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Biomeiler questions

 
Posts: 62
Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA
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I have been using Biomeiler heat recover systems.  I'm about to build mound my 7th mound.  We use the heat for drying lumber, drying firewood, heating a green house, heating 2 houses and a shop.  We have a back up boiler that gets used from time to time.

I know there not very popular in the US and can ve very hard to find good knowledge about them in English.  

Dose anyone use them or know a lot about them?
 
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I think most people around here refer to them as the Jean Pain method.  Perhaps that may help your search for additional information.
 
Bob Anders
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I have done a lot of searching under Jean Pain method.  There is only so much information out there.

Thank you Chad
 
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Hi Bob, that's awesome that you are having luck with them!  I've done a fair bit of research and usually I see where someone built one for a school project or on their own, they missed a key part, it didn't work and then they don't try it again.

What size wood chips do you use?  How are they chipped up and are you picky about tree species?  How big are your piles?  Do you put in things other than wood (hay, "greens", etc)?  Got any pics to share?
 
Bob Anders
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We chip whole junk trees; soft and hard woods.  I have a drum chipper that's set up close to a #2 chip.  I think most chips are a #1 unless there is a real reason for them to be smaller.

I make them in an old covered feed bunker that is set up to catch catch liquids and use a sump pump to recycle the liquids on a timer.  We make the pile 20' by 12' by 8' (70ish yards).  I don't have it set up for air flow like some people talk about.  I have done 2 of them on a pad before.  

I do a 18" base, a layer of pig or cattle manure, 100' of 1" pipe, thin layer of chips, geo fabric (makes clean up faster), then repeat with 12" lifts till around 8'.

I feel that most piles fail with a lack of water.  If it's built dry you will never get it wet and will not put off the heat and break down.

I'm still working on building my current pile.  I'm on my 4th lift in my current pile.  I have a 5gpm pump on it and am getting 89* water.  With a few more layers and some time I should be able to get a 15 to 20* temp rise at 5gpm.

I would say it takes about 250 labor hours to set one up if you do your own chipping and about 100 labor hours to tear it down, clean it up, and spread compost.

we have had a few days of rain so will not be doing much till the woods dry up a bit.
 
Mike Haasl
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Awesome set up!  So do you have to add any water during the heating season or is the sump pumped liquid enough to keep it in a steady state?  By "covered bunker" does that mean you have a silage tarp on top of the pile?  Or is it exposed on top to the elements (and extra rain/snow water)?

That's great that you don't need air to keep it working.  Especially with the layer of manure, which I'd assume would block airflow anyway.  How long do you get heat from it?  And how thick is the manure layer?  Lastly, how does the geofabric make clean-up easier?

Sorry for all the questions but since we don't have many people talking about successful implementations, I figured I'd pepper some ?'s at you

I'm trying to heat my greenhouse with a small compost hopper inside the greenhouse (8 yards).  I definitely had it too dry last winter.
 
Bob Anders
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Yes I will add 100 gallons of water from time to time.  The silage pit has a roof with with some leaks.

I use them for about 11 months.  Spread the compost and left over chips and build a new one.  I build them as a heat source and with the amount of labor that is needed to build a new one I need to preplan building a new one.

I have about 3 yards of cattle manure for this pile.  I kinda think that the manure helps to jump start things, but with green whole trees should not be needed.

The fabric helps in a few ways.  It helps by giving you something to look at as you dig the compost off the top with a loader.  Once you get most of it you tie the fabric to the loader and pull off the rest.  Right below the fabric is the pipe and is ease to remove and roll up.  The down side is the fabric causes bridging, but don't know how much of an issue it is.  I have found some huge fungus growths where there was bridging.
 
Mike Haasl
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Do you have a way to know when it's time to add water?  

So 5% manure by volume.  That's not too bad.  For my system, it's indoors so I'm a bit worried about ammonia.  I've debated adding some hay or coffee grounds to my wood chips for this winter's pile.  I don't have a chipper so I just get the municipal chips which may be a bit bigger than ideal.  They're generally from fall clean up around town so a decent amount of green bark and some leaves mixed in.

