WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

December 2012

"Christmas Comes Again"

"and the Merry Merry Church Bells Ring" is how the song goes. So we have been busy with festivities and such.

This last week we finally got a snow storm, plus a new flock of birds is frequenting our feeder. Eight or ten Cardinals -- it is hard to tell when they flit all around -- have been visiting along with the regular Chicadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.

I finally got out the Sony Handycam because it works in low light situations due to its Auto features such as Auto Focus and Auto apprature adjustments, as well as the zoom. It was the first time I had used it to capture birds in photography, so it was a learning experience. The very last picture was the best:

Happy New Year!
Oh yes. The Serendipitous Art Review portion of this blog goes to my comments on the Sony Handycam. As for CO2 reduction, I purchased two 40 lb bags of pelletized lime to place at the egress point for our furnace's exhaust. Since we now have mucho snow on the ground, this will be messy, lol. But, here I go!

Snow Algae Article

From Science News you can read an article about snow algae, as I have just now done, and wonder as I do, "Aren't algae plants?" How can plants move? These plants do not only move by floating in melted snow water, they have tails like sperm cells do, and swim up through the snow "like salmon" before some but not all of them mate with each other.

I understand plants move, also, by their seeds floating on the wind, but to have a sperm cell type of tail helping them to climb up through a snowbank -- doesn't that make them animals, too?

Please be advised that the article to which I sent you seems to end at two pages, but it continues, so continue to page down through the article -- which seems also to be very well written, btw. It has plenty of human interest ensconced within its own algal nerdiness, lol.

Inclined Bases

Last evening I worked on how to design bases for my generator housing. Bases need to be strong enough to withstand the onslaught of racoons, hedgehogs, rabbits, opossum, and chipmunks, not to mention children's football practice, etc. Actually there is probably nothing that can withstand anything anyone might throw at it, but hope springs eternal.

Besides the wind and gravity as additional forces acting on the entire generator housing and the center pole, with its magnetic rotors, I recalled another force that is as relentless. One of the sites where I had hoped to put up a wind powered electricity generator has a swing set frame for hanging two gigs. This swing set frame is on a hill and has tree roots all around and under it. Tree roots grow, you know.

I almost despaired enough to resolve to tear down the swing set frame and go elsewhere, where the land is flat and has no tree roots, but, as it was costing me only lack of sleep last night, I continued to cogitate on possibilities.

The height of the base is not as important nor as non-adjustable-over-time as its horizontal and level placement under the generator housing. So, we yet have some fudge factor regarding tree roots. A base has a bit of room to "float" higher, but unevenness over time due to tree root growth underneath would probably require some sorts of shim be added eventually near trees, at least, to keep it level.

Then, as I was toying with various shapes that I might place under a housing on flat land, I also realized that retainer wall blocks and perhaps even cement blocks would be adequate, except for their cheesy appearance. One could treat them with different colors, though....

I also started to imagine building wooden forms such as I have seen for outdoor cement fixtures such as curbs or steam tunnel protrusions on campus. You know, just regular cement forms that use stakes in the ground to hold boards or plywood up to stop wet cement from expanding beyond the wood. On the incline these forms would be custom fitted to the terrain.

So anyway, even though I can't remember right now everything I figured out last night, this entry might serve to jog my memory some day, or else inspire some creative juices to flow in someone else. You never know....

100 Ounces

The 3/4 inch gap between the underside of the 14 inch wok lid and the outside of the red plastic bowls equals 100 fluid ounces. I measured this by pouring Play Sand from Quikcrete into the gap and vibrating the form for what seemed like long enough. The Play Sand is fairly fine, btw, and yellow rather than white.

I had been imagining having to find a source of white pebbles to mix with white sand and white Portland Cement to give the whitest generator housing or at least the basis for the most vibrant colors. However, my sand is yellow, so I will have to take that into account when planning coloring the generator housing.

Now I will have to figure out the proportions of sand-to-rock-to-cement and guess at the amount of water or other liquid required to net 100 fluid ounces of mixture -- at least -- in order to fill the mold to make the cover for the generator housing.

Three quarts plus four ounces are (32 X 3) + 4, btw.

I also had put the place mats back along the inside of the largest orange pot before pouring in the Play Sand. It is a tight fit between the edge of the wok and the orange pot, so I did not have to tape the place mats. Little bulges in the mats are smoothed down by the weight of the filler material.

