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Posted: 3/1/2011 8:06:56 PM EST
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/1981-07-01/DIY-Water-Heating-Compost.aspx
I was speaking with my father in law today and he told me his brother is doing this at his farm in Northern Ohio. He stated he was getting 130 plus degree water and he used it to heat his house with only 2-3 degree temperature drop at night. I'm trying to get more info on his personal setup but I found this web page. He said his motivation came from a guy in France.


Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:19:55 PM EST
Originally Posted By Rocksarge:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/1981-07-01/DIY-Water-Heating-Compost.aspx
I was speaking with my father in law today and he told me his brother is doing this at his farm in Northern Ohio. He stated he was getting 130 plus degree water and he used it to heat his house with only 2-3 degree temperature drop at night. I'm trying to get more info on his personal setup but I found this web page. He said his motivation came from a guy in France.

http://www.builditsolar.com/Blog/Compost.jpg


You are referring to Jean Pain who came up with a system similar to yours. In his system however the water lines are burried inside the compost pile and coiled around a tank containing wet wood bark. The heat of the compost allows the barks to decompose and generate methane which he collects under pressure in old tractor inner tubes. These are linked to a compressor and the methane is used to heat his house and power his car. Here's a video of how he did it in English. Elegant and simple. Talk about energy independence in your own backyard.
I'm surprised people don't talk about his ways more and no-one here has managed to achieve the same thing.

Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:21:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/1/2011 8:35:15 PM EST by amos1909]
Hmm, Interesting. Does it really work.

Needless to say. TAGGED!!!!

Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:31:50 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/1/2011 8:33:51 PM EST by Rocksarge]
when my FIL was explaining it to me, i jumped the gun assuming methane. he said his bro was using water in the tubes and a heat exchanger.
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Rocksarge:
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Renewable-Energy/1981-07-01/DIY-Water-Heating-Compost.aspx
I was speaking with my father in law today and he told me his brother is doing this at his farm in Northern Ohio. He stated he was getting 130 plus degree water and he used it to heat his house with only 2-3 degree temperature drop at night. I'm trying to get more info on his personal setup but I found this web page. He said his motivation came from a guy in France.

http://www.builditsolar.com/Blog/Compost.jpg


You are referring to Jean Pain who came up with a system similar to yours. In his system however the water lines are burried inside the compost pile and coiled around a tank containing wet wood bark. The heat of the compost allows the barks to decompose and generate methane which he collects under pressure in old tractor inner tubes. These are linked to a compressor and the methane is used to heat his house and power his car. Here's a video of how he did it in English. Elegant and simple. Talk about energy independence in your own backyard.
I'm surprised people don't talk about his ways more and no-one here has managed to achieve the same thing.
http://permaculture.tv/files/2010/02/jean_pain.jpg
http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/z-image/jp_digester.jpg


Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:34:13 PM EST
That's a lot of compost and construction work. Bet you'd get more heat BTUs into your system just using a black storage tank and running loops of black poly hose uder a layer of greenhouse plastic, out in the sun.
Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:39:50 PM EST
If I had a bigger yard and a real need to heat for more than a couple days a year, I'd play. Just gotta think up useful things that system could provide me.
Originally Posted By RichR:
That's a lot of compost and construction work. Bet you'd get more heat BTUs into your system just using a black storage tank and running loops of black poly hose uder a layer of greenhouse plastic, out in the sun.


Link Posted: 3/1/2011 10:17:39 PM EST
Originally Posted By RichR:
That's a lot of compost and construction work. Bet you'd get more heat BTUs into your system just using a black storage tank and running loops of black poly hose uder a layer of greenhouse plastic, out in the sun.

If you live in a lower latitude sunny area, maybe. But at US latitudes, sun exposition maxes out at 8h/day in the summer.
His system however produces energy 24h/day, day and night, 365 days/year, whatever the weather.
Link Posted: 3/1/2011 10:30:01 PM EST
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)
Link Posted: 3/1/2011 10:31:48 PM EST
Interesting! I'd wondered if such a setup would work. Tagarooski.
Link Posted: 3/1/2011 10:39:54 PM EST
There is a local guy who has a blockhouse with piping coiled inside and he uses wood chips and replenishes every year or so.
He heats his house and has more hot water than he can use. My company has delivered chips to his place.
Sorry no pics.

Link Posted: 3/1/2011 11:12:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)


So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 3:23:44 AM EST
oh this is so tagged
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 4:01:54 AM EST
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)


So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


Hell, just get friendly with a local tree service company. Most will be glad to dump their wood chips in your yard - it's either that or pay at the dump.

I really like the blockhouse idea. Throw some cheap siding and a tin roof on there and call it a shed. I'm thinking I just found a cheap way to heat my pool...errr...emergency water storage.

