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Old 07-06-14, 03:59 AM   #1
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Default Wood Stove + condensing water heater?

Could I use a standard or even obsolete wood stove to feed hot flue gas into a condensing heat exchanger, preferably adapted from a gas-fired appliance, with draft provided by a fan on the exhaust side?

Would I be better off to spray water into the flue gas, since I only want it for a circulating hot-water heating system for the far room? The circulating pump could feed the spray head, with the ph controlled with ash or fresh water.

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Old 07-07-14, 03:44 PM   #2
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You can do this, but I think it would be a maintenance nightmare. The soot will build up and create a mess. Even if you get the fire very hot, you'll still have soot build up issues I think.
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Old 07-07-14, 06:53 PM   #3
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Could I use a standard or even obsolete wood stove to feed hot flue gas into a condensing heat exchanger...
You would have produced a wood tar distilling apparatus.

Wood smoke has way too many particulates and gaseous tars to make it a good candidate for condensing. Nat Gas (CH4) is a very good candidate, as it produces CO2 and H2O... both easy to handle.

You are better off pursuing a small fire with forced draft & high oxygen... this is the Rocket Stove approach... also used in pellet stoves.

-AC
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Old 07-07-14, 07:47 PM   #4
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AC is exactly correct. It would be a daily maintenance nightmare and I can see creosote, etc, dripping out and making a huge mess.

Even a wood pellet stove has a lot of low temp condensing volatiles . . .

Great idea, but not going to work well with wood - even incredibly dry wood pellets.

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Old 07-08-14, 03:09 AM   #5
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AC is exactly correct. It would be a daily maintenance nightmare and I can see creosote, etc, dripping out and making a huge mess.

Even a wood pellet stove has a lot of low temp condensing volatiles . . .

Great idea, but not going to work well with wood - even incredibly dry wood pellets.

Steve
Thanks, guys.
I was figuring on either replacing the water frequently, or adding ash to balance the ph and filtering out the sludge. Wood heat is a daily chore anyway, eh? I've got gas laid on here, but I think such a high-class fuel should at least be running a heat pump, but with fracking in the mix now, I'd rather quit entirely.

Any other options for super efficiency on wood, like an absorption heat pump?
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Old 07-08-14, 12:11 PM   #6
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...I think such a high-class fuel should at least be running a heat pump, but with fracking in the mix now, I'd rather quit entirely...
I agree with your reluctance to take part in the Great Aquifer Destruction that is known as 'fracking'. But just for information, there was a company that made a Natural Gas powered internal combustion engine driven heat pump. I'm not sure as to why it is no longer made.

There is also the possibility of Co-Gen where you have an engine that drives a generator, and you also harvest the heat from the engine.

BUT... You are no different from any other human whose first line of thinking on the subject of home heating, is the heat source.

Your greatest successes will be when your efforts are given over to preventing heat loss.

This begins with eliminating infiltration as much as possible, and then insulating as much as possible, and then window reduction/replacement with high performance windows.

-AC
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Old 07-08-14, 11:59 PM   #7
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I'm familiar with insulation, etc., thanks. Any other thoughts on the topic? Two other reasons it appeals to me are that it avoids awkwardness and expense on the chimney, and stops pollution at the source. The hot water for a remote radiator solves another common problem. I'm wondering about efficient ways to control the fan and pump motors.

BTW, my house started out as a 2-room shack. Each extension was bigger than the last, and the third one even added indoor plumbing, getting to 700 sq. ft. Everyone was pretty keen to add insulation along the way, though.
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Old 07-09-14, 03:38 PM   #8
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I'm familiar with insulation, etc...Everyone was pretty keen to add insulation along the way, though.
Just out of curiosity, how thick are the walls of your house?

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Old 07-09-14, 06:05 PM   #9
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The oldest walls are up to 22 cm, the new ones lagging around 16. I've had a blower door test, and done all the detailing. The foundation, or lack thereof, is discouraging major investments, but it might be wise to pull out the gas furnace and fill the crawl space.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:58 PM   #10
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The oldest walls are up to 22 cm, the new ones lagging around 16. I've had a blower door test, and done all the detailing. The foundation, or lack thereof, is discouraging major investments, but it might be wise to pull out the gas furnace and fill the crawl space.
Yeah, sounds like you've been there, alright!

-AC

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