An insulated chimney will produce an especially strong draft. It might be possible to have a valve that switches the firebox over between a heating system that pushes air through a large thermal mass, and a vent system that has a clear, straight chimney but draws on a complicated vent system. The tricky part would be minimizing the flow of heat into the room in "summer mode" whilst maximizing it in "winter mode."
One of the videos with Ernie Wisner shows a system with a valve to bypass the thermal mass, to get a good updraft as things get started. If you added onto that an airtight, insulated cowl, that forces the air intake to draw from registers leading to the warmest parts of the building, I think that could work.
mekennedy1313 wrote: Are there any temperature vs efficiency charts for PV's and are there PV's designed to be efficient at higher temperatures. The idea is to maximize energy capture by circulating a cooling fluid, water for example, that keeps the cells at or about optimum temperature but collects that otherwise wasted heat for CHP purposes. Even if somewhat more expensive the fewer cells needed reduce costs and you have the added benefit of heating your home in cold climates.
PV's get less efficient with increasing temperature, due to fundamental physics. I think there are some photocatalytic systems (solar to chemical: hydrogen and carbon monoxide generation seem to be the two main tracks of research) that remain efficient at fairly high temperatures.
Moderately-high temperatures can also degrade the cells gradually, causing permanent changes that degrade efficiency but don't destroy the cells in one fell swoop.
A cooling fluid is a great idea. I think some PV arrays produce significant voltages, in which case a non-conductive fluid would be in order, in case a leak should develop. This might be a pre-warmer for a solar thermal collector, so that the temperature of water leaving the system of panels can be a higher temperature than you'd prefer for the PV arrays.
In hot climates, it's common to design PV collectors with a gap above the roof, and a slant, such that the thermal draft raws (relatively) cool air over the roof from dawn to well after dusk. This helps keep the cells cool, but has an added benefit in making the building below easier to keep cool.
mtnDon Miller wrote: A concentrator also would need tracking through the day to make it most effective. Even then with the way PV module prices have fallen a tracker is often more expensive than adding PV modules to the system.
It's even worse than that: a typical concentrator makes a tracker absolutely necessary. The better the concentrator works, the greater the need for precision alignment. A slight misalignment will mean part of the cell goes completely dark, which can mean a disproportionate drop in efficiency.
In the rocket evaporator thread, I posted the following diagram, to illustrate a basic principle I think could apply here:
A part of the chimney not too far from the exhaust can be used to heat incoming air; moist air can be used in combustion; and an insulated section of chimney can drive air through the system very rapidly. The important thing is to make sure that the easiest path for air to get into the fire is through the whole kiln; this means the system should have a ridiculously-overpowered updraft.
As with the maple syrup idea, using air as a heat-exchange medium can make fire a lot less likely: the coils of a hairdryer are red hot, but few people light their hair on fire.
Naturally, the tub of maple sap in the diagram should be replaced by a stack of drying lumber.
If there's significant thermal mass in that insulated section (e.g., if the updraft tube is built of brick), a short fire in the morning can drive airflow for a long time, allowing forced air without as much heating. A sheet metal cowl that covers the pipe and interferes with heat transfer to the air intake would enhance this effect.
Jonathan Byron wrote: Bee's do love it, it provides one of the highest honey yields per acre. I've read that BW flowers are only open in the morning, and that bees who work it become cross in the afternoon.
Maybe some borage would help. You might have to give it a head start vs. the buckwheat.
There are lots of good suggestions here already, but I'd like to add two:
Identify as many as possible of the species on/near your property, and read about both that individual species, and relatives that might be introduced into the same niche. A lot of trouble comes from thinking of "weeds" or "pests" in general, rather than encountering specific plants and animals. At the very least, species will be indicators of ecosystem conditions, but quite a few will also be useful in their own right.
Stake out contour lines in places that seem important (Yeomans' Keyline Plan can help identify important parts of the land), perhaps using a plastic hose-based level. Note, and maybe take small measures to arrest, any erosion gullies you find.
