by Bryan Henry
August 4, 2008 | WSFA News
MONTGOMERY, AL - Going green in a really green Dodge pickup truck. The man behind the color is Wayne Keith, an Alabama cattleman, trucking along with his bio-truck.
"The actual gasifier was used in World War Two," said Keith.
Wayne Keith has modified an old creation, a 'gasifier' to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide to power his pick up. Keith says he's used switchgrass and even chicken litter for fuel. Today, it's wood. It's a complicated process.
"You put it in there [the gasifier] and you burn it and it breaks down and that sends hydrogen which comes through the rails on either side of the truck. That's the cooling system, and then it goes back through the filter and to the engine," said Alabama Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.
Keith's modified gasifier has since caught the attention of those promoting renewable energy. In fact, several companies along with Commissioner Sparks will sponsor a coast-to-coast trip for Keith and Auburn University professor Dr. David Bransby. The goal? Make people aware and prove a point on the open road.
"Most people think you have to have liquid to run a vehicle but you don't," said Keith.
From a practical point of view:
"I don't think folks are ready to start hauling wood and gasifiers in the back of their vehicles but the point is the technology is there," Sparks said.
And by the way, what kind of gas mileage does Wayne Keith get?
"On this particular truck I know I can get 5,000 miles per cord of wood," said Keith who claims his truck can go 80 miles an hour on the wood fuel.
Put it another way? One long but cheap trip ahead for Wayne Keith and Dr. Bransby.
Bransby and Keith will leave from Charleston, South Carolina, on September 29th.
Once they arrive in Berkeley, California, Keith will participate in a road race to Las Vegas with other drivers who will use similar biomass fuel. Keith and Bransby are expected to be back in Alabama by October 17.
Commissioner Sparks estimates we're about 5 years away from using some form of biomass fuel on a regular basis.