Site Suggestions, Support and Resources > Podcast Transcripts


(1/7) > >>

The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      726
DATE:      August 17, 2011
TITLE:      Alternative Energy Production Q&A Session with Steven Harris
SPEAKERS:   Jack Spirko & Steven Harris



Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.

Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.

His first appearance was one of the all time audience favorites on The Survival Podcast so today he returns to answer audience questions on anything and everything alternative energy.

<intro/housekeeping 0:00 - 4:46>

Jack Spirko: And with that, as I said we are fortunate to have one of our all time favorites guest coming back to the show. Steven Harris, again guru of things alternative energy. You guys just absolutely seem to have fallen in love with Steven when I brought him on the show. I think it always cool when you bring a guest that brings new things to the table. Things that maybe we hadn't thought of before. And we brought somebody that got so many new things going on that is just generated, just massive wave of questions in the audience. I want you to know, if you don't hear your question today, it is because we are going to go an hour and a half today I think. Maybe longer and that is only half of what came in.  I am going to try to get Steven to come back and do another Q&A show. With that I just want to say, again we are fortunate to have steven on the air with us today. Hey Steven welcome back to The Survival Podcast.

Steven Harris: Jake I am so thrilled to be back. I have got to say, I have been on a lot of radio interviews and stuff. No one has given me the response like your listeners have. I mean, it is a community that you have here that is just beyond description. They ask me questions. They bought things. They wrote in questions to you. They wrote me questions. I just never ever had anyone, usually you hear crickets chirping after i do a radio interview with real radio. The Survival Podcast is just beyond outstanding and the listeners are just fantastic.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, I am so gratefully for them. They have made the show what it is. When i started this show out it was just me. Now it is really a lot more then me. In fact I would say everything that the show represents is because of the community. I am glad you felt that welcome from them and i know they are really excited about having you back on. If i could i would like to get into the questions these folks have for you today.

Steven Harris: Yeah, we got a lot of them. Let's start moving through them so we can give these people some good great hands on stuff.

<Time 6:50>
Jack Spirko: Sure!  First question came in said, "Jack I was wondering if Steve could talk about wood gasification applications such as carbureted versus fuel injected. And how to control the proper mixture to prevent tar production gumming up the engine."

Steven Harris: First of all, it is completely irrelevant whether you have fuel injection engine or carbureted engine. The fuel is coming in with the air though the throttle by the intake from the gasifier and going with the air into the cylinder, which is being compressed and then ignited by the spark plug. Your fuel injectors are just basically plain turned off. Your fuel pump or your carburetor is just plain turned off. You are just running straight off of the wood gas. Sense the majority of the gas coming in is carbon monoxide base and there is also hydrogen in there, coming in it. Basicly, C O and H2. You don't even need to change the timing of the engine like you would for pure hydrogen because the carbon monoxide likes to ignite at about the same spark timing as gasoline does. It is literally make your generator, your gas generator, and hook it up to the vehicle and let the vehicle suck it in. Now, you have to valve it correctly. You got to have a valve for air coming in. You got to have a valve restricting the amount of gas coming in. You have to have a third valve. These valves are fully documented in the book "Hydrogen generator for vehicle engines volume 3 and 4." Volume 3 and 4 are important. It covers the air fuel mixing with pipes and valves off of shelf from Home Depot, full pictures and diagrams. I will have a link to those books at but to reiterate fuel injection  or carbureted doesn't matter. It will run off of wood gas.

<Time 8:44>

Jack Spirko: Very very cool. I think it is something people are going to rely on your additional resources for. That is not something that you can explain to something here. You know put this nut, this bolt, and this pipe together on an audio. Basically the answer is that it doesn't matter. You can do this with either vehicle so that's cool. Next person is asking about  "Large production gasoline generators. 100 kilowatts or more. Use on a large scale." I guess maybe they want to sell electrify to the power company or something like that.

Steven Harris: This is something that you can do. You can go buy a 100 kilowatt generator and you can hook it up to the power grid. Do the phase matching. You can generate your own power from wood. It can be done and there are people doing it. You get all sorts of different credit for doing it. Some places have to buy "Renewable Energy" and you'll actually get 8, 10, 15 cents a kilowatt hour, instead of what is called the differed rate of 1.8 to 3.2 cents a kilowatt hour.  Which makes it financially viable, you can do it. The 100 kilowatt generators, they come on a small trailer, like a trailer with 2 or 3 axes on it. Maybe 15 or 16 feet long. You can pull them behind a pickup truck. That is an idea to give you how big a 100 kilowatt generator is. You are going to need to have a stationary wood gas generator for them. Which is almost going to be equal in size of or bigger than the generator itself. The important thing with doing it like this is, is that you need to have a really good fuel feeding mechanism. Because it is not the gasifier that is hard to do. Gasification is pretty straight forward. It is the feeding of the material into the gasifier that is the labor intensive time production part. Our book, "Hydrogen generator for vehicle engines volume 6" is all about big stationary gasification. Especially material feeding mechanism and gas clean up. It makes it a whole lot easier, again we will put a link to this at  And now is the time to buy the generator like this. There is a recession on. Now is the time to buy. These things are going at world record low prices right now and you can pick one up for 10 cents, 15 cents, 20 cents on the dollar. It's very viable.

