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Urban Rocket Stoves: Burning Plastic in Jakarta  RSS feed

 
Ryan Lenz
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Hi all-

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I am constantly appalled at the widespread burning of plastic in open piles all over the city. Smoky, toxic, and prevalent in every part of this city (and country). I understand why locals do it, and changing the underlying reasons for this practice is beyond me. But I can't help but think: Wouldn't it be better if that combustion was 'more complete'?

I've never built a rocket stove myself, but I think this would be a fun and potentially very interesting reason to get into it. I would like to try building a "garbage incinerator" and do some rough tests: A pile of garbage smoldering away, versus the same pile of garbage being fed into a rocket stove.

I know that encouraging the burning of garbage like this isn't a solution in the long-term, but those solutions are a long way off for this city. Obviously, reducing consumption and increasing recycling is the answer--but keep in mind this is a city where garbage is still thrown on the ground, then collected by barefoot men pulling huge wooden carts to huge open pits, where it is sorted through for anything of value. Jakarta has to solve the poverty/corruption/traffic/housing/flooding problems before it will ever even being to solve the pollution problem! My argument is simple: Rather than do nothing while we wait for a 'proper' solution, let's do something now to improve the situation.

I would love to hear any experiences regarding burning garbage in rocket stoves. I'd also like to see plans for relatively simple/small/cheap rocket mass stoves. The pocket rocket looks like a good start. Thanks kindly - Ryan
 
Creighton Samuiels
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build a brick L-rocket and try it. 26 solid bricks is all that is required. I would think that the burn riser would have to be fully heated up in order to properly incinerate plastic, and that it would likely have to be fed a mix of wood sticks and plastic. Burning trash alone would result in an unpredictable fuel quality, and thus may have trouble maintaining spontanous ignition temps in the riser.
 
K Nelfson
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I'm sure a nice hot controlled fire with a mixture of wood and plastic would be better than nothing. However, incineration is a non-trivial topic. For instantce, proper incinerators have scrubbed exhaust, even if it is as simple as rapid cooling of exhaust gas to prevent dioxin formation.

My advice is to find a way to make the plastic bits into something that people will find useful. That will create a market for the raw materials and reduce pollution.
 
Ryan Lenz
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@ Creighton: Thanks for the specific recommendation on the L-rocket. Bricks are easy enough to come by here, and it seems like a simple design that could easily be built without a lot of 'training'.

@ K Nelfson: I agree that proper incineration is important, but I have come to the point where I am tired of accepting things the way they are. There are three ways plastic is dealt with here: 1.) Throw it into the "river" (nasty drainage canal with no signs of life) 2.) Sell it to commercial recyclers (works only with certain types of plastic product) and 3.) Sweep it up with the leaves and everything else, and burn it in a pile. I don't forsee a market developing for this lightweight, thin, low-grade plastic, so I think its justifiable to encourage a better form of small-scale incineration.

Are there certain designs of stoves that would be better suited than others for this purpose? Keeping in mind that the heat won't be used for cooking or heating, and that it will be fed plastic? Also, am I correct in assuming that a brick stove and an 'insulated stove pipe' stove both operate on the same principle--i.e. keeping the chimney exhaust hot and confined to produce strong convection currents.
 
Creighton Samuiels
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The principles are almost identical. If I were to guess, the better choice is a J-rocket, which can produce a more complete burn than an L-rocket. The L-rocket is ideal for cooking, wherein some of the fuel is still burning upon exit of the chimney. You don't really want that, so a brick J-rocket is probably what you want, particularly if solid bricks are readily available. Make the chimney extra tall, if you are able.
 
allen lumley
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Ryan Lenz :I hope I can propose an alternative way of disposing of your plastic, This even has the virtue of dealing more effectively with wet plastic
and having to create a delivery device that could only handle plastic that had had to be precut and shaped (labor-intensive!) to attempt a clean burn!

Plastic can be melted and subjected to gasification in a sealed vessel no more complicated than a large pressure cooker ! This gasification can then
easily be converted into streams of syn-gas capable of being used for cooking, or even running the gasification process ! Also three further streams
of a gasoline like product and a #1 Fuel oil, and a further stream that simly gets re-cycled thru the system for ever, slowly cracking its long chain
molecules down into useful fuel !

