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No dinkin' around - just build the figgin' thing!  RSS feed

 
Posts: 65
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I have attached a paper I wrote for your viewing pleasure. Build a doohicky that makes what you need - ain't that what we're all up to here?

"The Apparatus" makes water, hot, cold, methane, electricity, fuel, and even food (if you have a taste for algae in your diet)

Enjoy.
Filename: Facilitate-The-Natural.pdf
Description: Undergraduate paper
File size: 294 Kbytes
 
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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Very interesting, particularly the calcium chloride battery. Does its performance vary as the solution strength varies with changes in ambient temp and humidity? Any headroom for capturing the water vapour that leaves the solution as temps increase, effectively adding an air well functionality?
 
Spencer Miles
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Steve Farmer,

    I am pleased that you are pleased. The CaCl2 brine is selected specifically for the purpose of water capture. It is chilled by the Stirling pump then circulated through the coils in your freezer, AC, and fridge. From there it goes to ancillary condensers and back to the battery. Cold brine sucks up more humidity than does hot brine, so from the battery (around 55degF) it goes to the cascade and gets wet - then into the solar still to be dehydrated - this is where all the magic water appears. From there it is back to the stirling.

So, yes - it is an air well, just made to become super!!

The CaCl2 brine is a question mark for me - the only research I could find was using it as an electrolyte in capacitors - not in salt-batteries. It follows though, that if'n it works in the one, it will work in the other.

As space and weight are not major factors (bigger battery? dig a bigger hole!) in this machine as they would be in mobile operations (like LiPo or Pb-acid) it is not nearly as important which is better - Na or Ca salt.

As for your question about temp/hum: the brine re-entering the battery is already dehydrated in the solar still - then chilled. The water has already been captured - by the time the brine is serving as an electrolyte, it is anhydrous (as much as the still can deliver). I haven't been able to find decent research regarding the effects of temp/hum on its electrolytic action - that would constitute a key variable for testing WHEN I build this thing - and, incidentally, I plan to publish all such research.

Shameless plug: I am doing my damndest to raise the capitol to SHOW just how awesome this is. www.tributaryhouse.com is my little enterprise. Every friend you tell might be one who chucks a buck to see it happen.

And I'll make the design available.... 'cause I ain't stingy!!
 
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I looked into something similar, but in the end I have had to table it as energy conservation ended up being more profitable then trying to build such a system that may/may not work.


I am not saying it will not work, in my case it was just a return on investment issue that I could not overcome with any definitive research. The cool factor is amazing, something not gotten by boring ole energy conservation, but maybe someday I can start the project.

I agree with you though, sometimes it is just best to start a project and build the darn thing and not gush on about it.
 
Spencer Miles
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Travis Johnson,

   Mwahahaha!!! In addition to being a philosopher (in poverty - no snooty coffee houses for me!) I'm also a machinist... from the Navy... and a construction worker... from construction...

And I have a chemistry set!

You're right - there is a scare factor here, but all the numbers that matter are completely solid. Even worst case - the CaCL is no good for the battery (very unlikely due to Mendeleev's curiously useful table) - I cap the pipe leading from the still to the battery compartment, and fill the battery with rocksalt and water (like Aquion Energy did... before Bill Gates bankrupt them...).

The measure of efficiency is not "fuel mileage" but rather "Overhead longevity".... I can sure as hell use 1000gal propane tank to run my 10kW gennie - but then I'm not really permie, or free. I could use Pb-acid - but I can MAKE MnO + C rayon cartridges for less. Doesn't really matter if they're bigger and less energy-dense - I can make them!!

We don't buy what we can build.

I'll let the sunshine do it for me - all I gotta do is point him in the right direction :)

Thanks for the feedback!  
 
Travis Johnson
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I am a sheep farmer Spencer, so I have a flock of sheep that are continuously making fuel for a biogas Digester in convenient pellet form daily. The ability to produce my own energy for my farm has very high appeal, and has in inherent cool factor.

However, under your own admission your system would cost $10,000. Because sheep farming is generally low in energy consumption anyway for a farm, spending $10,000 for a biogas digester just does not make a lot of sense for me. Heating my stock tanks with electric heaters to keep them from freezing here in Maine in the winter can cost me up to $150 a month. That means about a thousand dollars a year. But that means at $10,000 for building your digester, it would take 10 years to recoup my investment...and that is not even factoring in labor and replacement components that inevitably will break and corrode after 10 years of use.

But this is permiculture, doing nothing is not really an option, and I am not doing nothing. I found if i filled my stock tanks with just enough water that the sheep drank it down, but left none extra to freeze, they got the water they needed without having to spend electricity on keeping water from freezing. Now instead of spending $150 on electricity per month, I am spending a couple of dollars keeping some halogen lightbulbs burning for night time checks. Even these lights are on timers.

You post is titled "No Dinkin Around, Just Build the Figging Thing". My point here is that you could shorten that to just "No Dinkin Around." Conservation is not glamorous or cool, but yields a far better investment than production, and that is because production always has costs so the return is never 100%. However, for every dollar you do not have to spend, that is a dollar in your pocket; a one for one return.

In this case, something as simple as observing my livestock saved me $1000 with no costs. I can take the $10,000 I would have spent on a biogas digester and use it for additional conservation measures throughout my farm, and ultimately save even more money. It is not how much you make, it is how much you save.
 
Spencer Miles
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That's pretty clear - I had no desire to offend. The digester is a small part of the device - and one of the least expensive sub-systems. As I have described the machine, it would be too small to handle that much poo in any case - this one is for people and dog doo.

For your application - and you did a very cool thing and I appreciate that - but for your application, a ground tank digester (No water machine, no steam engine, no condensing boiler, no VAWT, no bio-reactor, no battery) with the most basic benefaction, you're looking at maybe 500 to 1000 in parts to produce gas depending on size - Indian models are pretty good, no compressors, gas is stored in a float-top-tank and scrubbed by activated carbon/water only. That's all. Labor intensive up front to be sure - but this isn't to heat stock water (which, I like your judicious observation) - it's for providing gas to your house, and maybe your neighbors... your shop? (lots of sheep?)

The 10K that I quote is inclusive of ALL a household's energy and water - not just gas. It is a total-utility-replacement - that is the cost that must be factored. I've seen some guys spend more than 10K just on power poles for electrical lines to their place, and then they "get to" pay the electrical bill - and still have to pay to fill a propane tank, as they throw their methane (poo) away in a septic, and don't recover any of the flue gas into diesel for their tractor... Small to mid-scale operations can realistically recover the cost of this system in a single year (for new construction) and five years at most for retro-fits. The 10K is for my sized operation - 3-4 humans, and maybe 20 different animals - and is up-front cost amortized over a 20-50 year service life (indefinite with good maintenance). It intends to completely replace all energy costs.

I am interested to know how the sheep fare though - a bit off topic, but I don't care!

Do sheep ruin the ground, or is that a myth spread by llama farmers? I heard once that they yank roots of plants, and will denude a field. That doesn't seem like it can be true. Can they forage in a hard-scrabble cedar and pine forest?
Does the wool market sustain the current work, or is it necessary to spin it before it's worth enough? Is long fiber a decently paying crop? How do you put it out there? Big qty, or small scale?
Are old sheep good for meat? Dog food? Stew?

I had thought to keep two of them with my llamas, goats, and ducks. I know that's really different than the standard "mono-herd" (flock) But I have seen that llamas, goats, and ducks get along (and maybe a mini hereford) but I don't know about the sheep.

My operation is small-scale diverse production - you think sheep would fit the equation? I've gone back and forth a lot with that.

Anyways, please forgive if I've given offence! I don't mean to discount your work - not in the least! It's been by simple observation and investigation that I've conceived of this in any case - just like you!

Aside from all of this - the machine won't work for someone who leaves the front door open - to heat the neighborhood so to speak. It requires conservation like you! It just takes it to the next level, and makes it all free (after materials costs) and closed-circuit.

Your work + mine = permie-free!!

I really appreciate your feedback, I may incorporate your details into the final draft of the paper when I publish.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have done a lot of research on this so I hear you.

I looked at the Penn State Designs and liked them, and of course the Indian designs as well. Basically I like simplicity when making things homemade because a lot can go wrong when things get more complicated.

What really got me interested in biogas, was corn and grass silage. I use it to feed my sheep, but what I found out was, it has a lot of biogas generating potential. Like you it seems silly to be like most dairy farmers that drain it off not realizing they can produce electricity that they now buy. All this makes sense. A ruminant's poo has only 25% biogass potential left in it, where as silage effluent (liquid) has a lot more, but it makes sense because a ruminants stomach is basically a biodigester...using the broken down silage for nutrition and heat and gassing out the methane, and pooing out the solids.

So my thought was, capture those silage affluents, then mix it with the sheep manure and pump it to a biogas digester. From there filter it, then run a liquid cooled generator with it. I happen to have a liquid cooled duel fuel (propane/gasoline) 3000 watt generator. The liquid cooled part is important because a person could pump the heat of the engine back to the biogas digester to aid in heating the waste to the 103 degrees needed. 3000 KW is not much, but 3000 KW 24/7 does add up??? I have a few other generators kicking around too, but none that are liquid cooled.


 
Travis Johnson
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Spencer Miles wrote:Do sheep ruin the ground, or is that a myth spread by llama farmers?


They can if a person does not crop rotate and over-graze an area, but then again, any livestock will. The majority of the damage is done by an animals hooves anyway, not their mouths. It is simple math; 4 hooves and occasionally a bottom that poos, versus 1 mouth. Sheep can graze really close to the ground so that is where that myth starts, but if any livestock is starved, they will be forced to do the same thing.


Spencer Miles wrote:Can they forage in a hard-scrabble cedar and pine forest?


Sure, goats get a lot of credit for clearing browse, but sheep love it as well. They like softwood branches, leaves and needles, and there is growing research that it can be a great way to knock down the parasites within them in a non-chemical way. We have cleared lots of land here with sheep. They are even used to clear old military sites of soil contamination because of they way the browse and flock up.

Spencer Miles wrote:Does the wool market sustain the current work, or is it necessary to spin it before it's worth enough? Is long fiber a decently paying crop?


Here in Maine anyway, the money is in the meat. It means bigger numbers of sheep, and more rotation of those numbers, but I am constantly shuffling sheep in and off the farm here. There is little money in wool, and sadly as a sheep farmer tries to make more money with the wool, the cost of producing the product makes it kind of a catch 22.


Spencer Miles wrote:Are old sheep good for meat? Dog food? Stew?


It depends on your taste. I like lamb and yearling, but do not care for mutton, but will still eat it. Some people only like lamb. But I have people claim only certain breeds of sheep taste good. The customer is always right, but secretly I think they are full of crap. I have a great market for mutton where the guy makes sausage which is 50% Mutton (old sheep) and 50% Lamb.


Spencer Miles wrote:I had thought to keep two of them with my llamas, goats, and ducks. My operation is small-scale diverse production - you think sheep would fit the equation? I've gone back and forth a lot with that.


Absolutely. I have ducks, chickens, and have even run cows with my sheep as well. I am a commercial sheep farm, but but even under USDA definitions I am considered a Large Farm. I need a commodity to help pay those obnoxious property taxes.
 
Spencer Miles
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Travis, Thanks for answering about the sheep! It's fascinating... pretty sad about the wool though, I was suspicious that it had been displaced by synthetics. I love wool - best fiber next to silk in my mind (with linen and cotton bringing in the rear). Should I add them to the brood, I'll shear them till they get too old and then slaughter for the meat. I'll have to rotate slower than you (obviously) so it'll be a thing to learn!

    I had not incorporated the idea of silage, I just assumed an extra hopper in the yard to grind up anything methanable. Awesome input! That's what I get for assuming!!

I don't know that it would work, but some small OD soft copper could be wrapped in and out of the air-fins on the cylinders of your air-cooled gennies - it would be low pressure, but it would move heat around. Maybe even bolt a sleeve around the cyl.
3Kw that's made with free gas (assuming labor - always) is 3 free kilowatts! I'm doing some arguments around Pyrolysis reactors and I am having a hell of a time convincing the Energy Scientists that every Kw from trash is good - the efficiency measure is totally different when the fuel is a waste product - but they can't see passed cost of fuel vs. cost of waste disposal. Can you direct fire a boiler for your house? Your coolant-heat exchange might be extended to other applications, depending on the caloric output of your gennie (s)...

My gennie is also dual-fuel - I was wondering about changing the orifice on it. Methane = Natural Gas (identical stuff) and Propane appliances have to have a larger orifice to run on Nat-Gas; ergo to run my gennie on poo requires that change out. Do you know of anyone who has done the leg-work on this, or would it be by-my-bootstraps?

My work in designing the benefaction of biogas into Nat-Gas (concentrated methane) shows that the H2S scrubber is major - but the water vapor and CO2 are the BTU eaters. I am most certain you know that... I don't know how well the activated carbon works for the H2S but the Home Biogas System (YouTube) out of Israel uses it and nothing else - and has issues with humid gas and about half of it is CO2 - unburnable! What have you considered for your benefaction design? The one I've outlined in the paper is the best I could think of, but if you've a better idea, would you share??

I hope your silage digester comes to life! I would love to see it.

Oh, and how do I get my dog to be helpful around herding animals - rather than just trying to play or race with them? He's a German Shepherd/Labrador mix - I would think he'd already know :)
 
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