Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Just to let you know at 12:55 27-02-2008 we sat through the earthquake in Leeds West Yorkshire. The entire house was vibrating and my sofa moved forwards, we knew within a couple of seconds what was going on.

We noted it lasted around 15 seconds!

Friday, 22 February 2008


Solar Fire Technologies offer one of the most cost effective ways to concentrate and use solar energy. Helping people and saving our environment is our driving vision.

By providing abundant, affordable and clean energy, the Solar Fire Project is a tool in the interrelated fights against global warming, deforestation, waterborne disease, pollution, desertification, soil degradation, poverty and general unsustainability.

Powerful enough to bring a liter of water to boil in 5 minutes, Solar Fire Technologies are do-it-yourself machines, on the same level of complexity as a bicycle. They are built from widely available materials, and simple enough to be operated by a child. Once built, SF technologies can meet the basic energy needs for a family for more than 10 years.


They will need capacitors to work. The newer metals used in some motors are more efficient as far as the hysteresis losses go. That means a few of them don't have the
'fault' of having residual magnetism. What's good for a motor is, in
this case, bad for the generator start-up.

I think where the confusion is starting may be from the planned usage.
In a grid tied IMAG (Induction motor generator) the thing will spin like
a motor until you apply motive power to it. It has to spin a bit faster
than the synchronous speed in order to generate. This setup is pretty
much fool proof. You start it as a normal motor and should the grid go
down, it stops generating. Note that you HAVE to start it as an electric
motor FIRST, from the line.

Now, IF we don't want this IMAG running constantly, there has to be a
mechanism to ensure that it will be running in phase with the power
lines when we connect. It can get expensive, but a cheap method involves
the use of a light bulb placed in parallel with a breaker which is in
the line going to the grid.

The operation starts by bringing the motor up to speed with your prime
mover. When the generated power is in sync with the line, the light bulb
will go out and the breaker can be closed. The rotor is now locked to
the line frequency.

That last setup requires the capacitors you speak of in order to start
generation from the residual magnetism. It is an isolated system at
start up and needs its own reactive power.

For line connected, grid start motors:

The simplest inter-tie allowed is with an induction generator which is
excited by the grid, so *no* problems with synchronization. The
generator is turned somewhat faster than synchronous speed so there is
positive slip and generates power into the grid as long as the grid is
powered. This power grid is an "infinite buss" and gives all the kVAr
required to magnetize the generator and accepts all the kVA the
generator can produce.

So far so good! When the power goes off, then the induction generator
unloads and must be protected from overspeed etc, and even though there
may be fuel available and the engine could be run, it cannot generate
backup power.

Grid Connection Required

On the page about the permanent magnet synchronous generator we showed
that it could run as a generator without connection to the public grid.
An asynchronous generator is different, because it requires the stator
to be magnetized from the grid before it works.
*You can run an asynchronous generator in a stand alone system, however,
if it is provided with capacitors which supply the necessary
magnetization current.* It also requires that there be some remanence in
the rotor iron, i.e. some leftover magnetism when you start the turbine.
Otherwise you will need a battery and power electronics, or a small
diesel generator to start the system).

Thursday, 21 February 2008


The Battery Charge Process


Batteries are complex mechanisms that can even fool the experts at
times, so it comes as no surprise that non-technical people have a
hard time understanding the charge process. Ask a typical crowd of
battery users when their batteries are full charged and at least ten
answers will surface.

In both Living on 12 Volts with Ample Power, and Wiring 12 Volts for
Ample Power the authors explain that a battery is fully charged when
the voltage is about 14.4 Volts and current through the battery has
declined to less than 2% of the capacity of the battery in Amp-
hours ...2 Amps for a 100 Ah battery.

That information is substantially correct, however, a more intuitive
feel for the charge process is necessary, not only to understand when
the battery is full, but also to know when the battery is not
behaving normally. It is the intent of this application note to
provide enough information about the charge process so that the
average user can judge how well the batteries are charging.

The Bulk Charge Step

When a charge source is first applied to a well discharged battery,
charge current begins to flow, typically at the maximum rate of the
charge source. If a true 40 Amp charger is connected to an 8D battery
which is completely discharged, about 40 Amps of charge current would
flow for some period of time. Because most of the charge is delivered
at the maximum charger rate, the first step of the charge cycle is
called the bulk charge step. NOTE: During the bulk step, battery
voltage will steadily rise.

