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Rocket heater w/catalytic combuster to make char, heat water and pigs for Paul  RSS feed

 
trenton lund
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I have used a small block rocket stove outside, built a nice one for a small outbuilding, now I would like to ramp up to something larger for a Quonset hut. It is 20x60, located in Colorado. I want to try and maximize the use of the heat to make char, get some radiant heat for the shop, utilize an unused resource for heating, an artesian spring. I am not looking for a balmy 72 degrees...but having only 4-5 days since Thanksgiving above 30 degrees means I need to do something...lol. Here is the general concept:

I was thinking about utilizing 6" or 8" pivot irrigation pipe, to make a J style rocket heater. I would run the up pipe thru a 100 gallon propane tank. This tank would be filled with biomass chips serving as insulation, which as it heats up, could produce char. A larger "barrel" or masonry housing would serve as the bell, walls of the bell would have some type of an open flow water pipe. I would run the horizontal exhaust thru the shop as far as "heat" feasible.

I have 800' of six inch pipe, 40' of eight inch pipe, all used steel irrigation pipe, still good condition. I have a handful and access to additional tanks and scrap steel in all types. I have 1/2 a pallet of firebrick and a couple pallets of a ceramic faced brick which will take up to 750 degrees before cracking, about 800 before fracturing.

I have ranch/farm with plenty of resources for biomass. There is lots of brush, straw, and scrap wood from a nearby sawmill I barter for my current char making. The char tank would have an upper inlet and lower outlet, which would extend thru the bell. Inlet and outlet would be airtight, and most likely the top inlet 6", gravity fed, bottom outlet 4", small auger. The up pipe entrance and exit would be welded airtight. The off gas or wood gas would be piped from the top of the tank to feed back into the front section of the burn tube, maybe into a "c" channel, to preheat the gas and combust midway in the burn tube.

I was looking at the catalytic converter, a Steelcat Combustor, to put at the top of the up pipe as a 'last pass' to maximize heat into the bell, as it will be heating the outer part of the propane/char tank and water pipeng.

I have a winter year round artesian I was hoping to bring in the 62 degree water, heat as much as possible and exit the heater for the purpose running it thru my pig and goat huts to achieve some geothermal warming. Warmer animals, less feed! It flows at 25-36 gpm thru a 2 3/4" pipe, currently at three foot head. It is about ten yards from where I would build the heater. With an open end flow, there is no concerns of steam explosion. The pens have roughly a 8:1 grade and I was looking at burying about 3/4 of a length of irrigation pipe into the ground, with the other 1/4 exposed to the few inches of straw bedding.

The heater probably wouldn't run 4-6 days a month and for the days it did, it could probably be stoked 10-12 hours. I convinced the other half this project was essential so I could spend more time working on other permie projects.....err I mean her honey do's during the winter.

Couple of general questions:
* Is a a 24" load tube, 30" burn tube, 72" up riser adequate ratios for 6" pipe?
* Is it feasible to make the bell top half metal, bottom half ceramic brick or all fire brick? How much flow space around the char tank would be desired?
* For exhaust heat, anyone use a partially buried line to get a more immediate radiant heat and some longer mass heat?
*As far as the char goes, it will be a lot of trial and error based on materials, sizing, temps etc.. This has to be better than the double drum method I am currently doing. Is there a better place to make the char in this process?

I would be interested in any suggestions, advice, help, etc. and will post some updates as the project continues the next couple months. Thanks in advance and let's go big!
 
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