Consider this part one of two I have to find you a you tube link! For the good of the Craft ! PYRO AL
 
allen lumley
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Ryan Lenz : Regretfully my Mac does not play well with others, Simply go to You Tube and type in '' Mr Teslonian '' Click on the you tube search button, and the scroll
down to the Part about a ' Gasifier runs generator, and refrigerator ' Again the syn-gas produced can run the entire system,or be used to start a separate Clean
Burning Rocket Stove, then be used to run a refrigerator, or be used domestically as cooking gas !and you still have liquid fuels equal to gasolines and #1 fuel oils!

While more work, 95 % of the whole process could be monitored by an illiterate 8 yr old ! With this process you would be literally cleaning up the landscape while
producing useful energy that while not truly green, or carbon free, Must be considered Sustainable for your location! Good Luck !

For the good of the Craft! Be safe, keep warm, PYRO Logically Big Al as always comments are encouraged and welcomed
 
Ryan Lenz
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Very interesting videos, Allen! Extremely interesting.

Have you ever seen anyone try this using plastics as fuel for the gasification process? In theory, it seems like it might work. Plastic is made of the same elements as wood, so I can imagine it. So the gasification process is basically just heating without oxygen, yes? I made some bio-char a while back out of wood, never would have thought to do that with plastic!

 
allen lumley
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Ryan Lenz : There are many commonalities between Biochar production as it is usually done, Commercial Charcoal production, and the gasification of organic materials.
Usually the production of Biochar and charcoal only uses a small fraction of the V.olatile O.rganic C.ompounds driven off by the 'cooking' process, however ,there are
markets (abet in Ton Lots ) for all the products of these processes!

If you go to the top of the page ,between the Banner and the 'Paul W.'s Video of the day' you will find the PERMIES tool box, a click on search with allow you into the our
Search Engine where you can type in Gasification and/or Biochar ! There you can find out who is active in those forum threads and view what they have posted!

I will follow any reports or observations in either area that ensues! Keep them coming ! For the Craft! Be safe,keep warm! PYRO Logically Big AL !
 
Cynthia Moore
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Since I too have concern with what an individual could re burnable refuse I was encouraged to read this thread. I'd read of a community stove in Africa (Kenya?) that combined cast iron stove technology with gasification of dried trash mixed with used oil! I'd imagine in Jakarta the RMH for hot water as while as cooking. As far as (waste) plastics to oil check out the Energetic Forum's Renewable Energy "How to turn plastic waste into diesel fuel cheaply" thread. Warning: it's over 80 pages long with many technical debates. They advise taking several reads before asking questions!
 
allen lumley
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Ryan Lenz : More info on liquifying most plastics ! This video was a dead thread here in Permies, But originally from U.N.University Channels, go to vemeo.com/4139407
Apperently it is even easier than I told you ! For the Future Good of the Craft ! Be safe ! PYRO AL ! - Comments /Questions are solicited and Welcome ! - A. L.
 
allen lumley
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Bump- Big Al
 
Micky Ewing
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Allen's idea of using plastics as a feedstock to a gasifier, etc., is certainly a better option than burning piles of trash in the open. However, it addresses a different problem than the one Ryan was trying to solve, which was to reduce the toxic pollution resulting from all the burning plastic. It's unlikely that this can be achieved with a gasifier setup, where combustion is incomplete by design. Even feeding wood into a gasifier results in many toxins being produced. With plastics in the feedstock, you would probably end up with many polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other persistent organic polutants in the ash, in the various distilates and in the resulting gas or exhaust, so you have not really solved the polution problem, or even reduced it in a meaningful way.

I think investigating the rocket stove approach is more likely to bear fruit. The higher your flue temperature, the better, so make sure the chimney is high and well insulated. Accumulate materials for long burns rather than doing short burns on demand. Start each burn with wood fuel and do not introduce plastics until the system has had a chance to heat up thoroughly and is burning clean and hot. Even with these measures, the combustion gas temperature will not approach that in a commercial waste-to-energy incinerator -- typically 2200 deg. F or higher for a high temperature incinerator. It may, however, be hot enough to improve substantially over the status quo in Jakarta.
 
allen lumley
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M.E. : I actually bumped this up as an answer to a new thread in the Transportation Forum, " all the free diesel you could use '' I actually did not understand THAT POST, But
I reposted this thread as being a "cleaner alternative !'' Please look at the May 29th post ! Your comments are solicited and Welcome Big AL !
 