I've read he uses perennial rye on some parts of the property, but not what he groups with it. Some of the videos show produce being harvested or sold: from those, it looks like root vegetables and winter squash are important parts of his plant families, but that may only be due to the season it was filmed.
Children's clothes were intended to "charge up" on visible or UV light: they don't contain radionuclides.
Luminous watch dials, airplane instruments, and gun sights have vaguely the same sort of fluorescent/phosphorescent material, but get their energy from radionuclides instead of the sun or the previous few minutes of room lighting. The radionuclides are separate from the materials that glow visibly.
Some armor-piercing ammunition contains radionuclides, but doesn't glow in the dark because it doesn't contain any fluorescent or phosphorescent material. Plutonium is more precious than gold, and isn't part of any conventional weapon's design. The nuclear industry does produce a lot of depleted uranium, analogous to a cheesemaker producing whey (except the isotope you need for nuclear technology is 0.7%, compared to 3% or so milkfat). There is definitely money in finding a use for depleted uranium.
A lot of this is more fundamental, even, than human nature. If a niche exists for gamers-of-systems, that niche will occasionally be occupied, and either there will be some mechanism to leave that niche, or gaming will bring the system down.
Pioneering work on this was done by Robert Axelrod, and published in Harnessing Complexity. His simple computer simulation involved computerized agents playing a "prisoner's dilemma" game many times in a row. In each session of the game, each of two players decides whether to work with or against the other: those that exploit do the best, those that cooperate do okay, and those that no one cooperates with do the worst. In the beginning, each agent was programmed with a randomly-chosen set of behavior rules, and was assigned a random number as its "identity," which other agents could respond to when choosing whether to work with or against it. After many games were played, the worst-performing agents were re-programmed with behaviors & identities resembling the best performers but with some new randomness mixed in. "Tribes" emerged which would tend to cooperate with similar-numbered agents, and defend against differently-numbered agents. As these tribes got larger, though, they began to be able to support similar-numbered agents who never work with any other agents; exploitative agents were initially very successful, rapidly increasing in number until the tribe around them collapsed.
Axelrod's iterated prisoner's dilemma simulation was too simple to allow the emergence of mechanisms that defend against exploitation, but I think it's worthwhile to identify real-world mechanisms which have served or might hypothetically serve that function.
The point about proportions of carbon which go toward metabolism versus tissue and waste is the heart of the matter. Most especially, it's important to see how stable the waste carbon is: humus comes in many different flavors, so to speak.
I think the individual soil and/or compost ecosystem has to be accounted for: the greatest humus creation might take different methods in different climates.
Len wrote:Somehow I don't see a slow easy transition if things continue as they are. The world just can't feed all the people we have. It seems lots of people will die... starved, sick, killed by natural disaster or murdered. Already the growth of population has slowed some because people have had fewer offspring, but not enough for a decline....
The collapse of the USSR was, from a historical perspective, catastrophically fast and difficult. And while the Four Horsemen did play their usual roles in the adjustment to ways of life that couldn't support so many people, it's widely recognized that lower birthrates had a greater role.
Migration, while not without its own sort of pain and dislocation, is another, comparatively gentle, way for local population overshoot to correct itself. It's worth remembering that there's currently a global food surplus. I think a major reason that the US population continues to grow, is that it has a local food surplus, and draws immigrants, who sometimes have large families.
As to that global food surplus: our species could afford to produce significantly less, while maintaining the current population, if we found a way to grow food where it is needed, with the same level of connection to the global monetary system as the people who need it, and to prepare/preserve it with less spoilage and lower rates of energy consumption. This has been true for quite some time. For every year of its potato famine, Ireland was exported food enough to comfortably meet the shortfall caused by blight. Famines in Europe's little ice age might not have occurred if crops had been less vulnerable to molding in the field or to military activity.
