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  • Why Not Before?
    as much by just increasing the size of each component by a factor of ten In the case of B2M we re looking to build conversion plants that are a thousand times smaller than current industrial sized facilities given that we re working on a change that s three orders of magnitude away from current practice the engineering is necessarily different Over the past four decades there have been a number of technological developments that offer stepping stones on the way to local conversion of biomass into fuel Some key examples of those developments warrant their own pages You can find them listed under Chemical Pathways and Related Technologies From a Sociological Perspective The focus of the B2M Project is to create a system which supports a village instead of creating a village which supports a system As a result it s somewhat ironic that perhaps the most challenging part of B2M is reported the least on this website The reason for that inversion is because in order to create a sustainable village scale energy system one has to first be able to create a sustainable village It s common for people to think that if they just had better technology and more money the social challenges facing humanity would solve themselves Sadly that s not how the Age of Abundance has worked out as the Dalai Lama noted with exceptional clarity in The Paradox of our Age The B2M Project is an offshoot of the Windward Center s more than thirty years of applied research into the creation of resilient self reliant community and information about that work can be found on the Windward website and in our online Blog You ve probably heard people say It takes a village to raise a child But you ve probably not heard people talk much about what it takes to raise a village The Windward Blog talks in detail about the sociological work we re doing to build a sustainable social foundation for the B2M Project In order to be sustainable B2M technology needs to be embedded at the center of a village designed from the ground up to be self reliant There are lots of things that people can do to tweak their neighborhood to be more sustainable but after the fact work can only go so far and it s rare that it goes any where near far enough Social systems built during the age of cheap resources will not serve us well when energy intensive resources range from expensive to simply not available Many communities are already caught up in a cycle of catabolic decay as the infrastructure built up in the 50 s 60 s and 70 s is under maintained and failing It s simple math that a society that doesn t have the resources needed today to maintain vital life support systems will not have the resources needed to replace those vital life support systems tomorrow With each passing year energy based resources such as

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/before02.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Supporting B2M
    than a large one time grant As earthy folk we liken it to a drip irrigation system that provides water efficiently to plants when and where it is needed We encourage you to join the project by making small monthly donations Funding Goals We ve completed Phases 1 and 2 our goal for Phase 3 of the B2M project is 1 000 month from a broad base of community support

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/support.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Supporting B2M
    energy sources drains them of the capital they need to keep their community alive Year by year they have to sell off more resources to pay their energy bills and watch as their young people leave to seek work and income elsewhere Without some way to reverse this process rural villages will shutter their windows and die Who must do the hard thing 8210 Those who can 8210 Sicilian proverb Lots of people understand that a social order founded on the increasing consumption of non renewable resources will inevitably crash as those cheap resources become scarce and an endless series of resource wars squander what is left Before long the only resources that rural people will be able to depend on is what they can create themselves using sunshine rain and air There is another way one that involves the wise stewardship of life and the living but it will not be easy to find our way there from where we are now Study and practice are needed since those who want to work effectively with nature have to be able to read the language that nature s stories are written in They have to prepare themselves in order to see understand and work with what is truly there These are not skills that are learned in a day Most college grads aspire to find jobs that will reward them for their educational investment fair enough But there are also a precious few who understand that they are stepping onto the world stage at a time when humanity will either change its relationship to nature or die out We re looking for people who are determined to help humanity return to ways that create life instead of seeing their skills used to further a system that s grinding the earth

