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Information on future heating sources

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by by_the_fireside, Sep 18, 2008.

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  1. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Last I heard, the average new house in America was in the 200 square meter range.

    Makes sense. If I owned the electric grid, I'd make a similar rule, because you simply cannot support unlimited amounts of electric usage without having failures. I'd probably based it on actual usage (ie, the more you use, the more you pay per unit energy), as that would mean that those who use more, pay more towards upgrading the grid to support their use habits.

    Basing it on efficiency per area encourages larger homes which use even more energy, even if they are more efficient than other homes of similar size. In other words, a 200 square meter home that uses 55kWh/m2 is going to use more power than a 150 square meter home which uses 65kWh/m2, which will use more power than a 100 square meter home that uses 75kWh/m2. "Flat" rules tend to encourage "paper" efficiency, but not real world efficiency.

    Joe

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  2. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Yes. The trouble is doing it at low temperatures, but I know of some design work in this area. I wouldn't expect anything to happen in the next few years, or anything like that, but a thermal storage tank can hold a lot more energy in a smaller area, with less maintenance, when compared to lead-acid batteries. The trouble is converting heat from water into electricity, and doing it in an efficient and reliable manner.

    Joe
  3. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Here's a cool setup. http://www.freewatt.com/index.asp
    All that is needed is a way to power the generator with wood gas for fuel. Fairly common practice in WW2. Joe,they are looking for dealers, none in NH yet. Anybody see these set up yet ?
    Will
  4. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    I looked at the freewatt website but saw nothing on wood gas, just available fossil fuels. Can anyone provide a link about wood gas in combo with a freewatt hydronic generator or that technology. thanks sweetheat
  5. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    if you want something off the shelf, with a warranty, it isn't "there yet" for wood gasification combined heat and power, but on the other hand, if you're a backyard mad scientist looking for ways to deploy your combination of ingenuity, & etc, have a look at these web sites:

    successful combined heat and power using sledgehammer-simple early 20th century technology (Lister CS diesels, still available as copies from India (known informally as "Listeroids"), and which can be run on a tiny amount of pilot ignition diesel (or biodiesel) plus wood gas :
    http://www.powercubes.com/listers.html

    I am told that the better grade Listeroids are popular among the Amish and off-gridders, some but not all of whom have them set up to make use of the engines' byproduct heat.

    gasifier kit for engine purposes
    http://www.allpowerlabs.org/gasification/gek/

    initial testing of one of these gasifiers with a 6/1 Listeroid
    http://www.allpowerlabs.org/gasification/gek/gekreports/report1/report1.html

    I have no financial affiliation with any of the above, but in the interest of full disclosure, I do have a 6/1 diesel in my barn awaiting some-day-future deployment for CHP on some kind of somewhat sustainable fuel. At 800 pounds of iron and roller bearings for a 6hp engine, it makes "overbuilt" an extreme understatement, and should last a long time when I someday fire it up :)
  6. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    OK. To your first point go to http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/wtotusaw.htm

    Per the EIA, the spot price for oil in January 1978 was $13.38. Twenty-seven years later, in January 2005, the price was $33.79. That's slightly less than 3.5% increase per year until - as I said - the "past few years". Your entire position is based on the extremely high increase in the past few years. That makes no more sense than using the price decline of the past few months to project a continuing decrease in oil price. Statistically, to trend something like this when there are periods of high volatility you should look at the slope of a "best fit" line.

    To your second point, your comments on inflation don't make sense. How does a calculation based on percentage change per year "effectively eliminate inflation"? The 1978 price was in 1978 dollars. The 1979 price was in 1979 dollars, etc. All prices are in then-year dollars -- by definition they include inflation. And how does "the effect of future inflation" make your numbers more conservative? Are you now projecting increases at 8% plus the impact of inflation?

    And where/when was inflation minimal? Go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl. It now takes $3.36 to have the same buying power as $1.00 in 1978. That's about 4.1 percent per year. The fact is that until the past few years oil prices basically got cheaper with time in that they did not keep pace with inflation.

