After the Apocalypse You Can Still Run Your Motorcycle on Wood Gas

Wood gas powered Ural for the post apocalypse world

Wood gas powered Ural for the post apocalypse world

When zombies are shuffling all across the landscape it probably won't be long before leftover gasoline begins to disappear, then what? Well, you could park your sidecar rig and start walking, or you could go the flex fuel route and run it on wood gas. That's what they did in WWII and that's what this guy did over in Russia.

On what looks to be a pretty well used Ural, he mashed together a lot of basic raw materials like an old milk can, some steel pipe and a bit of angle iron into a functional wood gas generator. Nothing high tech here, this is about as basic as it gets, but it works.

Wood gas, or "producer gas," is the result of incomplete combustion of carbon materials like wood or charcoal. The gas given off consists of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane, among the combustible components, the rest being primarily nitrogen. Feed the gas into your engine and off you go.

Wood gas powered Ural for the post apocalypse world

Wood gas powered Ural for the post apocalypse world

Of course, you need the gas generator on the vehicle and a supply of wood or whatever other carbon source you're using so it's pretty bulky. The power is low, but the engine will run which may mean the difference between living another day or being overrun by the undead.

Gotta love some of this low tech, but very functional DIY engineering over in Russia. It reminds me of the three wheel drive Ural we showed you last year. Not pretty, but cosmetics won't make it run any better. Now if you combined both of these bikes, a 3WD wood gas powered Ural, now, then you would REALLY have something.

Thanks for the tip, Doc!

Link: EnglishRussia


    • Paul Crowe says

      I knew it was one or the other and without any apparent emblems, guessed wrong. Is there something that marks it as a Dnepr? The two brands seem so similar to those of us who don’t know them really well, I couldn’t tell.

      • ton says

        Some differences are:
        Dnepr from Kiev has rectangular cast alloy valve covers. Ural from Irbit has pressed metal valve covers.
        Dnepr has a forged crankshaft with plain bearings. Ural has a pressed together build up crankshaft with ball bearings.
        Dnepr has gone bankrupt years ago.

  1. blackbird says

    When chaos reigns you can also run your motorcycle on drip gas. That’s the condensate found in natural gas well/ pipelines. You may want to lower your compression a tad for best results.

  2. todd says

    I wonder how viable it would be to generate the gas at home and then just fill the bike when needed. Wouldn’t start as many conversations though.


    • Tom says

      Not terribly. It’s one of the downsides of wood gas/producers gas/brown’s gas. Basically, it works because the heat of the combustion process breaks the gases down into these states. As the gas cools and condenses over time, it combines into a non-flammable mixture. The gas is best used as fresh as possible. It also isn’t terribly efficient, it will cut down the HP rating of an engine by about half, as it isn’t terribly energy dense. (All that nitrogen) That being said, I’ve seen tractors running off of it, city buses, and cars with trailers attached.

      • OMMAG says

        A business associate once powered up an old T56 turbo with a downdraft gas generator burning scrap wood and landfill (garbage dump) waste.

        Just an experiment to see if we could run an electric generator from garbage.

      • Matt says

        Would it be possible and/or efficient to re-heat the gas an electric heater on board the vehicle?