I fill and empty mine with a pitch fork so I guess I don't need the fabric.  And my heat extraction is to just let the hot pile bleed heat into the room through the metal walls of the bin.  So I don't have tubing to worry about.  I do have a 4" drain tile under the pile with a fan to force air up through the pile and out into a planting bed.  So I'll harvest some heat that way but lose some moisture.

But enough about me.  Does the material break down enough in 11 months to be good compost?
 
Bob Anders
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To me the pile is broken down to the point where any left over chunks are to small to bother me.

I have not used large wood chips in years due to there size.  IMO it's hard to get the amount of nitrogen mixed into a pile when using #1 chip to fully compost with 1 round.  I think "Joel Salatin talks compost" even says they use the same feed stock and will do 3 compost rounds with it.  I don't have time to check the video I have to go sit in the office at a hospital soon...

Yes you need to be careful with indoor composting.  It's not something I have ever messed with.

I add water till the chips on top are soaking wet.  I have used 2,500 gallons of pond water so far building this pile.  Once it's build I'll put about 500 gallon on it a month or more.
 
Mike Haasl
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Thanks Bob!  That's wonderful that it's broken down enough to not matter.  My goal is heat for 5 months and compost in the end.

How big are your #2 chips?  The ones I get from the city vary from something the size of a pencil chopped into thirds up to a hunk that's 1" by 1" by 1/4".

Just to make sure I'm not doing something dangerous, what things should I be careful about with indoor composting?

Pardon my math but if you're on your 4th lift, could I assume you are about 50 yards of the way into your 70 yard finished size?  So then 2500 gallons of water divided by 50 cubic yards gives me 50 gallons of water per cubic yard of chips/manure.  I'm just trying to get a ballpark of how much water I should be adding as I build my tiny 8 yard pile.

If I want to get all the heat and composting done in 5 to 6 months instead of your 11 months, do you have any recommendations for a feedstock recipe?
 
Mike Haasl
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Bob Anders
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I did a lot of looking at wood chip specifications.  It's all in mm and not easy to understand...
I think a #1 chip is about 1" long and 1/4" thick.
I think a #2 chip is 3/4" long and 1/8" thick.
It cost a lot of money to keep wood chips looking good.  I send my chipper to the shop once or twice a year (about $400 a trip) where they pull the knives and anvils to sharpen them.  They also do all the preventive maintenance when it's in the shop.
With city trees you get all sorts of metal trash.  They chip to reduce size of the material and make easier to move.  They are not selling the chips so there are no standards they have to keep up with.

Composting inside.  I know nothing about it.  I'm sure some kind of air exchange would be needed for your safety.
To get that broken down in 5 months I would think mixing the pile every few weeks would be needed.
You might want to look into green house composting.
 
Bob Anders
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Thank you Mike.  I was not sure on all the rules and did not want to post that.  
 
Mike Haasl
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Yup, it's encouraged to link youtube videos.  Just use the Youtube button above your post and paste in the url from the video.  

Ok, I'll keep experimenting with this indoor composting.  I'm using a fan to aerate it (in place of turning) and I think I'll use some garden clean up debris and/or coffee grounds and/or hay to bump up the Nitrogen level and speed up the process (same heat over less time).

I think I'm out of questions for you for the moment.  Thanks for sharing everything you've learned, it should help many others who follow!
 
Bob Anders
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I finished everything off yesterday.  I asked my wife to take some pics for me and put them on my computer.  If she dose I will upload them.
 
