The Future of Slow Speed Power (Combined Heat and Power)

Comparative notes on cause and effects and other musings, George’s typical rambling style, if you can’t stand it, scroll down for important news on how to get your CHP power plant running now.

If I were to design a Trojan Horse to leave at the gate of an enemy nation, it would look exactly like the EPA. If you do a few searches, you will note that the EPA is perfectly designed to be sued for not doing something as well as for doing it.  The EPA is normally in court with those who oppose and those who support their proposed actions, and yes there is plenty of room to argue who really creates EPA rules, it may be those entities who have the deepest pockets for court battles.  It reminds me of the age old practice of blood letting, if the patient doesn’t get better, let some more blood and keep doing it till he gets better. the patient of course is the nation and it’s economy, and the blood is money needlessly squandered. Has the EPA even done anything right? certainly, but it may become the ballast that helps sink our boat.

We look at large Corporations like Caterpillar who understand that ANY effort to meet emissions is only temporary. The EPA can decide to ‘ratchet up’ the emission standards and render all R&D investments worthless. As we look on; extremely well funded companies like Cat drop out, then we see some small time importers in our community with few funds discussing in some DIYer forum how we need to play the EPA’s game and figure out how to meet their emissions standards, how realistic is that idea?  Here is where CHP will likely come to our rescue. We have all the room in the world to create a proper emissions system in a stationary combined heat and power plant, and if we measure emissions against all work done, we shine like a new Penney!

No small business owner in their right mind will invest in emission controls for a simple compact power plant because you will not likely have the money or the time (a sliding window) to recover your investment. It will get far more complicated, look at the IRS tax codes, no two IRS agents would fill out the forms the same way EVEN when calculating the taxes for a simple small engine shop. We all understand that the IRS tax code is nothing more than a mill stone around the neck of all Americans assuring that our GNP is crippled as compared to a country with a simple flat tax. Our tax codes assure that we spend a good percentage of our earnings on foolish calculations while others are allow to focus on contributing to the GNP.

If we study what the EPA is adding in the way of content to their verbose rules and regulations, we’ll expect them to match the IRS in verbosity and complexity in a few years. As insane as Cap and Trade is, there are those who don’t understand that it WILL trump most law and literally put an end to State’s rights, our State representatives, or at least ones as dumb as our own Patty Murray in Washington State will never understand what they surrender until after they give our rights away. Patty openly admits that she votes with her heart, and people like her are little more than ‘willing dupes’ for their party.  For you that follow the transfer of power from the States to the Feds, the Clean Air Act put an end to State authority of stationary engines, certainly they don’t cross state lines, but your State Reps agreed to give up their right to approve of what our Agriculture people could use even for a seldom run back up pump for irrigation water! Some Farmers are faced with replacing pumps that have served them well for 40 years, they are faced with paying high prices for junk that won’t live a fraction of the time. Matters not that these stand by pumps were seldom used (they backed up electric pumps in case commercial power failed) and contributed near nothing to the emissions… they of course are now non conforming according to the EPA.

Play the EPA’s game? Yes, but the only field left to play on is in combined heat and power, roll your own, and do your own research.. Do it legal, there’s room to do so..

Following relates to our past and present DIYer efforts to design, construct, research, and operate clean and efficient power plants.

I’m sure there are some who disagree with my observations, but I think many who have lived as long as I have will agree. I am really unhappy with the EPA and CARB, in my opinion they have thrown out the baby with the bath water by banning the Lister Type Slow Speeds, these engines work well if not best for burning SVO and transesterified veggie oils. Some think that Bio Fuels run well in any diesel engine, but this isn’t the case. I suggest if there were no problems, then GM and other makers would not limit the use of biofuel to 5 percent or less as per warranty. Why does the EPA force us to pass emissions on petrol diesel when we build a power plant designed to run on SVO?

There are rules on the EPA books for those of us who want to play legal, and I suggest that all of us look into the provisions in the EPA rules to do research in Combined Heat and Power. At the heart of our DIYer movement ARE a good many people who are excellent record keepers, many of us have better educations and higher degrees than those who are doing research in universities and in the emissions labs of well known engine builders. Our community has superior resources as compared to any company I know of. We know our Ultra Green Friends, (UGFs) like the idea of combined heat and Power, many of these people couldn’t add together two improper fractions, but they vote, and their support is important.

