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Home Solar Charcoal Distiller

Pollution free charcoal generation - at home!
  [vote for,

Charcoal has been used for fuel for millenia. Produced by heating wood in the absence of oxygen, it is nearly pure carbon, without the water or volatiles that cause smoky,uneven combustion in wood. As currently done, charcoal production is wasteful, burning some charcoal to produce more. Many operations also pollute heavily, discharging the tar and turpentine distilled from the wood into the air.

The Solar Charcoal Distiller allows you to make your own charcoal at home, without bathing your neighbors in clouds of turpentine. The SCD kit (from BUNGCO!) comes with a large plastic Fresnel lens and a special top designed to fit on a standard Weber Kettle. Simply load your Weber with branches and sticks from your neighborhood, put on the special lid, close those air intakes at the bottom, and set up the Fresnel to bathe your grill in concentrated rays (you will want to remove the wooden handles first). Already painted black with heat resistant paint, it will only be a few moments before your kettle glows cheery red and your wood begins to cook. Cook it all day, and then when the sun gets low you will have a kettle full of warm charcoal, ready for grilling dinner!

The special lid is fitted with a metal hose on the top. Place the end of this hose in a bucket of water. Operating on the same principle as a hookah, the steam and volatiles cooked off the wood are cooled and left in the water, for you to use later as you see fit. In our test runs here at BUNGCO we used a lot of eucalyptus and pine - the distilled products proved excellent for treating the bottom of the BUNGCO yacht!

bungston, Nov 20 2005

Homemade solar charcoal http://www.youtube....watch?v=8Makaciz3Xc
Giant lens - check. Backyard - check. [bungston, Jul 01 2013]


       Pictures please!
DesertFox, Nov 20 2005

       Have you built one? There are dozens of third world countries that could use this.
DrCurry, Nov 20 2005

       Is there a mechanism to track the sun's movement? otherwise the lens will only be focusing on the kettle for a brief period of time.
xaviergisz, Nov 20 2005

       Fresnel lenses work without tracking.   

       You would need a very big one to make enough heat but this is an excellent idea!
dora, Nov 21 2005

       Could you use something like this to convert waste paper and cardboard to a useable fuel?
Iangould, Oct 25 2006

       In theory, any cellulosic material could be converted to charcoal. I suspect that anareobically decomposing landfills contain peatlike or coallike substances which could be used as fuel. I do not know the intricacies of charcoal manufacture well enough to understand why some woods and other materials are preferred.
bungston, Oct 25 2006

       out of curiosity Lt, how are you going to track the sun for your fresnel lenses?
xaviergisz, Oct 25 2006

       Mouse-coal, mole-cole, duck coal, whatever the cats drag home.
Shz, Oct 25 2006

       It might be better to have a pyrex glass top for the grill to avoid losing all the heat radiating off the top. The glass top would allow the heat to get right to the wood and reflect back some of the radiated heat.   

       BTW Fresnel lenses do need tracking.
macrumpton, Sep 06 2009

       So how does this process avoid venting the evolved gasses into the air?   

       Incidentally, those gasses are flammable. It's pretty straightfoward to use them to contribute to the conversion. Indeed, I think if it's set up right, the process can be self-sustaining. That is, you can potentially add wood and remove charcoal in a continuous process, once it's going.
Of course, that would make the idea somewhat superfluous.
Loris, Jul 01 2013

       I realize I'm a few years late, but Fresnel lenses definitely do need tracking. They are functionally no different than simple convex lenses, and the focal point will move opposite the sun.
MechE, Jul 01 2013

       I like the idea of cooking the wood with its own wood gas. I wonder if there is enough energy there.   

       Avoid venting: bubble thru water. Gases should be water vapor and wood alcohols - no CO2 or CH4. So everything should condense and stay in the bucket.
bungston, Jul 02 2013

       I think you get carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane[1], in somewhat variable proportions. None of these will be caught by bubbling through reasonable volumes of water, and none of these do you want to vent in the vicinity of hot stuff. Apart from that risk of explosion, carbon monoxide is a fairly potent poison.   


       [1] Plus various other minor components, and also other stuff which doesn't burn - in particular nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
Loris, Jul 03 2013

       I like the old-fashioned way of making charcoal. Easier, and has fewer volatiles remaining.   

       Start something on fire. Bury it. Dig up charcoal a while later.   

       They do this in villages around the world.
Kansan101, Jul 03 2013

       I like the old-fashioned way of making charcoal. Easier, and has fewer volatiles remaining.   

       Start something on fire. Bury it. Dig up charcoal a while later.   

       It does take a certain amount of judgement regarding how much it has to be on fire to start with- to much and you waste wood, too little and you don't convert it all.   

       They do this in villages around the world.
Kansan101, Jul 03 2013

       I got the strangest feeling of deja vu just then...
not_morrison_rm, Jul 06 2013

       Horizontally oriented trough reflectors don't require active tracking. Make your pressure chamber a long horizontal pipe, with compound parabolic reflectors behind it.   

       Then when each charge load is cooked, you can open up both ends and shove new wood and waste in one end, pushing the charcoal out the other.   

       The gases driven off are known as woodgas, on which there is substantial existing work in using it as a fuel, dating back to WWII and before.
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 28 2020

       15 years past, and I am still digging it.
bungston, Jan 28 2020

       // Start something on fire. Bury it. //   

       "Build a man a fire and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life... " (Pterry Pratchett)
8th of 7, Jan 28 2020

       That's great to hear, [bungston]. Do you have any photos of your setup that you could link for us?
BunsenHoneydew, Feb 02 2020


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