Episode-726- Alternative Energy Production Q&A Session with Steven Harris — 21 Comments

  1. Steven Harris: “I could do two entire shows on nothing but the subject of making fuel alcohol for your car.”

    Jack I think you have two shows. Please.

    • @bluprint, well we definitely have 1 it is already booked, I will tape it on Sept 28th and it will likely air on the 29th. It will be all about fuel alcohol.

  2. I love the idea of cooling the house with water:

    I own a pool, which due to recent rain is a little cooler than I would like. I also have to add at least a little water each week from evaporation and backwashing.

    So instead of adding the ~55 degree water from my well, I can start running it on the roof, into rain barrels then into the pool. Right now that would warm up the pool to a little better temp and simutaneously cool the roof/house and save electric. All with water I was going to use for the pool anyway (I guess I’ll loose a little on evaporation…)

  3. Another idea for keeping the greenhouse warm at night, would be building it such that the floor has thermal mass. That can be a thick gravel bed or concrete slab. Same idea as using the water bottles but it doesn’t take up floor space.

    The idea of keeping your roof cool with water, I thought was a brilliant idea. One could catch rain water in rain barrels and then pump it up with a 12V DC pump to a drip irrigation type system to the ridge of the roof.

  4. Great show, I’ve been thinking about gasification for a bit now and to hear from an expert, so cool. I am wondering though, why the greatest benefit (to a gardener),biochar, is not mentioned.

    As the products are not burned they still hold massive power for the soil (only things such as wood and garbage, not oils, should be used), all that is needed is to inoculate the char with a 2 (char) x 1 (soil) mixture then letting the mixture set for a week and onto the garden.

    The information I have come across has linked this process back to the Amazonian area and to the Inca, which would help to explain the ability to harvest enough food to feed the high elevation populations.

    Sorry for the ramble


    • Gasifiers do not create char only ash comes out the bottom. You can configure one to create char, but your much better off with a pyrolysis system for that purpose. I would also definitely recommend doing a little more research on biochar, there are some videos out there that make it out to be much greater than some of the actual tests I have seen run on it would suggest. Biochar was really hyped for its carbon sequestration abilities from the CO2 global warming crowd which obviously does not pay any attention to real science.

  5. @Shane
    You make good points, but the research, that I have read, excluding the extremes, trends toward a large increase in fertility in soil of many types. As far as carbon sequestration, no clue, I’m growing a garden, which by the way will use up more CO2, so win – win. Global warming I prefer to look at it as “Damn it’s hot today” and nothing more, climate change, well you better hope so, that’s how this ol’ girl we like to rape, pillage and plunder called earth recharges herself. We have seasons why shouldn’t she, check out history and science, her seasons just last longer that ours.

    A piece of friendly advice, when correcting someone, please refrain from dragging other subjects into it, sometimes in today’s world people get defensive.

    Thanks for the correction


  6. Sounds like having a Mr. Fusion on the back of your Delorean lol. I’m going to spend money on that site. Good thing it is blocked at work

  7. Steven answered my questions perfectly, i already have a couples books from his site and the title FIRE WOOD CROPS 1 & 2 sounds like something i will be adding to my bookself. Thanks again Jack and Steve!

  8. Great episode. Just ordered Hydrogen Generator Gas for Vehicles and Engines: Volumes 1-4. You need to get this guy back and tackle one subject at a time.

  9. Jack-you could book this guy for a week! Mr. Harris has me thinking about 20+ projects around the house. I did order 3 books from his website and I’m really looking forward to reading them.

  10. How can I go about frying a turkey with a rocket stove and a gasifier? It would be coolest if the gasifier piped to the fryer to make it clear to the audience that something different was happening than a normal fire.
    Fryers are 150,000 BTU, if I remember correctly. My request sounds like a tall order…

  11. Might I suggest asking David Blume to talk about ethanol? He wrote Alcohol Can Be a Gas which is available on Steve’s website. Steve has so much more to offer in other areas (like gasification, fuel cells, solar heat) and David is great about showing how a small farm can make big profits from ethanol co-products. One example had a farm making $24k on ethanol, and over $400K from products made in conjunction with ethanol. Make sure you guys ask Steve about snow camping with the PAL system, how to run your house in a disaster, and anything you ever wanted to know about running cars/generators on ANYTHING! I own and have read nearly all the books on his site. Always start with the one’s Steve suggests! You can learn more in a shorter period of time with his brilliant suggestions.

