Event Horizons

2006-0110neutron-fullNo, this post is not really about black holes.  Though at times we all feel we are in a point from which no light can escape, and I guess there are times this deep into winter when we can get so wrapped up that events outside our dense little homebound microcosms cease to exist.    But this post is about more concrete things than theories of relativity.  

Today I attended an ad hoc meeting called by one of the “firesouls” of our little CSE group.   He was getting concerned that our vision was becoming diluted by the seemingly infinite possibilities of the gasifier and was looking for us to refocus on the Here and Now.  This is very real problem in our group – we are all visionaries and have the cursed blessing of taking ideas and running with them.  In other words we are *really* good at starting things…. finishing them is not a given.  Ex. we are designing ethanol stills and tilapia water filters when the gasifier hasn’t even run an engine for more than 10 minutes yet.  Oi.

So today we sat for 3 hours in a coffee shop with a bunch of tables pulled together and between way too much caffeine, $5000 in laptops and alot of scratch paper the 3 of us pounded out some actionables for the next 15/30/60 days -our “Event Horizon” for our Gasifier project.  Here are the main issues:

  • 15 Days: Design a small compressor and storage tank system to pre-charge the syngas to allow us a steady flow to the engine that can be metered.  This sounds complicated, but we hope to have a compressed tank of syngas running a small engine and generator in this time frame.
  • 30 days: Design an auger system to begin automating the pellet feed system while simultaneously design/build a simple triggered circut that will regulate that feed system. 
  • 60 days: This is a bit out, so we have little things like the construction of 2-3 more gasifiers in that window.  Our hope is to have a bill of materials and hold some “work party” weekends to spread the labor and get more people skilled up.

Also the Bio Diesel processor got a massive boost today in my securing of a source of Waste Veggie Oil (WVO) here in town.  It is a small supply, only about 10glns/wk but enough to go ahead and finish the processor.  Here are the Event Horizons for the BD Unit:

  • 15 Days: Procure 3 open top steel drums, 600/400/200/100 micron filters, and build a portable 12 volt pump system to move thick WVO around.
  • 30 Days: FAb up a unit to hold a 55 gallon drum over a syngas burner, dry and filter 40 gallons of WVO, Build the processor and hook it up to the gasifier.
  • 60 Days: run a batch of BD through the unit without blowing up, and… drive the Golf with first tank of homebrew!

These are incredibly ambitious goals, but when you surround yourself with retired engineers, super tinkerers with incredibly rich and eclectic knowledge bases and computer technicians that have worked on Antarctic research stations your ideas of “possible” get goofy.  Plus we are motivated both by the possibilities of the new administration and by the growing reality that the next decade will likely get weird in a Big Hurry.  

I am convinced that resiliency can no longer be an esoteric dream from an armchair, but has become a necessity that will take a crap-ton of work if we are to achieve it.   The future we envision will not be given to our children unless  it is first earned by us, their parents.  

Be the Change.


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