In Detail: The Wood Burning Beaver XR7

The Mercury Cougar XR7 had little measurable impact on the American automotive landscape, but the Cougar featured in TRANSLOGIC 64 is a little different--so much so that its owner even changed its name. Although "Beaver" is a strange moniker for a car, Chip Beam has a good reason for naming his ride after the trunk-chewing critter; after all, the Beaver XR7 runs on wood (or any other organic material) through a process called gasification. The wood is pressed into pellets to increase energy density, resulting in a longer burn. The pellets are then decomposed in an onboard furnace, which controls the burn by regulating oxygen levels. The result is a sort of charcoal type material that lets off hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane gases. These gases are then sent through further high temperature chambers, cooled somewhat, then released into the Beaver's V6 engine where combustion occurs.

Because the car's factory engine is still powering the vehicle, all the car's original accessories still function. The radio, air-conditioning, power windows and safety equipment all work as they were designed

The original 1990 Mercury Cougar XR7 uses a supercharged V6 (the LS model was not supercharged), which makes it an ideal donor for gasification conversion. The supercharger forces more gas into the engine cylinders, resulting in a wood-burning car that feels more like the gasoline powered vehicles we're all used to.

The car is still using an internal combustion engine, but it's not direct combustion like a gasoline powered car. In the Beaver, the material can be burned more completely because it's burned at a higher temperature than gasoline burns inside the engine of a modern automobile. This makes the wood burning car cleaner because the fuel source has been burned almost completely, leaving no ash or particulate matter.

There's even a way you can use garbage to run the Beaver. By soaking any organic material in water, even garbage, then using a press to make bricks, those bricks can be loaded into the gasifier and will run the car.

It may come as a surprise to some that the idea of running a vehicle on gasified organic material isn't new. During World War II many buses, tractors and even personal vehicles throughout Europe were powered by wood/gas generators. The downside is that the amount of energy stored in a wood pellet isn't nearly as much as that stored in gasoline. A wood burning car might not be as quick or powerful as a gasoline powered car, but, add it to the list of intriguing alternatives to burning fossil fuels.

Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 64: Wood Burning Beaver XR7:

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