Gasifier and Biochar Workshop


July 16-17, 2015

Maysville, Missouri, USA

Build Yourself. Build Your World.

The Gasifier and Biochar Workshop is a 2 day event where we will build a charcoal gasifier and a charcoal kiln as a practical solution to power an engine – with wood. This workshop follows immediately after the open source MicroTractor Workshop, and we will add the gasifier as a compact unit onto the 27 horsepower MicroTractor.

The goal of this workshop is to do a rapid, immersive build. Participants will participate in and experience a build of a practical gasifier system to replace gasoline fuel in standard engines. The gasifier runs on locally produced charcoal. To this end, we will break into two parallel teams during this workshop, where we produce both the gasifier – and a charcoal-producing kiln. These are both well-proven DIY technologies.


(Image credits: Doug Brethower and Dan Hartman)

The intent is to demonstrate the practicality of a renewable and CARBON NEGATIVE energy system. Open Source Ecology will be using one half of the charcoal that it produces as biochar to fertilize the soil by providing for the growth of the soil food web – and use the other half to power its agricultural machines.

This is part of demonstrating a local fuel ecology, where future developments of the charcoal-based system can be used for fueling machines, generating electricity, heating water, cooking, combined heat and power, and rebuilding of soil. We will show how this can be done by using coppiced and pollarded renewable perennial crops such as willow, mulberry, and hazel wood – while increasing the biodiversity and rebuilding the soil.

Workshop immersion involves concept and practice, and includes crash courses on key elements of fabrication, OSE’s modular design methods, CAD, and documentation. Participants become part of OSE’s design and build process, where we produce open source blueprints for the infrastructures of civilization. This workshop focuses on one of the 50 machines of the Global Village Construction Set – the gasifier burner.

The first day includes crash courses in welding, torching, and other tool use. The workshop features use of OSE’s open source production machines – including the open source 20-ton hole puncher, ironworker machine, and CNC Torch Table. This workshop is intended for people interested in immersion, hands-on skills training and practical results. This immersion course may be especially useful to people who would like to master their own machines and tools, such that the machines can last a lifetime.

We are inviting those individuals who are interested in building their own gasifier and charcoal maker – or entrepreneurs interested in starting a business producing charcoal or gasifier-powered MicroTractors. OSE’s goal is to create open, collaborative, ethical enterprise ecosystems. We are particularly interested in developing open Working Teams and Open Source Consortia for bringing regenerative enterprise into the marketplace. We are also inviting dedicated documenters and videographers to participate in documentation.
The overall workshop is designed for people interested in transitioning from Zero to Maker, and we elco though those with experience will also learn a number of skills. Can’t weld? We’ll give you a crash course. This course assumes no prior skills outside of general body awareness. Some people will be given documentation tasks if appropriate.

  • Weekend Workshop (July 16-17): Design, Build, and Get Skills.
  • Documentation Track (July 16-17): Document for replicability.

Have questions? Drop us an email: info at opensourceecology dot org

  • Dan Hartman is a programmer by day and creative builder by night at Dan’s Workshop. He has built a wide range of practical homebrew devices spanning mechanics and electronics – such as running his car on charcoal, a MIG welder gun, andCNC Router, to name a few. He is bringing his experience in gasification and wood heating to this workshop.
  • Marcin Jakubowski was trained as a fusion physicist. He left academia right after finishing his Ph.D. to start a farm – in Missouri. For the last 7 years, he has been working on the Global Village Construction Set – a set of enabling tools and machines for building regenerative infrastructures. Marcin is passionate about creating the Open Source Economy – a new operating system for Earth. See Marcin’s bio.

Learning Outcomes

  • Basic design principles of a gasifier
  • Basic design principles of continuous charcoal production
  • Modular design
  • System integration of gasifier, power generation, water heating, space heating and cooling, oxy-woodgas metal cutting, and grid interconnection
  • Workflow from biomass harvest to continuous charcoal gasification power
  • Fundamentals of metal fabrication including MIG welder, plasma cutter, oxyacetylene torch, and angle grinders
  • Use of open source CNC Torch Table, Hole Puncher, and Ironworker Machine
  • Parallel build techniques
  • Reading blueprints

(we will touch on the basics of OSE’s collaborative design practices to foster open collaboration beyond this workshop)

  • Documentation using realtime video uploads, pictures, and social media
  • Realtime data collection
  • Creating working teams and Open Consortia for open source design
  • Collaborative cloud editing, use of wiki
  • FreeCAD documentation basics


Note: schedule is being refined and may change slightly.