Weight gain is a common enough problem, that I think it's worth discussing. I have a slight concern that it's off-topic, but it relates closely to a need to produce oil, so I'll jump off from there.
Hazelnuts/filberts might be worth looking into. Maybe oilseed radishes, too.
There are guaranteed to be climate-appropriate sources of cooking oil. Maybe if you were able to keep waterfowl? An egg-laying breed, allowed to forage, will produce eggs with a good amount of omega-3 fats, and any males in the flock will produce schmaltz for frying and meat & bones for boiling. I've read waterfowl are more difficult to keep in confinement, but forage better in rainy conditions.
More peas would help. They provide carbohydrates, but also protein, and IIRC their glycemic index isn't very high. Split pea soup with some animal fat and broth can be high-calorie without including any cream.
Chocolate might be worth another look: can you tolerate milk-free dark chocolate in moderate amounts? Its effects go beyond the calories it adds, due to drug-like effects on the biological pathways that regulate appetite and satisfaction.
Also, many people report that dry fruit or fruit juice can add significant calories to their diet, when fresh whole fruit would crowd out higher-calorie foods.
Brenda Groth wrote:can someone who has a descriptive personality give me some idea what they taste like ..and if they would be worth growing here in Michigan?
Persimmons have a certain astringency that reminds me of the feeling your mouth gets from eating underripe bananas. Fuyu varieties are crunchy and mild, the soft kind for baking has a particular sort of richness. I think it's worth checking that the astringent flavor doesn't bother you, but if you're okay with slightly-green bananas, or with fried plantains, you're probably OK. They're well worth having around for desserts, in my opinion.
Ludi Ludi wrote: You seem to be assuming things as well. Making broad statements about how "we" have evolved to eat such and such is making the huge assumption that those you are addressing in this thread are basing their diet choices on "assumptions" about their evolution or lack of it, rather than on their own personal experience.
Isn't it ok for people to try to find the diet that suits them without you making statements about other people's "assumptions"?
Why is it important for you to have the "truth" and for others not to have it?
Every source I've read regarding the paleo diet begins with a discussion of a supposed lack of evolution since paleolithic times, and outlines a project of restoring people to the diet they are adapted to.
This amounts to a claim of scientific authority, by which diet evangelists (a vocal minority among any group that adopts a new diet) seek to influence others' behavior. A claim of scientific authority is powerful precisely because it opens the details of the claim to criticism, within the scientific definition of truth, and based on further study: claims that human evolution ceased at the end of the previous ice age have been well and thoroughly refuted by anthropologists.
When I say "we are adapted to the diet of the past several hundred generations," I speak for the entire animal kingdom. Because diet is a matter of life or death, we (animals) all adapt very quickly to diet-based selection pressures. Every family, of course, has a different set of ancestors, and I didn't mean to imply that everyone has identical dietary adaptations: in fact, I meant to emphasize known and potential differences among populations.
There are valid and important reasons to adopt standards of truth that sit outside scientific practice. One obvious and essential reason is that science is silent on many aspects of personal life and daily existence: many, perhaps the vast majority, of the information we need to function is only available as a direct observation, an anecdote, an assumption, a habit, or an intuition. But as someone with scientific training and access to current scientific literature, I feel a responsibility to correct errors once a particular discussion is framed as having a basis in science.
I know Persimmon is in the ebony family. Wouldn't it be cool if ebony and persimmons were crossed many times in a breeding program to yield a wood as strong as ebony with the fruit and hardiness of a persimmon?
Persimmon wood is the traditional stuff of wood golf clubs (drivers and such). It puts on bulk slowly, because it's building very dense wood.
If you grow some in partial shade, or at the edges of the appropriate zone, I bet that will yield stronger wood much quicker than a hybridization program would. Maybe only a (human) generation or two, rather than centuries. That said, I think it's tough enough for most purposes.
