While in Berkeley recently, we scoped out a future Peak Moment show with the innovative folks at All Power Labs. They produce (and, with their online forum of local tinkerers, are continuing to improve) a low-cost, open source design, “wood gasifiers experimentation kit” that uses biomass like wood chips to produce a gas which runs a generator to produce electricity.
We got a quick tour from designer Jim Mason. Brilliant design and simple manufacturing, with the right spirit: share and empower others. It enables distributed power generation, like at our place to charge the batteries in our solar power system in winter, or on farms in northern India.
Their units are manufactured from simple stock products, can be shipped worldwide by UPS. Using design templates, they can be manufactured in rural and third-world countries. At this point it’s not quite an off-the-shelf appliance one installs like a washing machine, but a tinkerer will have no problems.
A perfect example of of intermediate technology by and for the people (a la E.F. Shumacher, author of Small is Beautiful, which influenced my thinking about sustainability when I read it in the early 1970s). Thanks to viewer Grant Miller, developer of the Village on Sewanee Creek for this lead.