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Posted by Curbie on April 2, 2009, 5:39 pm

z & John.

Do either one of you use your generators enough (and have some spare
land) to warrant growing your own bio-fuel (z-ethanol, John

Just curious, I've done a lot of research in this area, and am
interested in the process.


Posted by z on April 2, 2009, 6:10 pm

I just use a small eu2000 which uses gas so I haven't gone down the bio
fuel route.  My electricity needs aren't all that much, so as I keep
adding solar and improving hydro i use it less and less.

Now if I cold make my own propane for the range, fridge & hot water
heater that would be VERY handy

Posted by Curbie on April 2, 2009, 7:46 pm

Sounds like you're using an Abortion system refrigerator which
technically runs on heat?

The closest I could get to propane is methane, and I know of only two
ways to get there (although there could be more):

1) Methane bio-digester, requiring animal poop (not me).
2) Something called a Sabatier reaction which involves the reaction of
hydrogen with carbon dioxide at elevated temperatures and pressures in
the presence of a nickel catalyst to produce methane (and water).

If you go the animal poop route you'll probably need land to grow
their feed.
If you go Sabatier route you'll need excess electricity to electrolyze
hydrogen and a Sabatier processor.


From my prospective as I stumble down the alternate energy path, there
really seems to be five options:
1)    Solar thermal panels            (none really)
2)    Hydro                    (location dependant)
3)    Wind                    (location dependant)
4)    Bio-fuels for I.C.E generator        (land dependant)
5)    Photo-voltaic                (expensive, so last

I placed the options in order of my opinion of the price performance
IF you're good with your hands. So IF you have good hydro, go as big
as you can with that, IF you have good wind, go as big as you can with
that, IF you don't have either but have a extra land, go with as big
as you can either ethanol (direct replacement for gasoline with ICE
carburetor modifications) or bio-diesel, for none of the above or if
you got money go with PV.

My conclusion is instead of maintaining a variety of little
single-purpose devices, it's probably better in the long run to
maintain one or two large multi-purpose devices.

My thinking, for it's worth.


Posted by z on April 3, 2009, 4:03 pm

yeah I guess :)  

Actually I have an outhouse, which I had vague thoughts about using to
capture the methane but man... I don't think I produce enough to bother
with sadly.

Yeah.  The thing with PV that does work so well is that once you get them
installed you can basically ignore them.  You keep an eye on the
batteries naturally, but its not like you have to go boil up a bunch of
corn or capture and compress methane from your outhouse.  So spendy up
front but very little maintenance -- they just sit out there doing the

I'm always screwing with the hydro -- but its still being developed.  It
does more or less just sit out there and spin without a lot of messing
with it.

Sure less systems = less complications.  Its too bad I don't have more
water.  My neighbor has a seriously killer source that would run all year
long and produce maybe 3kw 24/7 .. man I wish that was on my land.  

I do have a pretty big creek that I could tap with a large water wheel
but the scale of the job is a bit beyond me at the moment.  The main
issue is the house is about 300 yards from the creek so i'd have to send
the power a long way.  And the creek can go from a death huge flood to
very low.  Its hard to build something that wouldn't get washed out, and
since its a salmon/steelhead spawning i'd run the risk of getting in
trouble with ODF&W.  

Was thinking of putting a water wheel mounted to some surf boards and
attaching to the middle of my bridge, so it'd follow the water level ..
dono. like here is extreme high water (bridge is jacked so its all
distorted looking):
thats a 90 foot span, while in summer the water might be 20 feet lower..
but man.. a turbine could make some power in that deluge if I could
figure out how to tap it.

Anway thanks a lot for the thoughts on the subject

Posted by Ulysses on April 3, 2009, 4:26 pm

I was also going to say methane but I've looked into it and decided not to
mess with it, at least not for now.

Instead I've been using solar energy (on a very small scale) to avoid
propane use.  I cook with my solar cooker fairly regularly and use it to
heat water for my stove-top coffee maker.  I have a couple hundred feet of
black poly tubing on my roof and it makes enough hot water to wash the
dishes and take a shower once a day.  When my solar cooker isn't otherwise
busy it makes distilled water for my batteries.  When I get some "extra"
money I'm planning on making a solar water pre-heater which will probably
prevent the propane water heater from coming on most of the time.  At least
in the daytime.

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