    Nobody knows what will happen with oil prices. I think most people (including me) expect them to increase. But that is based on assessing the global political situation, peak oil, etc. An annual increase of 8% may be real. It may be higher or it may be lower. But 8%/year is not a position that can be backed up with your statistical projection.
  7. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Go back and read what I actually wrote.

    What was the percentage change from 1978 to 1979? From 1979 to 1980? 1980 to 1981? Etc. Then average the percentages.

    Total change divided by total duration is not the best fit line. It's the line that fits only the endpoints.

    And for pity's sake, use the yearly averages. Spot price for one particular month means nothing. Statistics 101, there...

    You're claiming there was significant inflation from 1978 to 1979? From 1979 to 1980? From 1980 to 1981?

    Inflation will drive the actual numbers even higher. The numbers I'm giving are in 2008 dollars, and do not include future inflation.

    I'd suggest reading up on the CPI. It is a completely-meaningless number, with no bearing on reality.

    8-10% can be backed up with the projection I used. The actual number is likely higher, and probably much higher. But I like to be conservative.

    Joe
  8. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    I see combined heat and power units (CHP's) becoming more popular. The fuel cell based ones basically tie to a natural gas source, sent it to a fuel cell and use the waste heat in the home. I've thought about a little liquid cooled engine and condensing heat exchanger on the exhaust running a generator at our place. If someone could clean woodgas up enough and reliably produce it, all the better, tie it to the engine!
  9. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I've been considering the same thing, but it's hard to make the numbers work out. It just seems like a small diesel idling away could power a lot of TV sets and heat the house for very little fuel. I have discussed this at length with a couple "real" engineers and the consensus is that the inefficiencies in a small setup would be a deal killer. I'm not convinced it couldn't work, though.

    We have a lot of hospitals as clients and they always have big gensets in case of emergency. Most are set up on vountary curtailment programs that allow the utility to run the client generators to reduce the demand on the grid. They get a hefty rebate for this excess capacity, but waste the heat. It ups the maintenance on the generators considerably, but pays off in the long run. One facility is even using the waste heat off the generator to power an absorption chiller, which stretches the generator even further. They basically take themselves off the grid on hot days and are rewarded for it.

    Deregulation has changed a lot about the way a lot of utilitys operate. Currently, ours is giving out free programmable thermostats along with rebates if you allow them to control your A/C unit. Hmm, I wonder if I could interest them in an agreement on my generator...

    Yay, it's October! Electric rates just dropped for the winter. I gotta go reprogram a few things now.

    Chris
  10. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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  11. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    any ideas on how to extract wood gas from a tarm or any wood gasification boiler and supply it to a small lister diesel motor? very interesting concept this co-generation. has Honda done any research with alternative fuels such as wood gas? I know the swedes and fins were using woodgas to power their vehicles during WW11 when their was no petro fuel. thanks for you input. sweetheat
  12. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    There is still some work on wood gas but it has some very real problems that are hard to fix. Re small co-gen, it only makes sense if you are using the waste heat for sure.
  13. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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  14. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    sorry, but with all due respect, after having been a former diesel truck enthusiast, having played with homebrew biodiesel, and having arrived at the boiler room and returning to cutting my own wood only after having had a variety of short-lived but failed intensive flirtations with biodiesel and the (significant but limited) ability to DIY-adapt Beckett oil burners to burn used cooking oil (with the limits imposed mostly by the ratio of population density : fried food consumption : other sustainable/ frugal/ DIY scroungers, which ratio is very unfavorable to me where I live) it's become apparent to me that biodiesel and its variants are kinda like the Epocryphal "Fish Carburetor" I've read about occasionallly since I was 9 years old and that supposedly gets 100 MPG, and that the conspiracy theorists say the automakers + big oil squelched:

    I.E. : If it sounds too easy and too good to be true: it is.

    As someone with way more engineering and analytical horsepower than me once said: if it's a business claim, follow the dollars; if it's an energy claim, follow the net-overall BTUs from beginning to end of all the relevant processes.