  12. GREAT show today. Question on the alcohol fuel for cars: How dangerous is the process of making it? It’s something I might want to try, but I’d have to do it in my small patio area less than 20 feet from my house. I should probably find out if it’s legal as well, since we aren’t even allowed to grill back there.

  13. Excellent show, Jack. So full of information (much of it over my head), the MP3 made my laptop heavier. 🙂 This episode alone is worth the cost of a MSB membership. Now to check out solar1234…

  14. RE: Watering the Roof… I’d like to add some thoughts to this subject. I live in central TX, and it gets hot as blazes here. My house has a metal roof, and I think watering it is definitely a great way to cool it off.

    Currently, I simply hose the thing off every hour or so on the worst days. One thing I notice is that the water is scalding hot for quite a while when you first turn it on, which would lessen its cooling effects in an automated system that only turns on briefly.

    To get around this, it would be best to use the shortest hose as possible to get to your roof and sprinkler, and consider foam pipe insulation or other insulation around it.

    The second observation is that we are watering our plants daily from the same hose I use to do the roof. Having a gutter and rain barrels will allow us to use the same water twice… once to cool the roof, and then again later to water the plants. In fact, the process of warming it from the roof and letting it set in barrels will help to de-chloronate it, which the plants should like better than straight hose water.

  15. I am concerned with Steve’s comment about ‘any vehicle can burn alcohol’, and his suggestion to start mixing E85 fuel into non-E85 vehicles.

    Ethanol is very hard on fuel systems. Simply put, it will ‘eat’ the components of a gasoline designed fuel system. Everything from rubber hoses to O-rings will degrade and fail in relatively short order.

    When they fail, the best thing that can happen is the driver is stranded with a damaged fuel system. The worst thing that could happen is they leak fuel which catches fire.

    The bottom line is don’t put E85 fuel into vehicles which are not designed for it. Sure it will run, but it will harm the vehicle’s fuel system with potentially deadly results. Update the critical components of a fuel system to be E85 safe before toying with the alcohol mixture.

    • No. you are 100% INCORRECT. You’re just vomiting up the witch hunt of ignorance against E10 (10% ethanol) and E85. There are lots of people who don’t know, and have never done, just standing up and saying,” won’t work.” Sorry I don’t have time to write a 3 chapter Dale Carnegie book on why you’re wrong, but I just have to put my foot down and stop this mind pollution before it spreads.

      Comments of it eating o-rings and seals and hoses, let alone the stainless steel fuel lines is a statement of beyond ignorance. Its ETHANOL ALCOHOL, so SAFE that YOU DRINK IT..what you are describing is what SULFURIC ACID DOES. Ethanol Alcohol is something so safe to materials that its consumed by almost every human being on the planet is NOT something that is going to eat hoses and rings (let alone stainless steel fuel lines) and start leaking and then turn your vehicle into a pile of fire. Good God what the hell has happened to anything such as common sense !!!

      Not only was I a development engineer for Chrysler for 10 years, and have had entire fuel systems taken apart so I could instrument it for data acquisition for doing vehicle development, but I worked very closely with the ‘fuels and lubes’ department in the Scientific Labs… in my later years I was responsible for a great deal of the electrochemistry issues that might develop in a vehicle, a lot of this dealt with coolants and aluminum engines / radiators, but I sure as hell was called to look at the issues of different fuel chemistry and the fuel system which would include the fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel rails and fuel injectors. This would include fuel being sprayed into the intake manifold and covering the inlet valves and fuel on the walls of the cylinder and heads of the pistons…. hey.. I just named all of the components in a fuel system.

      There is a huge witch hunt of ignorance on the net regarding any gasoline that has ethanol in it. Everytime a small engine like that used by a lawn crew, or a quad, or off road vehicle has any type of problem, its instantly blamed on that darn gasoline with ethanol on it. Its worse than the Salem Witch trials. “Someone got sick, its got to be that witch…BURN HER.”

      So not only have I been an engineer for an OEM manufacture, but I HAVE DONE THIS. I have vehicles that are ‘gasoline’ vehicles that I have run on 50% E85 for Years… not only have I done it for the last few years, but David Blume, the GOD of Alcohol Fuel on the Planet Earth, the author of Alcohol Can be a Gas (on in the Alcohol Section) has been doing this for over 30 years with vehicles….even back when he had to make his own E50 and E40 and E30 by mixing gasoline with ethanol alcohol. Tens of thousands of people who have bought his book have also done this… there ARE NO problems with the material science of the fuel system and E85, or E50, or E10.