Back I go to the Concrete Crafts: Making Modern Accessories for the Home and Gardenby Alan Wycheck, from Stackpole Books. It might be copyright 2009 but the Library of Congress call number ends with 2010: TT910.W93 2010. I should check out that area of our library shelves to see if anything else useful for concrete casting sits there waiting for me to find it, lol.

Diary of a Generator Housing Form

After possibly finding out the new name of a factory where I used to work, and after topping off a large pot of chili that I started yesterday, I got back to working on the generator housing form. I should acknowledge the inspiration provided by the factories where I have worked. They provided much needed income while also showing me how things are made by real people. Their development stories are quite inspirational as one started -- as Apple did -- in one man's garage, and apparently I was there before the other factory expanded quite a bit to make TV's among many other things. A third factory had me working on a prototype fabricating, robotic line, which also had its own dramatic moments of innovation and hair raising events. But, back to my attempt at making things in the here and now:

Rather than crossing T's and dotting I's I had to gouge a W and fill the holes in the D's and P's of two stencils of WindTapper I am using to make a bas relief logo on the top cover of my generator housing.

I also got the proper size of bolt, nut, and washers to connect the wok lid to the outside of the form, then to the inside spacer and first bowls that define the inside of the top cover.

Of course I drilled holes all the way through the large outside pot's bottom, as well as the wok lid and the two red plastic bowls. There's only 3/4 of an inch gap between the aluminum wok lid and the red plastic bowls.

Here you can catch a glimpse of one of the stencils inside the wok lid near the bottom of the above photo. The lettering is, of course, backward and upside down so that all will be correct once the cement sets up and the lid sits on top of the sides of the generator housing.

I decided to use Post Office tape to hold the wooden spacer to the bottom of the red plastic bowls. I had to take the tape up and turn the spacer around to get the hole to line up properly, though, and reset the tape down. So the inside surface there will be a bit rougher than I had planned, but adequate. This was easier than if I had caulked the spacer to the bowls because the tape covers the lip of the bowls, too, and is quite non-absorbent, so the cement won't stick where the tape is.

The orange ring fits fairly well on top of the red plastic bowls. I could, at least, draw a ring on the orange pot to show the height of the red plastic bowls.

This picture reminds me that I can put down a rubber layer at this point, between sections of the generator housing. I could at least use this ring to draw the outside circumference on the rubber, then use a red bowl for the inner circumference.

This picture shows a bit of the handle of the vibration massage device -- at bottom, under the white pot -- that I will turn on when needing to get wet cement to settle without air pockets.

The frame comes from a stand-alone cutting board I never assembled once I had placed a table in the kitchen and there was no room for the cutting board.

I used scrap lumber from when I was trying to design the greenhouse frame to hold several whirligigs. I am trying to guide the massage device to remain stationary at the center spot under the pot that sits in the plastic tray. The plastic tray should catch any water that leaks out from the cement form filling step.

Moss at 20 Degrees Fahrenheit

20 degrees Fahrenheit means frozen water in my vats. Moss seems to have anti-freeze in it because it has not turned brown. I left some out of the water to try to preserve its shape:

The upper left corner of the vat has a twig sticking up out of the ice with moss on it.
Down in the vat is moss lining some rocks from the mossed-up creek in the park.
Apparently the grass beside the vat also has some anti-freeze in it, along with red clover.

Lettuce is another plant famous for its anti-freeze. The inside of our greenhouse is coated with water droplets, probably from moisture that our clothes dryer provides it, while I kept all the windows and doors to the greenhouse closed during this cold weather. I have 10 pots of lettuce, including this one.

Here's another vat of ice with some phase of moss on the darker -- less red -- leaf. Mostly light brown, this phase of moss makes a very thin layer of networked material on the surface of the leaf. You might be able to discern a faint edging of green, also faintly green overlay of the light brown, which is some phase of the moss. I am sorry I can't remember the names of the phases. I will have to study that if moss becomes my only CO2 reduction crop, lol.

Dear Diary

1. I finally drilled the hole in the top spacer plus bowls that will allow me to connect the top mold form to its inside form. That is, the wok lid with spacer in between it and the first, largest, red plastic bowls from Walmart.