    Modern agriculture requires absolutely HUGE inputs of fossil energy from everything from tillage to nitrogen fertilizer to seed production to harvest to transport to processing. Soy or palm or even canola based biodiesel (especially considering the net energy to make the other reagents such as lye and methanol) are net-fossil-energy losers. they only make sense if deployed to take a waste product like used cooking oil and make it into fuel, which is fine, to the extent that we eat a certain amount of fried foods. It's a sham if deployed to create pseudo-sustainable fuels from agricultural processes from scratch. The biggest/ fastest growth sector in global biodiesel in the last couple of year has, regrettably, been palm plantations in slashed and burned former rainforest.

    Unless and until someone breaks out of that whole set of paradigms, biofuels, including biodiesel, are mostly in the same bogus category as Ethanol. Well placed connivers are making short term gains with false claims.

    If someone can really come up with a way (like algae?) to readily produce a lot of bio-yielded combustible hydrocarbons with very little fossil energy input, and sustainable ways of capturing energy from photosynthesis to do so, then that'll be great. And lots of people, thankfully, are trying to.

    but mostly, the big promoters are trying to make short run profits off of short-lived hype.
  15. Hansson

    Hansson Feeling the Heat

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  16. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    I'd debate on the net fossil fuel use of biodiesel. But I do agree, using some techniques to grow fuel do use a lot of fuel. There are techniques of growing food and fuel that don't have major fossil fuel inputs, otherwise we never would have had farms before the tractor. I'm not suggesting going back to horses but I am saying there are ways of using less fuel to produce crops. Fuel has been cheap so we use it to create fertilizer, to pump water to crazy places, to do all kinds of things to crank up outputs.
  17. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    OK. Let’s go to some exact quotes.

    “Oil averages 8-10% increase per year” and “That figure is based upon the last three decades of oil price numbers. Feel free to verify it with the Feds, if you like”.

    The earliest published price I can find is January 1978. That price was $13.38 per barrel – it increased to $13.41 in January 1979. Somewhere around $13.00 to $13.50 is probably a fair average for 1978 but let’s use $12.00 to help your case. If this doesn’t work for you, rather than a quip on the invalidity of any monthly price how about suggesting what you think is a valid oil price from 1978?

    Start with $12.00. Using your average of 10% per year, in 1979 the price would be $13.20 (ten percent more than the prior year). In 1980, the price would be $14.52 (ten percent more than the 1979 price). Run this calculation out to 2008 and you end up with slightly over $190.00 per barrel. This number ignores inflation as it is calculated in 1978 dollars.

    On inflation you say,

    “The calculation is based upon percentage change per year, effectively eliminating inflation in the past, since year-to-year inflation is small”. You also ask, “You’re claiming there was significant inflation from 1978 to 1979? From 1979 to 1980? From 1980 to 1981? and suggest my, “reading up on the CPI. It is a completely-meaningless number, with no bearing on reality”.


    In 1978, 1979 and 1980 the inflation rate was 7.6%, 11.2% and 13.5% respectively. Those were higher than normal but over the past 30 years inflation has averaged 4.2% per year. Many people would claim that published data on inflation is not accurate, but solely because it understates inflation (that is good for the government as they use CPI for military pensions, social security increases, etc.).

    Using real numbers, in 1979 it would take $1.076 to buy what you got for $1.00 in 1978. In 1980 it goes up another 11.2% to $1.197. Run that calculation to 2008 and it takes $3.46 today to buy what you could get for $1.00 thirty years ago. Precise? Who knows? But I think anyone who buys a house, car, food, travels or whatever would accept that it takes $3.00 or $4.00 to buy what $1.00 bought in 1978. Over thirty years inflation is not “effectively eliminated”. (You would get the same result using the average of 4.2% annual inflation for the past thirty years).

    You can not look at the past thirty years and ignore it’s impact, “since year-to-year inflation is small”.

    But let’s again help your argument and back off on this number. Let’s use $3.00 instead of $3.46. That says it costs $3.00 today to buy what $1.00 bought in 1978. So the 1978 oil price ($12.00) would be $36.00 per barrel in 2008 dollars. Or put another way there would be no price increase in real terms if the oil price was now $36.00 (oil would have merely tracked the diminishing value of the dollar).

