Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Belle E Acres

a prototype farm
  [vote for,

I hoped to maybe get some feedback from you guys.
Some of you may remember I said I had decided to go with land rather than my inventions with the nest-egg my wife and I have been able to scrounge in the last two decades.

That doesn't indicate that I'm going to stop inventing one whit, it just means that... well, if I'm gonna ranch, then I see no reason not to wizard the shit out of it and show'm how it's done.

Looks like I may have just bit off way more than I can chew again and went and bought 31 acres of ALR land in a grow-zone of B.C. which has a flat lower 15 acre strip and an upper 8 or 9 with a bunch of treed slope between and above the two.
(the 10 cabin Ewok tree-village I'm allowed for agri tourism has kept me awake many nights now and if I pull this crap off then of course halfbaker discounts will apply)


I want to recreate an old experiment in utilizing the heat from a compost pile.
Sometime in the 70's a fellow named Jean Pain used the heat from a compost pile to pump and heat 140 degree water for two years straight.
Instead of constantly turning the compost pile to keep the bacteria aerobic and reduce stench he intalled, (why does that word flag as misspelled?) a methane digester, (another correct word red-flagged as misspelled), at the center which first compressed the smell and flammable gas into inner-tubes for later compression as fuel for all of his propane vehicles and appliances.

I would like to do something very similar but since the property has elevated areas I am thinking of creating the compost pile at the lower most elevation while burying sea-cans at upper elevations as root cellars, both of which will contain insulated ventilation pipes allowing heated air to rise due to the chimney effect and cold air to drop due to... whatever the opposite of the chimney effect is for cold air.

This will allow for passive air conditioning of any lower buildings at the flip of a flap. but more importantly there is absolutely no reason that the rising hot air can not circulate back and forth underneath the gravel of my sloped driveway as it rises, (trust me... a Canadian winter not spent shoveling snow is more than worth the shovel's weight in gold), before venting into upper buildings to heat them all winter long.

Here's the part I'm struggling with;
Can the temperature differential between the heat and cold sinks not be used to power Sterling engines at various locations along the exchange to produce power while losing little to none of the cold or hot on their respective journeys?

Is it possible I could use the cold of winter to store ice and the heat of summer to grow compostable, (another incorrect spelling red flag), biomass for heat enough to produce more power than I would use in a year?

...while also passively heating my structures?
...with methane as a bi-product?

Can that be right?


       First: Yay! Acres of experimental space for you!
Second: "installed" is flagged because you forgot the "s"; but the spell-checker on <which-ever browser you use; I'm on Chrome> seem to have a rather small dictionary. I'm constantly adding words to mine.
Third: You can't run a Stirling engine AND not lose heat; that's where the energy comes from!
But I do like the chimney-effect system for heating & cooling. (IIRC, it's only the chimney-effect for hot that does anything; the cold-air movement is simply filling the gap left by the rising hot air.
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 03 2019

       Isn't it actually the other way? Earth's gravity attracts cold air more, because it's denser, and hot air less, so the hot air gets out of the way so the cold air can sink.
notexactly, Oct 03 2019

       Six of one, half dozen of the other.   

       I'm figuring out ways to passively raise water uphill as steam during the summer using trough mirrors and a few other gnarly devices to condense in an upper cistern so that water pressure alone will be enough to force the liquid through the lines and raise it to any height lower than the level of the tank for in-floor heating without any pumps.   

       Yes, I think I'll daydream about that today and see if I can tweak the design at all.   

       Sounds like a fun project ahead of you!

I don't think just installing pipes running uphill will create an air circulation. The 'chimney effect' relies on having an actual chimney. Then, wind blowing across the top of the chimney creates a low-pressure zone which draws air up.

You probably could generate power from the heat from compost, but it sounds like a lot of work. I think you'd have a hard job showing that it's less cost and time investment than solar or wind power

Investing in completely sealing your house so it has no air leaks at all and is really well-insulated, and then installing underground air pipes with heat exchangers could be a great way to cut your winter heating bills and leak just enough heat into your driveway to keep it clear.
hippo, Oct 03 2019

       What is an "actual chimney" if not a pipe going up?   

       There are two effects that cause warm air to rise, neglecting Venturi suction from external wind. The first is normal convection, which occurs in open air as well as in closed vessels. The second is the stack effect, which I don't understand at all and have trouble believing isn't another name for convection, which apparently only occurs appreciably inside enclosed spaces with a vertical extent of meters or more.   

       A hydraulic ram could be a good alternative way of raising water uphill for free, if the steam method doesn't work out.
notexactly, Oct 03 2019

       What exactly are you aiming to do, [2fries]. I mean, is the goal cheap energy? And if so, for what? And what are you allowed (and not allowed) to do on ALR land?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 03 2019

       It's going to be fun if it goes through, (foreclosure, lots of hoops to jump through).
I don't know anything about hydraulics yet. I will look that up.