The Start of the Absorption Step

At the instant battery voltage has risen to the maximum allowable
voltage of the charge source, current through the battery begins to
decline. This simultaneous event of reaching maximum voltage and the
start of current decline marks the beginning of the absorption step.

For instance, if the 40 Amp charger is set to 14.4 Volts, then when
battery voltage has risen to 14.4 Volts, the charger will now hold
the voltage constant. Current through the battery will begin to
decline. NOTE: The charger, (or alternator), is not limiting the
current at this point. The battery is `absorbing' all it can at the
voltage setpoint.

The End of the Absorption Step

The absorption step should continue until current through the battery
declines to about 2% of battery capacity in Amp-hours as mentioned
above. Without knowing what the current is through the battery, you
can't know when it's full. Just because that fancy charger, (or
inverter/charger), has kicked out to float is no sign that the
battery is full ...there is no charger on the market that measures
battery current!

It's a given, then, that you need to measure battery current to know
when the battery is full. With a battery current meter, you can
discover some very interesting details about the charge process. For
instance, you can discover that once the charger voltage limit is
reached, battery current begins to decline. If the current decline is
rapid, either the batteries are nearly full, or they are NO GOOD! If
the current decline is slow, then either the charge source has more
output than the batteries can reasonably absorb, or the batteries are
NO GOOD! Here's where Amp-hour instrumentation is particularly

Given enough time at the absorption voltage, charge current will
decline to a steady-state value, that is, a low current that either
stays constant, or declines very little. At the point where charge
current has gone as low as it is going to, then the batteries are
truly full. While 2% of Ah rating is close, good batteries will reach
a steady state current at less than 1% of Ah rating.

The Float Step

Once a battery is full, a lower voltage should be applied that will
maintain the full charge. Depending on the type of battery, (liquid,
gel), and the age of the battery, 13.4 - 13.8 Volts is appropriate as
a float voltage.

Temperature Compensation

The voltage given above are good only at F, (C). For high
temperatures, voltage will be less. It is important to charge
batteries with temperature compensation. To learn more about this
aspect of charging, refer to page 70 in the revised edition of Wiring
12 Volts for Ample Power.

A Very Common Problem

Your batteries are only four months old. You discharge them until
their voltage is less than 11 Volts and then crank up the engine. The
alternator brings up the voltage to 14.4 Volts very quickly, but the
current begins to decline immediately and in a few minutes is down to
a few Amps. You:

*suspect your voltage regulator and immediately call the factory and
ask for a replacement to be sent out; OR
*realize that something has happened to the batteries because the
alternator and regulator are operating as expected.

Conditioning Batteries

How do batteries that are only four months old die? Perhaps they
weren't broken in properly; maybe they sat deeply discharged for a
few days or more; perhaps they were allowed to self-discharge over
the last four months ...there's plenty of ways to murder batteries.

All batteries that refuse to accept a charge are not necessarily
ready for the scrap heap. Often, a deep discharge followed by a slow
charge will recover lost capacity and charge acceptance. For more
information, refer to Wiring 12 Volts for Ample Power.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


We did our time as nomads in a couple Winnies. We still have a Tioga
and a Chinook. We raised two welps without death or major crime.

In our experience the real problem with a baby is heat. If you have
good heat you can make do while you deal with the rest.

We have found no small scale solar anywhere near effective for space
heating up here above the 40th parallel. The woman who does will be
the one Bill Gates goes to for a loan.

We have 3 Toyo heaters in our trailer and would strongly advise you
not to use them in the same air space as your child. We use them only
in emergencies. In an emergency we evacuate the child ASAP.

We used to flip an old cast iron skillet over a burner to heat up in
the morning but again that is not good for baby.

If you can put in the fireboard and do a safe job the wood stoves
built for wall tents work great but they are scary as hell. Don't put
one between you and the door.

We have slept in tents with a box of hot rocks and been very
comfortable and safe. Not real eco friendly but if you have a back for
it we recommend it. It works and is safe for baby if hard on Dad.
Don't use river rock.

Our Winnies had combo heater/reefer units made by Electrolux and were
very safe and function-able so you might be willing to pay for the fuel
if you don't want to adapt. There is a small danger to baby but
nothing near Toyo's and the rest.