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/hungry.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Winter Update 2016
    to capture a significant portion of that waste heat and convert it into electricity One way we anticipate doing that is by using a flash boiler to generate steam from the hot exhaust of the internal combustion engine that drives the hydraulic pump that lies at the heart of the biomass compressor Axial Flux Alternators Then we ll use that steam to power a steam engine that will spin an Axial Flux Alternator Here s a video in which you can see a small steam engine driving an AFA the steam engine is turning two magnetic disks one on each side of the stator The stator is the stationary disk in the video it contains a series of copper coils embedded in fiberglass Electricity is generated as the magnets spin past the stator s coils more about stators a bit further into our tale An AFA is very different from the alternator in your car Those are designed to turn at around 5 000 rpm and consequently have to be manufactured to very close tolerances An AFA is designed to run at one tenth that speed and the way the math works out reducing the speed by a factor of ten reduces the internal stress by a factor of a hundred As a general rule the slower the engine rpm the longer the engine life The lower internal stress translates to this type of device being much easier to fabricate and maintain in a village setting That s an important part of B2M because we re committed to creating an integrated system that can be primarily manufactured and maintained using village scale technology The AFA s more forgiving design makes it our go to method for generating electricity Instead of the high precision bearings that an automobile alternator needs an AFA can run on bearings made from the dense wood from our dry land oaks and lubricated with sheep tallow The current surge of interest in AFAs stems from the desire of people to build home scale wind generators The AFA s low design speed matches the ideal speed for a home scale wind generator and since that just happens to be the speed at which steam engines run we re piggy backing on that work This year while Ruben was working on the Biomass Compressor s computer controls and I was focused on constructing a walk in cooler and the Digital Studio Yoseph focused on the task of hooking up an AFA to our 1 horse power steam engine Once operational AFA 1 0 should generate 700 watts of electricity That may not sound like a lot but it s actually a fifth of Windward s average year round electrical consumption A key part of the work involved not just building a B2M spec d AFA but to do it in such a way that it can be integrated with the control computer that will be operating the larger system The author Robert Heinlein counseled that when faced with

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/winter_update2016.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Fall Update 2014
    Stage 2 is triggered When Stage 2 exceeds its target pressure Stage 3 is triggered and so on Since the target pressure for each stage is four times the previous target if all the cylinders were the same size then it would take four cycles of Stage 1 for each cycle of Stage 2 16 for each cycle of Stage 3 and 64 for each cycle of Stage 4 To speed things up each stage is made up of different size cylinders The initial goal was to require no more than two cycles of each stage before the next stage is triggered a key goal of this part of the build is to see how close the plan matches performance and then use that information to design the next build of the compressor to be more efficient The computer runs the compressor by activating solid state relays that trigger specific valves that route hydraulic pressure to one of the drive cylinders and initiate the next cycle Another key task that Ruben s moving forward involves monitoring the operation of the compressor Since the operators will be inside PowerLab we ll be using closed circuit cameras to monitor what s going on outside the container The goal is to be able to observe the compressor in action and to have a visual record of how the system performs To that end we ve installed the first of what will be a series of closed circuit cameras This first camera is in a position to see all of the compressor and it can be controlled from inside PowerLab so that the operator can zoom in on any particular component Here s a screen shot from Camera 1 showing Stages 1 and 2 In addition to the computer work we re continuing the

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/summer_update2015.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Fall Update 2014
    2 in action Click Here The manual controls are also allowing us to start getting the test bench information that we ll need to tailor the computer control program that will actually operate the compressor when it s complete For example we want each stroke to go to completion in order to get the most compression out of each cycle but we don t want to over stress the cylinders Using the manual controls we can see that it s taking about 400 pounds of hydraulic pressure to operate the drive cylinders Once the piston reaches the end of the stroke the pressure in the drive cylinder jumps quickly to more than 1 000 psi At 0 20 in the video you can see the steel rail that s supporting the bellows flex downward as the pressure spikes The plan is for the control computer to monitor the drive cylinder pressure and at the end of each stroke when the system starts to make that transition from low pressure to high the computer will reverse the hydraulic valve and start the next compression cycle That will both optimize the output and cut down on system stress The same day we

