BIOMASS = BIOLOGICAL FUEL

1.  WHAT DID WE DO?
Explore options for creating a heat engine to warm the plant growing beds of hoop house.
1a.  WHEN DID WE DO IT?
PHASE ONE: Summer 2016 - Winter 2018
PHASE TWO: Winter 2018 - 2019

2.  WHY DID WE DO IT?
a) To test options for heating the hoop house at Pom’s Cabin Farm
b) To winter over plants in the hoop house
c) To stack functions. Parts to whole. PERMACULTURE: [The 12 principles of permaculture include: Observe and Interact, Catch and Store Energy, Obtain a Yield, Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback, Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services, Produce No Waste, Design From Patterns to Details, Integrate Rather Than Segregate, Use Small and Slow Solutions, Use and Value Diversity, Use Edges and Value the Marginal, and Creatively Use and Respond to Change.]
d) To explore, develop and teach new research on biomass fuel applications for small farms

3. WHAT DID WE LEARN?
1) Solar thermal technology was not most efficient option for heating small hoop house:
- couldn’t buy tubes in smaller quantity
- learned the tubes produced too much heat, mostly in wrong time of year - so storage of energy is the problem; 2-3 tubes adequate; 10-12 manifold only available - heat dump
2) Wood chip heating was a more practical option for heating the hoop house at Pom’s Cabin Farm
2) PHASE ONE RESULTS:
-use the right fuel -- ramial fine chips from Drum chipper - Haupt Tree ... new wood chippers/ Drum chipper (rather than Disc Chipper)/ we need the right chips/ get chips from Haupt
- change structure - container and roof addressing air intake and water/irrigation factors/ need to regulate external/environmental factors (concern: metal container makes methane)/ take a cylinder/ wrap w/ heat exchange tubing and cover with insulation
- need cylinder/container so can remove all compost under the pile
3a.  DATA TO SUPPORT
1) Ramial chips: Critical (phase one:  40%) – need 100%
2) Hay decomposed: Need to design system wherein heat source “wraps” biomass, allowing gravity to move chips through; be removed

4.  WHAT ARE CURRENT OPTIONS GOING FORWARD?
1) Apply what learned about ramial chips and container structure.
2)
Over winter 2018-2019, maintain the data
4a.  WHY?
Simplest, most direct approach is to build a new structure with more appropriate cylinder container and fine ramial chips.


GOALS & TIMELINE

DATES OF INCEPTION:
June, 2016 – January, 2017 Meetings
Spring/ Summer 2017 Hoop House Construction
October 2017 Open Dialogue on Wood Chip Heating of Hoop House

GOALS

A. Create a Heat Engine
1. OPTION I: Sun/Evacuated Tubes
OPTION II: Biomass
2.  Hoop House relatable/ plants grow better in greenhouse
3.  General public application
B. Stacking of Functions
1) winter over plants/
2) move materials into landscape
3) permaculture
4) parts to whole


PHASE ONE: 2016-18


OPTION #1: SOLAR THERMAL/ EVACUATED HEAT TUBES

Dialogue and research through 2016

Attempted and explored evacuated heat [APPENDIX I below]
- explored and abandoned evacuated tubes in 2016
- couldn’t buy tubes in smaller quantity, so changed direction
- learned the tubes produced too much heat, mostly in wrong time of year - so storage of energy is the problem; 2-3 tubes adequate; 10-12 manifold only available - heat dump
- decided not to use evacuated tubes

Inputs
- Plumbing\ Circulator Pump:  Similar cost factor for a) solar; b) biomass; c) propane
- Fuel
- Reinforced shed roof to accept manifold

Data
-
January 15, 2018 the biomass heating system got hooked up to heat ground in greenhouse
- took data spring 2017-2018/ ground never froze except once
- overcast sky is a challenge/ if have clouds, hoop house can't recuperate/ two weeks of no sun will kill plants

OPTION #2: RAMIAL WOOD CHIP HEATING SYSTEM

Open Dialogue Event Fall 2017
Groundwork for our woodchip heating of the greenhouse has begun, and through this process of exploring best practices for energy production, we invited dialogue among farmers and those involved in engineering biomass energy systems.

Inputs
- Ramial wood chips
- Hay
- Pipes for circulating heat within hay container

Materials: Wood Chips
-
50 yards of chips
- Ramial
a) Abundant; regenerative
b) Energy efficient, Ramial\ living V dead\ trunk
c) Critical (phase one:  40%) – need 100%
d) Chippers: Drum (1/4”) v Disc (3”): Need smallest (Large, clump)
e) Haupt Tree
f) Organic v. non-organic chips: Process “probably” destroys toxins providing way for compostable use.

Materials: Bales of Hay
-
100 bales of hay
- (diabetic horse|taught early morning haying reduces sugar in hay)
- Decomposed – Need to design system wherein heat source “wraps” biomass, allowing gravity to move chips through; be removed

Labor: cost; supplies, labor (estimate if not known)
-
Recovery process (layering tubes annihilates recoverable inputs)
- data return
a) Why does Bill think it is successful;
b) Tobi has meaningful data in this regard that I would like to put into context

Results of Phase One
- bales fell apart
- chips were wrong
- want ramial wood
2018 - we had an estimated 30% ramial percentage/ 2019 - we want 100%
organic? can we use as compost? sourced from Ron Yaple
- invested in plumbing
- pipe needs to be taken out
- right from the beginning, we didn't know how to take apart the pile without starting from scratch
- circulating pump
- “Container” insulated
- Considerations:
a) Metal – methane?
b) Regulation of air intake; watering ability
c) chips to be independent of tubing and placed so as to be replenishable from top; removable from bottom
1) this pile was manually stacked
2) the tubing is stacked within the pile itself

 

Drawing for ramial wood chip heating system .

img157A.jpg
 

Photographs from installation of wood chip heating system next to hoop house at 137 Belden Street.

