Saturday, October 29, 2011

One solar greenhouse ready to test

Last night after work I finished the solar greenhouse coffee dryer.   I had to install the roof, add more wood to cover the staples, install the photovoltaic panel and fan, and run the duct work from the solar soda can collector to the greenhouse.  Today the free heat from the sun should be dumping inside the greenhouse and the sun should power the small fan that will keep the air moving through the greenhouse.   We will just have to see how will it will work and document the temperatures readings.  Last week on a partly cloudy day the temperature leaving the soda can solar collector was 125 degrees.  I think the soda can solar collector is a device that will do some good.  We just have to figure out how best to hook it to a drying rack and what is the best type of drying rack to build.  But we have something to test now.
I am also trying to find what we always called a Salamander, a small portable oil heater.  I would like to borrow or buy a used one to experiment with trying to burn vegetable oil and fuel oil mixtures.  They use a lot of vegetable oil in Guatemala and if we can burn it mixed with fuel oil then we can cut the cost of the fuel in half.  That would save a lot of money and if we use soda can solar collectors during the day and fuel oil/ vegetable oil mix heaters a night, then they can save even more.  But we don't want to experiment on their only heater and screw it up.  ooops.  I will keep looking for a Salamander and hope that I can find one.  Little by little the project is coming along.

Solar event that hope to attend.

pschwartzman_new.jpgDiscovering the Future of Food and Energy: what this means, how it will affect our lives, and what we can do to support a positive change in energy and food production.

Wednesday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Bradley University Hillel
1532 Fredonia Ave., Peoria, IL 61606

Guest Speaker: Dr. Peter Schwartzman

Dr. Peter Schwartzman, Alderman in Galesburg's 5th Ward, is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Knox College. He is a trained climatologist with interests in a wide variety of environmental areas. His most recent publication is entitled; A solar transition is possible, which was published by the Institute for Policy Research & Development. Peter has run the Mound Community Farm in Galesburg since 2010. He is also a board member of the Knox Prairie Community Kitchen. Peter is married and has two children. He and his wife serve as coaches for the Silas Willard Geography Bowl team. Peter's academic degrees include a Bachelor of Science in physics at Harvey Mudd College, a Masters of Science in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech, and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia.

For additional information contact The Jewish Federation of Peoria-
309-689-0063.  No charge to attend.

Event sponsored by Congregation Anshai Emeth and the Jewish Federation of Peoria.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Building a greenhouse at Dirksen Hall

We are soon running out of time for Rufino Caniz to be in the USA.  He will return to Gautemala in mid-November.  The heavy rains that hit his home town did a lot of damage to some of his property and I know he wants to return home to his wife and help fix his property.  International travel is a lot of fun until something happens and you realize just how far away you are and how helpless you feel.  Friday after work, Steve Flinn and I worked on adding a few boards and the visqueen to the framework of the solar greenhouse and if we can move the solar soda can collector to Dirksen, get some steel posts in the ground to support it, and run some duct work in the greenhouse, hook up the PVpanels to run the small fans, we are ready to gather some data and see how well it will dry some corn.  That work should go pretty fast.  I do have some people that can help. We just have to see how it is going to work and how well it will hold up to the elements.  We can learn from our mistakes and make improvements.  More important, by having something built we can gather ideas from others.  I already had a faculty member suggest that we try and construct a rotating drum to see if that can speed up the drying process and cut down the space we need.  He had a good idea for one.  We can see how that will work later.
As for the greenhouse project, a week ago it looked like this.
The frame work had been built and everything was loaded in my van.  Under the pile of metal and wood is another coffee dryer model that we will put together as soon as we get the larger green house model up and running. 
Friday, with the help of Steve Flinn, this pile of steel and wood turned in to this.
This is the side facing south and the left side of this panel is the door to enter.  It is just two flaps of visqueen held shut by welding magnets.  On the right side we will place the solar soda can collector and that heat exchanger will dump hot air into the greenhouse at the top corner.  We will probably run a small PV (photovoltaic) fan to help move the air.  We will see if we need to do that once everything is in place.  We will also have a PV fan at the back opposite corner to move air so the green house does not get to hot.
I have some more pictures to add but for some strange reason the open file is just rotating and I am not able to do that at this time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

solar dryer ready to build

I have this model for a solar coffee dryer built and ready to move to the ICC East Peoria Campus.  I will need to add the visqueen to the frame and then we can hook the solar soda can heat exchanger to the frame and see what kind of temperatures we will get out of this.   I have this built and marked and I will tear it down and load it in the truck.  If this model will work in Guatemala it can be moved and put together.  I am looking at what can be built and moved and how difficult it is to do that.  Everything I make I always think about how I can get it from my garage to where it needs to go.  I can not move this dryer unless it is easy to tear down and then easy to put back together. 
Right now I have two solar coffee bean dryers in my van.  I hope to have at least one of them on the campus and start collecting the temperature data.  We also need to see how the dryers will stand up to the wind and the elements.  I will also run a small photovoltaic fan to help move some air.  The next few weeks will be interesting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Building a green house type coffee dryer

