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fleebut

Hydrous ethanol saves planet Earth

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You're on the right track fleebut, all you need now is to put a few more pieces together then implement it.  If I could afford one of those Capstone systems, I would do it, making enough fuel for it is relatively easy. The same process makes sufficient heat to heat a home, and all the hot water you could ever need. The only thing you need to burn is the methane gas, and the process actually increases topsoil. You wouldn't need the electricity to heat water or the house, all of that is handled by microbes and plastic tubing. :) In areas where it gets hot enough to warrant AC, then you could use the ice block or other methods for cooling.

 

You sorta fell head first into the plan we are working on, the idea that every family, or a few neighbors can work together and become energy independent and self sufficient. Of course, not everyone will want to put in the effort or pay the up front expense so they will simply stay on the grid. In the event of something disastrous happening, this idea could provide heat and power to almost everyone, but it would take a few days at the least and a few months at worst to get it set up. Disastrous like "OH NOES! WHERE IS TEH OIL!?!?!?!?" could be fixed with these methods.

 

Actually we aren't working on it for the what if scenarios, or doomsday ideology. We are doing it so more of my meager check can go to things more useful than energy graciously provided at whatever rate they so choose. Spending a little now to pay much less later, and it would be nice to have heat in the house and shop all winter rather than when the stove is hot.

 

The best part is we could utilize those rotting trees in Canada, and all the grass clippings, and pretty much anything else that is considered waste plant material. Rather than leaving them in the dump, utilize them and harvest energy from the microbes that eat it, and the sun that helped grow it in the first place. :)

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Canada also has massive blowdown areas farther east (in the "Canadian Shield" )when winds come and turn over every tree for miles. This happens because the rock is within 4-18" of the surface in much of the "shield" area. What is unknown there though is what would be a balance of harvest that would allow enough organic matter to support regrowth- yet harvesting of this blowdown area helps to prevent fires that may even burn off the 4-18" of peat.

 

It sounds like the Capstone innovation would be an easy fit as promotional demo in a new subdivision (if they are being built now) particularly where power is high cost or expensive to bring in. Some thought would need to be put into the sharing/purchasing agreements so that all are comfortable with the arrangement (otherwise most will flock back to the easy power grid) . The good part of going into a new development is that power companies are starting to charge BIG bucks now to bring lines in where before it was subsidized or free. This would dissuade folks from jumping ship but might keep people from coming into the sharing agreement if fear or the cost of getting out were high. Much of the same discussion was centered around early fuel cell work- the fuel cells were efficient only when operating at full power- thus needed larger multi-house usage to balance loads w/o expensive battery storage (you know the power companies are not going to pay you squat for excess nighttime power). Another reason for the large fuel cell discussion was wired around the infrastructure needs of the fuel power source (IE transport size LP tank)-- no such limitations in what we are discussing here.

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The Capstone turbine has been out for some years. Actually a aviation engine. They added foil bearing to engines, a new break through technology that allowed for quick start ups. Before that they liked to run them continuously.  The engines have air bearings that dynamics kick in at something like 30k rpm. The foil bearing keep the axle aligned and in position until then. These units are quiet with high temp exhaust. Most will co-gen with steam engine or for process heat. An Engineer Foung (sp) I think it was, utilized a Bartell gasifier (sand design) producing higher btu wood gas through hot air turbine. The efficiences were amazing. I did a calculation on the projected energy stream. One logger cord wood per day for 30 kwh and with little loss of heat. Another company picked up design and has built small commercial generator plants. Michigan has one for wood chips. Overseas they use them burning nut shells. These are utility grade plants not the 30 kwh Capstone system.

 

The Capstone generators cost around $20 to $30 k. You could have gotten some cheap after military brought them back from Iraq. They purchased fuel oil burners and couldn't fine fuel or something like that and had to bring them back at huge discount, they were selling for $9k.

 

Capstone sell a lot of simple, natural gas units. Just plumb into natural gas line and you could be your own generation company within days end. Plumb the exhaust and electric push the button.

