This Homebuilt Wood-Powered Turbojet is Real and Incredibly Dangerous

Both the turbojet and its fuel run at extreme temperatures, and again: don’t try this at home.

byJames Gilboy|
Builds photo

Everyone knows jet engines run on jet fuel; dino juice; refined hydrocarbons. Apparently, they can also run on the most primitive fuel of all—wood—as an Australian DIYer showed by getting a turbocharger-based jet engine to not just run on wood, but try to run away on him.

YouTuber Bobby McBoost devised such a contraption by plumbing a turbocharger into a burn barrel, effectively building a basic turbojet. That sounds like it shouldn't work, but it's actually very simple. The turbo feeds compressed air (oxygen) into the combustion chamber where the logs are burning, accelerating the burn, which pushes exhaust gas back out through the turbine to generate thrust. Starting it only requires firing up the logs beforehand, then using a leaf blower to spin the turbo. As soon as it generates boost, the engine sustains itself, and actually needs a throttle plate to prevent runaway.

McBoost originally built his first iteration of the wood turbojet over a year ago, firing it to life for the first time just outside his workshop. The thing glows red-hot in places and develops spontaneous oil leaks, which are probably a sign to not run the damn thing anywhere near a building. That goes double for leaving it unrestricted and letting it run away, which McBoost did for the camera only to see the jet develop so much thrust that it tipped itself over. Better that than blowing up and sending pieces of turbine wheel as far as Singapore, I guess.

Learning that the wood-fired jet engine could generate thrust appears to have pushed McBoost to find a use for his creation: powering a jet boat. In a video uploaded earlier this month, he announced he'd install the wood jet on a small boat, just to watch it propel itself across a small pond. Obviously, he's not going to ride it in case it blows up, but it's still incredible to see redneck ingenuity give us machines that most of us would have never imagined possible.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an idea for a 24 Hours of Lemons car to write down.

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