed all that well.
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Old 11-25-2016, 06:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Seems to me the only way for a wood boiler to be efficient is by not keeping a fire going. Install a large mass and run short but hot fires.

I have a co worker in Dillingham. He has a central boiler, hooked to a 2,000 gallon insulated tank. that runs to his home and heats via in slab pex. In the summer he lights a fire once a week or so, and in the winter usually just in the evening. He said its important to build a hot fire then let it go out. no wasted wood smuldering along all day. he uses less than 5 cords a year and has a 2200 sqft home.


I have looked at those Atmos units. And have come close to buying one in the past. A coal out door boiler would be more efficient than wood. And you can throttle back coal better. and without the smoke, soot or creosote of the wood.

Just to bad my home is forced air, and the shop slab does not have pex in it.
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Old 11-26-2016, 10:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Coal makes smoke as well. Depending on the stove and the type of coal, it can stink pretty bad.. Sulfur/rotten egg smell.

My folks in Maine heat with a coal stove. It works like a pellet stove, feeds the coal in as needed. Made by Alaska Stove Company... though they have NOTHING to do with AK.

Makes alot of heavy ash. My Dad says a ton of coal makes almost a ton of ash. It doesn't reduce like wood. And the ash stinks like sulfur too.
I guess in some states the ash is considered HAZMAT.

Coal is tough to start burning, my Dad soaks rags in diesel and uses wood as well. Once it's lit, it stays lit all winter.

I've hauled "chunk" coal from Healy, about 12 tons each trip. Its heavy stuff, weighs about the same as dirt.

Coal vs wood... trees are a crop. They are harvested and they grow back. Coal isnt renewable and It's certainly dirty burning and causes acid rain. From what I've been told the coal we gave here is low grade, thas why it's shipped overseas, where they don't care about air quality.
Coal can be cheaper. My folks pay $350/ton, and they say a ton equals to about 1.5 cords of wood, so that would be equal to a ~$235 cord of wood or $2.35/gal fuel oil.
Not sure the cost here for coal.

Forced air would be easy to setup a boiler, just would use a water to air exchanger in the main air line, like is done in many commercial setups.
I'd rather have forced air in my house than floor heat. It's nice to have near instant heat vs turn the T Stat on and 10hrs later the house is warm.
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Old 11-26-2016, 12:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Ugh typed typed a post and lost it.

Healy coal is $80/ton.

My home in eagle river had a hitzer 82 coal stove. It was great, and I miss it often. Only smelled when you were getting it going. Burned 2 5 gallon buckets a day to heat a 2,400 sqft home. The ash does not reduce much and ash does not smell either. We spread it out around the trees and the driveway for traction.

Putting a hot water coil in a duct is easy but you have to run a high temp system and pay to pump water and blow air. I'd rather run 120deg than 180 deg. Water temps. To this day even with a state of the art forced air system I hate it.
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Old 11-26-2016, 12:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

$80/ton delivered?

No matter what with a boiler you need a pump or two. My boiler runs at 180*, floor only sees ~100* (has a valve that adjusts based on outdoor temp).

Forced air is nice that you have air movement and filtration.
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Old 11-26-2016, 12:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Nate there are a couple things about your coal experience that don't fit in the norm. Coal is lighter than dirt. The guy that does my dirt hauling supplies coal from Healy to several folks in the valley. It is so much lighter than dirt that he adds 3' sides to his truck and pup and still doesn't hit max gross. I've never asked the cost. Burnt coal reduces to 20-30% of unburnt weight. If you are not getting this then you are not burning up all the coal. To completely burn coal requires a stove with a shaker grate. Either automatic or manual. Shaking the grate reduces the formation of klinkers.

Many comments are spot on, coal is dirtier and non-renewable. By available energy measure Alaska is the Saudi Arabia of coal, we have lots. Some of ours is bituminous like from Healy. The Matanuska side is Anthracite, some of it is very high quality, the kind used to make surgical grade steel. Coal is harder to lite. Many folks use or mix with wood.

It may never happen but I would like to build a down draft style wood gasification boiler that could handle about 30% coal mixed in. It would include 1500-2000 gallons of heat storage that transfer heat via exchangers. The system would be installed in parallel with our existing gas fired boilers. Ideally the boiler would be configured so that some or all of the wood gas could supply a electric generator (a gas engine).
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Old 11-26-2016, 12:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

I just called Usibelli to check, it's roughly a ton a yard, roughly the same as dirt. Dunno what to tell you, thems the facts.
Forgot to check on a cost, but the $80/ton is what I remember as well. 683-2226 is the number I called.

On the ash, volume wise it doesn't reduce much per my Dad. Weight wise yes. I wasn't clear on that.
What I meant is for example put 5 gals of coal in, nearly 5 gals of ash comes out.
My folks have heated with coal for 5 or 6 years. Comes from here:
http://centerfarmscoal.com/our-bulk-coal/
Dunno if that's good, bad or what. I know wood.
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Old 11-26-2016, 01:11 PM   #11
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Healy coal delivered to Wasilla, truck and pup carries about 25 tons and will run about 130$/ton.

the Healy coal is super easy to lite and produces fly ash when burned properly.
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Old 11-26-2016, 01:29 PM   #12
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

Agree, Healy coal is easy to lite, I use a little kindling to get it going. My Atmos boiler produces very little smoke, and the ash is super fine. I don't have a large storage tank as I haven't decided if it's worth taking up that much of my shop. It still works pretty efficiently using a damper and shutting off the exhaust fan to throttle it down. It's plumbed in with my diesel boiler also.
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Old 11-26-2016, 01:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

I'd guess the harder coal doesn't break down as much? The ash from my folk's stove looks like a pile of rock. Sometimes it "melts" together and makes big chunks, my Dad calls it clinker.

Dont have to season it, but he did build a bin in the basement that has grates on the bottom so the water drains out. One year he got it while it was raining and he ended up building some sieves in 55 gal druns, otherwise the wet coal was putting out the fire. (It keeps feeding feeding more coal... just senses the firebox temp so too cold means more coal... kind of a problem with poor burning coal!

Interesting info anyhow.
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Old 11-26-2016, 03:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

There is a big difference between the coal back east Anthracite. Vs the majority of the coal in Alaska subbitamus.
Our coal isn't as dense and has a higher moisture and suffer content.

The wishbone coal seam is anthracite it's a higher quality. That's why they have been trying to get it back open.
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Old 12-09-2016, 12:32 AM   #15
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Default Re: Wood gas boilers

id take a water heated floor anyday over forced air! they put forced air in trailer houses because its cheap not good. boiler on basebords would be 2nd choice for me to in floor boiler heating.
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