A propane fridge is an oxymoron as far as we are concerned. We
frequently go over a hundred F.
We use to this day coolers and ice in an adaptation cycle.
If you do the maths you will be able to decide if it is worth it to
you. For us solar powered cold creation is not cost effective at small
scales any where it gets hot.
We used/use the fridge for mouse proof storage.

We have and still use semi daily a "turkey" cooker propane stove. It
boils up a big pot of water in less time than a cup of tea. You will
want more hot water now. We paid $28 for it at a hardware store and a
propane tank gives us baths and wash water for about 40 days. With a
baby probably about 30.

We use the sawdust bucket method from the Humanure guy. We didn't mean
to. We were just using it while we built our composting toilet. It
works so well we just kept using it. It is by far the best way to go.

Diapers will be a problem. Washing them in the woods is no more eco
friendly than composting disposables. You can save a lot of time
composting. We gave up and used disposables and froze them in bags in
the winter and dumpstered them when we went to town. We composted them
and even tried to burn them. There just wasn't an easy way to deal
with it.

Grandpa used to say
"The surest way to get rid of your wife is to move her to the woods".

In our experience if you want to keep sane and married you need to
make sure you have SPARE rain shelter, heat, something hot to drink, a
hot wash up and clean underwear. In that order.
Everything else is extra and negotiable.

Make your man get you a REALLY comfortable chair that rocks and one of
the soft tummy carriers so you can free up your hands.
Make him deal with the diaper disposal.
If he loves you he will buy you a big wash tub and care for baby while
you have a hot soak twice a week.
Get a good tent you can stand in, a tarp big enough to cover the tent,
a 100' nylon cord, a good stout knife, a cot to keep you and baby off
the ground, a cold weather bag and a space blanket. Practice putting
the tent up with baby on your tummy. You need to know you can do it alone.
Get a double burner propane stove and lantern and a case of those
little propane bottles.
Get a half dozen NEW five gallon buckets with proper lids and put
clean dry SPARE underwear and baby clothes/towels/blankets/diapers in.
Fill one with paper plates and disposable forks and the like and
another with instant drinks and tinned food.
Don't leave out stuff, don't cheap out because you think you will
never use it.
Put the stove, lantern, tarp, tent, propane, line, knife and a roll of
trash bags in a big plastic tote box.

This is all EXTRA. You don't use it except in emergencies.
It is a $250 insurance policy for your domestic tranquillity. If you
never need it good on you. If like us you find the woods throw you a
few unexpected parties you will be happier. As in less unhappy.

After all these years we still have our bucket full of plastic forks
and such. We have raided it once or twice. We still have the stove(s)
and lantern and tent. We added an air mattress two years ago. We
switch out the propane canisters every year when we go camping
elsewhere and we have changed out the food but we still keep our
"Spares". We have only had to use the stuff a few times in all these
years but they have made the difference between living in the woods
and visiting.


Our batch of hand made Babington Oil Atomizing Balls have arrived at HomeBrewPower!

Close-Up of a Babington Ball

Our order of custom made Babington Burner Balls have now arrived at HomeBrewPower UK.

These Nozzles enable the clean burning of Waste Vegetable Oil, Straight Vegetable Oil, Waste Motor Oil and any other combustible oil you can think of!

The principle is really simple, ' The Babington Ball is connected to an air source (Car tyre inflator or any other small air source capable of producing around 30-40 PSI via a 1/2" NPT standard fitting) A tiny stream of air is jetted out of a 0.010" presicion hole in the middle of the Babington Ball. Oil is pumped over the outer surface if the Ball producing a thin film around the ball head.

Where the jet of air is expelled the oil is Atomized into mist which can be readily burned. The atomizing effect is known as the Venturi effect similar to the principle of a whale expelling air when it surfaces.'

If you would like to purchase a Babington Oil Atomizing Ball then please visit our online shop by clicking HERE.


Air or Steam lift pump video on YouTube. This is used for feeding a steam Babington, using Air, Steam, or even Propane to lift waste vegetable oil to the ball.

An air lift pump can lift a liquid to a height above the surface of the liquid equal to about 2/3 of the depth at which the air is injected into the bottom of the vertical pipe.