Good point. So I guess no insulation should be installed around the outside of it. My intent was to start with as little fuel as possible outside the retort, and for that, insulating around that barrel wouldn't help much anyway.
I think it might also be valuable to build the prototype with some adjustable apertures in strategic locations.
triato wrote:The two barrel retort ´´wastes energy´´ by radiating outwards and upwards but your design uses the energy that leaves from the sides, this could lead to a very hi temperature
If the outside isn't insulated, this system should waste about the same amount of energy as the old design once it really gets going. If the system is sized appropriately, cold air flowing over the outer surface of the retort should provide some self-regulation. Now that you mention it, though, I should probably be ready for that to work differently than I expect. And it would lead to a gradient in quality of the product, with well-cooked char toward the center, and relatively "rare" char toward the edges of the retort.
A friend of mine is currently learning to weld: he and I are working on a soap nut project at the moment, but afterward I might raise this topic with him. I'm curious to see if the idea is really practical.
paul wheaton wrote:The general idea is that if I take steps to build the soil with organic matter, it will last more growing seasons because the microbials are dormant in the winter.
If you manage to have more growing seasons in a year, it might be that the organic matter lasts for the same number of growing seasons, even if it disappears twice as fast.
A lot of what makes rainforest soil thin is high precipitation, and the leaching of nutrients. If most of the soluble nutrients are gone, it would make sense that microbes have to consume more calories to get enough. Temperate rainforests have the same problem: I spent some time on the Smith river near the CA/OR border last summer. The erosion gullies (which probably started when Jeddediah Smith began destroying the local beaver population) showed a deep cross section of the soil, and the topsoil was very thin. As in tropical rainforests, some plants have to resorted to eating insects for their NPK. There are huge blooms of these carnivorous plants along some of the road cuts. Still, with so much rain, there was a lot of life around.
NedReck wrote: Yes, the first law of thermodynamics, energy neither created or destroyed.
When is a lie not a lie and when is it actually a lie? Thank the lawyers and our courts and the perpetual redefining of words in our world.
It is a well established fact, the heat to drive the flue on a natural draft system requires energy, to keep the flue above the dew point REQUIRES heat energy in the flue, The established MINIMUM required energy is either 14 or 16% I do not recall, I would have to look it up. So what this means is simply that the maximum possible heat output of the stove is either 84 or 86% of the input. Since that is the established maximum the manufactures just use it as the 100% mark so if a stove has a performance actual efficiency of 77.4% that would indeed be 90% of the established maximum.
In a bit simpler terms, since the flue losses are so to speak equal across the same "type" of design (natural draft) they are indeed allowed not to include flue losses as they would indeed be the same across all within the same type.
So good to know!
So it seems that two major differences in the design of an RMH vs. a wood stove are that:
1) the (convective) heat engine driving air through the system does not use exterior air to reject heat, but, rather, a fixed thermal mass that remains above room temperature, but significantly below the temperature of the flame, and
2) (per Erica's comments on the under-floor yurt heater) RMH exhaust gasses are allowed to cool below the dew point
The comment about heat driving the natural draft system seemed to snap everything into focus.
Another important point I forgot to mention earlier: An RMH remains warm between firings. Efficiency is measured as the stove is running well, not integrated over the smoky start-up time plus the main burn time. Smoke not only is a form of wasted fuel, it also encourages people to open up airflow a lot more than they otherwise would, and represents a hassle that might encourage people to keep things running when they don't need the heat. In that case, even if a stove is efficient under ideal conditions, it might drive actual patterns of use that consume more fuel than one that stays warm and easy to start over most of a season of use.
Paul Cereghino wrote:Don't have a recepie to recommend. When making a whole wheat bread, even with boughten yeast, I have often added just enough flour to get a spongey mass, then let it bubble for an hour or so. It seems to soften up the whole flour, and soaks the water into the flour better, thereby reducing the amount of flour necessary overall, creating a moister more flexible dough that rises better.
