Eric Hanson

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since May 03, 2017
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Recent posts by Eric Hanson


GE used to make a Stirling engine called the ST-5.  It was aimed partially at a 3rd world market, though it had applications in the United States as well.  

If I recall correctly it was not a commercial success.  It could generate up to 5hp under ideal conditions, but the device was expensive.  Again, if memory serves, it was too expensive for the 3rd world market and underpowered for the domestic market.  I did find an online manual for one HERE:

This might be interesting if you could find one used or might make a useful template if you decide to build one.  Frankly, I would love to see someone actually build a practical Stirling engine as despite their promise, relatively few have been built.

Good Luck,

13 hours ago

I had a nice, long response to this but it looks like everyone beat me to it.  I would say the better question is living “are you living *towards* a permaculture lifestyle?”.

Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good enough and in my mind if you continue to take steps towards permaculture, you are on the permaculture path.

20 hours ago

Glad you can appreciate the shortcomings of TEGs.  You are right in that they do have miserable efficiency, though that can be mitigated a bit with a water backing as you intend to do.  A Sterling engine can theoretically get much higher efficiency.  The only real problem I see with the Sterling engine is acquiring one.  I am not aware of any commercially for sale for a homeowner.  If you intend to fabricate one, that would be really fascinating.  Out of curiosity, if you do intend to fabricate one, what do you intend to use as a working fluid?  Supercritical CO2 has some really interesting properties, but that means keeping it under some pretty intense pressure.  But then again, basically any working fluid likes to work under relatively high pressures.

If you are planning to fabricate a Sterling engine, I would love to know how you intend to engineer/plan/build the device.  They are pretty interesting machines.

20 hours ago
I think our new immediate family will visit extended family that we have not seen in some time.  

I have a couple of classes that I would like to take live and in-person.

1 day ago

Sterling engines can be quite effective but at higher temperatures and pressures.  There was a Sterling engine built in the US in the 60s? That was designed for undeveloped countries lacking infrastructure.  Essentially, the idea was that they could be plopped on a fire and generate electricity.  The idea was sound but failed due to a number of technical difficulties.  

It is an interesting idea though.

I suggest the TEGs because of their lack of moving parts and ease of installation and operation.  Your overall concept can be achieved using TEGs.  You can buy TEGs for reasonable prices at a website I found called (I am sure there are other sources as well).

TEGs do not have the same inherent efficacy of a Sterling engine, but their ease of setup can sometimes make up the difference.  Also, TEGs are presently commercially available as opposed to Sterling engines.  However, if you the ability to make a Sterling engine, you might be able to do some interesting stuff.

This is an interesting thread and I would love to hear how your plans develop.  Please keep us informed.

1 day ago
Hi Cody!

I bet that those oak leaves are not only low on moisture, but also low on nitrogen as well.  Definitely chop them up as has already been mentioned and get them soaking wet. But then add in some type of high nitrogen composting agent as well.  I typically use grass clippings, but just about any green material (minus root and seed) or coffee grounds will work.  Actually, used coffee grounds are about the perfect compost agent, holding just the right amount of water, air, carbon and nitrogen.

Last tip:  I said get the leaves soaking wet, but you don’t really want them to stay soaking wet.  Rather, you want just enough moisture to support decomposition and not so much that oxygen gets displaced.

I have also tried piling up leaves and they stay leaves for a long time unless I do something to speed their decomposition.

Good Luck and please keep us updated!

1 day ago

Instead of using a sterling engine, you might consider a Thermal Electrical Generator or a TEG.  TEG’s are designed to be applied directly to hot surfaces and have no moving parts.  

Overall I like the basic concept.  It would be interesting to check the overall efficiency between a Sterling engine and a TEG.

Cool idea!

2 days ago
Hi Samantha,

Nice start with the leaves, compost and cardboard.  My suggestion is that you leave the compost on as long as possible prior to planting.  I would especially leave the cardboard in place as long as possible.  In fact, I might be tempted to leave the cardboard down in your paths to smother out the invading grass.  A little bit of leaves or grass clippings on top wouldn't hurt either.  That then leaves the actual vegetable rows and those will have to be meticulously weeded, but if possible, move the carboard as close as possible to the actual rows to smother as many weeds without crowding out your veggies.

Good luck,

3 days ago
Hi Susan, thanks for asking.

The potato harvest was good but not great, but a lot of that is my fault.  I planted virtually all my garden space in potatoes as a sort of COVID panic emergency plan with the potatoes going in just as the grocery shelves were starting to empty out early in the COVID scare last spring.  As the shelves filled back up my panic lessened and my concern for the majority of the potatoes went away.  I did harvest some in a timely manner and those were just fine, but I left a bunch just stay in the ground--I know, not a great practice.  I went and checked on things a couple of weeks ago and found that I still had potatoes in the chips and they were in surprisingly decent shape, but I did not have as many as I would have expected.  Part of this is because I did not really dig up my bed--I was really looking for fungi patterns.

In the past, when I have been more timely at getting my potatoes out, the potato harvest was much better than last summer.

My sweet potato harvest on the other hand was quite good.

3 days ago
RedHawk, everyone,

So if conifers are deficient in nutrients needed for more desirable mushroom production, I wonder what would happen if some degree of manure were added.  I am thinking especially in wood chip form as opposed to whole log.

Might make an interesting experiment.

4 days ago