Brendan Edwards
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This is a great post. I am living in a farming community in japan and they do small amounts of incineration of low quality plastics. I was looking at that and thinking about another project I saw where some kind of heat-pressure gadget was turning plastics into fuel again.. and thinking instead of incinerating at low temps and with no gain except for the garbage disappearing I should build a dedicated rocket system to do the best burn I can and divert the energy for mass/water or food heating...... Considering we're burning gas for cars, kerosene for heat and the rest, my feeling is that with a high temp flue, the conversion is sufficient and once we take into account driving it around and then finally burning it somewhere else.. it seems a pretty sane option. I'm curious as to other people's experience with this since this post started. thanks!
 
Ryan Lenz
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Hey Brendan--Thanks for the reply.

I'd love to see pictures/diagrams/details of your small-scale plastic burner. Something tells me that the Japanese method is probably a bit more high tech than throwing a burning plastic bag onto a pile of other plastic bags
 
Brendan Edwards
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I apologize for any confusion, I'm going to be building a biochar system which is just two steel drums and a bit of pipe. I may test this concept with plastic as a energy source... but otherwise, the most sure fire way to go I reckon has already been mentioned, build a J rocket setup. You would need a steel drum and some brick... although, with some elbow greese you may be able to make an in-ground system that worked pretty well, or make it entirely of brick above ground... just the top of the burn chamber might be tricky... and actually, the difference between what these Japanese folks are doing and there in Jakarta is that here they are burning nicely wrapped packages of food bits and low grade plastic! I'm just thinking to use it as an energy source, like hot water... best!
 
Brendan Edwards
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just a possibly more helpful note... I imagine charcoal production for cooking is important in Jakarta.. it is possible to take any combination of leaves, cow poo, bones, wood chips.... bamboo etc.. and possibly use plastics as the energy source to start the conversion... if you make a sealed, rocket style system for the char, you could make very effective use of the waste materials... even humanore can be biocharred.. stuff should be sun dried before the process begins.. you could do this in ground to reduce material costs and it would produce an portable, store-able, salable energy source.
 
Ryan Lenz
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Thanks for the clarification.

Production of biochar for cooking is indeed important and is already done widely. I'm not sure how they do it, but the street-food sellers are all using coconut shells for their sate and other roasting processes.

I am more interested in rocket stoves as a plastic-disposal tool. Personally, I think it is probably a bad idea to bring food/water into the equation when burning plastics. The potential for contamination (i.e. unburned polycyclic aromatics etc. contacting the food/water) is too high.
 
Brendan Edwards
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Incineration produces a lot of energy as heat. I am not imagining to cook food directly from that heat, but rather to use that energy in some manner so that it is not simply driven off with no gain, it is a fuel that is being burned. Fuel is valuable. If you are already burning it, why not utilize that energy release? With some care this can certainly be accomplished without contaminating anything. Heating of water in tanks or production of charcoal are just 2 possibilities that could be easily accomplished. RMH with J type configuration are pretty clean burning and can provide cooking surfaces or even oven space without need to funnel exhaust on the food or pots directly. at this link is the type I mean http://api.ning.com/files/czF6wJsbSj3DZmh*kblhj653XwwuyZ2ZnLbwovYHdMjgAoWD8EEs7CArPy8rysjBNIb*lGTbSuIPh6vGu1muSwq1vz*BJurD/RocketStoveMassHeater.jpg

you can extract energy as heat anywhere along the line and the exhaust exits after at a point of your choosing. If it is outdoors it can be built in a largely earthen/stone/clay version thus needing fewer manufactured parts. Hope its helpful.

B
 
William Bronson
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Flip And Jon Anderson have used clay / sawdust L rockets to build a set up to press low grade plastic into plastic panels.
They also have used the same kind of rockets to fire a kiln to create bricks.
In places that make charcoal via pits, plastic is often used as a starter, it burns hot and readily.
 
allen lumley
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- I replied to the original posters comment expecting to be able to do a Permies.com search and unearth a very similar link to this newer
posting. The link I posted May 29th 2013 is broken .


see Link below :

http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/plastic-to-oil-fantastic


Once again we have a situation where the desirability of a waste stream of heat would be extremely valuable.

Some research needs to be done on other plastics that could be modified to be a feedstock for this system !

For the good of the Craft ! Big AL

 
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