While the elements are all there, you probably can’t really make gasoline from wood, and certainly not in a cost-effective, economic manner.
It may be slightly more reasonable to make biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel from wood – but personally I wouldn’t waste any money on it. Even if it is possible, it will take big scales for it to even approach economic viability, and of course the energy return on energy invested will be very very much lower than for gasoline.
As rigibson said, it would be very difficult to create gasoline from wood. However, you can produce other energy sources from wood.
Wood chips and wood pellets are often used as a source of biomass fuel. When the biomass fuel (wood chips, etc.) is burned, its energy can be converted into electricity.
Biomass fuel is any type of energy that comes from natural substances like wood, crop residues, and animal waste.
While you can’t exactly make gasoline, trees are certainly being explored as a potential source of ethanol fuel. They could be made into ethanol fuel by breaking the cellulose down into sugars, just like corn, and put into your gas tank, the same way that corn ethanol is currently being mixed with gasoline and distributed at the gas station. The technology for breaking down tree cellulose might be a few years in the making, but there are a few reasons why this might be preferable to corn:
1. It won’t increase the price of food by decreasing the international supply of corn. Some believe corn ethanol is contributing to world hunger. (see slate article below)
2. Tree farms require fewer herbicides and fertilizers than corn, making them a more ecological answer.
3. Corn is not a particularly efficient source of energy. Cellulosic energy would require less energy input and produce far more on less land. Thus reduce emissions far more. Anagenesis Trees Corporation, for example, believes it can produce 13x more per hectare than corn farmers, and reduce emissions by 90%, whereas corn only reduces emissions by 22%.
This is still in the trials and experimentation stage. If the technology comes through to make breaking down cellulose efficient enough, this could become a valuable source of fuel. Or even more ecologically, we can use the technology of breaking down cellulose to start processing green wastes for ethanol.
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