WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

Delivered by FeedBurner

Recent Posts

"Manhattan" the TV Series on WGN
"Will" on TNT is "Spot On"
Trump - Jackson Debate
Piliated Pear Tree


Algae CO2 Reduction
Art and Advertising
CO2 Reduction (see also Algae)
Dear Diary
Designing Prototypes
Electrical Matters
Howard Johnson's Magnetism
Investment in Windpower Devices/Parts
Library Research
Manufacturing Protocols
Serendipitous Art Reviews
Static Electrcity
Strength of Materials
Triboelectric generation
Website Design


August 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010

WindTapper's Blog

September 2012

Recent Movies and Books

Loopers surprised me with its finesse. I had expected Loopers to have 10 times more finesse than Dredd, given the premise of Dredd, but I was wrong about that. I recommend both, already recommending Lawless previously. Dredd scared me so much that I feel it fulfills the Halloween death chills wishes of most teens.

I just started reading two books this morning:

1. Michael Crichton with Richard Preston's Micro. How current can you get? I am studying about algae which is 5 to 200 microns in width. I have yet to figure out if a light based microscope can help me to see something this small.

2. The Book on Biodiesel by Mervyn E. Rees. Its Forward is written by a U.K. engineer and hopefully portends the most straightforward book one might imagine. The subtitle for The Book on Biodiesel: The "How To" Guide for making your own biodiesel fuel - safely, with step-by-step instructions plus a great read on the subject, all here in Merv's biodiesel handbook. Leave it to the Brits to come up with a title as long as this. Oh wait. That's not really a subtitle -- just advertising. Or is it?

BTW, clear plastic tubing of 2 inch diameter is $4 a foot at U.S. Plastics. So, it is on to PVC for trying to warm our greenhouse by making a rudimentary heat exchanger for our household furnace emission stream.

Finished Algae Printout

Sing's edited compilation of Wikipedia articles on algae netted me a few more useful facts as I finished it last night.

1. Algae does not want full sunlight. 1/10th sunlight is what it prefers.

I was wondering about that because our algae is not growing where the best light hits either of our porches. Apparently too much light can burn algae out. We also have a street light in our yard, providing light all night long.

On the other hand, algae grows on our plastic chairs and flower pots. I have to take those chairs, pots, and a plastic table out in the yard periodically to scrub off the algae which is green while the plastic is white.

2. Iron is one of the elements algae needs to grow. Potash and potassium, and carbon are three more.

3. Limits to pond production of algae have most to do with cold temperatures, so either getting a cold tolerant species, or more efforts at heat recovery, or both are in order for half our year.

I checked our furnace exhaust last night. It actually does put out some heat. But I had forgotten about the heat produced by the exhaust to our clothes dryer. Perhaps I could mix the two emissions at the end of pipes that I run through the greenhouse to outside tubs of algae covered with several layers of translucent plastic.

Algae Project

I have a bit of time on my hands, and so, I think I will start designing an algae system today. I need to 1. build in a safeguard to keep the CO2 away from us; 2. let light into the system; 3. let water into the system; 4. assure no blockage of the emissions from our furnace occurs (This is a big safety issue); 5 combining #3 (water) with #4 (no blockage) means I should have an S curve and hill to keep water flow away from the exhaust pipe and make sure the contraption is solidly attached so that no accidental blockages can occur when there is a storm or other unforseen forces at work.

Co-Generation is another thing to consider. Waste heat that is emitted from our furnace might be used to at least take a few degrees of cold off our little greenhouse. Reading about co-generation in the Sing compilation of Wikipedia articles about algae reminds me that I might also get some wind power from the emissions, for generating electricity. The heat exchanger creates tons of moving air, too, but that air is sent upwards -- a direction I have not yet "conquered" as far as wind power goes.

However, if I were to concentrate solely on algae as CO2 absorbent, things would be much simpler. Throw clear plastic sheeting over the pipe and a tub of water in the sun on the ground, and voila. Just add water. Maybe some paint chips because the algae loves to sit on acryllic paints. Also rusty metal seems to please the algae. It does not even need a whole lot of sun. Water is the main ingredient. The CO2 is food for it.

