Thermal Bin Part III

Submitted by Barbara on Tue, 03/12/2013 - 16:25

We had a mixture of wood and leaf matter from various sources.  Jean Pain used wood chips to build his pile but we are using what is on hand, free and local.

It took us roughly half a day to load about 400 gallons of mulch into the bin.  Over all it was very satisfying.  We sprayed it lightly with water as we went and gently tamped it down.  One thing we did forget it to fill the tires under the AD before placing the AD.  Oops.

The temps are as follows.

  • Day One:  60 degrees
  • Day Two:  80 degrees
  • Day Three:  150 degrees
  • Day Four:  150 degrees
  • Day Five 125 Degrees
  • Day Six:  120 degrees
  • Day Seven:  110 degrees
  • Day Eight:  105 degrees
  • Day Nine:  100 degrees
  • Day Ten:  100 degrees
  • Day Eleven:  100 degrees
  • Day Twelve:  100 degrees
  • Day Thirteen:  100 degrees
  • Day Fourteen:  98 degrees

We have had to add a few buckets to the top as things have settled a bit.  We have also sprayed it with water a few times.   It quickly became obvious that it was drying out too quickly so we decided to wrap it loosely.  We dont want it to go anaerobic.  We took black plastic garbage bags and carefully unfolded them without tearing them off the roll so that we could use them as a big sheet and also hopefully reuse them as bags in the future.  Its also easy to find recycled plastic garbage bags.   We dont think the black plastic has helped with heat, only moisture.  One of the reasons we choose bio-thermal rather than solar thermal is the best location right outside our water heater doesn't direct sun for half the year.

It dosnt look like we are getting methane off the AD yet but the internal temp is also around 100 degrees.   Not as high as we were hoping.  An AD will function at that temperature but not as efficiently. 

We have regularly been pulling 10 gallons of water off the PEX via a garden hose.  Temp has been consistently just a bit lower than the compost temp.    Around 90-95 degrees is not great, not bad either.  We had hoped for higher temps here, but the good news is that based on our observations the pile dosnt seem to suffering much by the drain on the internal heat.  Incoming water temp is around 60 degrees so that is about a 30 degree rise.   Not warm enough for a shower, but if we can get it plumbed into our water heater, should make a noticeable decrease in the water heater firing.   That is if we can get it plumbed.

We have had three people turn us down so far on connecting it to our water system.  One guy wanted to "save" us from wasting our money.   Another tried to explain to us that it wouldnt produce enough heat to warm flowing water.  Never mind that isnt what we wanted to do.  Another was convinced that we needed a heat exchanger to go with our heat exchanger.  Sigh.  It never occurred to us that hiring someone would be hard part.