 

The dead and rotting tree story is big in some parts of country. Our Western states getting hit hard. My daughter worked at Snow Mountain YMCA last summer. The trees (Winter Park snow ski area) all but gone. The Pine Worm (I think it is) moving fast. Down in local watering hole met a contractor that has logged the region for years. A California native that goes to Colorado for summer work. He had to lay off his crew as state funds ran out. He explained to me the fire tinder is horrendous and scary. It wouldn't take much to light up upon some of those windy dry summer days. The logger tried to find a market for logs, but they just haul to dump as least cost. Pine is not premium wood pellets, but very good. Guess the tree kill off was to quick to set up processing plants in region. Also, wood pellet market out their is saturated. So they let them rot under ground belching methane gas. Canada has a huge land mass of dead pines suffering same fate. Around here we have a smaller problem of Ash borer. You can't transport the wood. If you have a wood burner fine, but no transporting wood to neighbors. Now if you had a small pellet mill, that's o.k.. Wood pellets have no survivable insects.

 

The peat moss fires around world are amazing. Some of these burn for decades. They can't put them out. Guess we are not so powerful as compared to nature after all?

 

If energy cost inflate like expected, some company will specialize upon this conversion. Making proposals for small blocks of neighbors to go off grid, off water and sewer and establish a Co-op. Probably a financed kit solution where if everyone agrees and payment from savings. Wires and piping connect to centralized parcel. Heck, this private utility station could handle electric, garbage, recycling, hot water, steam heat, cooling, grey water distrubution, fresh water, distilled, ethanol, etc. very efficiently as so local. Since customers are invested they would be more willing or flexible upon energy savings. Legally, if off the water sewer lines you can pump ground water....just now the regulators have it all gummed up as would demand utility license, permitting, inspections, etc. a no deal. But it does make economic sense....lots of it. The system just unacceptable as government and politicians would lose power. Union constituency also would lose. They would fight simple solutions.  I would think this system would create jobs and save money. No grid required and much higher reliability. Power quality would also be superior. This idea the ultimate for co-generation. Using all energy streams. The system has lots of flexibility for balancing energy loads. The system generator as efficient as utility company, yet no 20% line loss and able to utilize the heat an advantage the utility company can't match. The wood gasifier technology, also mature and just about an off the self item nowadays. Seems ethanol from Allard trying to do the same.  These turbines have extreme fuel flexibility as long as clean and without water. Natural gas, ethanol, and wood gas. Pick the current market low cost fuel or mix them up.

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I'll post one more on the small quanity generator. Lol, ya off topic, yet not worthy of separate post.

 

My assumptions:

 

1. Hot air turbine the most practicle efficient engine ever, much more efficient than the steam turbine technology the power plants use. One ceramic turbine at 50% thermal efficiency. Wilson.

 

2. Ethanol takes lots of thermal energy for distillation with tons of water vapor. This could be used for great house hold water.

 

3. Neighbor hood power facilities have an extreme advantage of working with neighbors, balancing loads, easy connections, and little line or pumping loss. No transformers required. Grounds can be hard wired back to electric generator.

 

4. This setup extremely flexible for combined heat and power or what they called co-gen.  The overall efficiency could be extreme.

 

5. Hot water and space is just about free as low grade heat hard to utilize upon processes. Their are not many close by available heat loads that can utilize low grade heat. Industry usually dumps this heat to atmosphere...cooling towers.

 

6. Sewage and water utilities also easy to adapt since hundreds of gallons of water vapor floating about the ethanol stills. Also, ethanol a big utilizer of grey water. Also, process water from ethanol not distilled very nutrient rich for lawns. Organic fertilizer i.e. leaving chopped leaves and grass just incredible good for lawns, even in cold months application is fine as nutrients do not disappear as no run off.