I'm also wondering if you could regulate the water temperature by shanging the rate of decomposition. Add fertilizer to the pile to increase temp; let the pile dry out to decrease temp. A PLC with a probe hooked up to a sprinkler valve might do it....
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 5:34:44 AM EST
I am SO building one of these in the spring!
the prospect of useing it to heat the house(at least in part) in the winter is very nice.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 7:48:01 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 7:49:16 AM EST by Molodoi]
Originally Posted By R2point0:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)


So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


Hell, just get friendly with a local tree service company. Most will be glad to dump their wood chips in your yard - it's either that or pay at the dump.

I really like the blockhouse idea. Throw some cheap siding and a tin roof on there and call it a shed. I'm thinking I just found a cheap way to heat my pool...errr...emergency water storage.

I'm also wondering if you could regulate the water temperature by shanging the rate of decomposition. Add fertilizer to the pile to increase temp; let the pile dry out to decrease temp. A PLC with a probe hooked up to a sprinkler valve might do it....

Great ideas, great ideas! Keep in mind that Jean Pain did it 30 years ago with very limited means: tractor inner tubes, probably no local tree service company, no external help. He lived through the oil shock of the 70s, said f@#$ it and led the way. Then oil went down and his ingenious design "hybernated".
Today we're in the same situation. Oil is going nowhere but up. The main difference is that now Pain's design is known to work (R&D is done) and all kinds of cool stuff abound for cheap (think Harbor Freight and junk yards). Sprinkler valves. Micro irrigation hoses. Water pumps. Discarded water heaters.
I can also see how some newspapers or TV news channel would love to push a headline like "area man heats own house with scavenged parts and dead leaves".
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 8:54:47 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 8:58:56 AM EST by RichR]
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By RichR:
That's a lot of compost and construction work. Bet you'd get more heat BTUs into your system just using a black storage tank and running loops of black poly hose uder a layer of greenhouse plastic, out in the sun.

If you live in a lower latitude sunny area, maybe. But at US latitudes, sun exposition maxes out at 8h/day in the summer.
His system however produces energy 24h/day, day and night, 365 days/year, whatever the weather.


eh. If I want warm / hot water for bathing, cooking or washing, that means I'm up. And if I'm up during SHTF, it's almost certainly daylight. So the 24/7/365 doesn't really do anything for me.
If I was circulating the water thru a dwelling for heating purposes, akin to a heat pump system, that would be useful.

Takes a lot of compost to generate enough heat to be useful. And if I'm not mistaken that heat is part of the compost process, not just a waste product, but a part of the life-cycle of the compost heap. If you rob most of that heat out of the pile with a water coil, would it not hinder bacterial growth and break the composting cycle?

As an experiemnt or technical demonstration to produce warm water, I'm sure it works. It's the long-term functionality of the thing that I'm doubting. Have to read more about it.

My suggestion about using solar energy to heat the water is that it's essentially 'free'. You aren't robbing peter to pay paul / messing with another 'system'. I've used solar shower on field exercises and camping, work great. I've used a plumbing loop on a roof as 'free' heating for a pool. That energy is free, raining down out of the sky. You can use all of it you can gather, without damaging anything other than your pocketbook.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 9:33:59 AM EST
I have seen this before and it will work but you will need a large pile of stuff. I work for a city that collects all the compost for the residence and turns it regularly (creating soil). This is a huge pile of stuff we are talking about. When they turn it in the winter months it is crazy how hot the middle of the pile is. You can't touch 1 inch round sticks because they will burn your hand. Producing a pile this large if SHTF may be difficult for most of us.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 11:29:18 AM EST
Originally Posted By RichR:

Takes a lot of compost to generate enough heat to be useful. And if I'm not mistaken that heat is part of the compost process, not just a waste product, but a part of the life-cycle of the compost heap. If you rob most of that heat out of the pile with a water coil, would it not hinder bacterial growth and break the composting cycle?

This is correct. Composting is a self-regulating process and the heat promotes bacterial activity up to a certain temperature where it becomes too high and bacterias die. Compost piles can and do get too hot in the center and this slows down the process of composting, that's (part of the reason why) it is recommended to "flip" or stir compost.
By having pipes bringing in cool water the temperature of the core of the pile can be lowered to a level safe for micro-organisms and this in turn promotes composting. You don't want the temperature to drop too low though. It's like the thermostat of a car, there's this sweet spot where the system is most efficient.

Link Posted: 3/2/2011 11:30:48 AM EST
Originally Posted By fps:
I have seen this before and it will work but you will need a large pile of stuff. I work for a city that collects all the compost for the residence and turns it regularly (creating soil). This is a huge pile of stuff we are talking about. When they turn it in the winter months it is crazy how hot the middle of the pile is. You can't touch 1 inch round sticks because they will burn your hand. Producing a pile this large if SHTF may be difficult for most of us.

If it's too hot for your hand it's too hot for composting organisms too. That pile needs to be stirred.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 1:32:09 PM EST
to keep one hot....gotta have a lotta nitrogen based stuff in it.....easy in the summer with clippings and such (green)....but can pose a bigger problem in the winter.....IMO....
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 4:38:53 PM EST
i'm just trying to figure out the utility of this down south here. obviously the water isn't hot enough to create steam. i wonder if it would generate enough natural gas to burn and create steam?
Originally Posted By Echo2:
to keep one hot....gotta have a lotta nitrogen based stuff in it.....easy in the summer with clippings and such (green)....but can pose a bigger problem in the winter.....IMO....


