Is GEK A Modern-day Mr. Fusion?

[Nanomonkey] spent the weekend building generators that run off of syngas. All Powers Lab produces Gasifier Experimenter Kits to convert raw material to energy. The kits use Gasification to make a “natural gas like” fuel from materials such as wood chips, walnut shells, construction debris or agricultural waste.

So is this the Mr. Fusion that powered the DeLorean? This Honda fitted with a GEK sure makes it look that way. But all joking aside, this looks like a great way to turn waste in heat or electricity. There’s tons of info on the site to dig through. The controllers are open source which would make it easier to interface with the Google PowerMeter when the system is used as a generator.

42 thoughts on “Is GEK A Modern-day Mr. Fusion?

  1. @Erik J: have you smelled one with walnut shells? its not too bad. well worth the smell in my opinion. It really is like doc filling up mr fusion and powering a car off it. (although its probably not 1.21 gigawatts…) either way, you could have one running a genset at your house to charge your fully electric car!

  2. Now try and make it not look so ungainly. Which was the problem to begin with.

    If Mr. Fusion was (will be?) a plasma furnace and not a fusion reactor, then it actually would (will?) be the same thing as this.

    What’s the proper tense to use when referring to an item from the future that was made famous in the past?

  3. Just to clarify, the GEK is an experimenter’s kit, it’s meant to be modified experimenting with different types of gasification methods (downdraft imbert, updraft, biochar, etc) and it is meant to be an open source easily manufactured device which is why it looks a bit ungainly to some.

    All Power Labs has been able to run a variety of internal combustion engines off of the woodgas produced, from a spark converted Lister (single cylinder diesel), a Kohler vtwin and also the above car.

    It’s pretty exciting to produce 10 kW of electricity all from discarded organic matter.

  4. hope it has good ash separator and wet filter. aside form problems with gasifiers that tend to melt itself when forced to make mostly H2 and CO, ash is notorious for its abrasive effect on combustion chamber.

  5. Why the hell don’t you just make the syngas at home and then pump it into a car converted to run on natural gas, saves hauling around the generator wherever you go.

  6. Despite Back to the Future referencing 2001 as it’s time line hook for Mr. Fusion, I would like to note that the term “modern-day” would be better replaced with “contemporary.”

  7. Also.. I don’t think I have ever seen a super mutant in a vault.. I’m pretty sure they were located in Mariposa Military Base and that weird Temple basement.. and I don’t recall either one being more than just simple military installations that happened to have similar construction to vaults.

    err… yeah.

  8. THis is so NOT new. DUring the war, when fuel was in short supply, they used to convert busses in the UK to run on gassified wood. ( cook wood in an enclosed chamber, and feed the off-gasses to the car cylinders ).
    Now we have isuzu’s that run on wood :

    and a truck that runs on coffee grounds.

    have fun!

  9. That looks incredibly convenient; and I bet you could sit curbside at the airport, waiting for a friend, all day long and never be bothered by security. Plus, it’s just so aerodynamic.

  10. @space Yes, there is both a cyclonic filter and a filter bed to capture moisture, tars and ash. It’s very important that the gas be clean before feeding it to your IC.

    @HIrudinea making the syngas at home is a possibility, although cracking the tars is achieved much more efficiently if you can use some of the waste heat from your IC. Also, compressing gas consumes energy. Most of these units are meant for home power in rural areas where there is no grid. Or people in the case of the Shipyard (, had their power turned off by the city for more political reasons.

    @PocketBrain what is convenient is taking a cross country trip and never having to stop for gas, only stopping to pick up organic matter left along the side of the road. Check out,

  11. @nanomonkey Yeah, I know, I remember seeing a little bit about a guy who was traveling cross-country with one of these on a pickup truck (a bit more massive than these units) who stopped by construction sites for scrap that he could consume. Real People was the show, early ’80s. Now let’s revolutionize this unit so it fits under the hood and doesn’t look like you’re fumigating for termites whilst distilling an excellent moonshine in your car.

  12. Want to see how this stuff works? Take a steel can and put scraps of natural fabric in it (cotton / linen). Cover it with aluminum foil and poke a pinhole in the top. Heat it way up (BBQ or otherwise). Eventually, it will begin to smoke, and if you bring a flame close to the smoke, it will ignite!

    If you heat it until it no longer smokes, remove from heat, allow it to cool before removing the lid (important, otherwise it will spontaneously ignite) you’ll end up with charcloth, which is an surprisingly effective type of tinder that ignites with the slightest spark — useful for starting fires with flint and steel or with a fire piston.

  13. @ yn0t …

    I doubt we’ll ever know, because you’d have to have a deathwish to take late 80’/early 90’s Accord to 88 mph, especially one that has a fuel refinery rigged to it.

  14. I really doubt vehicle using either syngas or woodgas will deliver the everyday performance most are used to and expect. During the lean times of WWII woodgas seemed suit for the slow and low traffic density of of rural areas or urban areas where lack of more desirable fuels lead to conditions similar to rural areas. Using this energy to recharge the batteries of an electric car might be the most practical way of using this energy in motor vehicles for “the masses”. Anyway power to those who can make this to fit their needs

  15. It won’t hit 88 mph because woodgas/syngas has roughly half the energy density of gasoline vapors mixed with air.

    Woodgas is well suited for large engines only. On small economy cars, you’ll have to deal with having a 40 HP engine.

    During the post WW2 fuel shortages in Europe when these things were used extensively, it was not uncommon for people to have to push buses uphill because they couldn’t make it with the people inside. Lorries used reserve tanks of gasoline to switch fuels when they needed power, but since gasoline was so expensive and rare, the most common solution was to floor it a mile ahead from the hill.

  16. come on hack-a-day this surfaced a while ago on make why just now on “had” are we stretching for content — still a great post but….. keep up the goodies like you always have

    what happened to the hack a day links

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