       Not really sure that I have an end goal I'm shooting for. I've been crawling for thirty years now for a living and my wife has been sitting behind a computer screen for just as long and the goal was to break free from that.
Everything from here on out is... whatever we make it.

       ALR agricultural land reserve properties are restricted in many ways as to what you can and can not do on them but there are many perks if you can maintain ALR status so we had to jump through even more hoops and come up with a viable business plan for the dirt.
The lower 15 acres has secondary highway frontage and is central between two a small city and a town.
Our government has recently begun to encourage ALR holders and has lowered the down payment to 10 percent letting us keep enough of our nest egg to buy the equipment and greenhouses I'm going to need. Usually it's closer to 30% down and raw land is 50% down. You are allowed ten camp sites or rental cabins, up to ten gatherings per year of 150 people without needing permit, you can burn purple gas, (which is way cheaper than the stuff at the pump). The plan is to build a greenery and the location is kind of weirdly ideal for what I have in mind.

       I've been daydreaming for decades about what I would do with a piece of land if I ever got one. I think I've got the inklings of the start of a way to make a place which has the potential to become completely self sufficient at the drop of a hat if it needs to... and until such time as it needs to, people come, they visit, they leave me money for things... and then they go.   

       As for power production, our power companies have recently introduced a method where if you can feed a perfect sine wave to the grid without fluctuations or spikes then they will cut you a cheque at the end of every year for the wholesale amount of the difference between what you use and what you generate as long as the production qualifies as "green" enough.
Electricity is expensive. I plan to make my own and sell the excess back to the grid and they can shove their bills.

       Lot's of little tweaks.   

       No commute. No knee-pads. Just a good daily work out and a place where I can take a piss in my backyard without someone calling the cops...
and a workshop again... the way God intended.

       : ]
I've watched that video a few times now. Love it.

       Absolutely no intention of going with solar panels. Wind power seems the most efficient, you just have to make your own wind.
(nevermind you with your sniggering there in the back)
In the Netherlands they're using four acres of black shade cloth and a central chimney to create a 24/7 updraft tower.
I want to condense that entire system down from four acres to the size of an industrial greenhouse/compost pile/root cellar combo... and then recycle the used heat to extract much more energy than they are.

       Storage of that energy is my biggest concern. I am considering going with mechanical storage rather than batteries. My thinking is that if the crap ever really 'does' hit the fan, batteries will be kind of hard to replace.   

       I've been looking mostly into flywheel energy storage.
Not only will a flywheel provide a constant flow of electricity when needed, it can be used to mechanically pump water uphill when it needs slowing down which will later run Pelton generators when released.

       Or you could use pumped water energy storage as the first or only stage—I think that would be reasonably easy, and would probably work pretty well. Flywheels that store significant energy seem expensive and difficult to do on a DIY basis, to me. On the other hand, I just had a thought related to flywheels connected to pumps: as the flywheel slows down, the pump's speed will change, affecting its efficiency; maybe you could use a Constantinesco torque converter to match them so that the decelerating flywheel runs the pump at a constant speed. You could do the same to power a pump from a wind turbine, as well, it occurs to me.
notexactly, Oct 10 2019

       Flywheel storage: you need to be REALLY accurate with calculating your latitude and direction-of-pole. The flywheel axis needs to match the earths, so you don't get Foucault stomping all over your bearings and support structure.
Buried is probably the best place to keep it, too. My thought is to mechanically slide (axially) the stator of the motor/generator, so when the flywheel is idling, there are NO magnetic fields interfering with it.
neutrinos_shadow, Oct 10 2019

       Round here, we get electricity delivered by wires.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 10 2019

       I don't know if water storage alone will cut it so I'm trying to design a system that will create power from whatever source prevails at any given time, and when there is no sunlight, rain, or wind... the compost pile is still cranking out power and methane.   

       //Flywheel storage: you need to be REALLY accurate with calculating your latitude and direction-of-pole. The flywheel axis needs to match the earths, so you don't get Foucault stomping all over your bearings and support structure.//   

       Rather than take any chances I planned to gimbal the thing like an old ship compass. Definitely underground and definitely within a circular chamber in case it breaks free.   

       //My thought is to mechanically slide (axially) the stator of the motor/generator, so when the flywheel is idling, there are NO magnetic fields interfering with it.//   


       //we get electricity delivered by wires//   

       Yeah, but only because they shut down Tesla. I figure that nobody will care if I play around with pulling power out of the aether to power my farm and as long as I don't market anything and step on a bunch of toes in the process.   

       The point is mute for a while anyway, court date was this morning, a spec bidder came in 100k over assessed value and it's back to the drawing board again.   

       It's a good thing I like drawing...   

       That reminds me—didn't some ideas come up sometime in the last few weeks on bearings and motor/generators for flywheel energy storage?
notexactly, Oct 11 2019

       //The point is mute // Would that it were. Moot is what it is, though.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 11 2019



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