Deutsche Bank Says Germans May Need to Switch from Gas-to-Wood for Heating this Winter, is Wood-to-Gas for Cars Next?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
deutsche bank says germans may need to switch from gas to wood for heating this

Germany’s Deutsche Bank has issued a note on the current energy supply situation that says that if Russia makes deeper cuts in the supply of natural gas to western Europe as a result of sanctions over the war in Ukraine, German households might have to turn to an alternative fuel to heat their homes, wood.

“There are lots of elements of uncertainty,” the note said. According to long-range weather forecasts, Europe is expecting a harder winter than it normally experiences. Russia has already cut shipments to countries like Bulgaria and Poland for their refusal to use rubles for payment. Also, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company has sent mixed messages over whether or not the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which has been shut down for maintenance, will reopen.

Deutsche Bank via

The Deutsche Bank note said if natural gas supplies are not sufficient, coal and lignite could replace natural gas in the industrial and power generating sectors but that for domestic heating wood could substitute. The idea of using wood for domestic heating is about as old as mankind but modern concerns about energy supply have made it relevant again. When the state of Texas had blackouts due to severe winter weather and renewable backup energy sources failing, many homeowners used fireplaces and wood stoves to keep warm.

If that comes to pass in Europe, this would not be the first time Germans and other Europeans would switch to wood for energy. During World War II, as many as a half million passenger cars were run on what is called “wood gas”, also called syngas or producer gas. Germany did not have sufficient supplies of petroleum for its military uses, so it developed synthetic fuels. General Patton even had some of the 3rd Army’s vehicles run on synthetic fuel that they drained from captured or abandoned German tanks. If the Wehrmacht, the German army, didn’t have enough fuel, you can be sure that regular Germans had to find alternatives for their motor vehicles. As a strategic commodity, gasoline was severely rationed during the war, in the United States as well as Germany.

In the 1920s, French chemist Georges Imbert invented a coal gasifier, later licensing the process to German firms.

Imbert Gasifier

Wood gas, sometimes called producer gas, is the result of thermal gasification of carbon-containing materials such as coal or biomass. It’s produced by pyrolysis and two high temperature (~1,300°F) reactions that produce, among other gases, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and methane, which are combustible. Fortuitously, conventional carburetted gasoline-fired internal combustion engines will run on wood gas just fine without extensive modifications. The biggest problem, literally, is finding space for the gasifier, about the size of a 50-gallon hot water tank. Some gasifiers were mounted to the car or truck, while in some cases the wood gas generator was trailered.

There were even thousands of “wood gas stations” in Europe, where motorists could stock up on wood.

Now, do I really expect millions of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and Volkswagens in Germany to start carrying around wood gasifiers? Probably not, petroleum supplies seem stable, but it’s hard to hear about Germans switching from “gas-to-wood” without thinking of the time when Germans used “wood-to-gas”.

[Image via YouTube]

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jul 18, 2022

    Love how Slavuta just rolls back in here like every assanine comparison he ever made between the US and Russia hasn't been proven to be a bunch of BS since he last showed his face around here 8 months or so ago. Enjoy your leave. It will be a long cold winter for you when you get back to the front. Unless of course you've deserted...I hear your countrymen are fond of that. as the undisciplined paper tiger of a fighting force you are. You may yet win that war, but no first world nation is scared of you chumps.

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    • Jeff S Jeff S on Jul 19, 2022

      @slavuta So you are saying the people of Ukraine should not be allowed to have their own government that they must bow down to the wishes of Putin? We declared war on Great Britain and fought for our own independence. It is Ukraine's business whether they want to be part of NATO and Russia's invasion of Ukraine only proves why Ukraine wants to join NATO. Putin is less interested in peace and more interested in putting the old Soviet Union together. NATO itself was formed after World War II to protect Europe from another dictator like Hitler and Mussolini. NATO is not interested in attacking Russia more like protecting themselves from Putin. Putin might eventually take over Ukraine and make it one of his satellites but he will not stop there he wants Poland then the rest of Europe. If this is what you want, Slavuta, then you need to go back to Russia. America does not need or want you. Most Americans don't want to be ruled with the iron hand of a dictator that murders those who disagree with him.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on Jul 20, 2022

    I just want to express my sadness at how badly international relations between Russia and "western" nations have caved in. I don't know how it felt from within Russia, but from a USA perspective, it felt like the tensions of the cold war had largely eased by the early 2010s. There were still concerns about Russia's behavior in Chechnya and Georgia, saber-rattling, and sports cheating. But I think a sense of shared humanity and mutual cooperation was growing. Old stereotypes were starting to lift.

