Discussion in 'Energy & Electricity' started by BasecampUSA, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Combined Heating and Power system...

    When I was working in Europe starting in 1990, I noticed that they squeeze every BTU they can out of every system they can think of.

    Acres of greenhouses next to power plants use up residual heat to grow food year-round, that normally would go up the smoke-stacks and cooling towers like we do here in the USA. We're pretty wasteful in comparison.

    The Europeans also pump this power plant "waste heat" into the cities through huge vacuum-thermal pipes to heat office buildings and aprtment houses. I spent 2 years designing such systems over there. (I speak fluent German, my folks spoke it at home.)

    I think we will see this same trend develop here, as the oil "noose" continues to tighten on us.

    When I got back in 1997, I bought a heavy-duty Chinese water-cooled diesel engine / generator to use as both a back-up and potential off-grid power system for high-amperage drawing appliances such as a fridge, freezer or washing machine.

    This video shows the identical diesel generator we have, but without the "combined heat and power" equipment hooked up.

    [ame=]YouTube - changchai diesel + generator, chinadiesel, L28[/ame]

    It was pretty easy to buy and install the rest of the equipment to make it "CHAP"... in this case I used a huge old antique cast-iron radiator in excellent shape given to me for just hauling it off. The circulation pumps and valves were salvaged from heating systems in demolished buildings in the area. I bought a big 100 gal stainless steel storage tank at an auction, and a heat exchanger from Craig's list. The whole system cost me about $800 !

    Here is a diagram I made of the system in our greenhouse. We also have a hot water solar panel hooked up to the tank that we use when the generator is off.


    The fuel is free used fry oil collected from restaurants around the area. We probably have 2500 gallons by now... -been collecting for years.

    A heating coil in the 10 gallon biodiesel "day tank" keeps the oil viscosity fairly even for better running.

    - Basey
  2. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    Are you running straight waste fryer oil (heating it) or using transesterification and making Bio Diesel for you engine ??:confused:

  3. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    We used to batch-process 50 gal at a time, but now we just run it straight in prewarmed and very well filtered...

    The injection parts on these chinese diesels are cheap and readily replaceable, not like wrecking a car diesel engine with it. The engine is totally accessible for maintenance and I've it it apart at 500 hours just to look at it for possisble problem wear areas.

    If I could get a large capacity centrifuge real cheap, I'd build a small plant. I held off, because Irving Oil out of St John, New Brunswick CA is in Maine buying up all of McD's and BurgKing's oil as well as Wendy's and th' Colonel's too. They are hauling it to the refinery there on the way back from delivering gas/diesel to Maine to process and blend with thier diesel. :mad:

    I never researched what I could do with the glycerine, either... start making soap? :D

    Oh well... I can still get enough to fill two 300 gal tanks a year... I haven't tapped the Bangor area restaurants yet... -there's competition up there, though.
  4. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    I have found that non-chain places are more than happy to have you take the stuff off their hands...

    Base, have you tried using a waterpump/hose (where the hose is run under the flooring if possible) application as opposed to a storage tank and radiator? I have found that it works very well to heat the WVO and to heat upper level rooms, you're the first person I've seen that has a similar setup so I figured I'd ask what problems you've had (there's always some ;) )& how you solved them.
  5. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Heh... up till now I've been able to get used fry-grease for free down around the Bar Harbor area, but I heard up in Bangor there's so much competition that the restaurants are starting to charge by the gallon... dunno, haven't tried yet.

    You know, when I built this place- (single story) - I cast lots of tubing in the concrete subfloor to hook up to a heat pickup-coil in my wood stove.

    If I didn't need the hot water for showers, laundry and dishes etc., I would certainly hook it up to that subfloor circuit too. Excellent heat storage!

    We had originally planned to go with hot water solar panels to circulate heat in the floor slab, but the house performed so well with warm air from the sunspace, we never bothered to spend any more money on them.

    When I put the generator in, I had to have a cooling system for the engine, and rather than waste the heat to the atmosphere, I simply piped it up to that old cast iron radiator... -dang thing must weigh 600#, its BIG !

    But, that's a good idea, Blob... it would be easy to hook up to the tubes in the subfloor... y'know, I think I'll actually try it!... Thanks.
  6. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

    Are you planning a tempering tank or just hooking the lines to the motor's cooling system?
  7. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    These chinese one-lunger diesels are built exactly like the old make-and-break engines... there is a large water jacket built around the cylinder. (I know, diagram shows a 3 cyl engine... didn't have a pic for it).

    If you leave the cylinder water jacket lid off, the water boils off furiously under full load, and you simply add more as needed, that was how the old engines were run.

    You can add a condenser where the lid bolts on- ($125 more back then) -that will condense the steam and let the water drip back into the tank.

    In this case, I bolted the lid on, and I have a thermostatic valve that allows coolant at >195` to be circulated to a heat exchanger where it heats the domestic water for the hot water storage tank.

    I have a diverter valve that sends the coolant right to the radiator in the house, bypassing the HW tank if we have enough HW and need to heat the house with it. (I know the diagram doesn't show that loop - don't want to make it so complicated that no one understands anymore).

    Here is a chinese one-lunger (direct-coupled to generator) that shows the cylinder head with "lid", fuel tank, piping, and a car radiator as a steam condenser (which could be used to heat the house too).

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011