2. I tested the vibrator box set-up with the vibrator on, and it seems to hold together well enough, though I might need to raise the massage vibrator up a little bit to make a better vibration when the cement is poured into the mold. Just another layer of rubber under the gizmo might suffice.

3. Some neighbors say they'll allow me to hang some whirligigs under their carport that they are not using. The carport is well located to catch the wind among windbreaks, as well as being very visible from the road. This could serve several purposes. A. Testing the location for wind; B. proving the durability of the gigs; C. giving more physical presence for advertising; D. perhaps generating some free electricity for my neighbors to use, such as a night light, or a small heater.

4. The WindTapper logo stencil still has a bit of a problem. The first application of a stencil, even after re-doing it, developed a warp due to the weight of fingernail polish I used to add to the putty. I probably should redo it yet again, using a thicker layer of putty to start. It is the big initial "W" that is warping. Maybe I could simply do that one letter over again....

My Day Job -- Shower Destruction

What occupies my time these days is remodeling our shower. I thought perhaps I should give an update on that.
Tearing out the tile approximately one and one half feet up from the floor, after removing the floor tile.

The purple jig saw piece on the floor is a rubber toy I got at Walmart that I use to cushion my knees.

The stoop under the doorway, minus tile and stoop "marble" that I propped along the lower part of the wall in the upper picture. The stoop marble needs replaced, but right now it provides a barrier between the floor and the wall.

I think that space between cement and wall needs to be filled in on an incline so that any water from the walls can be directed onto the floor and subsequently into the floor drain.

With all the safety gear I look like a space gal. Shower cap, safety glasses, ear protectors, plus dust mask all conspire to keep the nasty stuff away from me.

Oh yeah. Gypsum is CaSO4 + 2 H2O's. Gypsum is what the plaster under our tile is made from.

Eat Lichen? Swim in Moss?

Hoping to find a picture of reindeer eating lichen, I used Google. First up is this amusingly written piece giving advice, anecdotes, recipes, history, vitamin content, and warnings about eating lichens. It also mentions that the outer form of lichen is the lichen with its inner organs being made of algae -- as lichen's symbiotic character.

I found new lichen patches on our fence recently, and this article gives me pause when I consider removing it, though I know it is less than a year old....

I am still searching for "reindeer eating lichen" pictures, as well as moss versus algae pictures. Will place what I find, here today.

Dear Diary w/portraits

That I am slow is an understatement. Continuing to tear out tile from our shower, and stopping to try to figure out exactly how I will rebuild it to be watertight, I had to destroy one tile on purpose in order to gain access to the wall behind it. The next tile I pulled out came with a full plate of plaster attached to its back. Then I recalled wondering where I could find a cheap source of calcium to put in front of our CO exhaust. Duh.

I have been throwing away all the plaster I have been tearing out -- not that I might start saving it or anything. But that one tile with its plaster still firmly attached went into the vat directly under the exhaust to see what might happen to the plaster, being so exposed to water plus CO/CO2.

I had a few moments of weakness the last two days and played two games of Spider Solitare -- once just before bed, the other while still sleepy in the morning.

Still trying to figure out how to get a job.... I don't have either Social Security or Medicare to fall back on in my upcoming old age. What's a gal to do? Try to start a business? Been there, done that, several times in my youth. Typing and typesetting mostly. Remodeling once or twice.

I am trying to remember what else I had to say. Can't right now. Later, dudettes and dudes.

Oh yes. Jimi Hendricks Live in Concert at Woodstock on the big screen this evening! I have seen it before but I love it. Saw a better version of the last decade of John Lennon's life in New York City last evening. More music, no mention of drugs. Much easier to take and appreciate.
I asked my husband to take a picture of me in my Jimi Hendrix shirt before the concert. I regret now I had no makeup on.  I was just so pleased I finally had someplace I could go wearing this shirt.

Now -- after seeing the Hendrix gig at Woodstock -- I am re-inspired to play my fiddle as a percussion instrument, lol. Actually, there are two ways to turn the fiddle into a percussion instrument: 1. staccato; and 2. trade it in for a mandolin since a mandolin is tuned the same and has the same strings. Think about it. Picking strings, strumming, and striking them are very similar to hammering, as in the piano which is another percussion instrument, like the xylophone.

