Wow, fantastic responses everyone! This is exactly the kind of dialog I was hoping to create. I will admit to being out of my league on many aspects of combustion and power generation, but I hopefully can still inspire ideas.
@Duane, excellent summary, thank you for the details on the logistics of creating steam, that's very fascinating and I currently only knew about the existence of steam tables, but that's about it, so this helps me understand more about the requirements to physically move the turbines. Are there other ways besides the Sterling engine to utilize heat to generate power besides steam generation?
@Satamax, I'm mostly thinking about the overall efficiency of the system I'm proposing from the standpoint of scale besides efficient burning of the wood. For example, at one previous job, we had 1/2 million pound melters that wasted an incredible amount of energy to keep that aluminum molten 24 hours a day. The melter was consuming this energy regardless of whether or not the rolling mill was actually running, so not exactly an efficient use of energy to simply keep that metal molten at all times versus if there were several much smaller and more flexible systems with the same capacity that could operate without that constraint, saving huge amounts of energy (and cost) in the process. Those are the kinds of efficiencies I'm wondering if you could achieve by having tens or hundreds of thousands of decentralized power plants instead of the current system of several thousand centralized power plants (in the US).
@Chris, I'm still pretty rudimentary in my full understanding of the rmh system, but yes that makes sense now that I am probably thinking more along the lines of the "rocket" portion of the RMH for massive amounts of heat generation. Are there ways to utilize just the rocket portion of an rmh for heat generation instead of heat storage or does the system then just become some kind of cupola?
The air to mass heat exchanger does sound promising to somehow use to harvest the high amount of heat somehow for power generation.
Also, I'm not limiting the discussion to just ultra small scale on how to power a house, by all means if you could harvest the power of the special geometry of a "massless rocket" on a large enough scale to power a city, that would be really awesome!
@Travis, the Sterling engine idea would be great - can you use just the "rocket" part of the rmh as mentioned above while still having efficient burning of wood to power a Sterling enginer? Would construction of the Sterling engine itself still be the complicated part? The ideas I'm looking for wouldn't even necessarily have to power an entire modern house, maybe even just enough electricity to charge up a bank of marine batteries to help reduce dependence on the power grid and build resiliency. Any other ways that ocmpost heat / biogas / photovoltaics, etc would play into power generation would be neat as well.