The term producer gas has different meanings in the USA and UK.
Producer Gas is a generic term referring to:
- Wood gas: produced in a gasifier to power cars with ordinary internal combustion engines.
- Town gas: manufactured gas, originally produced from coal, for sale to consumers and municipalities.
- Syngas: used as a fuel source or as an intermediate for the production of other chemicals.
In old movies and stories, when describing suicide by "turning on the gas" and leaving an oven door open without lighting the flame, they were talking about producer gas. It was odorless and poisonous. Modern 'natural gas' used in homes is far less toxic, and has an onion-like scent added to it for identifying leaks.
In the UK, producer gas, also called suction gas, specifically means a fuel gas made from coke, anthracite or other carbonaceous material. Air is passed over the red-hot carbonaceous fuel and carbon monoxide is produced. The reaction is exothermic and proceeds as follows:
- 2C + O2 → 2CO
The nitrogen in the air remains unchanged and dilutes the gas, giving it a very low calorific value. After "scrubbing", to remove tar, the gas may be used to power gas turbines (which are well-suited to fuels of low calorific value), spark ignited engines (where 100% petrol fuel replacement is possible) or diesel internal combustion engines (where 40% - 15% of the original diesel fuel is still used to ignite the gas ). During World War II in Britain portable plants were built in the form of trailers for towing behind commercial vehicles, especially buses, to supply gas as a replacement for petrol (gasoline) fuel. A range of about 80 miles for every charge of anthracite was achieved.
Compact producer gas plants were also used in Europ during WW II by the Germans and others, as an alternative to using oil based fuels which were in short supply.
Kits were produced to enable tractors to run on Producer gas but power output was reduced due to the properties of the gas.
- wikipedia:Water gas
- Glossary Index
- Mellor, J.W., Intermediate Inorganic Chemistry, Longmans, Green and Co., 1941, page 211
- Adlam, G.H.J. and Price, L.S., A Higher School Certificate Inorganic Chemistry, John Murray, 1944, page 309
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