PHASE TWO: 2018-2019


Phase 2 Challenge:
- how to recover the tubing and compost/ taking apart is complicated, so building new structure
- circulating system - the way we did it before - we're not going to do it again that way

1) use the right fuel -- ramial fine chips from Drum chipper - Haupt Tree ... new wood chippers/ Drum chipper (rather than Disc Chipper)/ we need the right chips/ get chips from Haupt

2) change structure - container and roof addressing air intake and water/irrigation factors/ need to regulate external/environmental factors (concern: metal container makes methane)/ take a cylinder/ wrap w/ heat exchange tubing and cover with insulation

3) need cylinder/container so can remove all compost under the pile

NEXT STEPS:
over winter 2018-2019 maintain the data

APPENDIX 1: PHASE ONE DATA


APPENDIX II: SOLAR THERMAL

solar-thermal.jpg

WHAT IS SOLAR THERMAL?

Solar thermal systems pump water, or other antifreeze solution like Glycol, through rooftop panels to supply hot water to the home. Solar thermal uses the heat generated by the sun to provide hot water, as opposed to Solar voltaic energy, which chemically converts the photons of the sun’s light into usable electricity.

1. Copper pipes contained in a treated glass rooftop panel pump water or another heat transfer antifreeze fluid, like Glycol, and absorb heat generated by the sun in each pass.

2. Cold water or other heat transfer fluids are pumped into a storage tank within the home and back up into the collector plate on top of the roof, heating the fluid a few degrees each cycle.

3. Pumps only run when there is heat to be collected and will turn off automatically at night.

4. Fluid flows through a heat exchanger and transfers heat into a storage tank where the hot water for the home is located.

5. Continual cycles can heat the water up to 180 degrees and can mix with a cooling solution when the water gets too hot.excerpt from research

PRELIMINARY EXPECTATIONS FOR SOLAR THERMAL AT POM’S CABIN FARM:

Pom's Cabin Farm researched solar thermal technology to keep the soil in the hoop house garden from freezing in winter. The energy from the sun is collected by 'evacuation tubes' installed on the top of a shed near the hoop house. These tubes collect light more efficiently than flat solar panels, so they're used in this location because this shed receives less direct sun than is ideal for solar heating.

Heat from the sun is transferred to water through a device on the shed roof called a 'manifold', which holds the evacuation tubes and copper fingers (pipes). A circulation pump moves water through the collector tubes, carrying heat to a hot water storage tank. The tank has two closed loops and another loop which takes heat out to the garden beds.

Solar thermal heating system is highly efficient and can keep the soil in the hoop house from freezing through most of winter - there are only a few days where the temperature drops such that additional heat may be needed with a space heater.

In addition to the warming effects of the solar thermal system, the Farm plans to install frost-free insulation on the ground outside the hoop house, which adds to efforts to keep the ground inside the hoop house from freezing.

EVACUATED TUBES COMPARED TO FLAT PANELS

Here's why we're expecting the evacuation tubes will work more efficiently than solar panels at this specific location on the farm:

· Research shows that evacuated tubes perform better in colder and/or cloudier conditions than flat panels because of the vacuum in the glass tube, which allows tube collectors to retain a high percentage of collected heat.

· The hoop house is in an area of the farm that is more wooded than where we have installed our solar panels. Evacuated tubes are less sensitive to sun angle and orientation than flat panels because the circular design allows the tubes to absorb light no matter how low the angle of the sun.


APPENDIX III: BIOMASS OPEN DIALOGUE SUPPER

October 5, 2017 | Pom’s Cabin Farm, Falls Village, CT

Groundwork for our woodchip heating of the greenhouse has begun, and through this process of exploring best practices for energy production, we invite dialogue among farmers and those involved in engineering biomass energy systems.

THE FARM: Pom's Cabin Farm is integral to the mission of Plantin' Seeds, a not for profit in northwest CT seeking to "raise awareness of intersections we share." We host events whose commonality is the fertile soil of shared ideas, inevitably inspiring new liaisons and connections, both practical and thoughtful.

THE EVENT: This supper will explore:

· Progress on planning and construction of our woodchip compost heating system.

· Overview and dialogue among regional players in biomass heating technology, including high schools and universities; the corporate sector; government and not for profit members.

· Opportunities for partnership to address project needs, such as gauging student interest in data measurement and project documentation.

SUSTAINABILITY AT THE FARM: Pom's Cabin Farm has an exploratory relationship to sustainable energy technology, installing diverse systems in a farm setting.

Our earliest projects (in 2010) include:
1) The installation of four large photovoltaic panels on the grounds to produce electricity for the main house.

2) A geothermal heat pump which reduces our heating and cooling costs. This enables the Farm to use clean, renewable energy from the sun, with reduced emission of greenshouse gases.

In 2016, the Farm added a greenhouse to explore sustainable options for crop production on a 12 month calendar. Our first consideration was installing a solar thermal heating system in proximity to the greenhouse. However, research indicated the amount of heat produced was more than was needed, and would involve wasting much of the energy produced by a solar thermal option. In 2017, Bill DeVries and our farm team researched biomass and wood chip heating systems, and in September began preparing the ground and starting construction, which is where we are to date.

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APPENDIX IV: BIOCHAR