Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wood Gasification and an Earthship

The on-line magazine Low-Tech Magazine has a great introductory article about wood fired cars.

Quoting from the above-linked article, ... Dutch John strongly believes in wood gas generators, mainly for stationary uses such as heating, electricity generation or even the production of plastics. The Volvo is meant to demonstrate the possibilities of the technology. "Park an Italian sports car next to a wood gas car and the crowd gathers around the woodmobile. Nevertheless, wood gas cars are only for idealists and for times of crisis.

I am convinced that using wood as a heating source and potentially an energy source makes a lot of sense where I live.  The forest products industry in British Columbia is huge, and we do not effectively utilize the waste wood from this industry (it is often completely wasted).

There is significant potential energy generation lost from all of that waste wood.  Most proposals and projects that attempt to harness this potential energy are large-scale and designed to fit with our existing centralized power generation and distribution grid. I (as I suspect are most people building earthships) am interested in a small-scale energy system that powers my needs and possibly the neighbor's.

There are now some excellent prototypes for wood gasification available, including free plans!  The typical route when considering independent energy generation typically starts with solar power.  I think we also need to be thinking about other locally appropriate, low-technology solutions.

I love this stuff!


jim mason said...

i have to admit it's terribly enjoyable reading about your adventure. great work and fun all of you.

if you decide you want to build one of the gasifiers, we'd love to help. i'm the guy behind the gek gasifier. the forum where the things happen is here:

come bother us and we'll get you welding, then making power soon there after.


Chris said...


I initially investigated gasification about ten years ago. Back then there was very little available though I got the FEMA manual and was keen to give it a try. Unfortunately, making a living got in the way …

I’ve been looking at the gek gasifier over the last six months. It is very impressive; you guys are producing a standardized unit, and a community is growing up around it that will hopefully lead to further innovation.

My plan is to build a small, stationary gasification power plant to provide the electricity for our new home.

Itching to start welding soon,


shane said...

wood gasifier? Sounds intriguing. We need to get together soon so I can pick your brain. I'm struggling to settle on a wood energy system for our place, but none of the currently available systems really make long term sense.


Sandra said...

Hi Shane, we need to get together with you and Siobhan soon! It's been too long. Had a lovely email from Jen..hopefully she received my reply and will set up a time to come by and see everything. My brother said he saw an article about her and Rowan in the paper...I'm intrigued. I lost all my email addresses when my laptop decided it was of better use as my doorstop...drop me a line at so I have the emails again! Chris would love to talk gasifiers with you...he is pretty pumped...

Anonymous said...


wood over all is a great energy source for sevearl reasons.
wood is freely available to any one, and is carbon neutral so is great for the environment IF used properly....many people give wood a bad rap because steriotipicaly wood smooks alot...this is only true if the appliance is not used properly...I sell EPA woodstoves and have 18 years as a chimney sweep, technolgy has com along way in the last ten years, wood stoves through a simple secondary air supply reburns the smoke before it enters the chimney. The effects are no smoke, no creasoote buildup so no chimney fires, and as a result the fuel use is cut up to half...some old stoves would use 5-7 cord over a season....EPA stoves use 2-3 cord to produce the same amount of heat.

Gasifacation is the future and the future is now...much of Europe is switching coal power plants to wood, shipping wood waste from northamerica. England has millions of small comunities...many of them converting to (Very, very , very clean burning) minature gasification plants for their heat, hot water, and even electriciy all rooled into one. Hear in north america capitalism rules the roost as governments and corporations don't want us sheaple to have clean free energy so this technolgy is all but unheard of.

I would like to see locals form a gasifacation club in which we pool our resources and ideas together....there is real potential