The capacity of the air-lift pump depends largely on the percentage of submergence of the foot piece; that is, the greater the submergence of the foot piece below the water level in the discharge pipe, the greater the volume (column) of water the pump can deliver per unit of time. However, the deeper the foot piece is submerged, the greater the compressed air pressure must be to lift the column of water.

In air-lift pump operation, compressed air has to be regulated correctly. The amount of compressed air should be the minimum needed to produce a continuous flow. Too little air results in liquid being discharged in spurts, or not at all. Too much air causes an increase in the volume of discharge but at lower discharge pressure. If air is increased still further, discharge volume begins to decrease

Some details for water pumping..

Sizing the air lift pump
The flowrate through an air lift pump is proportional to the flowrate of the air powering it. The literature reports air lift pump flow rates of 20 to 2,000 gpm and lifts to more than 700 ft.
An empirical calculation attributed to the Ingersoll Rand Co. correlates the flow of air with that of water.

Va = 0.8 Ll/(C log10{(Ls + 34)/34]
Where Va = volume of free air (cu. ft.) needed per gallon of water
Ls = length of the submerged section (ft.)
Ll = length of the lift section (ft.)
C = constant that depends on Ll (see Table 1)
Another relevant variable is the relationship between Ls and Ll. Functional air lift designs exhibit a curious non-linear phenomenon. The ratio of submerged length to total length, Ls/(Ll + Ls), runs about 0.6 when the lift is only around 20 ft., but decreases to about 0.4 when the lift is 500 ft.

The last relevant variable is the air pressure needed to make the device operate. This depends, of course, on the specific gravity of the fluid. The depth that corresponds to one psi is inversely proportional to the specific gravity. For water, one psi corresponds to 2.31 ft. of depth. If one ignores the friction losses in the line, the applicable relationship is:

P = (Ls * sg/2.31)
P = required gas pressure (psig)
sg = specific gravity of the fluid (dimensionless)


Above is the current schematic of the Off-Grid systems I designed and installed at HomeBrewPower.

At the heart of the installation is a Lister CS 5/1 (Not 3/1) as shown on the diagram that provides the bulk of power and heating, coupled with a large battery cubicle for energy storage. The batteries provide power to the 5KW MSW Inverter that produces 230VAC electricity back to our consumer unit.

Some of the waste heat from the Lister CS coolant circuit is recovered a water to water heat exchanger and then heat from the exhaust is also recovered via a air to water heat exchanger. The hot water is then pumped through insulated underground pipes to our central heating loop to provide heating via radiators.

Our PMDC custom built wind machine provides DC to the battery banks to constantly trickle charge the battery cubicle. We have seen it producing anything from 20W right through to 1200W on a very stormy evening in the UK.

Everything has been built from the ground up and custom made to suit our purposes, including the control installation, battery cubicle, metering, wind turbine & pipework.

Monday, 18 February 2008


Below is a quote from the Simondale House Website. They have build a Low Impact Woodland Home In Wales UK. A True inspiration to anyone wishing to build their own Low Impact Woodland Home.

'You are looking at pictures of our family home in Wales. It was built by myself and my father in law with help from passersby and visiting friends. 4 months after starting we were moved in and cosy. I estimate 1000-1500 man hours and £3000 put in to this point. Not really so much in house buying terms (roughly £60/sq m excluding labour).

The house was built with maximum regard for the environment and by reciprocation gives us a unique opportunity to live close to nature. Being your own (have a go) architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass produced box designed for maximum profit and convenience of the construction industry. Building from natural materials does away with producers profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

Some key points of the design and construction:
Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter
Stone and mud from diggings used for retaining walls, foundations etc.
Frame of oak thinnings (spare wood) from surrounding woodland
Reciprocal roof rafters are structurally and aesthaetically fantastic and very easy to do
Straw bales in floor, walls and roof for super-insulation and easy building
Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof for low impact and ease
Lime plaster on walls is breathable and low energy to manufacture (compared to cement)
Reclaimed (scrap) wood for floors and fittings
Anything you could possibly want is in a rubbish pile somewhere (windows, burner, plumbing, wiring...)
Woodburner for heating - renewable and locally plentiful
Flue goes through big stone/plaster lump to retain and slowly release heat
Fridge is cooled by air coming underground through foundations
Skylight in roof lets in natural feeling light
Solar panels for lighting, music and computing
Water by gravity from nearby spring
Compost toilet
Roof water collects in pond for garden etc.