Mike Haasl
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Hi Bob (any other compost experts), I'm struggling to get my pile up to temp.  Here's the thread where I laid out my issues last year and my status this year.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Wood chip compost won't heat up
 
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I just learned the term "biomeiler" recently.  I've been following compost heat utilization for quite a while.  It's reassuring that the practice is growing.  Here are some readings:

Allain, Conrad. “Energy Recovery at Biosolids Composting Facility.” Biocycle 48, no. 10 (2007): 50–53. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=27232803&site=ehost-live.
Anonymous. “How Can Heat Produced from Composting Be Matched to the Heating Needs of the Greenhouse? And How Much Heat Will Be Generated by an Active Composting Pile?” Biocycle 40, no. 9 (1999): 12–13.
Bajko, Jaroslav, Jan Fiser, and Miroslav Jicha. “Condenser-Type Heat Exchanger for Compost Heat Recovery Systems.” Energies 12, no. 8 (April 2, 2019): 1583. https://doi.org/10.3390/en12081583.
———. “Temperature Measurement and Performance Assessment of the Experimental Composting Bioreactor.” In Efm17 - Experimental Fluid Mechanics 2017, edited by P. Dancova, 180:UNSP 02003. Cedex A: E D P Sciences, 2018.
Brinton, W. F., E. Evans, M. L. Droffner, and R. B. Brinton. “Standardized Test for Evaluation of Compost Self-Heating.” Biocycle 36, no. 11 (1995): 64–69.
Brown, Gaelan. The Compost-Powered Water Heater: How to Heat Your Water,Greenhouse, or Building with Only Compost. Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press, 2014.
Chambers, Donal P. “The Design and Development of Heat Extraction Technologies for the Utilisation of Compost Thermal Energy.” Master of Science, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, 2009. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/51064955.pdf.
Chiumenti, Alessandro. Modern Composting Technologies. Emmaus, PA: JG Press, 2005.
Diaz, Luis F., M. De Bertoldi, and Werner Bidlingmaier, eds. Compost Science and Technology. Waste Management Series 8. Amsterdam ; Boston, MA: Elsevier, 2007.
Diver, Steve. “Compost Heated Greenhouses.” ATTRA Current Topic, January 2001, 5. https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/download.php?id=57.
Ekinci, Kamil. Theoretical and Experimental Studies on the Effects of Aeration Strategies on the Composting Process. Ohio State University, 2001.
Fulford, Bruce. “The Composting Greenhouse at New Alchemy Institute: A Report on Two Years of Operation and Monitoring March 1984 - January 1986.” New Alchemy Institute Research Report. Falmouth Massachuessets: New Alchemy Institute, November 1986.
Irvine, G., E. R. Lamont, and B. Antizar-Ladislao. “Energy from Waste: Reuse of Compost Heat as a Source of Renewable Energy.” International Journal of Chemical Engineering, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/627930.
Klejment, E., and M. Rosiński. “Testing of Thermal Properties of Compost from Municipal Waste with a View to Using It as a Renewable, Low Temperature Heat Source.” Bioresource Technology 99, no. 18 (December 1, 2008): 8850–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2008.04.053.
Notton, David. “Theoretical and Experimental Determination of Key Operating Parameters for Composting Systems.” Ph D, Cardiff University, 2005.
Pain, Ida Pain. Another Kind of Garden: Now Is Our Last Chance. [Draguigan : Ancienne Imprimerie Negro] ; [Portland, Me.] : [Biothermal Energy Center [distributor] (P.O. Box 3112, Portland 04101)], 1977.
———. The Methods of Jean Pain: Or Another Kind of Garden. [Draguigan : Ancienne Imprimerie Negro] ; [Portland, Me.] : [Biothermal Energy Center [distributor] (P.O. Box 3112, Portland 04101)], 1980.
Pitschel, Kelsey, and Elijah Lowry. “Gibbs House Compost Heat Recovery System.” Student Sustainability Grant Report. Western Michigan University, Spring 2016. https://wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u691/2016/LowryPitschel1.pdf.
