There is currently a global effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, particularly in the United States and European Union.
Typically, when it comes reducing our dependence on oil the federal government is talking about electric or hybrid cars. Of course, there are also historical alternatives to oil.
Indeed, the Soviet Union wanted to develop a vehicle that didn’t require gasoline back in the late 40s. The vehicle picture above first tipped up in 1949 and was basically a large truck powered by steam. The truck used a boiler powered by wood to create the steam. The Soviet Union apparently had very specific requirements for its steam-powered vehicle when it first set about attempting to build one.
The requirements called for a vehicle with the capacity to haul no less than six tons. The vehicle also had to weigh no more than 14.5 tons fully loaded, including the required 350 to 400 kg of wood and 380 kg of water required. Additional specifications included a maximum speed of somewhere between 40 and 45 KM/H, with the truck expected to to cover a distance of 80 km per load of water and wood.
Reports indicate that some tests saw the vehicle powered by fine coal. However, it consumed a very large amount of coal – to the tune of 152 kg for each 100 km traveled. However, at the time gasoline was much more expensive than coal, making this approach somewhat of a viable alternative.
The final wood-burning vehicle produced 100 hp at 1250 RPMs, but the boiler alone weighed about a ton. Interestingly, the system didn’t require a person to tend the flames. The logs were apparently simply dumped into a holding chamber where they sank down until they burned. However, the vehicle reportedly had to be filled with logs and fired up for a half-hour or longer before it could move and the time was extended if the logs were wet.
Only one of these working steam vehicles was ever produced and the project was (understandably) halted after that.