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/fall_update2014.htm (2016-04-26)
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  • Biomass to Methanol on the village scale- B2M village
    project has solved the majority of the technical issues involved in the village scale conversion of woody biomass into transportation fuel This is where things get especially interesting The specific liquid fuel that the B2M Project will initially focus on is methanol a biogenic 2 fuel that is a natural part of the environment Not only is methanol a necessary ingredient in the production of bio diesel 3 it can be used in place of exogenic fuels such as gasoline in flex fuel passenger vehicles 4 While a gallon a day may not seem like a lot it s adequate to meet Windward s current on site need for fuel Reaching this level of production will signal that the project has solved the majority of the technical issues involved in the village scale conversion of woody biomass into transportation fuel There are two primary chemical routes that Windward is working on for the conversion of synthesis gas into methanol The first is the Liquid Process Methanol reactor LPMeOH developed in the 1990s by Eastman at their Kingsport TN demonstration plant The second route involves the work done by Dr Mahajan 5 of the Brookhaven National Laboratory BNL involving a dual catalyst dual solvent reaction that proceeds at low pressure and low temperature The nature of this reaction is such that it appears to be well suited for village scale production Windward has entered into negotiations for a license from BNL to develop small scale applications of the technology This step will also require stepping up the sophistication of the gasification side of the operation The initial work uses air to produce a fuel grade gas suitable for powering the internal combustion engine that drives the compressor Since fuel grade gas is created using air as the oxidizer about half of the gas produced is nitrogen an inert gas that takes up space This high proportion of inert nitrogen renders raw wood gas unsuitable as a feedstock for a synthesis reaction It s at this point in the process where we ll begin gasifying woody biomass in two steps using a two stage gasifier the first stage converts the biomass into a combustible gas before the second stage called autothermal steam reformation maximizes the amount of reactable gas The first stage converts woody biomass into charcoal and a tarry gas suitable for burning 6 Then this tarry gas along with oxygen and steam is polished in a second stage by passing it through a fluidized bed of glowing charcoal 7 This step breaks down the tars water and complex molecules into synthesis gas i e a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen suitable for synthesizing methanol and other fuels Phase Five Expand production to 10 gallons per day It s an axiom of engineering that increasing the size of a process by an order of magnitude warrants a complete reexamination of each step in the process Once the demands involved in expanding production by a factor of ten are resolved B2M

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/B2M_timeline.html (2016-04-26)
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  • What is a Negawatt?
    are ways that most anyone can become less dependent on purchased energy While such changes are not part of B2M per se they are necessary preconditions for B2M to tip the blance between being a consumer to becoming an energy producer A metaphor that might be helpful here is that of a home operating off of a water cistern If you use an average of eighty gallons a day you re going to run out of water on a regular basis and need to have more trucked in on a regular basis Installing water efficient appliances would improve your situation Cutting your water usage to forty gallons a day would help lower your costs since you d have to pay to bring in water half as often But there s a limit to how much one can comfortably cut their water consumption That would be a good improvement But let s say that you live in a place that has a rain shower most every day and that you invest in a rain catchment system yields an average of fifty gallons a day Having already lowered your water usage to forty gallons a day you re now in a much better situation since your water supply would be increasing each day and you wouldn t have to pay again and again to have water trucked in It s important to remember that the rain catchment system would only solve your need for water so long as your consumption remained low All too often conservation efforts become victims of Jevon s Paradox and with increases in efficiency leading to increased consumption Once your cistern was full you could even look at trading some of your surplus water to your neighbor at a rate which would be cheaper than what your neighbor would have to pay to have water trucked in a good deal for everyone except for the water company In our metaphor water symbolizes energy and the rain catchment system represents the B2M system s ability to combine sunshine rain and atmospheric carbon dioxide into different forms of energy ranging from the vehicular fuel needed to get products to market to the hot water needed to run a community laundry Greater Durability a thousand year old home near Rome Italy Today very few of the products people use in their daily lives are designed for durability Once upon a time tools were prized possessions handed down from generation to generation Tools were designed to last and to be repaired if they did break Homes were built to provide shelter for generation after generation Most of the resources people rely on today from homes to automobiles from kitchen appliances to computers are not designed to be owner user repaired More than half of the world s population is too young to remember when worn shoes were resoled when wind blown umbrellas were recovered and slow running clocks were cleaned and resprung As the Age of Abundance gives way to the Age

    Original URL path: http://www.biomass2methanol.org/negawatt01.htm (2016-04-26)
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