 

7. Urine production a valuable commodity a perfect nitrogen. So houses should have at least one toilet plumbed into the number 1 fluid steam. Second toilet for number 2 and that also a good manure, just requires additional processing. The lawns, shrubbery, and trees would blossom.  Grey water if available also a wonderful irrigation liquid. Now, some cities have grey water utilized this way, but have to flow the liquid for miles to process plant, then pump the stuff miles for use. This creates some smelly biologicals. The local unit can have daily change over...odor gone.  Tree growth can 10x. I have tested this tree growth upon grey water for a decade. It is amazing how fast a tree can grow giving optimum conditions.

 

8. Consider this...that Wilson ceramic turbine generator mentioned above is cost effective because of such high efficiency in production of electric, alone. Meaning direct price competition with utility company depending on actuals, but right there. So, consider the huge thermal waste stream free energy. This waste stream can be balance easily in local zone of hot water heat, space heating, A.C., ethanol distillation...etc.

 

If you landscape the lawns to farm quallity products another revenue stream. Households just learning the payback i.e. $3,000 for a veneer quality tree, black walnut trees, high grade clover feed, nut trees, fruit trees, berrie production, bush fruits,  etc. You see this back yard farming can be adding $1,000s of pay to neighbor hood revenue stream. Maybe providing some kids summer jobs, providing high grade organic food and sales, pelleting clover for high grade horse feed. Most folks unaware how productive a 1/2 acre parcel can be....you will greatly increase production upon earth box or hydroponics and again if heating some planting beds with waste heat and green house.  These need not be ugly, and have been implemented within suburban territory.

 

9. If you throw in community doing it own road work, i.e. snow plowing and home schooling.....well the tax base should only be a fraction. May the neighbors be a very good protection and control? Better than police force or fire department. Big centralized systems not always effective i.e. union run public schools, union run police and firemen. Would the money go farther upon decentralized institutions....you bet.

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There are some 4000 head dairies in the area. I wonder if the Capstone rig could be justified when competing against 4 or 5 cent KW's. The dairy would have to install a digester and an exchanger to heat water from the exhaust. The thing would have consistent use as these dairies operate close to 24 hrs. a day.

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Last year I was reading about a dairy operation ( I believe around Plover, Wi. ) that powers his whole operation with the methane from his manure and straw. When the local power co. needs to buy additional power they give him a call and he fires up all his generators and supplies the local utility. He also powers his house with heat and electricity from it. I do not know the specifics of his operation but he said it was great for him. Later.

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fleebut have you read Blume's book?  What you are describing is a small scale ethanol/food/electricity production site. Small meaning less than 500,000 gallons per year. With the right sized farm, techniques that enhance food production without chemical fertilizers (read expensive), and one or more of the Capstone units, you could power an entire small town, well the residential part anyway. By power I mean heat, feed, transport, and light every home.

 

If you add in a few more ideas, such as what to do with the yard waste, additional uses for waste water, such as cattail beds to feed the fermenter, and incorporate a greenhouse to utilize CO2, it could be very profitable. All the heat stored in water for distillation, as well as what you could get from methane production could be used to heat homes as well as heat the greenhouse. If you consider that burning methane as well as ethanol in a generator produces CO2, and plants grow exceptionally well with high levels of CO2, your heat and power source feeds the food source.

 

All the yard waste along with what is left after fermentation can be used to heat homes, provide cooking gas, hot water, and power the generator. Instead of burning it, you use it for a year to make 140F hot water and methane. Build one for every two houses, or one for each house, using yard waste/cellulose from the entire town, and you can heat every home very cheaply with ambient heat from the hot water.  Incorporating all of these ideas into a community would create wealth as well as allow the people to live much more comfortably on the income they get, since they would have much lower energy bills and much better food.

 

Right now one of the projects here is getting a small scale methane producing biogas plant running. A circular one runs around $700-$1000 to build, but a square or rectangle design would allow the use of straight PVC rather than flexible tube, and thus be much cheaper. After pricing the supplies needed, a 30'x15' cellulose biogas plant would run about $400 and whatever cost the yard waste/wood chips incur. It should produce 1500 cubic meters of methane in the first 90 days, and supply heated water for 18 months. Heated water that just happens to be right in the range needed most for starch conversion, fermentation, and distillation.