    But you say it has gone up 10% a year (that is the calculation that brought the price to $190.00 in 1978 dollars). Using the adjustment to 2008 dollars ($3.00 to $1.00) your position would be valid if today’s oil price was about $570.00 per barrel. And that is after adjusting the calculation twice to help your case.

    Your position on oil prices simply does not hold water. I’m sure this will get a few more quips to invalidate this position. But the math is real.
  18. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Oddly enough, we're talking about purchasing home heating oil, not the per-barrel futures market. I don't buy barrels of crude to heat my home; do you?

    I take if from the fact that you are using "barrels" now instead of the actual home heating oil prices that you ran the numbers based upon home heating oil and found out that I was correct? That's the only excuse I can see for suddenly creating this strawman...

    You're using dollars per year, instead of percentage change per year. Apples and oranges. And bad math.

    As I detailed in the PM you sent me earlier, the attempts you are making to invalidate this model simply demonstrate that you are not even understanding the technique used. You are replacing percentages with absolute values, and yearly averages with endpoints. You are changing back and forth from heating oil to barrels of crude any time you think that it helps your case. Picking and choosing monthly prices rather than yearly averages in order to skew the results is bad sampling, as well. I notice that you have not even attempted to address the flaws in your claims.

    And, as I said in the PM, if you think you can model it better, by all means have at it. Complaining without offering an alternative is pretty pointless. If you do the math honestly, you will come up with essentially the same results.

    Joe
  19. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    Actually I used crude price right along (except in the PM). Crude makes your case slightly less outlandish. If you want to make your position on delivered #2 go to:

    http://www.oilnergy.com/1heatoil.htm#since78

    (note that these prices are without taxes, presumably to eliminate state to state variation. Please don't say that invalidates the contents) There are several charts. One shows oil going from about $0.50 (1978) to $2.60 last year. You can look at another chart and get 2008 and see it has settled around $2.80 as of now. Want to use a year to date average of about $3.30? Fine - that is a ratio of 6.5 over thirty years which is even less favorable to your “10% a year” statement than I got with crude oil. That is a 6.7% annual increase and - again - is not factored for inflation.

    As I said - show ANY valid oil price change from 1978 to present (average for the year, weighted average, crude or home heating) and demonstrate how it has increased an average of 10% till now. It can't be done.

    You betcha I don't understand the technique you used. There is no "technique" to support 10% a year with historic data. And I think it is unwise to project oil prices because, as I said earlier, variation comes more from geopolitical factors than history. Projecting 10% in a sales pitch to a potential customer - and saying it is supported by history - is therefore unfair. If you really want to project future prices put a best fit line of "least squares" on the history. That MAY come close.

    And I’m not switching dollars and percentages to skew the results. I assigned a dollar value in 1978 figured the percentage inflation and came up with $3.36. Don't believe my math? There are many inflation calculators on the web. Try any one. I went to several and found $3.36 to $3.38 as the amount needed in 2008 to buy what $1.00 would have bought in 1978.

    So what has happened? In thirty years home heating oil has gone up by a factor of 6.5. A very large contributor was inflation. In real terms (i.e. inflation adjusted) home heating oil has increased by 98% since 1978. And you don't calculate the annual change by dividing this by 30. It compounds! The actual rate is 2.3% per year above the rate of inflation.
  20. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I *love* this idea. I toyed with the same idea on a larger scale when we built the house, but was way too busy to pursue it. Locally generated electricity is a wonderful idea, and ALL the generating losses go to heat the house. I think we'd want slightly larger units here, but it seems pretty good to me. Lots of homes here have backup generators, but they're not designed to be integrated into the heating system.
  21. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I also adore the CHP idea and got started in 2006 down the path of doing it with a Listeroid stationary diesel to be fired on used cooking oil. I still have and am keeping the engine (which is an amazing item-- 800 lbs for 6HP, and running at 650 RPM, so stress and wear are slow.... gives you some idea how sturdily it's designed and built) for eventual use, for backup power if nothing else.