There are a number of provisions in the EPA rules and laws, and I think it is important that we make use of all of them in order to advance small and practical combined heat and power plants. We can argue about our future, but many of us know the grid is outdated and that there may not be enough money or support to modernize it. Large power plants seem to have fallen out of favor, it doesn’t matter how clean they are, even natural gas production is being blocked in places like Montana and Wyoming for every kind of reason. Furthermore, CAP and Trade will likely pass (eventually). This will punish all the power companies that made huge investments in creating clean low emission plants, yes… they too will be making CO2 and will pay a penality. I think this will be similar to what we’ve seen the Government do here recently with the economy, they’ve fired up the printing presses lowered the interest rates and effectively stolen any opportunity for a retired person or a pension fund to make any interest off their capitol or savings. Few American seem to be able to follow the cause and effect, and realize that our elected officials are effectively punishing the most responsible behavior of WALL STREET and its citizens. the Ant gets screwed, the grasshopper gets a free holiday. Think about who lowered the interest rates so insanely low, Wall Street? No…, it was our elected officials who only seem to worry about the moment. Many people are now trapped in a house that may never be worth what they paid for it and the root cause of this is our Government made money so cheap to borrow and so plentiful that Americans got into bidding wars and drove the prices of housing insanely high. People like Barney Frank told us this was a good thing, that the average man now had a piece of the American Dream, how obtuse!  So how will these nuts we elected weasel out of this mess? They will again make it worse by inflating the Dollar to the point where you can’t buy a dammed thing with it, that’s how. soon they’ll have the minimum wage at about $85 an hour, and the Grasshopper will be able to pay off his house. Of course the Ant who was foolish enough to invest in America gets screwed, and generations to follow will remember the lesson, don’t save dollars, invest in another currency or buy gold.

I want to mention another provision in the EPA rules (fluid and ever changing). You are allowed to build you own engine as per a hobby, but there are limitations as to how it is run, and why. When I read the provision, I’m not sure how much tinkering you are allowed to do  in order to optimize your machine, and I think it would be considered reasonable to tinker for some time to get it just right. Isn’t that exactly what most of  us do everyday with our experimental power plants?

Yes, there are others who are using gasifies as a primary or secondary fuel, and many might not realize that there have been kits to convert a lot of oil field engines from oil to well head gas as many had this free fuel available. This has been the case for about 100 years. Not much left to invent in gasifiiers, study what was done during WWII.

So here is the news, there are now Air Compressors available from India, these have been in use there since 1950 or maybe even earlier. These units are tough, and live extremely long lives in shops like auto body, and since they are water cooled, they have the potential to provide a shop with hot water in the bath room, and break room WHEN they are run long hours a day. The water cooling >CAN< increase efficiency as well, as it can allow for a denser air charge than an air cooled unit.

Since we are allowed to build our own engines, converting an Indian air compressor into an engine may be a great choice for the experimenter/ researcher. The critical part IS to follow all Federal and State laws, even if you think they are roadblocks to further development to clean burning small power plants.

Before I share more, I want to mention Lovson, they have developed a variant of the Lister type that has won the contest in Fiji for longevity! Fiji is very much third world, if you want fuel, you buy it at a depot in 55 gallon drums, it is expensive, and efficient engines are in demand there. Over the past years, Fiji has put to work all kinds of Indian and Chinese made engines, and Lovson’s LG6 is one of the few engines farmers are asking for, it’s a sad note, but many small Chinese horizontals failed in service too quickly to offer any return on investment. Other Lister Types lost timing gears and experienced other problems we are familiar with. The LG6 is typically running 6000 or more hours with oil changes every other week when running 8 or so hours a day. Many are used to pump water, others for small generator use.

For this reason, the LG6-8  was targeted as the first Air Compressor readied for export. There will be others who want a Lister CS type, and they can be ordered. What Lovson has done is create a DVD showing the simple steps in conversion. The conversion kit (LG6 selected parts kit). In this kit are all the parts required to build your engine, the DVD shows every step in fitting these parts.

What DIYers need realize is there are folks out there that would without a doubt cross thread a spark plug in their lawn mower if they knew where it was and attempted to change it! The CHP build is best left to those with hands on experience, and one of the typical traits of DIYers is they often forget how mechanically challenged community organizers, and some office workers are. Don’t encourage them to do a conversion!

With all of this said, we’ll soon see folks out there claiming they invented this idea or that idea, but if we look to the past, there are few things not already done. If we look at the 1880s and forward in America and the UK, we’ll see that they had very well designed and fairly efficient combined heat and power plants, many (if not most) factories had their own power plants and engineers to run them, elaborate heat exchangers, and more. Maybe we can use modern alloys and electrical controls to do a little better?

Here’s what I expect in the future:

The dollar is growing weaker by the day against the Indian currency, you want something from there, order it now, soon your dollar will only buy half what it does now, durable goods might appreciate greatly.

Our government has gone out if it’s way to punish those who invested in the US Dollar, any savings you have will be devalued greatly over the next few years. Those who are less dependent and out of debt will find life easier, our young people think Europe has the answer, little do they know that it is ready to collapse under the weight of socialism. Buy now, or pay twice as much soon!

Remember:  Don’t break the law, but do become active in CHP research and do it soon!

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