Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bonzo Goes to Topeka

Bonzo Goes to Topeka

Great time with great folks at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka, October 24, 2015  Bonzo demonstrated how not much skill with snips, hammer, punch and drill can be translated into: 

Clean, Sustainable Home Electric Power.. 8 Hours After the Grid Goes Down, Using Only Local Materials

Bonzo's introduction to wood powered vehicles was a Mother Earth News article in the mid-70's, so this was a great opportunity to give back.

That historical MEN article found a mind receptive toward alternatives to gasoline.  An oil embargo had nearly stranded my dad a few hundred miles from home.  About the time of my first driver's license, gas prices were on the way to doubling, then doubling again.  And I was cutting and selling wood.  In cord wood production, there is a fair amount of waste, that is piled up and eventually burned.  At that time, woodgas seemed do-able, but complex.

About thirty years later, in 2007, a huge ice-storm in Southwest, MO, re-ignited interest in wood energy.  Square miles of trees and tree canopy were broken and twisted to the ground, making forests almost impassible for anything bigger than a squirrel.

Clearing wood debris was my young son's first introduction to the power of internal combustion engines.  He ran the four-wheeler as I ran the chain saw.  Together we cleared hundreds of acres of debris for friends and family, cutting it to the ground so it would rot faster.

Seeing the smile on his face as he experienced the power of a 4-wheeler, simultaneously feeling the sting of yet another round of almost doubling gasoline prices, I began pondering his energy future.  In my early teens, farm work was available a short walk in any direction, paid about $2.00 per hour.  Gasoline was about twenty cents a gallon.  So an hours work was worth about 10 gallons of gas.

In order for him to enjoy the same degree of energy freedom, he would have to be able to walk to a job that pays $20 per hour.  Putting pencil to paper, looking at raw btu numbers, we were using expensive energy to destroy clean energy, almost to the tune of the value of the land per acre.

That began a renewed search for the most effective ways to convert wood to useful energy, including wood power for internal combustion engines.

Since then, have personally met many modern masters of woodgas energy.  The group includes Dr. Tom Reed, forty year head of the Biomass Energy Foundation, Dr. Paul Anderson - DrTLUD, a world champion clean cook stove builder, and Wayne Keith, world leader in miles traveled on wood.  Insights gleaned from them and others were compiled into a book "Make Smoke, Burn Smoke".  The book contains basic information and understanding that can only come from first-hand meeting with experts.

"Make Smoke, Burn Smoke" continues to be the best way to gain basic understanding of the promise and practice of biomass energy.  But a whole lot of people had requested a hands-on practical "recipe" style format as a basis to begin their own experimentation.

That request led to the demo and presentation at Mother Earth News Fair.  By any measure it was a resounding success.  Thank you Mother Earth News and their sponsors for putting the event together. Thank you all who showed up, expressed interest and asked questions regarding the awesome power of clean, constantly renewing, stored solar energy - wood that is.   
"In the world of alt-energy, the wind does not always blow, the sun does not always shine, but smoke always rises." - SolarJeff

David Kaiser of CharGen, and Raymond Rissler of Missouri Gasification Systems visit in front of a commercial pyramid kiln, at Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka during grid-down to home power demo. (Tom's woodgas Ford Pickup in the background )

For PDF version of the presentation handout, or to schedule a demo in your neighborhood, contact freedombiomass at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Black Walnut Festival - Stockton, MO

Doc Explains Dwelling Scale Electric Power from Local Wood Resources
The Stockton, MO area goes nuts for a few days every fall with their Annual Black Walnut Festival.  It is an amazing congregation of interesting folks from all ages and walks of life getting together to share in great music, great food, and good times with good folks.

BrushApes ventured out of the brush to meet folks and test a couple of projects that had been gnawing on their minds through the summer.

Doc had been pondering trusses made from low value sawmill scraps 
BrushApes procured wood scraps Wednesday morning, prepared them Wednesday afternoon..

 then pegged them together, tilted them up, and connected them with a barn metal roof Wednesday night, the first night of the festival.

Finished Structure pictured Thursday morning

BrushApes appreciated the kind words, understanding of the value of the concept, and the conversations with mostly old time builders familiar with pegged beam construction.  Most even noticed the square pegs in round holes.

IT WORKED!  Easily fabricated, easily scaled, very strong, awesome design.  Glad Doc finally found some time to test his gnawing thought.

Bonzo had been pondering a small portable triple wall charcoal kiln 

The design was designated the "JAKE", Just Another Kiln Experiment, Jake also being the name of the local tin-bender who rolled the four stainless steel tubes needed.  Tubes were all 1 foot long, four, six, seven, and eight inches diameter.

The test was to see how easily a smoke free kiln could be fabricated from stainless steel parts.  Besides the rolled stainless tubes, a couple of stainless steel salad bowls and a buffet serving dish got upgraded to a higher level of service.

With just snips, a drill, and a few nuts n bolts the JAKE was fabricated while visiting with neighboring vendors and passersby Thursday afternoon.

The innovation besides simplified fabrication relative to the KeyStove LX and KeyStove GH, was pre-heat of primary air, in hopes of making the design less sensitive to fuel quality.

The JAKE tested out well.  It was very simple to fabricate.  The first test with hardwood pellets ran 3 hours with little or no smoke from start to finish.

As for fuels, crushed walnut hulls and floater walnuts gave just under two hours of operation.  Packed peanut hulls ran for almost 40 minutes, but finished with a short burst of foul smelling smoke.  Pretty sure dry bark would work almost as well as pellets but did not have any to test.

Home Emergency Power from Local Resources

Bonzo was not planning on bringing the charcoal powered home generator to the festival.  But after a kid said his stove would charge his cell phone, (BioLite - very nice stove, not a kiln) and Bonzo replying that the char produced in these kilns could power a whole house, there really was not a choice.

It was awesome fun, a great festival, and a great excuse to come out of the brush.  Made some new friends.  Thank you Stockton Chamber of Commerce!

What is a "BrushApe"?

 BrushApes are the most resourceful sub-species on earth. For on the spot handy, a BrushApe is to McGyver, as McGyver is to Zsa Zsa Gabor

BrushApes are DEPENDABLE
 What a BrushApe says, a BrushApe does.

  Hugs, kisses, smiles and encouragement spread joy and make our space, a better place.

BrushApes are PRACTICAL
  If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it can't be fixed, use the scraps to build something better.

BrushApes THRIVE in a world of plenty
 Abundance surrounds BrushApes living in a world of emerging opportunity. Each day brings new opportunity to create a better world for generations to come.

  BrushApes seek truth and understanding while embracing the best choices from all that is possible. Each success or lack of success points to the best direction forward.

BrushApes SERVE their local surroundings
  "A rising tide floats all boats"

BrushApes are masters of LOCAL RESOURCES
 To create or consume, is a choice.
 BrushApe culture chooses creation.

 As one example, consumption culture burns " brush" - destruction is their vision of mastery.
 BrushApe culture converts "brush" into clean heat and valuable bio-char.

 The choice to create value where none existed before is a fundamental individual decision.  It develops into a culture when practiced by enough individuals to make a difference.

 BrushApe culture values the creative powers of nature, and wise use of the abundance.
BrushApes thrive in a world of plenty - ooh, ooh, ooh!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Who are we and why are we here?

We exist to serve all companion species, all life, in all its diversity, on planet Earth.

Resourceful, Compassionate, Thoughtful, and Dependable

Brush Apes thrive in this 21st century, an amazing Age of emerging opportunity.