    A lot changed in 2014, and even more has changed in 2022. I think many Westerners were shocked at the willingness of Putin and the Kremlin hardliners to kill to achieve their goals. I say goals, because while Putin frames the current conflict as a cornered Russia fighting for survival, anyone living in a NATO country knows that a war in Ukraine was totally optional. NATO has no aims of wiping out Russia, and if it did, Ukraine would not be essential to doing that. Some nations within NATO might imagine subjugating Russia, but there was never any chance of NATO uniting to fight an offensive war against Russia. At least, no chance in the absence of Russia invading a neighboring country ... which just happened. Putin must think that ruling Ukraine is really important, because his actions have made the world much more dangerous for Russians and everyone else as well.

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    • SPPPP SPPPP on Aug 23, 2022

      I appreciate your reply. I still disagree with you. A few thoughts here - sorry they aren't in paragraphs, but the website is not allowing it anymore. ... I can understand how Russia has concerns over the 2014 regime change in Ukraine. But at the same time, I think maybe some of those problems (corruption, nepotism, etc.) with Yanukovych were real. ... In response to the video: Anytime John McCain opened his mouth in a foreign policy context, I got nervous about what he might say. Maybe good intentions, but dangerous execution. That video talking about "offense" was, as I understand it, referring simply to getting back the territory that Russian-backed separatists swiped from Ukraine, including Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. As I understand it, that move violated the Budapest Memorandum from 1994 as well as later agreements. Maybe not everyone in Russia sees it that way. But I don't think McCain and Graham had any intention of taking additional territory from the agreed-upon Russian state. ... Aside from the video, here is the key point for me: NATO is a defensive alliance. I just don't see any way that NATO would get together, look at costs and benefits of attacking Russia, and come out agreeing to do it. If I lived in Russia, I guess I would be concerned about the possibility. But living in a Western nation and knowing how rare true agreement is, even between political parties in one nation, the idea that war hawks could get several nations moving toward an offensive war with unequal costs and benefits to each nation is hard to imagine. (Maybe if you believe in a secret society ascending to power in each nation or something like that ... but it's generally the stuff of spy fiction, not the real world, AFAIK.) ... As far as Russian provincial affairs, well, I don't say that terrorism never existed there, or that the Georgian or Chechen local powers were paragons of virtue. I hope this doesn't make you too angry, but I also don't believe that Chechens carried out the 4 apartment bombings in 1999. I say 4 because of the one that the FSB flubbed and it failed to detonate in Ryazan. ... I am glad that I live in a Western country because even if I don't agree with the ruling party, I am generally allowed to disagree and even speak out. You and I can talk about these things in the open. I can live my life without fear of retaliation from the government, or thugs sponsored by the government. If I was saying these things in Russia, I don't believe that would be the case. In a country like the USA, more than one interpretation of facts can be broadcast on the news. The narratives are allowed to compete. Yes, I know there is always a risk of corruption and influence over media. But even if you don't trust the media, discussion is allowed to happen through unofficial channels. Again, risk of corruption and influence over social media. But at least the people at Twitter or VerticalScope don't put polonium in our tea.

  • ToolGuy Here is an interesting graphic, if you're into that sort of thing.
  • ToolGuy Nice website you got there (even the glitches have glitches)
  • Namesakeone Actually, per the IIHS ratings, "Acceptable" is second best, not second worst. The ratings are "Good," "Acceptable," "Marginal" and "Poor."
  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.