Midnight Reading

Some nights I just read for hours instead of sleeping. I read The Modern Energy Matchmaker: Connecting Investors with Entrepreneurs, by Michele Ashby last week. I learned among other things that investors want to see a product that is easy to use. That leaves me out. I am working toward making a book that will tell do-it-yourselfers how to build their own 12-volt battery chargers powered by the wind.

Lots of other cool projects for alternative energy were also discussed in Ashby's book, so its price of $13 made my day. Which reminds me. I watched a recent Nova on PBS about alternative energy technologies. I actually watched it twice because it was available on a secondary PBS channel again yesterday. It was way cool. You should see it.

The Algae Fuel Including Algae Cultivation, Types of Algae Fuels, Algae Species, Nutrients, and Algae Fuel by Country, "Edited by Patrick Sing From High Quality Wikipedia Articles" book kept me up most of last night. Over half-way through it, I am now. Page 73 of 134, to be exact. I skipped a few pages on algae as fuel, though, around pages 29-33, but learned what has been troubling my van lately.

I guess older vehicles have to have their fuel injection readjusted because the alcohol or ethanol additives require faster fuel injection. Also, my gas gauge no longer works correctly because it must be using a "capacitance" system. Apparently the alcohol/ethanol additive has different electrical properties than pure gasoline. I can't rightly say how much gas my van has in its tank at any given moment.

Also from the Sing printed edition of Wikipedia articles on algae, I found that Asians have eaten the algae-cyanobacteria combination for eons, so I would not have to worry as much about producing bacteria laden algae. But I am not going to eat it. No sir. Neither would I sell it as food or supplement -- not because it is harmful, but because I dread the thought of even being accusing of selling a harmful product, even though it would not be true anyway.

Also from Sing's book I read that algae is not only used for biofuels, food, and nutrient supplements such as EPA and DHA, but also dried algae is used for fertilizer and soil amendments/treatments, which is what I would like to use it for, too.

I have a bit of time on my hands, and so, I think I will start designing an algae system today. I need to 1. build in a safeguard to keep the CO2 away from us; 2. let light into the system; 3. let water into the system; 4. assure no blockage of the emissions from our furnace occurs (This is a big safety issue); 5 combining #3 (water) with #4 (no blockage) means I should have an S curve and hill to keep water flow away from the exhaust pipe and make sure the contraption is solidly attached so that no accidental blockages can occur when there is a storm or other unforseen forces at work.

Heterococcus coloradii

A new web-based production of the University of Minnesota shows microscopic pix of H. coloradii  at -- just so you know. I see now that this algae "cell sizes range from 5 to 100 microns in diameter" so that a simple microscope is not going to help me identify some algae.

Possibly the algae growing on metal, wood, and acrylic paint on our porch and deck -- and possibly on our roof -- are also as small as the snow algae of Colorado.

I don't suppose I could gain access to an electron microscope, but the PDF that I gave a link for above gives some wonderful information about cultivation of H. coloradii which is more info than I had previously. The PDF tells of EPA and DHA lipids as benefiting human health, but reading about ways that algae cultures can be contaminated, I do not believe I could involve myself in this type of cultivation -- since I do not have access to an electron microscope. Quality control would not be possible for me. Bacteria love to eat algae.

BTW, a picture of H. coloradii  can be seen at which is also from the University of Minnesota.

Algae Thoughts

I know. Algae does not think. I am thinking about algae. After reading 17 out of 134 pages of Wikipedia articles from the book, Algae Fuel Including Algae Cultivation, Types of Algae Fuels, Algae Species, Nutrients, and Algae Fuel by Country "Edited by Patrick Sing from high quality Wikipedia articles," I have a few initial thoughts.

1. Since a lot of research is going into using algae that is grown by channeling CO2 at it, but for making diesel fuel, I need to keep my own head straight about what I am trying to accomplish. I am interested in making a device that will soak up the CO2 from a household furnace. I am not interested in making biodiesel fuel. I do not need a species of algae that makes good oil. I would rather develop a system that makes, say, fertilizer, for example, as a by-product of using algae to sequester CO2.

Apparently there are thousands of species of algae. Yesterday I was day dreaming of making an expedition to Colorado to get the species of algae named after that state because it was recently found there, growing in the snow on at least one of the Rocky Mountains. The reason I want that species is because it will grow in the snow, and CO2 emissions from our furnace occur most during our coldest weather. The emissions are blown out of a pipe relatively near the ground where I could redirect or capture the emissions to make them flow over some sort of pond of algae, or through transparent pipes laced with algae.