    In my case I was stymied by the fact that around where I live, other people have already soaked up all available sources of used cooking oil, and the project made less sense, or at least urgency, if it's to be fired on fossil fuel

    I'd seen the Baxi Ecogen a coupla months ago on YouTube, and to me its most fascinating feature by far, is the way that the piston itself is a reciprocating magnet, with a coil around the cylinder, thus deleting the crankshaft and powertrain where a lot of inefficiencies and reliability problems show up over the long haul.

    here is another really interesting thing, bigger than the Baxi Ecogen, and something that seems like someone could do on a home or farm scale if they were really into it (like some of the gang who are building their own gasifiers)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQAiH-FG9gE

    also, here's another cool deployment of the concept that's been commercial for at least a half dozen years

    http://polarpowerinc.com/products/generators/cogenset.htm

    if only I didn't need to have the day job to pay the bills, and had a lathe and milling machine, CHP would top my list of things I 'm dying to mess around with.
  22. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    Projecting prices is interesting, not a sales pitch. These things pay for themselves too quickly for the projections to matter.

    Anyway, your statement regarding "geopolitical factors" pretty much sums up your understanding of this subject. Geopolitical factors will make oil go up, not down, so projections ignoring them would be conservative. Or do you imagine that geopolitics will change and oil is going to be $0.10 per gallon again?

    Joe
  23. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    Do you simply not get it? I never said oil was going down and I never projected $0.10 per gallon. I questioned your earlier statement that your projected increase was based on history. In a PM you accused me of misrepresenting what you said. The following are direct quotes - no interpretation....

    In post #31 you said, “Up here a typical homeowner will end up spending the value of their house on fuel, by the time they pay off their mortgage. “Give me $30k now, and I’ll save you $250k over the life of the system” isn’t usually a hard sell…”

    When questioned you responded in post #35 with,

    Yup, I’m pretty sure of that. Average is 800 gallons of oil per year. Oil averages 8-10% increase per year. Let’s call it 8%, to be generous, and let’s use the 2007 average price ($2.856 per gallon) to avoid the current spike that we’re seeing. Given $2.856 to start, and 8% increase per year, the 30-year cost of oil is $304,366. That assumes a steady increase per year, so you can’t use it to predict next year’s price, but over the decades, it will be fairly accurate (and is probably very conservative).

    When questioned again you responded in post #39 with,,

    “That figure is based upon the last three decades of oil price numbers. Feel free to verify it with the Feds, if you like.”

    OK. As it relates to energy, "The Feds" is the Energy Information Administration. Your statement on oil price history is absolutely wrong (and post #31 sure sounds like you use flawed history to attempt to make a sale).

    Go to this site -- http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/fsheets/real_prices.html. If you properly do the math, you will see that the "Nominal Price" (that is the price actually paid) has increased 4.9% per year since 1980; the "Real Price" (that is the inflation adjusted price)has increased 1.34% per year since 1980. (in a previous post, giving you every benefit in "eyeballing" a chart I said you could MAYBE defend 6.7% IF you totally ignored inflation (yes, I know, you don't believe the CPI but that does not mean that 30 years of inflation amounts to zero. And please don't discount the EIA because the published data I found "only" goes back to 1980).

    Anyone wanting to see the math, send me a PM.

    Make it simple, Joe -- if there is ANY federal data on oil price history that supports your statements show us where it is. Again, I do not believe it can be done!
  24. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Gentlemen! A little decorum, please! Or take it to the Ash Can.
  25. Hansson

    Hansson Feeling the Heat

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    A company in my area was experiment whit a pellets boiler that had a Stirling engine.
    I haven heard much about it in a long time now.

    This is the boiler that they put the Stirling engine on.
    It basically a storage tank that have a pellet boiler.
    You shall have solar panels to it

    http://www.blekingesolvarme.com/images/Biosolpannan.gif
    http://www.blekingesolvarme.com/images/biosol_genomskuren.gif
    http://www.ulma.se/image/bio_karta.gif
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