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peacmar 06-07-13 05:19 PM

adventures in solid fuel biomass combustion
Well once upon a time I stumbled across this site and I followed ac hacker and his project quite feverishly. Now, after some time and many hours of research and experimenting I can finally make a contribution of my own to this wonderful wealth of knowledge. My story begins in 2009, my wife and I where newly weds and had just purchased our first home. We paid a good price for what we got but I learned quick that an old farm house is just that. Our heat bill was approximately $3500 that first winter and it was a mild winter. Averaged about 40 degrees or more throughout and I began to wonder what it would be like had we gotten a real Wisconsin winter. Only after the next spring while helping the neighbor farmer clear hedges did I get the idea that we needed a wood burner. Especially because in was going to receive all the wood we had cut. About 17 full cords of oak and hickory. From that day searched the internet and researched almost obsessively. I do of course have a disease, its called relentless curiosity. And bless my wife for being so patient with me. In the upcoming days and weeks I am going to try to recount this journey that it has become and try to share the wealth of knowledge I've gained about utilizing renewable resources efficiently in a quest to become entirely energy independant and carbon neutral. Also, please forgive the spelling and grammar mistakes that pop up from time to time. My only access to the internet from home is through a smart phone because of our location and they are not always smart.

That being said, I'll returned. When time permits and continue this then.


Daox 06-07-13 05:25 PM

Sounds like an interesting story. :) $3500! WOW. Looking forward to updates.

peacmar 06-07-13 05:33 PM

Well daox seems like we are just about neighbors

Mikesolar 06-08-13 01:16 PM

Ohhhhhhhhhhh........I just cannot see burning oak and hickory. it may be worth more to a local mill. Then you can buy some birch and maple to burn.

I guess hickory is not so good for furniture but it is for smoking meat, and making canoe paddles.

peacmar 06-08-13 02:00 PM

As a child I used to help my dad and grandfather cut pulp wood and they would haul and sell to the mill but its become very hard for anyone who is not license or bonded by the state to sell to a mill any more. I do chainsaw mill anything over 28" diameter into planks and sell for lumber though. But oak, hickory, black walnut and locust are abundant in this area so my sales are usually a large truck or semi load going across the state. Tree removal has been a family business for 3 generations now so we have quite a stockpile of qualify lumber. But the need and want isn't always there so lots gets burned.

peacmar 06-08-13 02:23 PM

clean burn 1.0
Well here is the burner as it has stood for almost 3 years now. Its been through many mods and experiments and as soon as I find those pics I'll get them up. In this photo it was just upgraded to operate like one of those new high efficiency clean burn units. Only instead of a catylitic converter I only have fire bricks and water backed steel to absorb the heat.

As soon as I get then pictures together I'll show the build process. And hopefully the one where the tree fell on it.... was an interesting day to say the least....
Yes, its running. And burning, very clean burn with the secondary air injection. by Quicksilver99, on Flickr

Daox 06-10-13 09:28 AM

Thats very cool. So, you built your own wood burner. Any chance we could get a write up on the design or some links to sites that explain how to go about designing or modifying an existing burner?

peacmar 06-10-13 11:33 AM

Well that's my purpose here. There is only one site that I've ever found in five years with that kind of support and I've spent much time there sharing also. The problem is that very few company's have spent much money or time researching the subject and are not willing to share what they have found. I on the other hand believe that information should be shared freely, which is why I am here. I have proven biomass to be approximately %93 efficient and am going to share what I have discovered but the amount of information is formidable and sometimes of a very scientific nature. So I guess this is the preface of what is about to become a short novel on how to get the most out of whatever it is you can burn and how to do it responsibly. So far I have successfully utilized wood, grass clippings, wheat straw, oat straw, barley straw, marsh grass, kernel corn, rice husks, corn stalks, dried horse manure -does not stink at all just cannot have sand mixed in, wood chips from local municipality, and just about any other organic substance that can be dried.

My tests have been done with a gasifier design burner, updraft, down draft, and cross draft. All simply in the name of knowledge.

As I said above time can be limited online so please bear with me. I'll try to start from the beginning and explain as I go. It might just take a while sometimes.

Daox 06-10-13 11:55 AM

That sounds great. Looking forward to hearing more on the subject!

jeff5may 06-10-13 06:03 PM

I just looked through your stream on flickr, and I am highly impressed! I doubt a tree falling on the unit did much damage, other than minor cosmetic... the unit looks like a bank vault! Are you sure you didn't build this to power a locomotive? This really goes to show what can be done out of a home shop. I hope it does what you intended.

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