Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Archive for August, 2005

Clean, efficient, biomass fueled heat & hot water

Food, water, shelter…when you think of it, our needs for survival are quite simple. In America we have been so privileged that we take the basics for granted. No one goes hungry or thirsty in this land; and no one suffers from lack of shelter.

Or so we thought.

Many of our foundations have developed cracks in recent years. This reflects the realities of the world, or perhaps recognition that our sense of security was of equal parts fact and illusion. Considering these new realities, several conclusions have become very clear:

1. Our natural resources are limited.

2. We are part of a world economy that is no longer as strongly dominated by the U.S.

3. In all our decisions we must be sensitive to the impact on our environment.

The products of HS-TARM are called the “Warmth Machines” because they take wood and transform it into comfort and security that can make your home a warm sanctuary from the rest of the world. Most importantly, they accomplish this in a way that is considerate of your need to manage your money while being sensitive to what is best for our environment.

Tarm USA, Inc. is the North American Importer of the Baxi/HS-Tarm wood, multi-fuel, and wood pellet/corn stoker boilers. Tarm USA, Inc. is a family business owned by the Nichols family in Lyme, NH.

We have been deeply involved with wood central heating units since 1973. Our experience installing, servicing, and operating wood boilers enables us to provide you with expert technical support and knowledge to answer your questions about the installation and operation of HS-Tarm boilers.

Tarm USA, Inc. believes strongly in the benefits of using renewable, C02 neutral fuels in place of fossil fuels to heat our homes. We invite you to join us in being part of THE SOLUTION to help in the reduction of global warming.

HS-Tarm boilers burn wood, wood pellets, or corn (renewable resources) as efficiently and as cleanly as possible. Burning these fuels adds no net carbon to our ecosystems, thus making no contribution to global warming.

Burning wood, wood pellets, or corn in an HS-Tarm boiler gives you the ability to protect yourself from volatile fuel prices, and to reduce your reliance upon foreign oil. HS-Tarm boilers allow you the flexibility to choose a fuel depending upon it’s price and availability in your area.

We invite you to visit us here in Lyme, NH to see operating boilers and to get a first hand look at the efficient operation of these superbly designed and crafted units.

Tarm USA, Inc. stocks all boilers and parts in Lyme, NH. We have most all parts in stock for all HS-Tarm boilers sold in the U.S.A since 1975.


3kW 17-foot Wind generator, and you build it yourself!’s latest project

3kW+ output, 48VDC, 17-foot diameter wind turbine built from scratch. Low winds don’t have much power available in them. The only way to harvest a useful amount of energy from low winds is to sweep a large area with the wind generator blades. This turbine charges a 48V battery bank in 5 MPH winds, is making 400 Watts at 10 MPH, and 1500 Watts in a 16 MPH wind. When fully furled, this machine produces maximum power of 3800 Watts. The tail folds up and in during high winds, yawing the machine at an angle to the wind to reduce the massive, exponential, power input increase from high winds. The machine has survived 60+ MPH winds in operation.


Glycerin, biodiesel byproduct, makes propylene glycol

Galen Suppes, an MU chemical engineering professor and chief science officer of the MU-based Renewable Alternatives, has developed a process for converting glycerin, a byproduct of the biodiesel production process, into propylene glycol. Propylene glycol can be used as nontoxic antifreeze for automobiles. Currently, ethylene glycol is prominently used in vehicular antifreeze and is both toxic and made from petroleum. Suppes said the new propylene glycol product will meet every performance standard, is made from domestic soybeans and is nontoxic. While other research groups are involved in this topic, Suppes said his process works at a lower pressure and temperature than the other groups, and this process creates a higher yield.

Suppes said this technology can reduce the cost of biodiesel production by as much as $0.40 per gallon of biodiesel. The market for propylene glycol already is established, with a billion pounds produced a year.


Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Recently I picked up a new Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I bought the 6 quart unit, with the flanged lid and integral legs for campfire cooking. The lid holds coals so that you can cook from all sides, but flip it over and it’s a griddle for doing eggs or pancakes. I expect to do quite a bit of cooking with this, so I needed to know how to season it, and care for it afterwards. I found an excellent resource for the care of Cast Iron at Kitchen Emporium, and another at Lodge’s website. The Dutch oven is baking right now after coating it with lard for it’s first pass of seasoning.

08-27-05 UPDATE:
We took this camping this week. Made pineapple upside down cake, chili, spaghetti, and other meals in it over an open fire. It was a success!


Sustainable Forestry Initiative

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) program is a comprehensive system of principles, objectives and performance measures developed by professional foresters, conservationists and scientists, among others that combines the perpetual growing and harvesting of trees with the long-term protection of wildlife, plants, soil and water quality. There are currently over 136 million acres of forestland in North America enrolled in the SFI® program, making it among the world’s largest sustainable forestry programs.



