B Beeson

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since Jun 04, 2015
dfw, TX zone 8
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Recent posts by B Beeson

The formula for hydro power is:
power in Watts = Head x Flow / 5.3   (for units of feet and gallons/min)

Usually we can count on inefficiencies and friction losses to reduce that a lot, its better use 10 instead of 5.3

From your data given:

Power = 10 to 14 feet of head times 10 gallons/min divided by 10 = 10 to 14 Watts
That is ... not much.

Any hydro system you build will be very expensive in a dollars per Watt calculation, because there are so few Watts available from your power source. Better to go with wind, but only if you have strong winds, on top of a hill, and a tall tower. Even then, solar is almost always cheaper. The disadvantage of solar is that it is often strongest when you dont need it, and weakest when you need it most (long cold winter nights after a cloudy day).

6 days ago
Check out coolbot:


It controls a cheap window AC unit to cool a room down to 35F. With enough insulation, operating offgrid would only need a few hundred Watts for the smaller AC units.

3 years ago
In the spirit of permacultural thinking, you need to see how this is a solution, not a problem. You just need to identify what the problem was, for which this solution has presented itself.

My first thought is to see the duck/pond/accumulating-muck location as a new, self-perpetuating system that now supplies you with an unending stream of incredibly rich fertilizer and/or fine garden soil. Just extract it and apply to your orchard, annual beds, accumulate it to build an asparagus bed or some other deep perennial bed, or supplement your soil starter mix.

3 years ago
3 things:

1. Shred the leaves a bit to reduce volume - I use an E-Go lawnmower with bagger. This cuts volume by more than half per pass through the mower. I do one or two passes, depending on final intended use.
- The smaller pieces won't blow away as easily.
- They hold water better/don't dry out as fast.
- Shreds decompose faster.
- Shredding is optional if blowing leaves and dehydration of the pile is less of a concern (but your situation in KS calls for shredding, IMO)

2. Add tree branches/shrubs/vines/corn stalks... anything you can find, cut with loppers to 1 to 4 foot lengths, mixed in with shredded leaves in layers.
- The process goal is a Jean Pain style ramial compost, but cooler and with mostly leaves.
- The end goal is fungal compost rather than microbial - ideal for garden beds, potting soil, and seed starter mix.
- The branches hold down the leaves from blowing away, the leaves hold moisture to support the fungal decay of the woody branches.

3. Water and time.
- Keep it moist. In Kansas this may mean adding collected rainwater, especially in summer.
- Bigger/taller is better to reduce water loss.
- Wait a year (or more if you're lazy).

End result after one year is a mix of perfect garden compost and still undigested branches. Fork/rake/sift out the bigger/tougher branches to add to next year's pile. This will inoculate the pile even faster with the fungal mycelia.

A regular poster here (can't remember their name) extolled the benefits of fungal leaf compost here several years ago. Much of my current process is based on their work. I've built all my newest beds out of last year's fungal leaf/woody-branches pile with just a little of the soil from below the pile to capture any nutrients that leached down. It's important to keep everything moist - the fungal mycelia die back to spores if dried out, stunting the soil ecosystem. We want the soil in the annual garden beds alive and flourishing as the annuals hit their growth spurt in spring and summer.

All advice here may NOT apply, or need major modification in a different climate. Cool and wet PNW may be a terrible climate to apply leaf compost to your annual beds (maybe fungal diseases take off... I have no experience there). Or maybe the "good" fungi outcompete the "bad" fungi, protecting your veggies. Need input from others who have tried leaf fungal composts in other environments.

Leaves are the best resource for garden composting. find a way to hold them down, keep them wet, be patient.. reap benefits in a year or two.

3 years ago
My $0.02 worth:

You're both right!

Individual quartz grains have low heat resistance... not a good insulator, but how the grains are arranged matters a lot.

Think about solid granite or concrete... very low heat resistance, made of quartz grains (and other stuff) all packed together. The key point is that there are no air spaces. Air makes insulation work. So if you make a layer of sand than maximizes the airspaces, and minimizes the contact between grains, then you have a good insulator (far better than the same mass of granite).

The best sand insulator, then, is made of grains that are all the same size (to maximize pore space), are round (so the contact between grains is a single point), and dry.

Adding anything between the grains changes the sand from a good insulator to a poor one - it replaces the insulating air spaces, and increases the number of contact points between grains that conduct heat. If you fill in all the pore spaces with smaller grains, you have rammed earth - poor insulator, but excellent thermal flywheel.

So you can find, or make, sand with a wide range of insulative properties, by choosing the moisture, particle shape and size distribution. Dry, well sorted, round-grained sand = good insulation... wet, unsorted, sharp sand = poor insulation.


For the purpose of making a floor with high heat capacity and low heat resistance (high conductivity), sand needs some help - sharp sand is a little better than round, a mixed range of sizes is better than well-sorted, and adding a little silt and clay helps a lot to fill in the interstitial air spaces to increase conductivity.


5 years ago