Homebrew Wind Power

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Do you live next to an open field?  Are you someone who enjoys building things by scratch or learning all the what, whys and hows of a mechanical system? Wind Technology may be a great path for you. Here is a book that was recommended by my professor: Homebrew Wind Power, A Hands-on Guide to Harnessing the Wind. The Authors Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink found a Scottish wind generator (by Hugh Piggott) that could stand up to the punishing North Colorado winds. They have an amusing website called otherpower.com about making your own electricity from scratch.

Even if your goal is just to learn the basics about electric and wind power, this book explains all that. It goes over how to find a good place, measure the wind, and rate how much energy is expected to be had. It also goes over common problems and how to address them. You’ll learn more than you could ever expect about magnets, generators and alternators (there are diagrams galore!). Plus, you will know how the built in protection systems on the turbine work.

After the physics basics are explained, the fun part begins with safety. Be prepared for working with electric, metalworking, rare earth magnets, chemicals, and woodworking. The “Dans” show you how to create a mold for the rotor and stator (parts of the alternator). You’ll see how to make a coil winder for stator (the stationary side of the alternator). Their is a chapter on the frame which holds the blades and the alternator to the yaw, the part that helps the turbine turn. Then there is the chapter on how to build the tail. The next two chapters cover how to put together the rotor and stator. They even show how to make a rectifier, or a component that changes the alternating current to a direct current that can charge batteries. And you’ll learn how they create and assemble the blades to the rotor.

In the last part of the book the turbine is ready to be installed on a tower. This book covers everything you could ever want to know about towers: from buying a tower to making your own, to raising and lowering them for installation or maintenance. It doesn’t end there though, they go over mounting and wiring for all the components in the control system from turbine to dump load. This book is like a wind bible except you may need a NEC code book or an electrician to translate that for you.

This book gets a 10/10. Dan and Dan have a simple and hilarious writing styles that most people can appreciate. So whether you are a homeowner looking for a way to charge a battery bank, a student willing to dedicate your time and concentration to create energy, or an experienced builder/mechanic with all the tools needed you will enjoy this book. One thing to keep in mind, many skills are needed to build one of these from scratch, so it would be helpful to have a network of people to build one of these. But even if you goal is just to understand how to harness the wind, and what each component is and what they do, this book brings your through the entire process.

 

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Compost-Powered Water Heater

 

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.

Get the book at Amazon