Yes, the autolyse stage is very important, and should happen prior to kneading (or whatever does the same job).
I baked some bread yesterday, using whey from an earlier cheesemaking project in place of water. Most everything went as usual, except slightly faster fermentation, up until it went in the oven.
It seemed a lot more moist the whole way through the baking process, and then it collapsed a little, like a fallen souffle`. It might be some other problem, but I wonder if somehow the milk protein interfered, either with proper drying or with the formation of gluten.
Any thoughts? Have you guys had bread unexpectedly collapse?
It's still edible and all, I just would like to know I can use up whey without harming the quality of the bread I make.
Burra Maluca wrote:About sealing - will bees wax do?...There won't be any scrap melamine unfortunately.
Bah, I say not having scrap melamine around is a good thing, overall.
I believe the first step of sealing involves water glass (sodium silicate), and the second step is beeswax. The water glass is permanent unless you sand, I think the wax should be refreshed about every month or so. Double-check this, as I'm not speaking from experience or deep research.
Interestingly, the review, and the consensus of the commenters, is that this tool is not as fast, easy, or good as a skilled milker. The real use they see for it is in allowing an unskilled helper (or one who doesn't relate to that particular animal) to take over milking duties when the usual milker is away.
He's a strong believer in dissensus, so I think he might even be grateful if you were to take a sympathetic group of people who had been going with the general flow of things there, and lead them off in a new direction.
FremanSurfer wrote: On a more philosophical note has any heard of Joseph Cambel and heard his discussions on what the choice of being a vegetarian means in the larger spiritual context of symbol and religious myth? He essentially says its the choice that spiritual esthetics take to deny the body what it craves and its the willful embrace of DEATH within the context of most world cultures. .
Hm...that uses the word "myth" much differently than it is used in the thread title.
Aesceticism isn't necessarily the same as vegetarianism. For example, a lot of medieval European monks were vegetarian, and even had long periods of mandatory fasting as part of their service. Hovever, the economics of their role required vigorous labor, so they developed some extremely rich and caloric (and delicious) varieties of beer to allow themselves to be fully nourished without eating anything.
I think there's a spiritual acknowledgement of death involved in any attention we pay to food: to reap or to slaughter means cutting something down, and, on the other hand, starvation is death.
Vegetarianism has a special place in many religious traditions, but I'm not certain it has any special relationship with death.
Then again, I'm much more a fan of Walter Wink than of Joseph Campbell.
Muzhik wrote: My God! What is it with you people and colliding trains!?
Not to get too off-topic, but I understand the US railway system was built quickly to cover large distances under conditions where steel was relatively expensive, and so it relies on sidelines to allow traffic to pass in opposing directions, to an unusual degree. Most routes here involve at least a few stretches of track designed to pass trains headed in both directions.
It seems someone in India melted down some scrap metal from a spice sterilizer. There are uses for cobalt in steelmaking, but a typical stainless alloy shouldn't contain much, if any (less than 1/5 of 1%, according to the article).
Fortunately, this seems to have been an isolated incident. I guess this is another reason to assay shipping containers for radioactivity, but I don't think it's any reason to panic over what's already in your house.
Jami McBride wrote:Wow, where can I rent a geiger counter
Geiger counters require some training, and the use of a calibration standard (i.e., a standardized radioactive substance kept with the machine). You can use a Geiger counter to find, among other things, bananas (due to potassium content) and cigarettes (due to polonium) in the dark; without some education in health physics (i.e., how various types and doses of radiation correspond to various health risks), it's easy to drive yourself crazy with one.
A film dosimeter might be more suitable for home use; it would definitely be enough to catch the material mentioned in the article linked to above.
Another instrument, much easier to use (if more complicated in theory) which can catch this sort of contamination now that it's a known entity, is the alpha-particle x-ray spectrometer. In practice, it's an instrument slightly smaller than a toaster, which can be placed on an item and, after a short time, displays its composition (all elements heavier than about aluminum). Since most stainless shouldn't contain cobalt, it's a dead giveaway (no pun intended). I believe most US recyclers use an APXS device to identify chunks of scrap. There is also a (high-precision, miniaturized) APXS on each Mars rover, which made the technology slightly more famous.
