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Wooden Car Powered By Wood-Burning Boiler

Dutch artist and inventor Joost Conijn refitted his Citroën with wooden panels and installed a wood-burning boiler for propulsion. He then traveled around Eastern Europe, documenting people's reactions to his odd car.

I'm just a bit skeptical because the engine in the video doesn't sound like steam engine and the car moves at a pretty phenomenal rate of speed for a steam engine. But I have read that during World War II, some cars in Sweden were converted to wood-burning engines due to a scarcity of oil, so a functional steam engine modern car should be hypothetically possible.

What do you think? Is this real or a hoax? via Make | YouTube Video | Artist's Website (Google Translator Version)

A steam powered wooden car is feasible, this one runs off of wood gas though. The sound you hear is a 'normal' internal combustion engine I believe.
Great post as always, thanks!
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I believe it was called "Producer Gas" I think the wood was distilled in the burner and the resulting gas was burned in a regular engine. Or something like that.
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Absolutely genuine. Wood gasification plant at rear, it will run, albeit with slightly reduced power, in a standard, carburetted engine.
Wood-gas fired tractors were moderately common in scandinavia at one time, as the fuel is free, a by-product of the forestry work those tractors were engaged in.

The gas being utilised, by the way, is carbon monoxide.
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Back in the 80's Mother Earth magazine had a series of articles showing a pickup truck converted to run on wood gas. It was an interesting looking rig made from various plumbing supplies and surplus/recycled hardware. Looks like they recently published a modern follow-up:
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soubriquet - and hydrogen, usually. It's similar to coal-produced town gas. It also has a lot of other things in in, some of which aren't nice at all.
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Coalgas or woodgas was used widely to still be able to ride with normalwise gasoline-cars in the Waryears all over Europe by all who could afford it- Not by a long shot in those days only in Sweden. This Dutch guy just raked back to some stuff some of his grandparents or uncles or whatever had done.
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It's real. I made a video about a guy last year who converted his pickup truck to run on wood, pine needles, even old leather boots- really anything that's biomass. His engine sounds and appears similar to the engine in the wooden car.

You can see the video of Dave Nicol's truck at:

Dave's site has more info on his truck and the concept in general.
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Absolutely genuine....In Denmark many cars were outfitted with gasifiers during the occupation in WWII.
The gas generator would extract gas from wood or brown coal to run a completely ordinary engine. They were called "Gen-gas cars" in the colloquial for generator gas, and the technology is fairly simple.
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In the Martin Cruz Smith book HAVANA BAY, there's a converted wood-burning taxicab in Cuba.

It's a novel, but I would bet that this isn't made up of whole cloth; the author probably had seen some precedent.

It should be noted that, in the book, the car can only go a few miles per hour, the idea being basically, well, it's better than walking from the airport carrying your luggage.
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I see several have already mentioned it was not steam, but producer gas. Drat! There existed a steam Citroen, built in Canada in the late '70's. Pictures are on the web if you search deep enough.
For those of you interested in the tech behind this, I suggest rolling on over here:
( Lindsay Publications). All sorts of books on "hands-on" DIY and older tech that still does the job.
Have a great New Year!!
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Yes it was common to run these wood 'digesters' on cars throughout Europe during WWII when petrol/gasolene was rationed and often hard to get.

As for steam cars, yes they can go fast - Jay Leno a couple of years ago was clocked over 75mph on a US freeway in a 1906 Stanley steamer running on kerosene. Some modern ones have been produced by individuals - but there were some experiments by the big manufacturers in the 1970s, including Saab and GM - neither put the car into production though - a great pity.
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The process is known as 'pyrolization", and it essentially partially decomposes the wood into a burnable gas. It is carbon-neutral too as burning wood produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as it would rotting on the ground. It would of course produce more particulates, so a solution would have to be found for that. During the 1920's thought the 1950's it was a popular technology as gasoline was either expensive or in short supply. There were factory produced wood gas cars made by Volkswagen and Toyota, and GM and Ford offered factory retrofit kits. Today, these boilers are highly prized as they are of a very good quality as compared to most of the home brew solutions used today.
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The actual steam powered Citroen DS is mine and was made in the US in 1974. The website is

I do like the idea of producer gas and think it could be made easier than a steam car. If it really isn't very user friendly for everyday use, then perhaps you don't have to use it every day.... This is great fun and that's what it was for--an adventure.
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