Day 1 – Introduction, Crash Courses, and Build
  • 8AM: Workshop Introduction, OSE Presentation, Site Tour
  • 9:30AM: Introduction to the Gasifier and Charcoal Maker design and build process. Using FreeCAD for manipulating design, Documentation Procedures, Contributing to OSE Development.
  • 10:30AM: Break
  • 11AM: Safety training and workshop introduction
  • 11:30PM: Crash Courses in workshop + custom fabrication tools training. Welding, torching, grinding, drilling, CNC Torch Table. Making sample parts. Data collection.
  • 1-2PM: Lunch
  • 2-5PM: Extreme Build: Breakout into work stations. Parts Inventory and Layout; Pre-cutting; Fabrication.
  • 5-6:30PM: Dinner
  • 6:30-7:30PM: Quality Control Briefing and Continuing the build.
  • 7:30-9PM: Movie Night Bonus – Reversing the Mississippi – a pre-release screening of a documentary on the collaboration and tractor build with OSE and the Our School at Blair Grocery projects.
Day 2 – Build Completion and First Fire
  • 8AM-Noon: Build continues
  • Noon-1PM: Lunch
  • 1PM-5PM: Build completion and first runs.
  • 5-5:30: Workshop Cleanup
  • 5:30-6:30: Dinner
  • 6:30-7:30: Discussion, Feedback, and Closing.


Registration Fee for 2-day Workshop: $250

Registration Fee for Documentation Track (3 days): $150

Sponsor another participant: Sponsor $250 to fund attendance of someone who is on the waiting list for financial assistance.

Discounts for Students and Low Income Individuals: If you are a student or in need, your cost is 50% off for any of the options. If this is still beyond your means, we can consider Work Exchange, where you stay an extra day to help with site preparation and cleanup. You pay a deep discounted rate of $15/day. Email us for details.

2-for-1 Discounts: Bring a family member or friend with you for free.

Group Rate: If you can bring a group of 3 or more people including you – we can give you a discount.

True Fans of OSE: As supporting members of OSE, True Fans receive a 25% discount on all of our workshops – on top of the discounts above. You can sign up as a True Fan now to become eligible for the True Fans discount on future workshops.

Donate to OSE: We are a nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 status. You can make tax-deductible contributions to us.

Workshop fee includes workshop tuition. We can pick you up from the airport, Kansas City International (about an hour away). Participants may secure a hotel in Cameron, Missouri, (15 miles away). Participants are also welcome to camp at Factor e Farm. We have a camping location which includes a composting toilet. Showers and a bathroom are located in our main house, HabLab. Meals will be done as a combination of catered dinner and potluck lunch. For lunch – bring your own or bring some to share. OSE will provide continental breakfast and make-your-own sandwiches for lunch. A kitchen is available for basic food preparation. We also have a swimming pool that is open during daylight hours for relaxation.

Payment Options: PayPal, Credit Card, Dwolla, Bitcoin, Check, Money Order, or Cash

Registration for the choices above is found on Eventbrite, but Eventbrite accepts only PayPal or Credit Card. If you would like to pay by other means you can select that option at Eventbrite, but then you have to submit your payment independently of Eventbrite. We accept Dwolla, Bitcoin, Check, Money Order, or Cash. Your registration will be confirmed upon receipt of payment. Please make checks payable to Open Source Ecology. Our mailing address is OSE, 909 SW Willow Rd, Maysville, MO 64469. For mailings, please write “Gasifier Workshop” along with number of days on your instrument of payment.

Cancellation Policy
If for any reason you can’t attend a workshop you registered for we will be happy to (a) transfer you credit towards another Gasifier workshop in the future; (b) or equivalent credit towards any other other OSE workshop; (c) substitute the name on your ticket and have a friend take your place.

Pay with Dwolla

Dwolla charges lower transaction costs than PayPal. If you are paying by Dwolla, register at Eventbrite and select the Dwolla option, then pay independently via Dwolla (Dwolla is not currently integrated into Eventbrite). Use Open Source Ecology or as the Dwolla recipient.

Pay with Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a decentralized payment system. You can pay via bitcoin for your particular choice via a bitcoin amount translated by the current bitcoin exchange rate on the day that you register. OSE’s Bitcoin Address is 166yC48RakrZdtsBj36vY9q29CpzknHbxY

Pay with Paypal / Credit Card

To pay with paypal/credit card, please use the the Eventbrite form below. Eventbrite charges a 6% fee on top of the ticket price.



    not able to see field names – please check

  2. Robert Fairchild

    Charcoal production wastes at least 70% of the energy in wood. Better to gasify the wood and use the producer gas as engine fuel.


    you might be able to reutilize the waste heat for some other use, micro steam engine for instance, or supplementing a bread oven.