What would you say if I said there is a way to heat water, kill dangerous pathogens, sequester carbon, and have rich compost for the garden all in one project that can use local materials? That’s what you can learn to achieve in the Compost Powered Water Heater: How to Heat Your Green House, Pool, or Building With Only Compost. The Author, Gaelen Brown, has a business networking site called www.compostpower.org. In this book you’ll find real life existing projects with pictures and helpful institutions like farms and universities from around the western world; places like Vermont, Canada, Chile, and more. Inviting you to start your own project.
Thermophilic (Heat loving bacteria) Composting is not new. For centuries people from Eastern Europe used manure and/or livestock quarters to keep their homes warm and the Chinese used horse manure buried in their garden to lengthen the growing season by up to a month. Much of the pioneer work for the modern use of thermophilic composting was laid out by a french organic farmer in the 1970s named Jean Pain. As simple as the concept is though, using modern technology like thermometers, tubes, tanks, and pumps, that means these systems are elaborate, but they can produce heat for 16 months.
Halfway through, this book reads like a step by step recipe book for creating the heating system that is illustrated on the cover. The next chapter discusses heating a green house with compost and shows off various applications with picture. And if you ever had problems with getting your compost hot, there is a couple chapters devoted to materials. This can help open the possibilities to understanding the usefulness of materials that are locally available. It also has a trouble shooting section and tells you which materials can cause problems.
I highly recommend this book to those who have the space, tools, and the luck to be able to locally obtain resources like sawdust, wood chips, rotting leaves, horse manure, straw/grass/hay and so on. Perhaps those groups would include farms, organizations, towns, or city waste municipalities. I was watching videos on YouTube about “thermophilic compost + heating” and I found their videos so intriguing because it is so resourceful, I had to get the book they suggested. This kind of thinking is what we need to achieve sustainability. The only drawback I can foresee, is if fossil fuels become so expensive to extract, then the common man would have trouble moving large amounts of materials and buying tubing and other parts of the system for heat exchange, plastic pipes, and fittings. Hopefully, when that is a realization, there will be affordable products made from plant oils like hemp or algae or we can lower our energy density needs like using more lightweight equipment that runs with bio-methane, hydrogen, wind, or solar as an energy source. Overall, this book proves that the metabolism of bacteria are more efficient in creating energy than using combustion alone, especially because compost byproducts are useful.