When I started my exploration of greenhouse cultivation and aquaponics, I wanted to heat it all efficiently. The wiseway pellet stove set many other tangents un heating and energy into motion. The steam engine, hydronic heating systems, bio-mass usage, and distillation.
What I quickly discovered is to heat a large greenhouse to the level I wanted, in the climate I live in, is not a small investment.
So, I began my quest for a cost effective means of heating. I settled on bio-mass for a myriad of reasons, and also the pellet type of fuel.
When I discovered the Wiseway pellet stove and spoke with it's inventor Gary Wisener, I found him to be very receptive to my ideas. He allowed me to adapt and modify his stove, with their help, to accommodate my plans for heating water and the greenhouse.
Along the way I discovered I could create steam with the heat exchangers, and began my study of water distillation. I had a local still maker Anthony Zaca of Rainier Distillers, build me a column that would distill water with the appliance configured as I had it.
During our discussions, he mentioned that if I can distill water, ethanol could also be distilled as it has a lower boiling point. The stove and its column were designed to operate in a continuous fashion, which was perfect for the production of ethanol as a fuel. So I filed that away in my mind for a bit.
As I continued with my greenhouse development and AP experiments, I was not getting the efficiency I wanted out of my heating system. So I started looking at other potential sources of energy. The bio-digester intrigued me as it produces methane as a fuel, but it also produces fertilizer.
Since I was also working with a permaculturist, Jeb Thurow, I started study of this technology as well. But it needs a fairly large amount of raw material on a regular basis, and also needs to be kept warm to work efficiently.
So, I started linking all these things together. Greenhouses, AP, Permaculture, fermentation, distillation, bio-digestion, CO2 collection, water conservation and filtration, ethanol, steam, biomass, composting, vermiculture, (a few other things that I am sure I am forgetting) and realized that I could put them together as one system.
A distillery produces a great deal of water that contains minerals and beneficial organic material once processed that would be great for the soil and plants, CO2, that would be useful in enriching the atmosphere of the greenhouse, solids to feed a bio-digester, and waste heat to heat a greenhouse, fish tanks, and the bio-digester.
The filtration would allow me to reuse a great deal of the process water and send it back to the distillery. The solids removed would be composted. This would reduce my water usage greatly. The bio-digester and greenhouse would allow me to process all the wastes in house reducing and potentially eliminating my entire organic waste stream.
The distillery earns the money that would not only support the entire system, but also myself. The rest of the system manages the waste stream turning all the liabilities into assets, and producing nutritious vegetables in the process.
No small undertaking, but it should be a very interesting project when completed.
We are now finished with all our licensing and permitting. We are also producing at this time and will have our products available in the next few weeks.
The next task is to begin the plans for the process water treatment, bio-digester, and solids composting systems. I hope to start the greenhouse soon after that. The bio-digester will be housed in the floor of the greenhouse where all the waste heat of the distillery will be used to heat the bio-digester, fish tanks, and the greenhouse.
Anyone that is interested in this project and that might like to be involved in some fashion should get in contact with me. I am looking for creative individuals to partner in various aspects of the system.
We have been assigned a grant writer for this project by the state of Oregon in pursuit of a federal SBIR grant. The state feels that it is a worthwhile project and is assisting us in our project any way they can.
It is an exciting and interesting project. I look forward to sharing it with others along the way.