Now I do not know if during the second world war if cars in the USA were converted to run on Producer Gas, but certainly cars in Australia were converted to run from coal and dry wood and I have seen photographs of these converted cars with the burner on the back. I suspect the USA did not suffer from lack of petrol during the two world wars, so it may never have been done there, but at that time Australia was not self sufficient in petrol as it is now and these Producer Gas cars were common enough and apparently worked well and went everywhere.
Producer gas is a gaseous fuel having a rather low calorific value. It is produced by blowing air over hot coal or coke. If the temperature during the production process is kept high enough, the favored reaction is 2C + dioxygen yields 2CO. Because this is an exothermic reaction (one in which heat is given off), the necessary high temperature can be readily maintained. The gas produced is about 35% carbon monoxide and 65% nitrogen. Because the calorific value is low (1,000-1,400 Kcal/cu m; 120-160 Btu/cu ft), transportation costs are an important factor. As a result, its main use is as an industrial fuel produced close to where it is needed.
John T. McMullan
Report by Darryl.