 

Scale up our plan, and you have a very lucrative business producing a number of different forms of energy. Or leave it the same scale and power your own home/shop/still/business with it.

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Just an FYI. There are two basic ways to make methane naturally. They use different heat range appreciating microbes. Manure needs to be between 80F and 95F without going much over 95F to achieve the best results. Yes it will still work at low temps, but not as quickly, limiting output. The microbes dont make much of their own heat, and often need an outside source of heat to propagate.

 

The other way is with cellulose, I referred to this way in the post right before this one. The microbes that eat plant material make their own heat, and they dont like to get over 150F, but they will keep a compost pile well over 100F even in winter. That is how we heat water to 140F with a biogas plant, just run pipe through the pile and the microbes do the work, they seem to appreciate the little bit of cooling they get from the water when it enters the plant.

 

Additionally, what comes out of both methods is incredibly good fertilizer and can actually increase topsoil.

 

What you use depends on what you have available. Both can make huge amounts of methane, both have drawbacks and limitations. Really you can use both if you have both available and a high need for methane, the heated water has many uses, not the least of which could be heating your home in winter. :)

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Thumpin, can you give me an equiv. for 1500 cu. ft of methane. Like a 500 gal. propane tank or 1000. I know it has the same regulator rate as nat. gas but has 30% less btu's. How are you going to clean out the sulfides as not to have sulphuric acid in the methane?

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Thumpin, can you give me an equiv. for 1500 cu. ft of methane. Like a 500 gal. propane tank or 1000. I know it has the same regulator rate as nat. gas but has 30% less btu's. How are you going to clean out the sulfides as not to have sulphuric acid in the methane?

 

I've been trying to find an adequate equivalent in liquid fuel. So far I have found only a few sources of info on this. This page has a bunch of information about this, and is useful reading.

 

http://www.journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/MethaneDigesters/MD3.html#fuelvalue

 

Also the methane production trails off over time, and finding out exactly what we can get from different materials, and for how long is part of the project. I know how much it makes at the start, but after that the information gets sketchy. We will find out soon the exact amounts as well as how long it does what this summer and fall. Like I said, its one of the projects, but we know the performance of it within the parameters of heating a house and providing fuel for it.

 

I am trying to get one built this month (March) that will heat the shop and provide enough methane to run a 110 gallon boiler for the still. Its a different design that what I have seen demonstrated, so its a relative unknown at this point. Still its my money and I will do with it what I want, if it works, great, if not I have a bunch of PVC to use for other projects.

 

The solution for scrubbing the sulfides is rather simple. A bubbler tank filled with sandstone rocks has been used effectively. We need to find out how large the tank needs to be, and if anything else would help efficiency. It can be done, and has been done, I just need to find a few things out for myself.

 

Keep in mind that I live on a somewhat different scale than do some, I dont use much energy to live, cook, heat, etc. You cant expect to have enough energy to be wasteful, and this does take some effort. If you want to live like Al Gore and use more water and power than most small towns, just for your house, well this isnt for you. :)

 

I am not the be all end all expert of it, I found it while looking for a power source for my still, and I am adapting it to fit my needs. I see how it could be adapted to other requirements, but I have not done that at this point. The only one we have running doesn't produce methane that we can harvest, it is merely a water heater. So far it is still making hot water after 4 months.

 

I think I posted some links here already that provide more information about this. If not, here are a couple.

 

http://www.journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/methane_pain.html

 

http://www.journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/MethaneDigesters/MDToC.html

 

The reason I mention it is simple, most people dont have a feedlot, but they often do have a yard and grass. Its relatively easy to find a landscaper who will get rid of the stuff cheap or free. Its an option and I will have more information in the coming months. :)

 

The html on Dan's site Pwn3d me.

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