Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Making Electricity From Steam – Part 5

Slotted Disc Turbine for Small Turbines
Junk Yard Mechanics at its Best Series – Part 5

We continue the series on slotted disk turbines with this final Article.

Previous artices by Robert Saunders can be found at

Slotted Disc Turbine – Part 5


DIY Solar Resource Package

Learn how to design and build your own solar power systems for your boat, rv, or home. We have been designing solar power systems for over a decade, in a variety of climates, and lived off grid for over 6 years. We have documented our tips and tricks in a series of resources so that you can save money doing it yourself.

This week we are offering a free gift with every purchase. A tutorial on building solar powered wifi networks for 3rd world and disaster hit areas.



Off the Grid and On the Cloud

Our friend Nick Rosen, Author and director of off grid books and videos, is working on another project. His previous work on people who live off grid and why they choose to so met with critical acclaim. See Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America.

Had it with The Man? You’ll love this series about 12 off-grid households – managing their own power, water and waste. Its freedom, eco-living, self-reliance.

Off the Grid Crowd-sourcing from Nick Rosen on Vimeo.


New American Chemical Society podcast: Stop wasting food and save energy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010 — Generations of Moms and Grandmas have preached the virtues of not wasting food. Now scientists are reporting a compelling new reason to follow this advice: It could save enormous amounts of energy, according to the latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning podcast series, “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.” They say that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year — without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food.

Reducing the waste of food in the United States could save the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil a year. Credit: iStock

The new Global Challenges podcast and website describe scientific research explaining that food contains energy and requires energy to produce, process, and transport. Estimates indicate that between 8 and 16 percent of energy consumption in the United States went toward food production in 2007. Michael Webber and Amanda Cuéllar, in their study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the United States.

They said that despite this large energy investment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.

The new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from ACS at ACS encourages educators, schools, museums, science centers, news organizations, and others to embed links to Global Challenges on their websites. Recent podcasts in the series include the importance of hand-washing to stop the spread of disease; nanotechnology for more sustainable buildings and other structures, producing cost-effective biodiesel from sewage sludge and green exercise for better mental health.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It includes topics such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of nutritious food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society
1155 Sixteenth Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036
T 202-872-6042 F 202-872-4370

Michael Bernstein

Michael Woods


New Rainwater Harvesting & Cistern Sizing Calculators

Years ago we built a web page explaining how to calculate how many gallons of water you can collect from your roof, and how to size a cistern to store it. Now we have made it interactive. Please enjoy the following calculators:

Rainwater Harvesting Calculator
Cistern Sizing Calculator

Check out our complete series of eBooks on rainwater harvesting, storage, filtration, and solar heating.


Measuring Power Flow with Two Multi-Meters

Jeff Crystal – Voltaic DIY Solar

We advise anyone who is building a solar powered application to test power flow going into your battery system or device. You will get to see whether it is working (LED indicators aren’t always reliable) and you can capture data that will let you make more informed estimates about performance.
We’re currently testing a number of camera chargers to make sure they work with our new solar chargers (they’ll have 2 2.0 Watt, 6 Volt panels that can switch between series and parallel, 6 and 12V). To recreate the setup, you’ll need:
– a solar panel
– 2 multimeters ($15)
– a breadboard ($5)
– connecting cables, I use the ones from Adafruit, and solder them to gator clips (to connect to the multi meter probes) and output wires from the solar panels.

Then its simply a matter of connecting everything up properly. As a reminder, connect the Voltage readings in parallel to your target device or battery. Connect the Amp readings in series with the current flow.
Here’s the first reading on a hot, but cloudy day on a DUMBO rooftop. You’ll see we’re getting 9.82V from our 10V panels and 11.3 mA. That is only .1 Watts. Part of it seems to be the clouds, but the Amps are jumping all over the place so we think there is a charge controller that doesn’t perform well at low current (The charger in the left corner performed better at low light).

The sun appeared (still a bit hazy) and current jumps to 147.8 mA, or 1.45 Watts flowing through the battery. Both chargers performed well in full sunlight. The Canon NB2L battery is 5.3 Watt hours and we know there is some loss factor (lets assume 20%), so we can estimate that it would take about 4.4 hours to charge this battery in this level of sunlight (5.3/1.45 * 1.2). We’ll check in throughout the charge cycle to make sure the current and Voltage remain stable.


Tony Avent’s Plant Articles

Welcome to Tony’s Plant Articles section. Here you will find a series of in depth articles about an array of various subjects from Arisaemas to Plant Trademarks. Many of these are reprints of articles that Tony has written for publication in various venues over the years, with some written specifically for the website. These are not the typical website articles which are short and fluffy, but instead often go into great detail….you know, the stuff that everyone says is worthless on a website. We think you will find a wealth of information in these articles, and we thank the other authors that have also allowed their work to be republished here.

“Mr. Avent said he stopped using pesticides and chemical fertilizer in his outdoor gardens 20 years ago and was amazed at the improvement in his soil and plants. Conventional wisdom says that plants can’t tell the difference between a chemical fertilizer and an organic one, he noted, “but the microbes do — the fertilizer was burning up the compost.”

After he switched to organics, he said, “it took about a year before everything started jumping. Our insect problems disappeared. It was just amazing.””


Weekly Podcast: Biofuels – Woodgas, Environmentalism and Earthday

This week’s podcast continues the biofuels series by talking about woodgas, the gasification of biomass scrap into a gaseous fuel consisting of Hydrogen and CO. We also talk about what we mean by “Environmentalism” and who is an environmentalist. You may be surprised. Links for further education and the podcast itself are at Leave us feedback on your thoughts and comments at Share this post with others by using the “Share/Save” button.


Podcast 4-5-10 Biofuels: Ethanol

This week’s podcast continues the series on biofuels, and spotlights ethanol fuel as a replacement for gasoline. Brazil has replaced their gasoline economy with ethanol from sugarcane. Here in the USA we have many crops that can be used like corn, potatoes, sugar beets, etc. Any sugar or starchy crop can be used. Hear more on our podcast, and follow the additional informational links on making and using ethanol.


Biofuels: Biodiesel & Vegetable Oil

This week’s podcast deals with episode 1 of our biofuels series: Biodiesel & Vegetable Oil. We outline what it takes to run a diesel engine on vegetable oil and how to make biodiesel, two common alternative fuels for diesel engines. We also talk about pressing your own oils from oilseeds, uses for the leftover “cake”, and making a biodiesel processor. Read and hear more at Email us for our free veggie conversion ebook. Click here for a free ebook on making biodiesel!