Main tools used: chainsaw, hammer and 1 inch chisel, little else really. Oh and by the way I am not a builder or carpenter, my experience is only having a go at one similar house 2yrs before and a bit of mucking around inbetween. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverance and a mate or two to give a lift now and again. '

Sunday, 17 February 2008


So what is gasification?

Gasification is the high temperature conversion of combustible solids (e.g. wood, coal, coke, charcoal, municipal waste etc) into a gaseous fuel mixture containing amongst others, hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). Depending on the production context, the gas mixture generated may be known variously as “wood gas”, “synthesis gas”, “producer gas” or “coal gas”

Is gasification a new technology?

Far from it, it has been around for over 100 years.

Why do we need biomass gasification for renewable energy, isn’t wind and solar enough?

Wind and solar power are key components to the future electricity generation mix because they are low maintenance and greenhouse neutral. Solar generation has the advantage of peaking at the same time as peak air-conditioning loads, and wind energy when networked sufficiently widely with appropriate interconnection can provide base-load generation. However, neither can provide on-demand generation for load-matching. Bio energy based generation such as gasification can provide this, and if supplied from sustainably-harvested fuel, can be a truly greenhouse-neutral on-demand generation system to complement wind and solar.

What about coal gasification? Isn’t that supposed to be good for greenhouse gas emission reduction too?

Yes, coal gasification can be done. (Most town gas used to be produced from coal gasification processes.) Whilst coal gasification in an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) system can offer improved efficiency in a centralized power station over combustion alone, it represents only a transitional step in greenhouse gas emission reduction, and is not a long-term option without a viable and cost-effective carbon-sequestration technology.

But isn’t wood gasification just an excuse to chop down even more trees?

We hope not. We think it is a practical means for deriving energy (and an income) from the sustainable management of native re-vegetation schemes, off-setting fossil fuel electricity production. We think it is a good reason to do more than just plant the trees, but sustain and maintain them and generate renewable power along the way.

What are the waste products from the wood gasification process?

A high-performance power gasifier is optimized to generate the maximum gas and little else. By-products of the process are a small amount of low-grade activated carbon, some ash and water. Ideally, these by-products should be combined and returned to the soil as a soil conditioner. Waste heat is also produced by the process and can be used for water or space-heating, or for pre-drying the fuel for the gasifier.

What’s the advantage of biomass gasification over production of bio fuels like ethanol or biodiesel?

A well-designed gasifier can accept a range of feedstocks and thus the technology supports a bio diverse resource base rather than a monoculture energy crop. However the energy density of the gas is far lower than that of liquid bio-fuels, making it more suitable for stationary applications than transport. Although amateurs are now powering a diverse range of vehicles on woodgas.

What is in the gas that comes out of the gasifier?

Whilst the exact gas composition will be particular to the feedstock and operating conditions, typical gas composition from an air-blown gasifier is around 20% carbon monoxide (CO), 18% hydrogen (H2), 10% carbon dioxide (CO2), 1% methane (CH4) and 51% nitrogen (N2). It is a very high octane but low specific energy gas mixture that has a relatively low flame temperature and combustion flame speed due to the large amount of dilution gases (CO2 and N2) present.

What can the gas produced in the gasifier be used for?

The gas mixture produced by the gasifier can be used for process heating applications by operating the gasifier in a forced draft (positive pressure) mode and passing the gas directly to a burner. In induced-draft mode it can be inducted into internal combustion engines as a fossil-fuel replacement for developing motive power, driving generators etc.

What sort of engines can you run on woodgas?

Both spark-ignition engines (petrol or gas), and compression ignition engines (diesel) can run on wood gas. 100% petrol or gas replacement can be easily achieved on spark-ignition engines; compression ignition engines still require around 10 to 20% diesel for ignition of the fuel charge as the gas will not compression-ignite in a diesel engine. Sometimes spark-plugs are retrofitted to diesel engines for 100% fuel replacement. In large applications, the gas can also be use to drive gas turbines.

What about exhaust emissions from engines running on wood gas?