The World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boating

SOLAR SPLASH is the World Championship of Solar/Electric boating. It is an international intercollegiate competition that takes place over five days. Technical Inspections are done on the first day, and the remainder of the time is occupied by five on-the-water competitive events. Points are earned in 7 categories starting with Technical reports that are submitted at the beginning of May. On-site competitions include Visual Displays and Workmanship. On-the-water events begin with a Sprint and a Maneuverability qualifier. This is followed by an event called the Solar Slalom, which is a combination of speed and maneuverability. The final days are spent in the Sprint and Endurance events.

Over the years, SOLAR SPLASH has taken place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, due to its central location and proximity to Marquette University, which hosted the event. In 2000 it moved to New Orleans to cater to southern interests, and then it moved to Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo site is excellent and within 500 miles of many of the participating schools. The local community strongly supports the Splash.

SOLAR SPLASH is a practical educational experience, which helps to develop teamwork and inter-disciplinary skills. In recent years a few highly qualified High School teams have joined the Event as a natural educational path from secondary school to college. The Event combines the fun of competition with education in a way that is not a major disruption to the student’s academic schedule. An entry can typically be pulled together in one school year at a cost of about $5,000.

7.4 Power – Sunlight is the only power source that shall be used for propulsion. Wind and human power are not allowed. The sunlight may be direct (received onboard during the Event using energy conversion devices) or may be stored in batteries or in other approved energy storage devices. Batteries can be charged only from the inspected energy conversion devices and may not have a one sun output greater than 480 watts. At no time during the Event may competition batteries be charge with any source other than the approved solar panels.


Hybrid Attack

Found on AutoBlog:

Just as I was complaining about there not being any hybrids that I’d buy, here I’ve stumbled upon one by accident. It’s called ”The Attack” and it’s a hybrid supercar with over 300 hp developed from a AC electric motor powering the front wheels and a 1.9L VW TDi biodiesel powering the rears. The batteries powering the electric motor act as capacitors able to discharge a lot of energy in short bursts, enough for 0-60 runs in the sub 4-second range. Under normal driving conditions the car is powered by the biodiesel engine and achieves 50mpg.

And the best part is, this super-hybrid didn’t come from the Big 3 or some obscure Euro supercar maker, “The Attack” is the work of the West Philadelphia High School Electric Vehicle Team – a group of 6 high school, YES, high school kids. Mad props to these kids for giving a new meaning to “pimpin’ my ride”. WORD.


Off -grid water systems

Wondering how to get water in your off-grid home?

One of the best sources of water is rain water harvesting. Rain gutters on the roof collect the runoff into a storage tank or cistern (see Oasis Design), and filtration cleans it up for domestic use. Special precautions need to be taken if used for drinking and cooking, but for bathing and cleaning, a simple slow sand filter is sufficient. There’s a good discussion group on this topic at rainwater.

But how do you pump the water from the storage tank through the home. For this we can take tips from the RV industry. Simple 12vdc pumps that run fine on solar electric are found in most RV’s. Look at this article for tips:

What’s Up with the Water Pressure?
By Mark J. Polk

Now rainwater varies with seasons and climates, so you need to conserve your water usage. One of the best ways to do this is with a composting toilet. Either a nice expensive commercial unit like Biolet or Sun-Mar, or a inexpensive homebuilt unit like the Jenkins Sawdust Toilet.

It’s easy to be off the water grid as well as off the electrical grid. For more info, check out


Is the UK anti-biofuels? Anti-recycling?

Or are they just against John Doe / Joe Bloggs being self sufficient?

Please help us to challenge the position recently taken by the UK Environment Agency that all used cooking oil, and indeed any second use material which can be developed as a way of making renewable energy from non-fossil materials must be subject to Waste Management Regulations. The effect of this will make the creation of bio-fuels in the UK non-viable for all except the very largest centralised operations. It will mean that local groups and voluntary organisations will be unable to make bio-fuels to meet local needs, and it will mean that even home manufacture of bio-fuel will require licences costing several thousands of pounds. The Environment Agency even claim that the use of bio-fuels made from used fats is subject to regulation as a means of waste disposal. It effectively jeopardises any serious investment in the bio-fuels industry in the UK. This level of regulation is not reported from any of our Bio-power operators overseas.


The Energy Policy Act of 2005

August 10, 2005

News and Events

* Energy Act Provides Tax Incentives for Energy Efficiency
* Net Metering, Tax Credits for Solar Energy Included in Energy Act
* Power Production from Renewable Energy Aided by Energy Act
* Biofuel Requirement and Tax Incentives Included in Energy Act
* Energy Act to Increase Energy Efficiency in Federal Buildings
* Energy Act Shifts Daylight Saving Time, Sets Appliance Standards