Stainless steel doesn't dissolve into food the way cast iron might. I could be wrong on this, but I think that the stainless in question would be more of a health risk to from the radiation shining out of it as it sits on the shelf, than from radionuclides finding their way into food.
Jami McBride wrote:It is so hard to stay clean and safe in this modern world.
"Clean and safe" are both very relative and qualitative terms. You and I have likely had much less contact with other people's excrement, and seen far fewer of our relatives die of childhood disease or of violence, than most of our ancestors. But you're right, we're both much more likely to encounter PCBs and plutonium than almost any of our ancestors were.
Ludi Ludi wrote: Joel, your statements are true for some people but may not be for others. People of European descent probably have the physiological changes you mention but others from the New World or other places may not have.
This is absolutely true: we each have adapted to the diet of our ancestors, as recently as the past few thousand years.
In much of the new world, this means elevated levels of amylase (IIRC, by a factor of up to four vs. hunter-gatherers) in response to diets rich in corn (aka maize) or potatoes.
People adapted to a diet rich in mesquite flour seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum, and become especially unhealthy on a diet with high-glycemic-index foods.
In any event, speculating about the paleolithic, and assuming that no one's digestive system has evolved since then, isn't always going to lead to the truth.
You might look into a "scion exchange" event: IIRC, growers offer scion for free. It seems like you have the best imaginable rootstock: fully mature, fully adapted, in just that niche/microclimate that the genus in question would prefer.
Sepp Holzer seems to do a lot of work turning densely-planted woods into more-diverse, food-producing ecosystems. I think his book might be out in English already.
I had summer legumes and squash growing in among my nightshade fruit crops, as well as some basil, marigold, etc. The lower leaves on the tomatoes have all died and been clipped away, and some fava beans, garlic, and Swiss chard that I planted earlier are really enjoying the additional sun.
Polyculture and crop rotation work OK together, as long as you aren't tilling.
Seal it properly, and food acids won't be a problem.
If your luck in acquiring marble isn't as good as you'd hope, and especially if you get a significant amount of marble but not enough to cover your needs, consider concrete as a worktop. It has many of the advantages of marble, and if you're skilled in working with concrete, it's possible to do yourself.
Ran Prieur wrote: I haven't heard of driven rain being a problem with cob buildings... although I'll feel better after the cob has been plastered. Another issue is melting snowdrifts. Something the page doesn't mention is that I stapled about two feet of plastic (old garbage bags) all around the base of the building, to help it get through the first winter.
Oh, good idea.
There should also be some solar gain from them, as an added bonus.
James Howard Kunstler offers a 20-minute lecture on building places that are worth defending. His ideas for retrofitting the suburbs have shades of Holmgren, especially in the way they draw from traditional patterns of life and modern infrastructure, but focus a lot more on retail/public/central space, rather than residential space.
His language is very coarse, so be ready for him to gratuitously use four-letter words, and fling big dollops of contempt toward everyone who disagrees with him. I think his ideas are worthwhile, even if the packaging around them seems a little dysfunctional.
I came to a similar conclusion after a neighbor brought me (and as much of the neighborhood as he could convince) to folk dance lessons.
Among other benefits, dance seems to be a great way to develop what Robert Pirsig called "gumption."
Based on what little I know of anthropology, it seems very likely that rhythmic activity in general is an instinctive way for humans to establish group identity and territory. It seems to be a general pattern, from military songs and national anthems, to cars with high-powered subwoofers and protest chants. I think the drive to sing and dance together in a way that says "this place is ours" is as instinctive as the vocalizations of gibbons.
Songs also help people to work together, as evidenced by sea chanteys, gandy dancing, etc.