Newbie needs cost estimate: woodgas people transporter

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Bioboat, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. blackdaisies
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    blackdaisies Senior Member

    You have people power, rowers. If you get a lot of volunteers, you can move across oceans if you have too. Free fuel? Methane made from cow, sheep, deer, elk poop. You set up a cistern type thing, let it work for however it does, I think you mix it, but you could search it. It becomes I guess a liquid gas and can easily be used in regular car, truck engines. You can find websites that show you how to change from gas to methane.

    As far as boats go, concrete hollowed floats. It is very cheap and many floating barges are made from them. They say it's the cheapest method of boat building, but you can make a floating city on those dugout canoes, if you put them side by side like a catamaran. You can have a convoy of smaller platform boats instead of one boat. It will better because of lower maintenance. Outriggers add more bouancy to the dugout canoes. Sail boats are great, but I don't know if you get too much wind in between hillsides on small water ways.

    I'm sorry to hear they found oil in the Congo. That only brings problems where ever they find it! LOL! In the long run it will be good for everyone. In Alaska, I think, they have to profit share with people in the state, so it will bring money to the citizens too. You would have to look that up though.
     
  2. Ratch
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    Ratch Junior Member

    Have a look at Stirling engines. They have been around since the 1930s. They work off heat differential having a hot cylinder and cold cylinder so in a boat are very effective as you use the river to to keep the cold side cold.

    The problem you are going to have is that these engines do not have the development history of internal combustion engines except for specialized applications like Swedish subs and cryogenic cooling. You would want something like the 1930's water pump updated to use modern tools. I believe once you have a design worked out a blacksmith with minimal tools could make them as the design is simple and there are few moving parts.

    Do some google research at the very least it is an interesting subject even if you decide to to pursue it.

    A thought on the thug problem might be to make your boat weird or very distinctive in such a way that it would not be worthwhile to try and hide it's original identity that way if you stole one everyone would know that it is a stolen boat. Bit like an old London double decker bus no amount of paint will cover up what it once was.

    Good luck with your project.
     
  3. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Ratch, thanks, I know stirling engines are efficient, but they're an obvious total no go for this project. They're not in production, they can't be made or fixed by ones own self (at least not efficiently or in a low-cost way), there are no spare part markets, and they're expensive.

    If there would have been half a billion stirling engines around, like there are ICE's, I would consider using them. But they're just way too exotic.

    We're sticking to the ICE for this project. A gasifier coupled to an ordinary engineICE, that's the easiest way forward. Steam engines, stirling engines, microturbines, scramjet engines are all interesting, no doubt, but they're just not practical.

    Remember, we will be using these boats in the world's most dilapidated and poor country, not in some high-tech NASA Space Lab, where you will indeed find the odd stirling. :)
     
  4. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Just wondering if a gasifier could be coupled to a 2stroke outboard. Surely one with separate lubrication but howabout the most common type (and easily available) with 1:100 ?
     
  5. Ratch
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    Ratch Junior Member

    Bioboat, The reason I suggested it was that is that they can be made on the cheap and do not need much in the way of skill or maintenance.

    Have a look at this model on youtube this is the basic engine in alpha configuration. It is really that simple don't get mislead by what NASA makes. The blue cylinder you stick in the water and the red light a fire under.

    Try this for a starting point. Make the cold cylinder out of an old 50L hot water heater tank and the piston out of wood with a seal from hemp or a strip cut from an old car tyre etc. The hot cylinder out of a 150L tank or section of steel pipe and while wood for the piston would work here too maybe something a little less flammable would be better :). The crank can made out of be old car axles.... Have a look around at what junk you can get, basically you need a small and large cylinder that will conduct heat, working pressures are low so almost anything will do.

    The difficulty is going to be building the first one and tweaking it so you have the design down pat i.e. some experimenting. Once you have done that making others will be cheap and easy and skill required will depend on your design. Maintaining them will be dead simple.
     
  6. kengrome
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    kengrome Senior Member

    Stopping frequently would end up creating excellent opportunities for every re-fueling station because people, fuel and supplies will be focused there. Each of these refueling stations might eventually become quite populated and developed (compared with the neighboring areas) simply because the boats will be stopping there all the time.

    You'd want to make sure the fuel manufacturers are competent in making good fuel of course -- and enough of it to make them all truly 'reliable' fuel stops -- but if the operators of these micro-enterprises start making any money at it which they certainly will, most of them will be very protective of their newfound opportunity and probably do a very good job for you.

    What is the work ethic of the Congolese people? Do they have a work ethic or are they basically lazy and irresponsible and unwilling to 'make the effort' even when the pay is reasonable?
     
  7. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Ratch, please show me one real working stirling engine that comes even close to an ICE, qua costs and efficiency.

    You show a virtual 3D-model. That, I can make too.

    The only stirling engines I know of, are those in high-tech labs, and they're being developed for deep-space missions. The other ones I know of, are the ones used in parabolic dish solar energy concepts. Experimental. Expensive. Not in production.

    So please show me a cheap working model instead of a 3D animation. :)
     
  8. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Good points, kengrome. Good of you also to check on the work ethic.