Frontline also showed a Philadelphia group of high school students all working on building a hybrid car under the direction of a couple engineers, and entering it in a national contest. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Believing you can create something, even if it uses only available technology. And utilizing the old noggin instead of being totally dependent on big corporations for all necessary innovations.

Generator Impatience

I am getting impatient to build my first generator. The housing form has taken SO long that I am tempted to slap together the rest of the form once I cast the rounded top. I am looking hungrily at a plastic bucket that I was going to use for the form for the middle part of the housing. I just cut a hole in its bottom so that I can get to the bolt that will hold the top of the form together.

But if I don't cast the middle section I don't need the bucket at all, except to use it for a first mock-up covering itself for the middle part of the housing. I just also looked longingly at a Christmas tree stand we don't use anymore because I have developed an allergy to freshly cut pine.

If I just cut a hole in its bottom I can anchor the center pole there, using the feet of the stand to anchor it to the ground, then set the plastic bucket with its rounded top on top of that. So then I can get to the actual generator!

I think it is because of the nearness of the end of the year that I am so impatient to make the generator now. It would be like a Christmas present to myself. Or a New Year's present, as the French do....

Alternatives to Algae for CO2 Reduction

Electrolysis of CO2 is another method mentioned by the Wiki article in my previous entry.

I have the Ionic Breeze Quadra air purifier with "Ozone Guard" and was hoping its ionization of air might suffice. However, looking at a short blurb about NASA CO2 scrubbing via CO2 electrolysis I see they use 550 degrees Celsius, which is outside of my capabilities. See article at NASA CO2 scrubbing proposal.

I hope to keep putting future web findings into this article.

For example: CO2 reduction by absorption in an amine solution from Norway's cement industry. You get to the good part of this article at page 9 of 11 with a schematic diagram of the technical layout of such a system.

I still haven't found how cement can be made from calcium plus CO2. I thought I had read about that somewhere.... Or was it bicarbonate of soda? I will have to look back through my own entries to find it. (See below)

A nice rundown on potentials for various methods of CO2 reduction is a 32 page article from the UK. It seems that the initial choice of fuel or energy production is the most productive avenue to pursue overall, but page 19 shows a comparison of pre- and post-combustion efficacy for various methods in CO2 reduction in industries using fossil fuels. Earlier, say page 15 (the page numbering is not the same as the PDF numbering), shows how much less CO2 is produced by natural gas combustion compared to coal -- if I read the table correctly. It is not clear if the comparisons ignore CO when calculating the CO2 footprint. CO is worse in my book since it absorbs oxygen.

Back to cement. "calcium carbonate is prepared by calcining crude calcium oxide...." and calcining can be found also in Wiki. "Precipitated calcium carbonate (PPC)" starts with "CaCO3 --> CaO + CO2" that is, "heat limestone to drive off CO2 to produce cement." So the later step after adding water, then CO2 to make calcium carbonate was offset initially by the driving off of CO2.

It seems I can't win unless I could find a cheap source of lime that was not created by burning limestone. What is aragonite found in? It is equivalent to calcite. What is calcite?

Back I go to Wiki to find answers to those questions, plus, "What if I add CO2 to powdered milk?" Or methane to powdered milk? Powdered milk is expensive so I would look for another source of calcium, but think of powdered milk as an experimental "element" in these inquiries. Anyway, a geology professor once told me that limestone is made from bits of shells plus methane, is all....Lots of shells wash up on the Outer Banks....The CO2 in limestone gets into it somehow.

CO2 Scrubbing Info

As I am trying to find a way to convert the CO/CO2 from our furnace exhaust back to carbon  plus oxygen, and I am increasingly discouraged from trying to grow algae at cold temperatures due to a lack of a source for snow algae plus a lack of other resources, I am also looking into CO2 scrubbing on Google.

Every so often I see Apollo 13 with its CO2 scrubber, plus Stargate Universe had CO2 scrubbers, so I am looking into alternative methods. One such alternative involves hydroxides, according to the Wikipedia. Hydroxide is a natural ion in water, I guess. This might be intriguing: 

"Another long-term option is carbon capture directly from the air using hydroxides. The air would literally be scrubbed of its CO content. This idea offers an alternative to non-carbon-based fuels for the transportation sector."

However, just pumping CO2 into water has large drawbacks as noted under "Oceans" at the Wiki article on CO2 capture.

Moss or Bacteria?