Exhaust emissions from an engine running on wood gas are typically more benign than petrol or diesel, ie lower in nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOX) unburned hydrocarbons and particulates. The major components of the exhaust gas from the engine are nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Isn’t the carbon monoxide dangerous?

Yes! Carbon monoxide is an odourless, but highly poisonous gas and care should be taken not to inhale it. In the gasification process, the carbon monoxide is an important component of the fuel gas mix but exists only for a short time in the process between gas production in the gasifier and combustion in the engine. With the engine running properly, carbon monoxide is not present in the exhaust gases. Our particular gasifier operates at sub-atmospheric pressure to minimize the possibility of a gas leak. But, just like a petrol-powered car, a gasifier should never be operated in an enclosed space in order to further reduce the risk of a carbon monoxide build-up.

Can an engine be damaged by running on wood gas?

The single biggest risk to an engine running on wood-gas is the risk of tar formation in the gas. This only happens if the gasifier is either badly designed or operated improperly. The tar will cause engine parts (e.g. valve stems, pistons) to stick and this will lead to disasters like bent and broken pushrods, rocker-arms, con-rods etc. An engine should never be operated if there is tar present in the gas stream.

Why not run micro turbines on the gas rather than piston engines?

We get asked this a lot for some reason. Piston engines are cheap and easily available. Micro turbines are not. Old car engines will run happily for years on wood gas and using second-hand engines reduces eco-footprint considerably over buying either new engines or micro turbines. Micro turbines are far less tolerant of contaminants in the gas stream (e.g. particulates and moisture) than piston engines. Also, when a car engine breaks down in many cases you can fix it yourself or worst case it can be taken to the local mechanic. But try fronting up to your local garage with a busted micro turbine and see how far you get.

Can I retrofit a gasifier to my little portable petrol or diesel generator?

Sadly, in most cases the answer to this is “No”. The reason is that the small generators are typically of the 2-pole type and operate at 3000 rpm for 50 Hz (3600 rpm for 60 Hz). This reduces the weight of both the engine and the generator, improving portability. Wood gas simply doesn’t burn fast enough to run an engine much over 1800 rpm and hence is only suitable for the larger-scale 4-pole generator systems operating at 1500 rpm for 50 Hz (1800 rpm for 60 Hz).

Thursday, 14 February 2008


Take a look at the link and watch the video at the bottom of the page from Philips Concepts

Off The Grid Sustainable Habitat 2020 from Philips

Today, our habitat is very dependent on the international grid of energy & water. Energy crisis, clean water shortage, global warming and environmental pollution are worldwide problems. Understanding cities as dynamic and ever-evolving eco-systems can help us to formulate strategies for a sustainable urban future. The whole project is based on the the brief to develop sustainable housing for urban megalopolis in China in 2020.

This is exploring the integration of electronics and bio chemical functionalities into the inert material of the built environment. The design of the concept fundamentally changes the current approach to buildings and habitat. This future habitat shifts from the current state where the building surfaces are benign inert ‘dumb’ materials only used for construction and shielding purposes to sensitive functional skins that are ‘alive’ and act as membranes to harness energy. A membrane creates a strong link between the exterior and interior of the habitat and used as a transporter collecting and channeling the elements of air water and light - from the outside feeding into the inside space. This will supply the habitat with all necessary sources to be able to live off the grid.

LightThe active skin of a building reacts to sunlight and automatically moves into the most efficient position to channel light and generate energy. By collecting and channeling the natural light no electricity will be needed during the day for lighting. Bringing natural light into our homes will not only save energy but also provide all the advantages for health and well being.

AirThe active skin of the building reacts to the wind. By channeling air and wind through the skin of the building energy will be generated and the air will be filtered to provide clean air inside the building. Compressed and dissipated through funnels, the air will also be cooled for natural air-conditioning. Outside air is cleaned and stripped of CO2 before being exhausted from the building.

WaterThe active skin of the building reacts to the rain and collects and channels rainwater into the habitat. By catching moisture from the air the facade collects water even in dry periods.Through purification, filtration and reuse, water will be used in a closed loop and fresh water consumption would be optimized.

WasteHuman waste and other organic waste will be transformed into biogas energy. The biogas can be used for heating and cooking as well as providing hot water for washing.


This week has been rather strange. What started out as a simple week has evolved into something more sinister!

