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

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.

    • See 7 previous
    • 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.

    • Slavuta Slavuta on Jul 20, 2022

      "war in Ukraine was totally optional." - no it wasn't. Everything was going that way for years. In fact, war was already there since 2014. America cooked this war, watch minute 2

      "concerns about Russia's behavior in Chechnya and Georgia" - I think this is settled now. Chechens are less than 2% of total Russian population. But in Current operation in Ukraine they presented by 8% of force. And it is all volunteer (paid). Georgian president was empowered by his American patrons and attacked South Ossetia and Russian peacekeeping troops. Today he is in Georgian prison, formally for corruption but really for being constant American puppet.

      Radicalized Islamic Chechen fighters from the 1990s wars and their children hid in the west, mostly London, Paris. West called them "freedom fighters". Russia called them terrorists. Not long ago, a son of one such person beheaded a teacher in France. This guy was brought to France as 6 year old and still became a terrorist. In US there was Boston bombing. 2 Chechen man that ran away from Russian police were accepted to US and bombed Boston marathon. Putin has created new Chechnya. Peaceful and patriotic.

      As you see, you're misinformed on these issues. If you read or listen American media and don't know the core issue about a country of which you know little, and then you write these things - you're just propagating the lies. This is not nice. And believe me, you have no idea about Ukraine.

      You probably never seen a live Chechen. I ate soup with them from the same bowl. Tough people.

  • Theflyersfan I was living in one part of the world when China and Russia were completing their 21st century scramble of Africa. They were pumping billions into the economies of these countries building new dams, bridges, skyscrapers, freeways/toll roads, utilities, power plants, you know - projects that would benefit the average resident of said location. All they wanted in exchange were the mineral, mining, fishing, timber, etc., rights of said location. And they got them. So during that era when they were looking at global expansion, we were fighting unwinnable wars and our "leaders" on the left were yelling at the "leaders" on the right and vice versa, and what happens when all you do is stare and focus on one thing like DC is known to do? The world moves on around you. And that's what happened here.We had the same opportunity to build Africa up and to make the same deals as other countries, but our "nation building" tends to take place via the conversion from something solid and standing to something in pieces and in rubble. So it looks like we'll continue to have to deal with hostile nations holding our feet into the fire and working through their many geopolitical issues just so we can continue to get cheap electronics and necessary materials in our manufacturing just because we decided around 40+ years ago to ship it all overseas because we wanted to save 50 cents on a pack of socks and the CEOs needed their next quarterly statement to look even better to the shareholders so they could increase their pay and bonuses, consequences be damned.
  • DweezilSFV I didn't think GM could make a worse looking truck than their full-sizers.Success.
  • DweezilSFV GM. Still trying to make OnStar happen.And still the answer to a question no one ever asked.
  • Corey Lewis Look, here's the voice warning record player!
  • Buickman as Donnie Brosco said... Forget about it.