Plume, Imants. “Heat Utilisation from Aerobic Composting of Agricultural Wastes.” In Proceedings of the International Conference “Trends in Agricultural Engineering,” 509–13. Prague (Czech Republic): Czech University of Agriculture, 1999. http://proceedings.tae-conference.cz/docs/proceedings_TAE_1999.pdf.
Schmaltz, Kevin. “Bio-Generated Greenhouse Heating Project.” In PROCEEDINGS OF THE ASME INTERNATIONAL MECHANICAL ENGINEERING CONGRESS AND EXPOSITION, 235–43. Seattle, Washington, USA, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1115/IMECE2007-41979.
Seki, H. “New Deterministic Model for Forced-Aeration Composting Processes with Batch Operation.” Transactions of the ASAE 45, no. 4 (2002): 1239–50.
———. “Stochastic Modeling of Composting Processes with Batch Operation by the Fokker-Planck Equation.” Transactions of the ASAE 43, no. 1 (2000): 169–79. https://doi.org/10.13031/2013.2682.
Seki, H., and T. Komori. “Application of Heat Generated in Compost to Soil Warming.” Journal of Agricultural Meterology 43, no. 3 (1987): 189–202.
———. “Experiment of Heat Recovery from Compost by a Trial Heat Exchanger.” Edited by A. Kano. ACTA HORTICULTURAE, no. 399 (1995): 167–73.
Seki, Hirakazu, and Tomoaki Komori. “A Theoretical Investigation of Heat Extraction from a Compost Bed by Using a Multi-Heat-Pipe Heat Exchanger.” Journal of Agricultural Meteorology 42, no. 4 (1987): 337–47. https://doi.org/10.2480/agrmet.42.337.
———. “Packed-Column-Type Heating Tower for Recovery of Heat Generated in Compost.” Journal of Agricultural Meteorology 48, no. 3 (1992): 237–46. https://doi.org/10.2480/agrmet.48.237.
Sherif, S. A., and R. A. Harker. “Feasibility of Biomass Domestic Water Heating: A Case Study.” International Journal of Energy Research 23, no. 1 (1999): 23–30.
Smith, Matthew, and John Aber. Heat Recovery from Composting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Building an Aerated Static Pile Heat Recovery Composting Facility, 2017. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.22893.23520.
Smith, Matthew M. “Creating an Economically Viable, Closed-System, Energy-Independent Dairy Farm Through the On-Farm Production of Animal Bedding and Heat Capture from an Aerated Static Pile Heat Recovery Composting Operation.” Ph D, University of New Hampshire, 2016. https://mypages.unh.edu/agroecosystem/publications/creating-economically-viable-closed-system-energy-independent-dairy-farm.
Smith, Matthew M., and John D. Aber. “Energy Recovery from Commercial-Scale Composting as a Novel Waste Management Strategy.” Applied Energy 211 (February 1, 2018): 194–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.11.006.
Smith, Matthew M., John D. Aber, and Robert Rynk. “Heat Recovery from Composting: A Comprehensive Review of System Design, Recovery Rate, and Utilization.” Compost Science & Utilization 25 (2017): S11–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/1065657X.2016.1233082.
Tucker. “Extracting Thermal Energy From Composting.” BioCycle, August 20, 2006. https://www.biocycle.net/2006/08/20/extracting-thermal-energy-from-composting/.
Woodford, P. B. “IN-VESSEL COMPOSTING MODEL WITH MULTIPLE SUBSTRATE AND MICROORGANISM TYPES.” Kansas State University, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2097/1375.
Zhao, Rongfei, Huiqing Guo, Wei Gao, and Guohong Tong. “Literature Review on Composting Heat Recovery,” 12. Delta Edmonton South Hotel, Edmonton, Alberta, 2015. http://www.csbe-scgab.ca/docs/meetings/2015/CSBE15136-standby.pdf.
Zhao, Rongfei, Gao Wei, and Guo Huiqing. “Comprehensive Review of Models and Methods Used for Heat Recovery from Composting Process.” International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering 10, no. 4 (July 2017): 1–12. https://doi.org/10.25165/j.ijabe.20171004.2292.

I do hope they are of use.


 
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