Link Posted: 3/2/2011 5:06:03 PM EST
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)


So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


So a stack of ground up stuff from my yard and the woods behind my house that is about 10 feet tall and 20 foot across would heat all of my water and possibly my house too for a whole year??? I'd be all over that if there aren't a bunch of downsides... The idea sounds really great, so I wonder why there aren't a lot of other people already doing this all over? I wonder what size house one of those stacks would heat?

If it's an 18 month cycle for the stack, then I guess you could just start a new one up beside the old one every summer and then you'd be spun up to heat come winter? It kinda sounds too good to be true... There's almost gotta' be some downsides?

Link Posted: 3/2/2011 6:00:17 PM EST
Originally Posted By Variable556:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)


So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


So a stack of ground up stuff from my yard and the woods behind my house that is about 10 feet tall and 20 foot across would heat all of my water and possibly my house too for a whole year??? I'd be all over that if there aren't a bunch of downsides... The idea sounds really great, so I wonder why there aren't a lot of other people already doing this all over? I wonder what size house one of those stacks would heat?

If it's an 18 month cycle for the stack, then I guess you could just start a new one up beside the old one every summer and then you'd be spun up to heat come winter? It kinda sounds too good to be true... There's almost gotta' be some downsides?


down sides are ; would be dirty stinky work renewing it, takes up alot of space, and is alot of work to renew the pile. so "refueling" is not a quick as fueling up the LP tank.
i'm gonna at least set up the hot water this summer. and if things go well will try to rig up a heat exchanger to suplament the furnace. i doubt i will get through a MN winter
on it, but if I can lower the amount i burn in fuel oil it will be worth it.
Link Posted: 3/2/2011 8:43:53 PM EST
Originally Posted By J75player:
Originally Posted By Variable556:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
Here's some data for scale:
- 200 meters of pipe
- 500 cubic meters of methane produced in the first 3 months
- compost pile weighs 40 to 50 tons, is 3 meters tall by 6 meters diameter
- hot water flows out at 60C, 4 liters per minute
- system runs for 18 months then compost pile must be rebuilt. Old compost is reused for gardening because it's fully composted
- the 40 tons of compost is harvested from dead branches and shrubs in a 1 hectar forested area. Branches and shrubs are shredded.

A printable PDF containing Jean Pain's method can be purchased here for $15 (color ebook)

How are you going to rig the piping to your hot water supply? Are you going to use the pile to pre-heat cold water before it goes in your existing water heater?

So anyway 1 ha is 2.5 acres, 60C is 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the numbers above, anyone with 2.5 acres of forest, a wood chipper and the willingness to go clean up the shrubs and dead branches can pretty much become self sufficient as far as hot water and maybe natural gas. Less than that, you can still heat a hot tub!
I'm sure some industrious folks are doing it already here in North America. The beauty of the thing is that it doesn't really cost much of anything if you have the biomass in your backyard. But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


So a stack of ground up stuff from my yard and the woods behind my house that is about 10 feet tall and 20 foot across would heat all of my water and possibly my house too for a whole year??? I'd be all over that if there aren't a bunch of downsides... The idea sounds really great, so I wonder why there aren't a lot of other people already doing this all over? I wonder what size house one of those stacks would heat?

If it's an 18 month cycle for the stack, then I guess you could just start a new one up beside the old one every summer and then you'd be spun up to heat come winter? It kinda sounds too good to be true... There's almost gotta' be some downsides?


down sides are ; would be dirty stinky work renewing it, takes up alot of space, and is alot of work to renew the pile. so "refueling" is not a quick as fueling up the LP tank.
i'm gonna at least set up the hot water this summer. and if things go well will try to rig up a heat exchanger to suplament the furnace. i doubt i will get through a MN winter
on it, but if I can lower the amount i burn in fuel oil it will be worth it.


Link Posted: 3/16/2011 4:48:56 PM EST
Does anybody use septic gases to heat their hot water?
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 5:33:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By Rocksarge:
Does anybody use septic gases to heat their hot water?


Why would you heat hot water?
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 6:56:28 PM EST
Originally Posted By Rocksarge:
Does anybody use septic gases to heat their hot water?


theres an idea. snow always melts on the tank lid in the winter, never had thought of putting a thermometor down there to see what its putting off.
but your thread has realy has me thinking about this. going to build a small scale one first thing in spring. if it works well, will build a full scale
one to try and heat the house at least for the first part of winter.
Link Posted: 3/16/2011 8:17:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By Molodoi:
But there's also the risk of handling all that methane coming out. Being a gas with no odor, you won't smell it if it leaks.


Could add some sort of "odorant" to it before storage - same as is done with natural gas and propane.

Link Posted: 3/17/2011 7:48:47 AM EST
FYI - The Septic Heating is from the show THIS NEW HOUSE - WHY PASSIVE HOUSES ROCK from DIY
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