Life can be like that, once in a while it comes along and tests you, it tries to push you to the limits and then a little further!

In a nutshell this week has been somewhere on the scale of 8/10. Difficult? Yes, Impossible? No.

The bulk of my work and revenue comes from my electrical business, Mahoney Electrical. This is what I pay the bills with and do 5 days out of 7. I would love to spend all my time on I have huge plans for it. Problem with any master plan is the one driving force always comes down to Money! Or as I was once told, 'The LACK of money is the route of all evil!'

I guess what I need here at is nothing short of a miracle, I need a big fat cheque to fall out of the sky and enable me to kickstart the business I dream of.

I want to travel the globe bringing all the latest Eco / Green News, Products, Concepts to light for my viewers.

Anyone out there with excesses of money want to make a donation? Don't be shy!

Things we are looking for right now.............

1. Eco Products to evaluate / review
2. Pictures of peoples sustainable lifestyle with info
3. Big Fat Cheque

Thursday, 7 February 2008


Quote from the Ending Charcoal Blog

'Yes, I am based in Boulder, Colorado. Ephrem Balole is based in Africa and he and I work closely on this blog. At this point, most of our focus is on the Protos project. The reality is, this is a massive project and as such, will probably leave little time to pursue other things such as biodigesters for the time being. Having said that, though, if there is anyone out there that wants to look into technologies such as this, that would be great!

The Relationship Between BSH and WildlifeDirect:

Yes, we are working with BSH on the introduction of the Protos stove in the DRC. Their business model clearly forbids the introduction of the stove in politically unstable areas, however, after hearing about the fate of the mountain gorillas, they agreed to participate in a joint-venture with WildlifeDirect. BSH has generously agreed to donate the first 100 stoves and is providing guidance and technical assistance. BSH is adamant that users grow their own fuels, and do so in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner. They are very serious about this and have actually pulled out of areas that have failed to demonstrate their commitment to this principle.

Current Status of the Protos Project:

Ephrem has the difficult task of doing the required Phase 1 & 2 market research for BSH. He is looking at things such as demographics, supply chains, alternative cookers, costing, household cooking habits, agricultural sectors, and barriers to entry. I will be working on putting together the training program for the introduction. I will most likely get trained in the Philippines and then make my way to Goma to train the trainers and help with the initial introduction, which we hope is in March.

Cost of the Protos Stove:

If brought in from the outside, the cost of the stove will be around US$50-75, 50% or which is transportation cost. Once local manufacturing capability is established, that cost should drop to US$20.

Fuel Types for the Protos Stove:

The Protos stove can burn canola, coconut, Jatropha, palm, peanut, rapeseed, safflower, soy, sunflower, and used cooking oil (biodiesel). One of the most important parts of this project is to grow fuel for the stoves locally. As Paula suggests, it looks like Jatropha will be a great fit in the DRC. We will be making sure NOT to use palm oils coming from any place that has destroyed vital habitat to establish palm oil plantations. This monoculture is a scourge in many places, such as in Indonesia and Malaysia, where it has had a devastating impact on orangutans and other key species. We will be vigilant about using only environmentally sustainable fuel sources.

Fear of Charcoal Mafia Reprisals:

With the crackdown on illegally harvested charcoal, there is clearly a renewed risk to the mountain gorillas. Luckily, this comes at a time when Nkunda and his rebels have agreed to cease hostilities. UN forces are now escorting them out of Virunga NP. This has made it possible for the ICCN rangers to return to their post and resume patrols. This is no guarantee that the gorillas will be safe, but it is a step in the right direction.
Creating New Ways to Make a Living:If we are successful with the Protos project, a whole new sector of the economy will be created. The hope is that the people involved with the illegal harvest of charcoal will see that more money is being made in the plant oils and naturally want to transition into this area.

How you can become involved:

Remember the old adage that only a few degrees of separation stand between you and just about anyone in the world. Think of who you know, and who that person knows, and so on. Rack your brains to think of people that would be willing to help raise funds and awareness to save the last mountain gorillas – and the other critically endangered species of the planet. Think outside the box of what you think is possible!'