      I’m SORRY, I don’t mean to belittle you or insult you, I just don’t have time to write a book on the subject and be sensitive. Lies and untruths must be immediately exposed for the fallacies that they are. Lest they spread like a disease, a cancer or a fire. There are far too few people out there telling you what you can do, and there are thousands of people who have never done it, that heard something bad about it, that moved them into inaction, that they feel they must repeat and move other into inaction. That’s part of the reason we’re sucking on the tit of foreign oil, its pure ignorance.

      Now METHANOL Alcohol (CH3OH), *IS* very corrosive to metal components of a vehicle fuel system, but methanol is NOT ethanol Alcohol (C2H5OH). Its not even close, not even kissing cousins. Not in the same ball park, not even in the parking lot of the same ball park. Again, I’m sorry about being so forward and blunt, its not you.

      Thank you,
      Steven Harris
      CEO KnowledgePublications <– TSP Show Notes on my presentations <- More info about me.

      p.s… and too all those people who made those really nice comments (above) about my show appearance…. all I have to say is WOW…I'm flabbergasted and thrilled at the response and look forward to being on the incredible TSP again in the future. You guys rock.

  16. I think that Mr. Harris going into more detail on a future show (or perhaps a sub-topic in the planned Sept 28th taping) on the above issue of E10/E85 gasoline myths would be of great help. I admit that I’ve bought the hype that these mixtures are damaging to engines and their components in some way (be it corrosive, taking on water, less stable, etc) so now I’m wondering, what are the best practices for gasoline use and storage? I only run ethanol free gasoline in my boat and generator (but can’t afford it in my truck) but would gladly switch back if more informed on the subject. I am glad to see that Mr. Harris responded here. I have not yet read his publications on the topic (“Alcohol Can Be a Gas” Book and “Free Alcohol Fuel Compendium” Book) but would appreciate links to sources of reputable studies on the topic. Many of us have yard equipment, generators, outboard engines, etc — what should we be doing (with respect to gasoline, stabilizer, etc) to keep these running “if times get tough or even if they don’t”?

  17. Todd.. one of my policies is that I NEVER spend time going into any significant detail debunking myths, I will NEVER do a show debunking myths, I could spend my entire life debunking myths and would NEVER get them debunked nor would I EVER change those who’s minds are polluted with these myths. Penn and Teller have been doing this on HBO with a weekly show for 8 years, and they are the best at showing the BS, and has it changed anything?? Nope…

    I do not debunk myths, I TELL YOU WHAT WORKS and WHY IT WORKS. I am about enabling people to DO THING under their own control and power, and how to make their own power. We all have no time to listen to what does not work.

    As far as the storage of fuels, I can address that in detail on a future show, but its a simple as use Stabil, keep the HDPE Plastic Jug / Barrel AIR TIGHT, 100%, no leaks, it’ll expand and contract, that’s good, that means its sealed. Its allowing the lighter products in gasoline to evaporate that makes it go ‘bad’, and NO it does NOT turn into ‘varnish’. My favorite gas / diesel storage container is a 15 gallon HDPE Plastic Drum…either white or blue. Yeah, the blue water barrels are the same material as the red plastic gasoline cans (HDPE Plastic – wiki it for more info). But the drums have a bung cap that you can tighten with a wrench until its VERY VERY tight. I have gasoline that I have used after 4 years of storage and it worked just fine.

    The best fuel for infinite use/storage is natural gas, unless you are in California during an earth quake, it never gets turned off, and it powers itself. No problems there. Next best storage fuel is a 500 gallon pig of propane if you have one, next best after that is diesel fuel, next best after that is gasoline, and if you had an engine that ran on pure ethanol then the pure ethanol would store forever with no problems (air tight). Best storage method for a ‘small’ amount of energy is a lead acid battery, for even smaller levels the best method is lithium AA batteries, then AA alkaline batteries (Duracell – screw the pink bunny) and then AA NiMH Precharged type batteries (much better chemistry than non-precharged), then NiMH AA batteries and then a penny, a nickel stuck in a lemon.