I took a day off of work and started on the greenhouse type of solar coffee dryer.  Rufino found this dryer on the internet and thought it would work in Guatemala.  It is a six foot by 7 and a half foot greenhouse.  I made it seven foot tall sloping down to six foot in the back.  The door way is two foot wide and five foot high.  All I need to do tomorrow is drill the holes for the conduit rafters and attach some extra wood to staple on the visqueen.  I think it will work OK and we can place the soda can solar heater to the front of it.  Then all we need to do is to take the temperature readings and see how well it works and how well it can take the weather.  I will try and get a picture but it will not look to good until it is outside and the visqueen is on it.  But we now have three models to use for test purposes as well as the soda can heat exchanger that I am interesting in.  The information I have on the soda can heat exchanger is that it works quite well, is cheap, easy to build, and it does not look that bad.  It does not look like you put bales of straw around the bottom of your trailer, if you catch my drift. We are getting closer to have some information and data on how to dry coffee.
What I need to do now is to research how to burn vegetable oil in a oil furnace.  I understand that in the resort village they fry a lot of food and the waste vegetable oil is a problem.  If we can burn it to help dry the coffee we can eliminate one type of garbage.  It is still not like using the free heat of the sun and it does pollute the air, although not as bad as fuel oil.  If you can burn free waste vegetable oil in a 50/50 mixture with the fuel oil then you have cut your cost in half and you have more money to invest in better solar devices.  I am going to check the HVAC department and see if we can find a fuel oil furnace to play with.   We could get the vegetable oil from the school cafeteria.  Then we can see how well it will burn and what we need to do.  I started today at 9 am and stopped at 7 pm so I am ready to relax a little.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One type of solar dryer waiting to be tested.

I have a model of a solar collector that I need to move to ICC so that Prof. Larry Kellerman can have his students test and collect data on how well it will work.  I found this design on the internet and thought is was worth a try.   I had to buy the 2 by 6's but the plywood is an old piece that I had and a piece that I got from an old shipping crate.  I got two pieces of roofing tin and painted it black.  I will move the collector to ICC and put it together at the Dingeldine Campus.  I have to add a few hoop pieces to hold the visqueen and a small fan and photovoltaic panel to drive the fan and then it will be ready to test.  We will see just how much air the fan will move and how warm the temperature will get in the dryer.
This will lay flat and be covered with visqueen.  The visqueen will be held in place by staples in the wood frame and a few screws in the metal straps.  This part is the heating part and the one you can not see is the drying rack.  The complete drying system is four foot wide and fourteen foot long.  We will see how well it works and how well the visqueen stands up to the elements. 

Enjoying coffee at ICC

The fair trade coffee tasting was today and it seemed to be a successful event.  I tasted the coffee from Guatemala and Peru.  Both coffees were good.  The Guatemala coffee was a lighter roast and the coffee from Peru was a stronger coffee.  We had the cat bench on display and Rufino had some of the hand made jewelry on display.
Students had volunteered time to help serve coffee.  You could get a cup of coffee by making a donation to help improve the school buildings in Guatemala.
This is Rufino Caniz, a visiting professor from Guatemala, who is here to learn about welding and to gather information about solar energy, so he can return and help develop a solar energy program.  We hope the solar energy program will improve the lives of the people in his village.  The more solar energy they use the more money they should get to keep in their pockets and the better it will be for the environment.  We just need to build some working models and gather the data to see it the models will work and it they are affordable for the people of Guatemala to build. 
This is Paty Cole and Rufino sitting on the cat bench that Rufino and Jeff Joos, ICC welding technician, built.  We hope to sell the bench for 150 dollars and use that money to help fix the roof of the school in Rufino's village.  The bench is made of steel and the wood is redwood.  The materials are all reused material.  This bench would be a welcome addition to anyones garden for many years.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fair trade Guatemala coffee tasting

On Monday, October 10, from 10 am to 2 pm the ICC International Education department will host a fair trade coffee tasting at the East Peoria Campus Atrium.  All money that is raised will go to help the Godinas School in Gautemala.  I hope to have the cat bench over there for people to see and I hope to buy.  It is done now and has the redwood on it.  It is a very nice piece of patio furniture and would be a welcomed addition to any home.  Rufino and Jeff Joos have done a very nice job on this project.  Jeff Joos, ICC welding technician and Adjunct Faculty, has been working with Rufino to help him learn how to weld.  Jeff is a very good teacher and has taught Rufino a lot in a very short time.  I hope to get a picture of the two of them sitting on the bench for this blog and to send to the AWS welding journal magazine.
I also could not find the article on the Harbinger web site but I will keep trying and when I am successful I will post the link.

Harbinger writes an article about Solar Coffee Dryer

The newest issue of the ICC school newspaper has an article about the Solar Coffee Dryer project.  You should be able to read it at
I will have to get a real link to the this site.  Give me a minute.