Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for June, 2005

ESSN – July Issue

The July issue of Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter goes live tonight at midnight. Make sure you download it, as it’s bigger and better than ever. Ethanol, Efficient Lighting, Biodiesel, Methane, Gardening, and much much more.

Advertisers – Please get your ads in before July 15th for the August issue!

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Biodiesel and WVO powered Cogen

The Lister CS is a rugged 6hp stationary engine designed in the late 1920s. Its simple fuel injection system is very tolerant to vegetable oil, and as such it can be used to run a 3kW generator set. The waste heat from the coolant and the exhaust can be recovered and used to supplement the domestic hot water and central heating.

Waste vegetable oil is easily obtainable from restaurants for approximately £0.10 per litre ($0.75 per US Gal), and with correct filtration and a Lister CS engine it will provide all the heat and power a typical home requires.


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Running your car on ethanol

Green Trust is evaluating a project to put one of our gasoline vehicles on ethanol. We will be taking a ’98 Ford Windstar and converting to a FFV, or Flexible Fuel Vehicle. After the conversion, we should be able to run either straight ethanol, gasoline, or any mix thereof. We are looking for project sponsors to help defray the costs of the research and conversion, and will share the results of the research with our readers here and at ESSN Magazine. Sponsors will be listed in all press and research papers. Contact to donate.

Chat about Ethanol


To Replace Oil, U.S. Experts See Amber Waves of Plastic

The end products — which include T-shirts, forks and coffins — look, feel and perform like traditional polyester and plastic made from a petroleum base. But the manufacturing process consumes 50% less fossil fuel, even after accounting for the fuel needed to plant and harvest the corn.

To Replace Oil, U.S. Experts See Amber Waves of Plastic

Paper, Plastic or Corn?


Human Powered Generators

It’s summer right now but once winter comes along, many of us cyclists will be stuck back indoors on the trainer. Here’s a way to do something with all of that energy your expending! You’d need three or four Lance Armstrongs to power your entire home but you could certainly make some good use of the power generated by pedaling. Maybe power that fan that you have blowing on you during tough trainer sessions? I think I may give it a try to charge my iBook. Pretty easy to build your own, but commercially produced versions are available at

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Life, Liberty and Property

I was reading leaving the grid to learn more about cooking with biodiesel, and came across a entertaining, but thought provoking explanation of the connections between Life, Liberty and Property, and the interconnectedness of humanity. I highly recommend you check it out. Speakers help with the impact, but the lack of sound does not take away from the message.

Introduction to the Philosophy of Liberty


Visiting Kansas City

Steve is in Kansas City this week, so if any of you off-gridder, environmental, renewable/self sufficiency types in the area want to chat, drop him an email at

He’ll be around till 9am Thursday, then it’s back to NY.


Making Biodiesel with the Appleseed

We will be running another class on making biodiesel with a Appleseed processor. Last year we ran a class on building the Appleseed, this time it’s an operation class.

July 24th, at 9am

TEVA Learning Center, Falls Village, CT (directions)

$15 pre-registration (non-refundable, paypal to
$35 at the door (includes Girl Mark’s latest edition of the Biodiesel Homebrew Guide

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Harvesting Rainwater

*You will be shocked at how much water you can collect from rainwater harvesting*

Most people are not aware of the fact that a colossal amount of water can be collected from rainwater harvesting efforts. In fact there are rainwater harvesting systems that take care of the water needs of large households throughout the year. Most would find this very difficult to believe but it is a fact.

All one needs is a well designed rain harvesting system, complete with adequate rain harvesting storage tanks.

It is actually amazing that while many parts of the world are facing such serious water problems, on the other hand colossal amounts of rainwater that would otherwise have been harvested and put to good use, are going to waste. Plenty of rain falls, the water is drained away, some evaporates and we are still left with our huge water-scarcity-related problems.

Rainwater tends to be one of the purest sources of water available and also one of the healthiest which can also be easily and cheaply treated and even used for human consumption.

Few people are aware of the fact that an amazing 600 gallons of water per inch of rain per thousand square feet of catchment area can be harvested. This means that an area does not need to have a spectacular amount of rainfall to carry out successful rainwater harvesting that can meet most needs the whole year round.

And yet not all the rain that falls can be collected. There are several factors that affect the efficiency and reduce the amount of water collected. For example a small amount of rain will be needed to wet the roof and fill the roof washer. Secondly some of the rain tends to spill out of the gutters while still more rain overshoots the gutters. The other obvious factor that comes in is the fact that once the storage tanks in the rainwater harvesting system are full, all the additional rainwater will go to waste and cannot be collected.

Efficiency of the rainwater harvesting is usually estimated at being between 75% to 90%. Of course all this depends very much on the system design and its’ capacity.

It is clear that in years to come, rainwater harvesting is bound to become increasingly important. More so as our environment gets more and more polluted, thus endangering many of the other sources of water that we have come to rely on over the years. Increasing rainwater harvesting seems to be the only available long term solution we have.

The writer of this article Aaron Pratt has a Rainwater Harvesting Guide that covers anything related to rainwater harvesting recycling and reuse.

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Product Spotlight – Super Powergate 40S Backup Power Switching and Charging System

The perfect complement to a 400 watt inverter, this unit is ideal for the ham shack, Home Office computer system, or off grid cabin or RV.


* A Super PWRgate is a 12 volt backup power system that can supply up to 40 amperes continuously from either a Power Supply or a Battery, and can also charge the battery with its high performance charger.
* Connected equipment will instantly switch to battery during a power blackout or power supply failure. No glitches.
* The circuit uses two 80 ampere Schottky diodes as an OR-Gate to isolate the battery and power supply from each other. Forward voltage drop of less than 0.3 volts at 20 A.
* To keep the battery fully charged and ready for use, the Super PWRgate has a built-in four-stage battery charger with selectable current rates of 1, 4, 7 or 10 amperes.
* The circuit is optimized for use with GELLED & AGM type batteries, but will keep flooded lead acid and marine type batteries near full charge as well.
* The Super PWRgate and the power supply may also be used to charge a battery that is powering the radio, as described by W1ZR in QST.

Super Powergate 40S Backup Power Switching and Charging System