Nah shpaleechky, nah Shpaleechky

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,

Nah shpaleechky, nah Shpaleechky – I can still hear my parents using the phrase. I would ask, “Why are you saying ‘On little chunks of wood, on little chunks of wood’?” Then my parents explained to me, (and I could not of course understand the concept as a pre-schooler) that people driving past were not using gasoline for fuel but little chunks of wood or charcoal. I have lived as a child in the Third Reich’s Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and in that country as a Satellite of the Soviet Union. Both under Hitler and under Stalin the price of resources (like petroleum) was prohibitive. People would retrofit their cars with a device like a pressure cooker and inside the “pressure cooker” they would heat up chips of wood and/or charcoal to turn it into combustible gas (Holtzgas in German).

Subsequently, the gas was directed into the manifold and used in the internal combustion engine. In a scientific community like Los Alamos, few need to ask this art teacher for advice.

Yet, I have not heard of anyone talking about “wood gas.” Every State in the Union has ample supply of dead wood and dead beats, both could be employed to provide rotting wood to be processed into wood-chips and charcoal. Los Alamos should embark on a “CanHappen Project” (Manhattan Project) as it did in the early 1940s. If we can produce clean fuel from wood, everyone wins.

Petr Jandacek

Los Alamos