With the automobile industry slowly going electric, using wood as fuel hardly seems like the most practical solution. The technology isn’t exactly new. People have been creating wood-powered cars for decades, and they were actually quite popular during World War I, but in modern times, people have mostly built them as experiments, to prove that it can be done. Nowadays, more and more drivers in the Ukraine are fitting their old cars with wood burners and boilers to save money.
36-year-old Eugene Chernigov converted his old Opel into a wood-powered vehicle last year. Rising gas prices made driving to work every day an expensive affair, so he decided it was time for an alternative. A teacher of physics and mathematics by profession, Chernigov, learned about using wood as fuel from the internet and spent two months reading up on the topic and digging up literature on the subject dating back to 1939. He says building the alternative fuel system was a simple affair once he got a firm grip on the concept.
Chernigov attached a wood-burning stove and a metal canister to the back of his car, which connect to the engine of the car. The gas emitted from the wood combustion is stored into the metal canister, filtered, cooled and fed into the engine. His car consumes around 40 pounds of firewood per 100 kilometers, which costs him only 10 hryvna. By comparison, a liter of gas has an average cost of 20 hryvna. Depending on the quality of the wood used and how dry it is, the car can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, which is pretty decent. Chernigov says that he can use plastic bottles as fuel, as well, but nothing compares to dried mulberry.
Believe it or not, Chernigov says that his old Opel is now not only cheaper to drive, but also more environment-friendly. Instead of polluting fumes, the exhaust now expels only water vapor and carbon dioxide.
Sergey Iagoon, from the Donbass region, designed his first wood-burning car a few years ago, and says that after his success many others followed in his footsteps. He first converted an old Lada and then moved on to a Volga. Because he fitted the alternative fuel system in the trunk of the car, Iagoon says he never once had trouble with the police.
Chernigov and Iagoon were covered by Ukrainian media, but it’s believed many other drivers have turned to wood to save money. Chernigov told Segodnya News that he knows at least six other people who made the switch. A quick Google serch reveals dozens of photos of cars with wood-burning systems fitted either inside vehicles or on the outside.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs had stated that using unregistered energy units used to power cars is against the law. Such technology has to be studied to ensure that it poses no danger either to the people in the car or others.