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Interconnecting Batteries for Battery Bank

For any off grid renewable energy system the battery bank is probably the most important component. It doesn't matter how much power you generate - if it is not stored safely and efficiently then you will have no electricity when you need it. Batteries are also one of the most expensive parts of wind, solar and hydro power generation systems so they need to be well cared for.

Unless you have a very small system you will need more than one battery - therefore you will need to connect the batteries to one another to form a battery bank.
Below is an illustration showing how this is often done:

The Problem

Because of the small amount of resistance in the cable used to interconnect the batteries, and from the connection between the cable and the battery posts, the battery closest to the installation is charged the most, discharged the most, and worked harder, whereas the battery furthest from the installation is charged the least, discharged the least, and worked the least.

The Reason

The power from the bottom battery has to pass through the main connection leads whereas the power from the top battery has to pass through the main connection leads and another four sets of interconnecting leads. Although the resistances are tiny - it is the fact that they are so small that makes them have such a big effect on the current flowing to each battery.

An electronics company used a computer simulation in 1990 to calculate the following assuming a battery internal resistance of 0.02 Ohms, interconnecting lead resistance of 0.0015 Ohms per link, and a total load on the batteries of 100 amps:

The bottom battery provides 35.9 amps.
The next battery up provides 26.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 20.4 amps.
The top battery provides 17.8 amps.

...which means the battery closest to the installation is worked twice as hard as the battery at the top of the battery bank! These surprising findings have since been reproduced in real world situations.

Connecting Batteries in a Battery Bank

So it the example given above shows you how NOT to connect batteries to make a battery bank, how should you do it? It is actually very simple - instead of taking the negative AND positive feeds from the same battery (in the example above it was from the bottom battery) , you should take one feed from each end of the interconnected battery bank - e.g. +ve from the top battery and -ve from the bottom battery....

With the same example load of 100 amps presented above the new loads on each battery are as follows:

The bottom battery provides 26.7 amps.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The top battery provides 26.7 amps.

To get the batteries perfectly balanced requires a different scheme involving a little more work and expense (more cables and connections required), but is only really necessary if you have very expensive batteries or a more than 6 or so batteries in your bank.

Warning: Be Safe When Handling Lead Acid Batteries
When handling lead acid batteries, great care must be taken. You should always wear gloves and safety goggles because if acid sprays or spills from a battery onto your skin or eyes you could sustain a serious and permanent injury. Invest in a bottle of surgical eye wash and leave it next to your battery bank at all times so you can flush your eyes immediately if you get acid in your eye.

Kind regards

Andy Mahoney
Home Brew Power
Off-Grid Power Installer - UK)
Mobile: 07504 50 50 89
HomeBrewPower Yahoo Group On Carbon Neutral Power

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


BS 7671:2008 includes a new Section 712 providing additional requirements for safety applicable to solar photovoltaic (PV) power supply systems.

The additional requirements in BS 7671:2008 along with some explanations are discussed in this article. As with any low voltage installation, the general requirements in Parts 1 to 6 of BS 7671:2008 have also to be met which include in Part 5, Section 551, requirements for low voltage generating sets.

The risks

The particular risks associated with solar photovoltaic systems are:

PV systems cannot be switched off. Modules produce electricity when exposed to daylight. Hence, unlike most other electrical installation work, the installation of a PV system typically involves working on a live system. Regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations gives requirements that must be met. Special precautions should be made to ensure live terminals are either not accessible or cannot be readily touched during installation and maintenance. Such terminals will be live at all times during daylight hours. It is important that anyone opening an enclosure is aware of this.

An electrician who has come to work on the electrical installation needs to be aware that there is a second source of energy which will also need to be isolated.

PV modules are current-limiting devices which require a nonstandard approach when designing fault protection systems for the dc side, as fuses are not likely to operate under short-circuit conditions. A different approach to fault protection is often needed, such as sizing the conductors for the maximum fault current that can flow at any given point in the circuit.

PV systems include dc wiring, with which few electrical installers are familiar.

PV presents a unique combination of hazards – due to risk of electric shock, falling and simultaneous manual handling difficulties. All of these hazards are encountered as a matter of course on a building site, but rarely all at once. While roofers may be accustomed to minimising risks of falling or injury due to manual handling problems, they may not be used to dealing with the risk of electric shock. Similarly, electricians would be familiar with electric shock hazards but not with handling large objects at heights.