Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Convert Your Generator to Tri-Fuel

Is your gasoline generator hard to start? Does your fuel seem to go bad? Today’s ethanol fuel can cause all kinds of issues for small engines. Propane burns cleaner than gasoline, and stores pretty much forever, virtually guaranteeing instant starts when an emergency arises. Methane capability means you can produce your own fuel from decomposing manure or vegetable matter. Follow along as we convert our Coleman Generator with a easy to install and use Century Fuel Products conversion kit.

Get the details on producing Methane Fuel at


Engineering in Sustainable Human Development

In the next two decades, almost two billion additional people are expected to populate the Earth, 95% in developing or underdeveloped countries. This growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, water, transportation, waste disposal, and infrastructure. The role of engineers will be critical in fulfilling these demands but today’s engineers lack the skills and tools to address the problems that people in low income areas face.

Login to the 2013 Knovel Virtual Conference to watch Engineering in Sustainable Human Development: Challenges and Opportunities on demand. In this session, Bernard Amadei, PhD, NAE, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder and Founding President of Engineers Without Borders, will discuss the gap between today’s technological advances and the needs of the world’s majority. He’ll share how engineering for the developing world presents different challenges and requires a new way of thinking and approaching technical and non-technical issues.

Watch a snippet of the session below or login to the virtual conference to watch the full session on demand and get access to additional webinars and content.

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Who should attend? Engineers who want to start the new year with a resolution to be more socially responsible by improving the livelihood of communities around the world through engineering and contributing to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and equitable world.


Have Wood Will Travel – Complete Plans for the Keith Gasifier

waynekeithWayne Keith has built 5 trucks that run on wood. Each model is slightly more improved than the last. This V8 truck is the 5th generation. It has a series of vacuum gauges that provide information on performance of each part of the gasifier. This truck gets about 1 mile per pound of wood. Wayne has written his entire gasification experience into this book! Complete plans for the Keith gasifier include photos, diagrams, and detailed explanations of every step of the way.

Wayne Keith has spent a lot of time learning how woodgas works. He can answer all your questions and give detailed advice. We have a detailed video tutorial and some written material supporting it. Wayne documented his latest build in depth with video footage, and we’ve posted instructional videos from start to finish. You can follow along with Wayne, from selecting the materials all the way through firing up the truck the first time. Lots of folks have started building, some have completed trucks already. They are actively discussing their projects on the Premium-only Builders’ Discussion forum. Here you can see what folks like you have done and ask questions about the Keith gasifier. There’s also the Ask Wayne and Beta forums. Plus, all premium members get Wayne’s book FREE!


Off grid refrigeration

There’s a number of methods of refrigeration for the off gridder. Some are more efficient than others, so I’ll attempt to provide the options, and the pro’s and con’s of each.

Standard house fridge:

This is your typical electric fridge, found at any home improvement store. The Energy Star versions are very efficient, and typically consume about 1 kWh / day, depending on size. A 2000+ watt inverter is often necessary to handle start up loads. These fridges have are fairly noisy, compared to other types. These can cost several hundred dollars or more depending on size.

Absorption propane / electric RV fridge:

Propane fridges are very common in both the RV, and the off grid environment. Although they often can run on electric as well, they are quite inefficient in this mode, and if run on propane, require combustion of an expensive fossil fuel, but one that stores almost indefinitely. Many off gridders start with this method until enough solar can be installed to run a normal fridge. Quieter than a compressor fridge, some make virtually no noise (pilot light), others have a tic tic ignition and a whoosh of the flame. Air quality and humidity are a concern in unvented applications, in propane mode. These units are commonly in the $1000 range.

Solid State Peltier Fridge:

These small units really are more of a cooler, and are big energy hogs. They are typically electrically reversible, so can also be used to heat food. Very quiet, the fan is the only moving part. They run on dc, so no inverter necessary, just direct connection to battery. They typically cost about the same as a similarly sized dorm fridge, around $100 or so.


Start a fire with a hand drill

This is a lot easier than the old bow drill method, but does require you to pack a small hand drill in your backpack. I’m still a believer in having a grill lighter on hand, but they eventually run out of fuel. It’s a cool exercise in what’s possible, and offers another option.


Why BAC is likely the most efficient food on Earth

“If you take care of each cell in your body, disease cannot happen.” -Harvey Diamond, as quoted in “Never be sick again”, 1992

By now most people have heard about algae and their phenomenal nutritive value. But hardly any people have heard about Bio-Algae Concentrates. How can there be such superior blends of algae as BAC that when put together are hundreds of time more nutritionally functional than any single algae. We say that BAC is an “extremely efficient food” because of unique or combination of characteristics. Im the pages that follows, I will describe several of these characteristics;
nutritive as in nutrients for energy, growth and repair
protective as in nutrients for figthing and protecting
complete as in over 5,000 nutrients,
balance as in the “science” not just the “art” of proper food combination,
synergistic as in the whole is greater then the sum of its part
whole algae as in whole food
organic as in pure
For a start, a major advantage with BAC is that it contains not only nutrients with Nutritive properties, but unlike most blue-green algae, BAC also contains high levels of nutrients with Protective properties.

Nutritive Nutrients

BAC’s blue-green algae contain highly Nutritive nutrients and elements like proteins, vitamins, enzymes and chlorophyls from its blue-green algae. In one example, BAC contains many times the digestible protein of fish or meat, it contains the full amino acids spectrum; not just 8 of 16, but all known amino acids. For this reason, it’s one of the highest source and best assimilable form of protein.

Protective Nutrients

BAC contains from its red algae high level of nutrients with extraordinary Protective properties in the form of mixed carotenoids and other free-radical fighting agents. For example, BAC contains astaxanthin, clinically proven to be hundreds of time more efficient as a free radical antioxidant power than vitamin E or vitamin C and at least 20 times more efficient than even beta-carotene.



Univ. of Michigan, Day 3 – Australian Solar Car Race

Day 3

Start: 20km S. of Alice Springs
Finish: 100km N. of Glendambo
Current standing: 3rd

With just 800 km of racing left to go, over two years of hard work is nearing completion. We started this morning in 2nd with Aurora behind us in a close 3rd. By midday Aurora decided to speed things up and we swapped places with them. Aurora is now 2nd and we are about 10 kilometers behind them in 3rd. I’ve heard a lot of worrisome talk about Wednesday’s weather from other teams at the checkpoints, which may have pushed them to make risky decisions. Clouds had already moved in as we pulled off the road for the night, but they fortunately look like they are blowing south.


No news is sometimes good news …..

It’s been too cold, and too much snow fall for many outdoor activities to happen. We have been doing minor indoor improvements, and I’ve been experimenting with a recumbent exercycle pedal generator. The exercycle I got off freecycle (for free), so I enthusiastically support and recommend using the service. Don’t have one local? Start one as we did.

The most important thing happening this week on our calendar was the production of the latest issue of ESSN Magazine. The good stuff on Energy Self Sufficiency including Electricity Basics, Biodiesel, and Human Powered Vehicles just keeps coming. Check it out, it’s also free.