Old diesel engines from various car manufacturers like Mercedes and Volkswagen are highly prized even in modern times. Not only were these engines incredibly reliable and mechanically simple, but they can easily be modified to run on a wide variety of fuels. It’s common to see old Volkswagen Jettas or Mercedes 300Ds running on used vegetable oil or any other free flammable liquid that might otherwise end up in the garbage. [Gijs Schalkx] has an diesel Volvo 240 wagon, and rather than compete with all the other diesel owners looking for cooking oil, he modified this one to run on plastic waste instead. (Google Translate from Dutch)
While our Dutch language skills aren’t the best, what we gather about this project is that it uses standard solid plastic waste for fuel, but an intermediate step of cooking the plastic into a liquid is first needed. The apparatus on the roof is actually a plastic refinery which uses a small wood fire to break the plastic molecules into usable hydrocarbons, which are then sent to the engine for burning. The car is street legal and seems to operate like any other diesel of this vintage, although the fuel delivery system may not be able to provide it enough to get it going at very high speeds.
While it is possible to use wood to produce wood gas for fuel in an internal combustion engine like this wood gas-powered lawnmower, the hydrocarbon strings in plastic are essentially stabilized hydrocarbons from refining oil and have potentially much more available energy. Releasing this energy is generally difficult enough that used plastic is simply landfilled. [Gijs Schalkx] has made plenty of alternative fuel vehicles, too, like this moped that used locally-harvested swamp gas to ride around town.
Continue reading “Diesel Station Wagon Runs On Plastic”
As the world grapples with the issue of climate change, there’s a huge pressure to move transport away from carbon-based fuels across the board. Whether it’s turning to electric cars for commuting or improving the efficiency of the trucking industry, there’s much work to be done.
It’s a drop in the ocean in comparison, but the world of motorsports has not escaped attention when it comes to cleaning up its act. As a result, many motorsports are beginning to explore the use of alternative fuels in order to reduce their impact on the environment.
Continue reading “Motorsports Are Turning To Alternative Fuels”
When mowing the lawn, you generally have a choice of pushing power, electric or gasoline. Thanks to the nutty inventor [Colin Furze], you can now add wood gas to the list, as long as you don’t mind some inconvenience. He built a wood gas generator on top of a formerly gasoline powered lawn mower, so he can now run his lawn mower on wood chips.
Wood gas generators have been used with internal combustion engines for a very long time, reaching their peak in the later parts of WW2 when fuel shortages plagued Europe. When wood is burned at high temperature but with limited oxygen, it produces a combustible gas mix that can be fed into an internal combustion engine. [Colin]’s generator went through a number of iterations, and the problem-solving that goes into a project like this is always interesting to watch. We would not recommend running tests like these indoors, but we suppose no [Colin Furze] video would be complete without a bit of danger.
On his first version he had an extraction fan that was too close to the outlet of the burn chamber, so it melted very quickly. The combustion temperature was also not high enough, which required some changes to the chamber geometry. The main problem that plagued the project was filtering out the moisture and tar. [Colin] did eventually get the lawn mower to run on wood gas, but tar was still getting into the engine, which prevented it from starting the second time. The filtering system will need some refinement, which [Colin] will address in his next video, which he also hints will involve some sort of diabolical swing set. Continue reading “A Wood Gas Powered Lawn Mower”
In the race toward a future free from fossil fuels, hydrogen is rapidly gaining ground. On paper, hydrogen sounds fantastic — it’s clean-burning with zero emissions, the refuel time is much faster than electric, and hydrogen-fueled vehicles can go longer distances between refuels than their outlet-dependent brethren.
The reality is that hydrogen vehicles usually need fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. They also need pressurized tanks to store the gases and pumps for refueling, all of which adds weight, takes up space, and increases the explosive potential of the system.
Kurt Koehler has a better idea: make the hydrogen on demand, in the vehicle, using a solid catalyst and a simple chemical reaction. Koehler is the founder of Indiana-based startup AlGalCo — Aluminium Gallium Company. After fourteen years of R&D and five iterations of his system, the idea is really starting to float. Beginning this summer, these pucks are going to power a few trucks in a town just outside of Indianapolis.
Continue reading “Aluminium Pucks Fuel Hydrogen Trucks”
How many of you plan to build a wind-powered generator in the next year? Okay, both of you can put your hands down. Even if you don’t want to wind your coils manually, learning about the principles in an electric generator might spark your interest. There is a lot of math to engineering a commercial model, but if we approach a simple version by looking at the components one at a time, it’s much easier to understand.
For this adventure, [K&J Magnetics] start by dissect a commercial generator. They picked a simple version that might serve a campsite well, so there is no transmission or blade angle apparatus to complicate things. It’s the parts you’d expect, a rotor and a stator, one with permanent magnets and the other with coils of wire.
The fun of this project is copying the components found in the commercial hardware and varying the windings and coil count to see how it affects performance. If you have ever wound magnet wire around a nail to make an electromagnet, you know it is tedious work so check out their 3D printed coil holder with an embedded magnet to trigger a winding count and a socket to fit on a sewing machine bobbin winder. If you are going to make a bunch of coils, this is going to save headaches and wrist tendons.
They use an iterative process to demonstrate the effect of multiple coils on a generator. The first test run uses just three coils but doesn’t generate much power at all, even when spun by an electric drill. Six windings do better, but a dozen finally does the trick, even when turning the generator by hand. We don’t know about their use of cheap silicone diodes though, that seems like unintentional hobbling, but we digress.
Making turbine blades doesn’t have to be a sore chore either, and PVC may be the ticket there, you may also consider the vertical axis wind turbine which is safer at patio level. Now, you folks building generators, remember to tip us off!
Continue reading “Spin Me Right Round, Baby: Generator Building Experiments For Mere Mortals”