But I do not want to produce a lot of algae that I have no place to put when it grows too plentiful. I would like to develop a species that can add to the soil -- probably because we sit on a clay bank that desperately needs humus. I don't think I want to add an oily sludge to an already slippery bank of clay.

2. From my miniscule reading so far I have learned that one of the problems with algae cultivation is the difficulty of keeping the strain pure and free from bacterial infiltration. But that has to do with selecting the exact species for producing oil. Perhaps I would not mind having a species of algae that is easily killed off by bacteria -- just so that the mixture readily decomposes to fertilizer.

3. We already have a species of algae (that I had wondered if it might be moss and still am not sure about) that likes growing in our environment. Our environment is dominated by Black Walnut trees. Perhaps another species of algae -- particularly the snow algae of Colorado -- perhaps it might not survive because Black Walnut trees constantly poison the air, soil, and runoff. Only a few species can thrive along side of Black Walnut trees.

4. Perhaps I can skip going to Colorado and simply concentrate on propagating our indigenous species. I need a microscope. Thousands of algae species mean that I somehow need to get a handle on just exactly which species of algae I will be dealing with, plus what the bacteria that attacks it looks like.

Latest Pix

Progress as of today in my efforts at making a form into which I can pile wet cement for casting my generator housing comes down to making the inside part of the form, mostly pictured below.

To this I am planning to add a metal sleeve to cover the space between the bottom and the red rims in the middle.

I removed the rope from the bucket as it appears in the store, so that the bucket would sit flat on the table while I am working on it.

Also, I cut slits from the reinforcement plastic that is underneath the green bucket's rim, on both sides. The slits will hold the metal flashing in place.

I am not yet positive what width of sheet to cut -- whether 9 inches, or 9 1/8 or 9 1/4 inches.

Here are two of the four slits. I will have to file down where the slit on the far reinforcement does not quite coincide with the surface of the bucket. If I did not file it down, then it could deform the metal sheet above it, especially where it will meet with the red rims of the salad bowls.

Not yet sure how to attach the metal to the red bowls. Still working on that. I was going to put rubber above, on the surface of all the rims of the bowls, and the rubber will have a thickness with which to contend.

I had to put the red bowls into the stack because the next narrower bowls were exactly the same size as the green bucket, which made a very unstable union between the two because the bottom of the green bucket has rounded edges.

The metal sheet will hopefully then remove the gap so that I can extricate the mold from the cement. Also, btw, the green bucket is graduated to be wider at the top than at the bottom of its own sides. The red bowl rims are exactly the same width as the bucket sides at the reinforcements, which means it should be possible to place a planar sheet of metal between the two.

Greenhouse Follow-Up

The greenhouse made in China that I bought at Lowe's last spring needed some alterations so that I could actually zip the two end doors shut. I cut one inch off each of the six cross beams in the roof, but took it all down to make the cuts and because it was summer and too hot.

Today I finally got the shell back up onto the frame because the radar channel was warning of frost east of Columbus this morning. So anyway, the alterations that I made worked out fine -- I finally found out today.

After getting the greenhouse set back up with its plants mostly all hung on the center beam, I went back to working on repairing our shower tiles to get them all waterproofed again. I took stock of the number of tiles next to the ceiling that I need to remove, make smaller, then reseat. I think I counted 27 of them.

You see, the shower was not built properly to start with. Some seams have no expansion joints. I should just take a sledge hammer to the whole thing and start over, but I am going to try to repair what is wrong, instead. It may all be wasted energy if I do not make a clean slate and begin again, but at least I will be getting some practice if that is so.

The generator housing form is still evolving, too. I pretty much work day and night on the generator housing. I will report more on that someday soon. I am still trying to make sure I can logically assemble the insides if I cast it all in one piece, too. One piece is sturdiest, after all, even if it will be a painstaking process to assemble.

Turnaround, Or Back to the Future

I go back and forth between planning to build a 2-piece generator housing -- so that I can access the insides easily while assembling the central rotors -- and on the other hand, desiring a one-piece generator housing -- so that it will stay in one piece when subjected to such shocks as the world can give it.

