Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hugelkulture Herb Bed Spiral in pictures.

First some introductory text.

Had quite a bit of decayed wood from cutting dead trees for winter heat.  The decayed outer bark and wood were split off the dead heart wood.  Ended up with about a 1/3 cord stack of decayed wood from the winter heating season.

What to do with it?

There was a fair amount of dead pole timber lying on the ground where the dead trees were harvested for firewood.  All came from a mostly oak forest turning toward old growth.

The idea was to use the pole timber in fort style for support, and the decayed wood inside "the fort" to prevent the bed from quickly "slumping" downhill.

About eighty gallons of river pea gravel, an accumulating "waste product" from a local rock and gravel operation, was used to fill the voids and hold the decayed wood in place.  Pea gravel is at least as good as decayed wood for holding moisture.

The sandy soil from digging the trench for the fort poles is the first ground contact layer.  From there, in order of ingredient volume, it is decayed wood, pea gravel, biochar (another excellent moisture grabber that retains bulk), Global Harvest soil rejuvenator, cal-phos and Sea-90.  Then on top a sprinkling of bark from the log splitting, newly emerged grass, and composted horse manure.

Herbs were then seeded, with a few native herbs transplanted from their native habitat on top.

How will it work?  Will it slump?  Will it grow stuff with little watering?  We shall see.

Laying out the spiral from the centerpiece pole..

Installing the "fort" logs in the trench..

Excess from fort logs is next layer above excavated soil..

Then some cal-phos topped with biochar..

Then the first layer of pea gravel..

Next more decayed wood..

Next more biochar mixed with Global Harvest Organics soil rejuvenator (for microbes + composted manure)..

Then more pea gravel and more decayed wood..

Then more biochar mixed with soil rejuvenator, cal-phos and Sea-90..

Then several buckets of bark that had been laying on the ground through the winter..

Then a light sprinkling of biochar and soil rejuvenator mix followed by a top layer of composted horse manure mixed with fresh spring grass..

How well or poorly will this work?  We shall see..

Monday, March 27, 2017

Heat and Biochar DVD

"Man has yet to match the simple perfection of wood energy storage with any other form of battery or fuel.  Kept dry, wood stores indefinitely.  Wood may be catalyzed into clean energy at any time in accordance with man's wisdom" - Doug Brethower

NEWS FLASH: Brushape solar collection and storage systems are currently up and running worldwide!

Trees, sprouts, stalks, cobs, pits, hulls, and our favorite fuel "brush" are fully deployed.  Energy grows on trees and in other biomass so rapidly that humans waste much time and energy "clearing land" of nature's energy bounty.

It remains to be seen if the Keystone XL pipeline can ultimately provide more net energy than the energy put into building it PLUS the clean energy destroyed to clear the way for it, MINUS the energy required to make liquid fuels from tar sands.  Pipeline profitability originally based upon $100 per barrel oil leaves at least some room for doubt.

Included in the DVD

Keystove LX

Political banter over the Keystone XL pipeline was the inspiration for the KeyStove LX, an early dive into small and affordable clean kiln design.  Fabrication details were released to instructables December of 2011.  The design became an instructables of the month award winner!  The flow diagram graces the Heat and Biochar DVD cover, with complete engineering drawings of suggested hole locations, and videos of working models doing useful work, like boiling water.

Infamous KeyStove LX "vortex swirl" flame.

Clay Kiln

For those desiring something simpler, more flexible in design, and able to be fabricated in parts of the world without coffee serving pots - a clay kiln.

Anthrosoil "Grassifier"

Wheat straw, cornstalks, cobs, bamboo, and tall stemmy grasses are a widely distributed, under-utilized biomass to biochar plus energy resource.  The photo shows using the process heat for drying the next batch.  The wheat straw had been rained on during transport and needed to be dried to run smoke free.

KeyStove GH

The GH is a larger design following the principles of the KeyStove LX but with higher heat output and an extended run-time of 8 hours.  The larger size allows a good nights sleep with the kiln running unattended.  The process creates over 100,000 btu plus more than a gallon of high quality biochar per cycle.

Biochar guru David Yarrow demonstrates "cooking with flue gas"
A GH cooked a hot meal every day for a group of 12 at a bio-energy/biochar camp. 

JAKE - Just Another Kiln Experiment

JAKE is a compact clean kiln design in 1,2, and 3 foot lengths with attendant 4-8-12 hours of runtime producing combined heat and biochar.  Load hardwood pellets, small twigs, etc into an 8" tube- 10" diameter combustion chamber, light it on top, and get plenty of heat for cooking meals or boiling water with no smoke and a nice bonus of high quality biochar!

EXTRAS included on DVD

Agricultural Wastes to Energy - Oak Ridge National Laboratories slide show report- 2003
Slide 12

BIOMASS ENERGY-State of the Technology-Present Obstacles & Future Potential US Department of Energy - 1993 Report

Fast-growing biomass takes up more carbon than any other process and yields oxygen. In taking into account the total fuel cycle, several studies show that biomass energy is the only option that has a net gain over the carbon/oxygen cycle. Planting trees can reverse the CO2 buildup faster than any other means, and young forests fix more carbon than mature forests. Woody plants capture more sun and are more efficient than annual crops in temperate climates.
Woody crops actually fix over three times more carbon per field per year than a single crop of corn. 
Page 6
Biochar soil improvement reduces atmospheric carbon at an even faster rate than envisioned at the time these reports were published.

More extras including diagram of the "dasifier" metal melter design by Agua Das, videos of a lawn mower, a tractor, a home generator, and a Toyota pickup powered by gasified biomass, far too much to try to summarize in a blog post!


"Make Smoke, Burn Smoke" - A $12.95 value included free!  This is a full color digital version of the original paperback by Doug Brethower with creative commons licensing - share parts as you will, with attribution to the source.  


"Clean, Sustainable Home Electric Power.. 8 Hours After the Grid Goes Down, Using Only Local Materials" - a presentation prepared by Doug Brethower for a Mother Earth News fair in Topeka KS that included a live demonstration with pictures of the trial run of the demo.

Will the light come on before "lights out"?  Biomass energy is not just for emergency preparedness.  It is an abundant, long term sustainable, environmentally responsible energy source provided by the daily passage of the sun overhead.  Smoke is a gas!  The DVD along with some elbow grease is a great way to understand the basics.

Heat and Biochar DVD - Money back satisfaction guarantee.  Buy with confidence!