One discussion site I had googled had one individual saying that moss does not grow under water. That would be convenient for identifying whether something were moss or algae, but I fear it is not true. In a wooded stream environment where at times the entire stream is coated with moss, I found what looked to be algae under water, but it has too much in common with moss to be algae.

It was growing straight up from the bottom of the stream where a leaf had fallen in and the leaf was seemingly weighted down by a thin layer of sediment. The structure of the algae-looking moss was sort of like a 3-dimensional network, growing and swaying from bottom to top of the water column. It was anchored to the leaf.

When I removed it and placed it in my plastic box, I deprived it of water. Its water structure then disappeared. It was left overnight in my vehicle when it was supposed to be 54 degrees for a low, so it did not freeze. When I got it out the next morning it has sprouted one moss sprig. I shoulda got a picture of that.

When I put it into water under a leaky gutter its structure had mostly collapsed but a few small clumps of its old self arose within the water.  (I had made an intentional hole in the gutter so that water would not stand there to breed mosquitoes, and so that our front yard tree would have a natural water source.) 

Some moss samples from the park. I think I got these off a tree that has its roots in the creek and whose trunk base is covered with moss.

I also took a few rocks and twigs from the creek. The moss makes a network that filters the sediment from the creek and so forms a layer of dirt under the moss and on top of the rocks. Somehow the moss anchors itself using its network of fine tendrils.

In the lower left is a submerged twig with lichen on it. It was not submerged when I found it beside the stream bed.

Similarly, this leaf now has a layer of sediment. I think there is actually more to the layer than just sediment. Perhaps it is bacteria -- some symbiotic bacteria that starts to break down the object to which the moss attaches itself.

In the lower left quadrant of this photo there is a faint green which is the next organism to discuss. I don't know what it is, but this is the leaf that sprouted one moss sprig in one day when I had the leaf out of water. After I put the leaf back into water for one day, the moss sprig disappeared.

Perhaps this shows a little better the ephemeral greenness on top of the sediment layer on the leaf. This leaf is under water.

As I am also attempting to grow Natto bacteria, I can see similarities between these organisms under water. I am thinking that either the moss has a metamorphic life cycle, depending upon its environment, or it depends on some symbiotic bacteria to help it digest tough materials.

This is under water, after I completely disturbed its natural and untouched underwater structure. I can't help but notice the similarity between what is structurally going on on the leaf surface to the upper right, and the structure of this moss/bacteria that is floating above the surface of my fingers.

Here we have a cloudy liquid (looking into the side of a clear glass) that has a piece of clear plastic floating in it from which the Natto bacteria comes. This actually has a more brownish color than the Natto bacteria because I used some water from when I soaked some split peas, adding that water to a culture that had already been growing without the tint.Anyway, the cloudy group of bacteria which makes Natto -- supposedly the best source of the vitamin K2 -- sort of resembles the moss? underwater, except I have not observed a network in the Natto culture like the network through which the organism on the leaf and the moss on the rocks is intricately anchored.

I don't know what I am doing here. I am experimenting. This is an entry in a journal of my experiments and observations. I guess that what is growing on the submerged leaf is moss at some stage of its metamorphic life cycle and not bacteria because the Natto bacteria has no discernible network as moss does. I don't believe algae makes networks, either -- not exactly like the moss.

Please see the moss bioreactor from Wikipedia commons, and the Wikipedia entry where the bioreactor picture comes last in the entry. Anyway, the moss seems to be submerged and growing in the picture. Also, give to Wikipedia during their fundraiser, now.

Top Spacer for Cement Form

The wood spacer is 3/4 inch pine scrap from some shelving I had Waterluxed, before I cut it on an angle from the scrap piece.

The reason for the angle cut has to do with the geometry of the pieces that I have available to make the form into which I will pour and vibrate cement.

The bowl has a good sized rim for the next level of form, but its base is a little bit too large, so I angled the cut to shrink the hole at the top of the generator housing. The 3/4 inches will be the thickness of the cement between the wok lid and the bowl (shown previously).

I need more pix to show this process and how the spacer fits, etc. Some other day....
Here is one from the Sony Handycam:
I do love the Sony Handycam because it takes stills without insisting on flooding the visual space with too much light as the Nikon automatic cameras (above photos) do with their non-negotiable flashes.
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