Wood for Ore?

Posted on August 23, 2012

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Hiking a few weeks back, we got into a speculative debate about low-impact lifestyles that rely on woodburning (vs coal, oil). What’s the equivalency between using ‘standard’ utilities and wood? How much wood would I burn through to run a laptop for, say, a morning?

Catan aside, how would this trade really work out?

Well, this isn’t specific to laptops, but hey, what do you know:  (a) You can power a car truck with wood.  I had no idea that was possible, but: … neat?  And (b) here’s an article comparing said truck on wood and on gas.

Answers!

Sort of!

According to some awesomely crazy folk over at Mother Earth news, you can outfit a truck to run on wood.  Those of you with a handy welder, anyway.  And a woodlot, I suppose. There are hitches, they report, but overall they were happy with the results:

“little did we realize, at that time, just how well the unlikely form of “solid” energy would work in a “liquid” world,”

OK, so, not going to hack apart the Focus to do this.  But, I’m still intrigued by what this might imply re: wood-burning vs gas-burning power.

  • The truck was more efficient on wood. Which raises the question, would that be true in other (non-car) applications too, or is that unique to their Dodge?
  • 1.25 miles per pound of dry wood.
  • 5,200 miles per cord
  • “Firewood in most rural areas sells for around $50 per cord. So if I were to buy wood, I could travel for less than a penny per mile”

Of course, it’s not just about money. There are other costs.  But, these folk are arguing that farmland currently devoted to corn for ethanol “could produce wood for nearly 23 million drivers, assuming 1.5 cords/acre (managed for max yields)” and, moreover,

“Current “readily available” logging waste is about 49 million tons per year. This can fuel about 9 million drivers.”

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