Prototype Wood Gasifier Build – Update 2

Prototype Gasifier Build
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Wood Gasifier Update

 

Well I’m here to give the second update for my prototype build. To be honest I have have had nothing but problems with my Everlast Power Pro 256’s plasma cutter.  Basically the plasma cutter will work but only for about 30 seconds until the units duty light comes on (unit is over heating).  The instruction manual says the duty light will turn off after 10 min or so … not mine ! It only turns off if you turn the unit off and then back on again.  The unit should have a 100% duty cycle at 20 amps, so this means my unit is still broken.  We shall see how everlast’s customers service department responds to this issue.

In the mean time I spend the time to build myself a air cooler for my air compressor.  I have always had an issues with water getting into my airlines and tools when using the compressor for long periods of time… Well plasma machines require exteremely dry air to cut properly.  I live in florida where there is usually very hot humid air, this is compressed in the compressor and then sent to the holding tank.  When the air is compressed in the compressor the air is heated as a result of compressing the gas. IF you use the compressor heavily the compressed air will heat up the tank and the air flowing to your gun will be very warm.  Warm can hold more water then cool air, so when the compressed air expands in your tools its condenses water out of the air due to the fact that air can no longer hold the water in suspension.  So how did I solve this ? I went to the local junk yard and removed an air condenser from a large vehicle to cool the air exiting the compressor before it enters the holding tank.   The air is cooled in the heat exchanger forcing the water to condense and then flow in to the first holding tank.  This pre- dryer drastically reduces the temperature of the gas causing the air quality of the gas to stay constant even during continuous use.

Air compressor cooler Side view

Air compressor cooler assembly

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

Water Separator Tank Weld

Initial tests of this system have shown great results as the air exiting the condenser is room temp if not cooler.  The air entering the condenser is soo hot It will burn you if you touch it at all.  I plan on measuring the temperature difference between the inlet and outlet of the  heat exchanger after heavy use.  Look for a video summarizing the my results in the next few days.

 

So what am going do about the plasma cutter you ask? Well first lets review what I have tried and what I have learned thus far:

 

1. Intially I was going to oxy/acetylene cut the stainless steel, but found out it doesn’t work well as there is very little carbon to oxidize (burn) it just doesn’t cut very well … so this option is out for stainless

2. Sheet metal shears.  I purchased a pair of grizzly sheet metal shears that only worked for five minutes.,  Larry suggested is use a cutting oil to aid the shears from dulling so quickly, but at this point I was tired of the shears and decided to sue my plasma cutter..  You can see my review of the shears by viewing my previous post on Grizzly’s  18 Gage Shears.

3.  Everlast Welder Generator Brands are not reliable and they have poor warranty repair / customer service.

4.  Attempted to use a thin carbide wheel mounted to a skill saw.  This option has worked the best so far.  The cuts are straight and quick with the use of a straight edge.  The issue being that each 4 foot section required 1.5 x 4inch wheels.  I later purchased a few 7inch wheels to try so may be able to complete one 4 foot cut per 7inch wheel.  I found these cutting wheels at lows they say they are designed for cutting stainless, but they sure do wear out fast.  This option only works for striaight cuts.  As the total cutting feeting required for this job I think it will be too expensive to use this option.  Not to mention the fact that you can not cut circles!

I looked into purchasing another plasma cutter but the cost is prohibitive right now due to my reluctance to buy anything coming out of china.  If I had my choce I would go with the Hypertherm ProCut 45 manufactured in NH.  this unit runs about 1800;00   After this Experience with everlast I won’t buy any more tools coming out of the far east.

I am going to research renting a plasma cutter.. I hope this option will be economical enough to allow me to finish cutting out the sheet metal for the prototype build.  If anyone has any other suggestions on how to cut stainless Steel sheet metall or about which type of plasma cutter to consider.. please place a comment just below this post.

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2 comments… add one
  • John,
    Congratulations on your stick-to-it-iveness! If you want to continue with straight-cuts using the abrasive cut-off wheel, try keeping the cutting interface flushed with water so that no sparks are made. This will dramatically increase cutting speed and longevity of the cut-off-wheel, and you won’t have any nasty dust to breath in! Have you inquired as to the cost to have the parts CNC cut? Laser cutting is the best, but more expensive than plasma cutting, which is close enough after filing off any protruding slag. It will easily become cost-effective when you get into the welding.

    • Jfedock

      Thanks, Larry I appreciate the kind words. I learned long ago that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Sometimes you just have to keep pressing forward. I rented a plasma cutter on Friday ( its a nice miller unit) . I have made significant progress over the last two days cutting out the sheet metal blanks. I hope get to the metal supply house tomorrow to have the sheets rolled in to cylinders! thanks for all of your support! We are now on our WAY!

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