Sunday, October 23, 2011

Daddy's Goofy Gas

As you've no doubt guessed by now, I simply love getting news from reading the daily papers!

Recently I saw a headline I'd normally have ignored: A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood.

B-o-r-i-n-g??? Yup. Ordinary folks might think so, in this super-advanced world of hi-tech and instant UFOs and unheard of quakes-explosions-germs-out of mind earth antics.

But not to me. . .

If plain folks can spin car gas from wood, then I might have become a next-door sugar-borrowing neighbor of Warren Buffett, the Rockefellers or our guy Mike Bloomberg. Had history come out differently.

I peered at the small print to find out who-in-hell had finally cracked the secret. . .

It seems a Georgia company, Renmatix, has a process that puts plain ole wood chips, they call cellulosic biomass, into a small pressurized chamber. The material that remains is pumped into a second pressurized vessel. This company uses only pressurized water. Their plant in Kennesaw, GA, has a pilot-scale plant that processes three tons of mixed wood chips a day.

A bigwig in energy and the environment boasted that they would succeed in producing tons of gallons of what could be motor fuels!

Aw, shucks!

Mercy me!

My father, who fancied himself an amateur inventor, was way ahead of these little ole Georgia boys.

I was too young to know the particulars, but I know that Daddy invented his own gas – or motor fuel – during the war when we lived in Norfolk, VA. Not out of wood chips, but a whole garage filled to the ceiling with mountains of sawdust!

Whatever he added to the piles of sawdust, that he bought somewhere on the VA-NC border, he was able to run the family Ford for a couple of years on his invention of gas.

Granted, when we started out on the weekly family outing, the whole car would LURCH forward in one VIOLENT motion. Scary now, but then I found it thrilling, like a roller-coaster ride! I was too young to wonder what it all was made of, or even to be scared. All I knew was there was a real big gas shortage and my Daddy had invented a way so we could go out for a drive!

I never knew what he added to the sawdust or what made the stuff run the car engine. All I recall was that after a couple of years I heard him say that the car engine had turned to mush!

We never knew what made it work.

All we knew was it was Daddy's Goofy Gas.

And, by golly, it worked!!!

Thelma Straw


  1. Have no idea! But we went on rides! He and my mother are long gone, so no way of knowing til I get on the next planet myself...tjs