    I think you can't generalize about the work ethic of the Congolese. Most have to scratch to survive, simply because there are few decent economic opportunities.

    The projects I've been involved in so far (agricultural) all show people who work harder than most of us do, for 500 times less money (literally). They were all very motivated (and even at times exctatic) when they heard they could work in a formal context, instead of scratching in the informal economy.

    The real challenge will be to see whether they can deal with the micro-enterprise model. I can't be everywhere at the same time and I can't hire qualified managers. But then the Congolese are notoriously entrepreneurial - maybe a bit too much at times. These micro-enterprises will need some form of oversight, else I fear that at least some of them would become entirely different enterprises meeting some other type of local need - the Congolese know how to transform almost anything into an informal business that matches local needs.

    The work ethic is certainly there, but keeping my stuff out of the wrong hands will be the difficult thing. :)

    And another big hurdle would be corruption. You find it at all levels, from the tiniest local administrator, to the big chiefs of national administrations. They all use their power to steal whatever they can get their hands on, to confiscate stuff, and to ask for cash for every single step you want to undertake.

    But apart from that - lol - there is a good lot of Congolese who would be happy and motivated to work as fuel station owners and managers, I think.

    I would treat them like I would treat any employee over here. If they work well, they get rewarded, if they don't, they get kicked out. There's no reason to look at the Congolese differently than at our own work sphere. There are good, moderate and bad workers. Just like over here.
     
  9. erik818
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    erik818 Senior Member

    Bioboat,
    I guess your are updated on the use of wood gas in Sweden during WW2. I had a chat with my father about some details. A nationwide distribution chain for the fuel was set up in less than a year, so by 1940 the transports were running on wood gas. In 1940 the conversion kits were not very reliable. By 1945 they were, and the economy could function well on wood gas instead of petrolium. Cars, trucks, boats etc. were running on wood gas. Wood gas is dirty for the operator and require a lot of labour, so it was abandoned as soon as cheap petrolium became available. There was also the danger with carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Anyway, some of my father's cousins were teenagers at the time and had a two-stroke outboard motor but of course no gasoline. They converted it for wood gas and it worked well. Mostly they had fun with it, but it was also used to some extent by adults for more "serious" business. It was simple enough to operate so a couple of eleven years old boys could power it up and use it. The outboard was originally lubricated the usual way with oil in the gasoline. My father doesn't know how they solved the lubrication problem; it wasn't that interesting for an eleven year old boy. In some way they must have solved it.

    A lot of words, but the conclusion is that also two stroke outboards can be converted to wood gas and NASA doesn't need to be involved. With separate oil injection as in a modern two-stroke it shouldn't be more difficult than using a four stroke engine.

    Good luck with your project,
    Erik
     
  10. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Erik, thanks for the very useful info.

    Yes, I'm very much aware of the success of the woodgas era in Europe. The simple Imbert type gasifiers that were most used back then, are being re-made today by some individuals, and they work in a very straightforward way.

    True, doing woodgas can be a bit dirty, but hey, this is really about reducing costs. We're in the open air, on the Congo river, so there's not too much to worry about CO-poisoning.

    True also that gasifiers are relatively easily to operate and you don't need that many skills to make your ICE run on it.


    I have looked for recent examples of two-stroke outboards running on woodgas, but haven't found any. I did know it's possible to run diesel engines on woodgas too. But didn't know for sure about the two stroke.

    So thanks a lot for that info.


    When/if woodgas boats ever sail the Congo, then I invite you and your dad for a ride! :)
     
  11. blackdaisies
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    blackdaisies Senior Member

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing

    I thought someone here mentioned this type of engine, but in case they didn't, here it is. Wind boats are a good way to get around and they are solar powered or wind powered.
     
  12. kengrome
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    kengrome Senior Member

    High-tech and/or experimental solutions are hard enough to deal with in developed countries, they are really not the way to go in a third world country -- especially in a project to develop a reliable system that transports tons of people and supplies up and down a river on a regular basis.

    In a third world country with a project having these parameters you need to focus on systems that are easy to fix by the locals and have plenty of spare parts available nearby. When setting up a river transport in a third world country you should be looking at:

    1- Widely available used engines and parts
    2- Cheap fuel that can be made locally
    3- Strong and easily repairable hulls

    Although talk about HHO gas, wind power, solar power, and others may be interesting and enjoyable, these power systems are inconsistent or unproven and therefore (in my opinion) inappropriate to the goals of the project.
     
  13. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    I have been unable to find the speed you desire in your post.

    Should the river have a very sluggish current the posibility of human power still exists.

    The use of say 20 to 50 oars folks (PC) rowing might allow the vessel to run 25 miles a day , at a low cost.
    Historically there were some rather large oared boats in commerce for long periods.

    FF
     
  14. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Blackdaisies, there is no wind on the Congo River.

    Does corn from the U.S. Corn Belt get transported down the Mississippi River by sail boats? I didn't think so.
     

  15. Bioboat
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    Bioboat Junior Member

    Okay, a rowboat, cool too. :)
     
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