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Home > History of Development > Technology Through Time > Coal > Coal Cars—2

Technology Through Time

Coal Cars?  Part II

Gasoline Tractors, n.d., Suffield, AB.As the cost of gasoline and other liquid fuels rises the demand will increase for a cheap tractor fuel, particularly for farm operation. An investigation was therefore carried out to determine the technical feasibility of burning char from low rank Alberta coals in portable gas producers.

The investigation was carried out by Dr. A. D. Hogg, lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta, assisted by regular members of the Research Council staff. Most of the tests were carried out in a British Emergency portable, cross draft, gas producer kindly loaned by the National Research Council. Unfortunately, it was soon found out that this producer, although satisfactory for use with a very low ash content fuel like charcoal, was not adapted for coal char. It was not possible in the short time available, to obtain the use of a more suitable producer; but some supplementary tests were made in a simple, locally made producer, designed for studying some of the factors involved. All the tests were made with stationary equipment, rather than attached to a tractor, and were further handicapped because lack of a suitable exhaust fan made it necessary to operate under pressure instead of under suction.

Mixing a suitable amount of steam, or steam mixed with carbon dioxide, to simulate feeding back part of the exhaust from the engine, with the combustion air reduced the clinkering to a negligible amount. It was also found that the ash in the fuel is such that the fire required frequent cleaning. The heat value of the gas produced compared favourably with that produced in producers of this type with more commonly used fuels. It was concluded that, if the char is utilizable from an economic standpoint, the results of the tests warranted further work with a producer better suited to the fuel.

Alberta Research Council. [1945] Annual Report. With permission from the Alberta Research Council.

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