Today I have gone back to desiring the structural stability of a single piece housing. Now I have been imagining the assembly, fitting, and fashioning of the center pole with its properly spaced rotors held at the most profitable intervals.

I would have to devise a method for placing the curved housing on its side so that I can place collars and magnet rotors strategically and precisely on a pole that spans from top to bottom of the available space for the center pole. On one corner of our house the center pole could be 10 feet long, for example. I will need to hold the round and curved housing so its center would be level and stable.

I am thinking that setting up the top and bottom anchors plus attaching these with the center pole is the first step. The anchors would have to be easily attached and disconnected. The pole and its connections should probably stay in that hung position for a while to help the hangers stretch out as much as they will stretch. Then disconnect the center pole and place the generator housing so that I could make marks on the centerpole at the top and bottom of the housing. Those marks will be points of reference from which I will be able to measure to the desired locations for the rotors, that will be apparent from the locations of the tubes for rods to hold up the coil disks

Now that I think on it, the trickiness comes when attaching the rotors AND coil disks, together. I will have to think on this more precisely.

Satuday Brainstorm

After marking positions of each bowl with black lines, I had this brainstorm.

Since I still must secure the top white 5 inch pipe cap to the dark blue bowl because the bowl will slip down when I turn it all over to put this rig inside the bigger pot to make a cement cast, I was thinking about a rubber grommet, or washer.

Suddenly I realized I could use rubber to cover the bottom of the lighter blue bowl thru the red bowls, drilling holes to receive 6 or 8 aluminum tubes for holding the two coil disks in place. Rubber is somewhat porous, and perhaps the cement will stick to it. I have found a way to simultaneously hold the tubes as well as rubberize the inside where the rotors might touch the cement insides as they rotate during storms.

"'Round 'N 'Round She Goes

And Where She Stops, Nobody Knows."

I have a ton of pictures of a lot more possible designs, and that is where today's entry title comes from, but I am going to spare you the details of all those possibilities. Instead, here is the latest design for the basic inside of the form for my generator housing:

The red, see-through ruler is 12 inches long. At the top of the ruler is a blue band where the top coil disk would be inside. The lower red band is where the bottom coil disk would be inside. On top of both, in the middle at the purple band, and near the bottom of the lower red band would be the three magnet rotors spinning 'round. 

Not much further down from the lower red band is where the legs would start.

This set-up is taller than the outside form but would provide support for the legs, anyway. I will have to pad the green bucket to make it as wide as the lower red band.

If I cast this in two pieces with a spacer on each side, then I would be able to access the insides much easier, for initial assembly and for later adjustments. However, if I cast the housing in two pieces, then if anyone stands on it it will collapse. So, I am considering stenciling in big red letters on its sides to "KEEP OFF!" in addition to the two "Wind Tapper" and one "2012" bas relief signs within the top red area.

Of course the actual housing will be wider than this and probably grey, unless I figure out how to color it.

A Long Day

I spent a long day mostly trying to refit pots and bowls so that I do not have to tape or caulk them. I have gone back to the idea of using the end cap for a 5 inch, thick PVC pipe as the top of the inside form for my generator housing cast from cement.

And I have switched to not needing to cut that first bowl, plus using a plastic flower pot for the main riser inside. Also, I am working toward cutting the cast into two pieces again, and slightly more than one inch diameter, 8 inch long bronze rods -- eight of them -- for legs. At least I could do an experiment using bronze rods for legs....

I am waiting on a quote for bronze rods from one company. Tomorrow I should get cracking on tearing out the tile in our shower. It seems, however, that I always find other things that need to be done, implying that I just don't want to mess with all that dust.

Backtracking Do Over

Using tape to seal a circular seam would create an ugly (although interior) surface on the cement generator housing. I got disgusted with it and tore into the seam with the box cutter to diminish the raised taping. Then I caulked the seam and did not improve the situation.

Also, concerned as I was about centering the inside surface mold within the outside surface mold, I finally decided to drill holes in the centers of the bottoms of my bowls so I can bolt them together in exactly the correct location while adding and stirring the wet cement during the casting process.

