Glenn Herbert

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since Mar 04, 2013
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Glenn Herbert currently moderates these forums:
Early education and work in architecture has given way to a diverse array of pottery, goldsmithing, and recently developing the family property as a venue for the New York Faerie Festival, while maintaining its natural beauty and function as private homestead.
Upstate NY, zone 5
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Recent posts by Glenn Herbert

My wife has been adamant about this for some years, and getting more militant She is seriously unhappy about the vegetarian food products available, all of which come in single-use, often non-recyclable packaging.

She has been experimenting and has come up with a very tasty rice/couscous/veggie patty recipe, which unfortunately is a bit time-consuming. We are going to experiment with freezing so we can make big batches and use over time.

We have a major difficulty in that we host an annual festival (NY Faerie Festival) and even though everyone involved says they love the land, there is massive throwaway products and packaging use. We tried to offer "boxed water" for those who feel they must buy water even though we have a wonderful tasty spring of free water available, and nobody would buy it - perhaps it looked too different from the plastic bottles they are used to. As well, it turned out that the cardboard boxes were plastic-lined and not recyclable or compostable. We have required the food vendors to use recyclable or compostable  serving ware, with mixed success. We are improving our onsite composting facilities each year.

I have for years produced about three times as much recyclables as trash, one regular shopping bag of trash every couple of weeks or so, and everything compostable goes to the garden. The total volume is increasing as my wife and grandkids are spending more time here.
1 day ago
A design like that is guaranteeing that the entire surface of the house needs to be completely waterproof, and any rain will run across the whole surface and into the ground right at the base of the walls. In a dry and warmer climate, that may not be an issue, but in colder and wetter areas, it would be a recipe for early failure.
1 week ago
For visible flame, an L shaped instead of J shaped combustion core is good - it gives a view for a good arc around the front of the feed. A J-tube core like you built would work better with a feed as tall as the length of the wood you plan to use. If the wood sticks far out of the top, there is a strong chance of it burning up on the bottom and the top part falling over and out, unless all the wood is smooth and vertical. You might be able to incorporate some thermal glass (neoceram, or woodstove window glass) into the front of the feed tube so more flames are visible from directions beside the top.

For the hot plate, you might have enough chimney height by making holes around the plate, but it would probably work better with an exit to a stovepipe just below the cooktop; this will also let the exhaust gases get above head height to eliminate hot air and smoke hazards. I would offset the plate a bit, so one side gets more direct heat and the hot gases flow across the rest of the plate to the exit.
1 week ago
A walipini (with an "I") is a type of semi-underground greenhouse developed in/for equatorial highland climates in South America. They have been adapted to other climates as well.
2 weeks ago
I've never tried to attach flashing to an earthen wall, but my opinion is that you can't do it. What you can do is trap the top of the flashing by angling it deep into the wall (a few inches, say), possibly with a crimp or roll at the top so it can't slip back out even if pulled a bit.

The notion of a separate veranda instead of attached shed roof has merit. It might work having a large roof overhang above (and not too many feet higher than the shed), with just some rafters or beams connecting shed roof to wall, and a foot or so gap between shed roof and vertical wall. This would not make the space totally rainproof, but nearly so, and you would not have to worry about flashing to any extent - just wrap/protect the beam tops and connections.

I haven't researched rammed earth so have no opinion on its composition.
2 weeks ago
I'm sure some government researcher has done analysis on woodstove emissions; the fact that RMHs burn so much hotter than ordinary woodstoves would indicate that noxious chemicals that might be emitted are burned up. I have seen lists of incomplete wood combustion byproducts and their combustion temperatures, and nearly all would be burned up in RMH core temps. The very hottest experimental RMHs may be able to reach temperatures above 2300F, which would burn nitrogen to create NOx compounds, so practical versions would want to avoid such extreme temperatures. The ideal operating range would be 1800-2000F which burns pretty much all noxious compounds while not creating new ones.
2 weeks ago
Peter van den Berg in the Netherlands has done considerable RMH research and testing with a professional Testo 330/2 gas analyzer. This does not get into particulate or ash analysis, but it does show CO and CO2 levels in the exhaust, among other things, and the best designs give very low CO levels during the body of a combustion run, with spikes at start and end.
2 weeks ago
The best material for a combustion core is anything refractory... firebrick (dense or insulating), old red brick, castable refractory cement, clay mixed with perlite, vermiculite, sawdust, fine straw or grass clippings...

A J-tube style rocket core works best with proportions for feed tube to burn tunnel to heat riser like 1:2:3 or 1:2:4 or 1:1.5:3. The "1" is usually made at least twice the nominal diameter. Having "1" equal the length of firewood you will use helps with fire control. An 8" diameter system would be large for a cooking rocket, good for feeding several cooking stations. A 6" system would probably be plenty for a single cooktop. The cooking rocket I built (6" system) had proportions measured along the outer edges about 12" x 17" x 34". It draws great, with a 2' x 6" stovepipe chimney attached beneath the cooktop, and would probably cook better with a slightly shorter riser, maybe 30" total plus 2" gap to the cooktop.

Maximum combustion temperature in a decent rocket core will be at least 1500F, which burns up essentially all smoke.
2 weeks ago
The video is very encouraging, but there is one factor not accounted for: resource availability. The current population is using non-renewable resources at a rate that will make them relatively more expensive to extract in the future - not just dollar-wise, but energy-wise. When it takes 1/100th of the energy value of a resource to extract and use it, it is very productive. When it takes 1/10th of the value to produce it, it becomes less valuable. When it takes 1/3 of the value to produce it, it is hardly worth the effort, and vastly more needs to be produced just to end up with the same amount of end product. Many resources are headed in that direction.

Another point is pollution or waste. As more is produced, more waste is generated, and that waste sticks around and builds up, potentially faster than it degrades. Even without increasing production, the amount of waste or pollution is going to keep increasing for a long time, degrading some kinds of productivity the more it builds up.

This is a small summary of some of the information developed in the studies underlying the 1972 book "Limits to Growth", which modeled simplified trends for the next century, and has shown to be accurate for the ensuing 40-some years so far. Even the most optimistic modified-behavior projections starting from 1972 lead to a crash or downturn by around the middle of this century, and the business-as-usual projections (which we have followed very closely so far) lead to a serious crash in population, food, health, and quality of life well before the end of the century.

It would be wonderful if the optimistic predictions of the video were to come true, and it is worthwhile to strive for them, but I think that if the one big point near the end, seriously reducing first-world consumption, is not achieved, the world as a whole is likely to be doomed to a bleak future for the next century or more as population is forcibly reduced to a sustainable carrying capacity - which will be lower than what it would be if we were on a sustainable track now.
3 weeks ago
Yes, the climate zone is critical to this. Some say the earth is always 55 or 50 or 60 degrees F, but in reality, it approximates to the local average annual air temperature. In cold northern climates, a root cellar could be plenty cold, while in southern areas, it will never get cold no matter how you build it.
3 weeks ago