<Time 11:21>
Jack Spirko: That is a pretty good size system too. I remember when i was in Honduras we had 2 large generators. I don't remember there size. they were bigger than 100 kilowatts that ran the whole camp. They looked like... Man I tell you what, when they brought one up the first time you could hear it clear across things. I wish i could remember what the wattage of those things were, but they were absolutely massive. 100 kilowatt is something, like you say, you can tow around with a little pickup truck if you wanted to. One thing we need to mention, you were talking about a differed rate and going rate, I guess you would say. Are there some states where you can't even do it either way? Or do all states have to buy it at the differed rate right now?

Steven Harris: Well, generally they will buy from you at the deferred rate. That definitions is "The price that they will be paying for electricity, when they build the next power plant. Which will be a coal or a nuke." Which is about 1.8 to 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour. Right now you're paying between 8.5 and 10 cents a kilowatt hour. Unless you're in the socialist republic of California who have artificially taxed their electricity to 20 to 25 cents a kilowatt hour. It varies from county to count, from state to state, and location to location. There are places that won't buy back your power. There are places that will only net meter power. Where they will take your power, but will only give you credit for as much as you actually use in your house or your business. If you produce more they keep it. It just varies all over the place. There is no standard really at the moment.

Jack Spirko: I am going to through an extra question in here then. Would a person benefit at all, if they could get a lot of scrap wood cheap, from building a gasifier? Getting a typical generator, more like somebody would use as a backup generator, not a big standby one, but you know a 75K or 100K or something like that. Hooking that up and basically setting that up to net meter, so it would run maybe a few hours a day. What ever surplus it provided would net meter back. Or is that just too much trouble for the return.

<Time 13:38>
Steven Harris: If that is your area of expertise. If you can fabricate or you want to buy the gasifier and you want to hook it up to the generator. You want to do the matching to the grid and you have someone that can help you do this, like a professional electrician. It would be worth the effort. Especially if you had; one the time and two you have the source of free material. It is entirely possible to do. You are going to have to jump through a few hoops, but it is possible. It would work. It would be beneficially. Not if you are slammed with having 4 kids and working 50 hours a week. It wouldn't be worth it to you.

Jack Spirko: I guess unless you can tell them kids, "An hour a day you are out there feeding the gasifier"

Steven Harris: Yeah, you want to feed the gasifier about once or twice a day, ideally. There are some systems out there where you can... The ones i was working on in Texas, we would actually load it with a front end loader. There would be a big grain auger and it would feed the gasifier. It would run for days. But that was an experimental unit we were working on. That is the real way to do it.

<Time 14:47>

Jack Spirko: Very very cool. Next person sticking on the wood gasification thing. "Please ask how we can best start out with wood gasification. I have never seen it before and I would like to start something small before i invest too much. also would my neighbors object to a huge boiler belching fire in my back yard."

Steven Harris: <laughs> One, the hydrogen gas generator book volume 3 and 4 is the best one to start with. I has hands on instructions. There are no boilers in gasification of wood. There are no steam engines. There is no belching fire from a boiler. You are running internal combustion engine directly from the "wood smoke." And if you live your life around what your neighbors think, you'll do nothing but except mow your lawn.

Jack Spirko: You know it make me think of one kink in the works here. If you are going to rely on this, you need to plan for in your seasonality. Right now my county and half of Arkansas, in spite of the resent rains is still under a burn ban. I think that is one thing people should plan for there.


Steven Harris: This is not burning. Wood gasification is not burning at all. It is completely inclosed. It is contained. It is sealed. You are not burning the wood, you are doing a gasification of it. A partial oxidation of it. It does not qualify as burning in any shape or form. It would be like saying you couldn't run your wood furnace to heat your house, because...

Jack Spirko: Because the flame is contained

Steven Harris: The flame is contained, completely.

Jack Spirko: Ok. That makes sense. You don't even have a lot of smoke either because the smoke is being consumed by the generator. You are not even going to have a noisy neighbor report you then.

Steven Harris: You have smoke on startup. You generally use an air blower to suck the air through or to push the air through to start the thing up and heat it up for about 5 minutes.

Jack Spirko: Ok

Steven Harris: In that time it can smoke, but no smokier then having a fire in your backyard. Like a pit fire or something.



[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version