So all the tape and caulk are now removed. Also, when I had the bowls upside down in the wok to work on the bottom, I could see how far out the rims of the larger bowls come compared to the wok. I removed the rims. That was easy since on the backside of the bowls the rims meet the bowls in an easily rippable seam. Everything provides a guide for  your hand with the box cutter in that case.

So, while I will have a dome on top of the generator housing, I will not have a depression going all the way around in the wall to weaken the wall.

I had earlier drilled holes in the largest pots -- the outside pots -- for drainage and centering, and that was pretty easy, which is another reason I had the idea to put a bolt through their centers.

Here is the mess that I decided to delete from the process of building a cement generator housing for wind powered electricity:
The toothpicks I tried to use to allow a gap for water to drain toward the center hole of the wok. Those toothpicks are now history, too.

I cut a hole so far in the center of the black microwave bowl to line up the bolt properly. I guess I will have to superglue the black bowl to the lighter blue bowl to keep it on its proper angle, too, during casting.

Dremel Adventures

Way back in the early 1970's when we were making jewelry I dreamed of having a Dremel. Now we have one and I am only now starting to learn how to use it. As I tried to get the flexible shaft hooked up and primed I had a problem: no shaft. I wondered where it had gotten off to, then noticed the whole flexible shaft lying on our living room floor.

Apparently, when I had hung it up in the living room, hoping to get the curves out of it from being wound up in the package, I had hung it upside down and the shaft simply left its rubber casing. Hopefully I will today be able to get things straight so that I can use it to cut tile in our shower that I must rebuild.

In the meantime, I actually used the Dremel this morning to widen the center hole on a new bowl I decided to use to narrow the gap that will fill with cement on my hopefully soon to be produced generator housing. Circular gaps are not as easy to fill as I had hoped, btw.

I cut with a box cutter a hole in the center of the bowl. I would have used that bowl all by itself if it had a larger rim circumference, and if I could have figured out how to attach the bottom spacer to it securely. Here's last evening's partial progress. One quarter of the bottom was left to cut.

It turned out that I needed to cut the hole larger last evening, but I could no longer apply pressure such as I had been applying with the box cutter. It was time to break out the Dremel, today.

A sanding drum with the coarsest grit made short work of the new gap that I needed to make.

Now I need to tape the second blue bowl onto the first and onto the top end. I didn't check to see when I could have stopped widening the gap, so now I must cover it over so the cement won't ooze inside the second blue bowl.

Oh yes. The Dremel is lying next to the bowls, with an adjustable chuck and large grit sanding drum attached to its business end.

I had hoped the second blue bowl would slide further down on the first blue bowl. C'est la vie.

Creating a Gap

In addition to finishing the stencil/bas relief lettering, adding a "2012", and searching high and low for a coffee can that might fit the bottom of the top of the inside of the form for my concrete generator housing, I finally found something that might work to create the gap I need. The gap will create a space where concrete can flow into it to make the very top of the generator housing hopefully stout enough to withstand somebody standing on it.

I know I will be tempted to stand on it, even though the legs will not be designed for that much weight. Surely some kid will try it, as well as a raccoon or possum.

I ran into the end cap for a 5 inch thick white PVC pipe that almost fit the bottom of my bowl, but it added two inches, which is too much concrete. I was imagining how much work it would be to saw it in half, and I was not liking what I envisioned.

Then I went searching among ancient plastic storage bowls I have tucked away in a basement room and voila! A microwave dish from some restaurant was sized perfectly. The black material was also still quite pliable and cuttable, so I trimmed off the handles and the uppermost ridges so it would not get stuck inside the cement casting.

It only adds one inch gap. I am still considering how I might pad the outside of the blue bowl to reduce the amount of cement that would fill the space between it and the outside of the form -- which is rather large -- 21 inches diameter at its top.

The inside of the generator housing does not get wide enough to spin magnet rotors until a couple inches up from the top lip of the blue bowl. The top lip of the bowl is on the bottoms of the pictures

Tentatively I imagine putting tubes above and below the bowl rims -- tubes that will be cast inside the cement, through which I can slide maybe bronze welding sticks to act as sort of set screws to hold the coil disks in place inside the generator housing.

Two disks, three magnet rotors, plus an aluminum rotor on top to deflect precipitation away from the electrical insides.
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint