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Post by: Hootie on April 21, 2012, 06:39:22 PM
The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      726
DATE:      August 17, 2011
TITLE:      Alternative Energy Production Q&A Session with Steven Harris
SPEAKERS:   Jack Spirko & Steven Harris



Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.

Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.

His first appearance was one of the all time audience favorites on The Survival Podcast so today he returns to answer audience questions on anything and everything alternative energy.

<intro/housekeeping 0:00 - 4:46>

Jack Spirko: And with that, as I said we are fortunate to have one of our all time favorites guest coming back to the show. Steven Harris, again guru of things alternative energy. You guys just absolutely seem to have fallen in love with Steven when I brought him on the show. I think it always cool when you bring a guest that brings new things to the table. Things that maybe we hadn't thought of before. And we brought somebody that got so many new things going on that is just generated, just massive wave of questions in the audience. I want you to know, if you don't hear your question today, it is because we are going to go an hour and a half today I think. Maybe longer and that is only half of what came in.  I am going to try to get Steven to come back and do another Q&A show. With that I just want to say, again we are fortunate to have steven on the air with us today. Hey Steven welcome back to The Survival Podcast.

Steven Harris: Jake I am so thrilled to be back. I have got to say, I have been on a lot of radio interviews and stuff. No one has given me the response like your listeners have. I mean, it is a community that you have here that is just beyond description. They ask me questions. They bought things. They wrote in questions to you. They wrote me questions. I just never ever had anyone, usually you hear crickets chirping after i do a radio interview with real radio. The Survival Podcast is just beyond outstanding and the listeners are just fantastic.

Jack Spirko: Yeah, I am so gratefully for them. They have made the show what it is. When i started this show out it was just me. Now it is really a lot more then me. In fact I would say everything that the show represents is because of the community. I am glad you felt that welcome from them and i know they are really excited about having you back on. If i could i would like to get into the questions these folks have for you today.

Steven Harris: Yeah, we got a lot of them. Let's start moving through them so we can give these people some good great hands on stuff.
Post by: Hootie on April 22, 2012, 03:36:44 PM
<Time 6:50>
Jack Spirko: Sure!  First question came in said, "Jack I was wondering if Steve could talk about wood gasification applications such as carbureted versus fuel injected. And how to control the proper mixture to prevent tar production gumming up the engine."

Steven Harris: First of all, it is completely irrelevant whether you have fuel injection engine or carbureted engine. The fuel is coming in with the air though the throttle by the intake from the gasifier and going with the air into the cylinder, which is being compressed and then ignited by the spark plug. Your fuel injectors are just basically plain turned off. Your fuel pump or your carburetor is just plain turned off. You are just running straight off of the wood gas. Sense the majority of the gas coming in is carbon monoxide base and there is also hydrogen in there, coming in it. Basicly, C O and H2. You don't even need to change the timing of the engine like you would for pure hydrogen because the carbon monoxide likes to ignite at about the same spark timing as gasoline does. It is literally make your generator, your gas generator, and hook it up to the vehicle and let the vehicle suck it in. Now, you have to valve it correctly. You got to have a valve for air coming in. You got to have a valve restricting the amount of gas coming in. You have to have a third valve. These valves are fully documented in the book "Hydrogen generator for vehicle engines volume 3 and 4." Volume 3 and 4 are important. It covers the air fuel mixing with pipes and valves off of shelf from Home Depot, full pictures and diagrams. I will have a link to those books at but to reiterate fuel injection  or carbureted doesn't matter. It will run off of wood gas.

<Time 8:44>
Post by: Hootie on April 30, 2012, 10:41:43 AM
Jack Spirko: Very very cool. I think it is something people are going to rely on your additional resources for. That is not something that you can explain to something here. You know put this nut, this bolt, and this pipe together on an audio. Basically the answer is that it doesn't matter. You can do this with either vehicle so that's cool. Next person is asking about  "Large production gasoline generators. 100 kilowatts or more. Use on a large scale." I guess maybe they want to sell electrify to the power company or something like that.

Steven Harris: This is something that you can do. You can go buy a 100 kilowatt generator and you can hook it up to the power grid. Do the phase matching. You can generate your own power from wood. It can be done and there are people doing it. You get all sorts of different credit for doing it. Some places have to buy "Renewable Energy" and you'll actually get 8, 10, 15 cents a kilowatt hour, instead of what is called the differed rate of 1.8 to 3.2 cents a kilowatt hour.  Which makes it financially viable, you can do it. The 100 kilowatt generators, they come on a small trailer, like a trailer with 2 or 3 axes on it. Maybe 15 or 16 feet long. You can pull them behind a pickup truck. That is an idea to give you how big a 100 kilowatt generator is. You are going to need to have a stationary wood gas generator for them. Which is almost going to be equal in size of or bigger than the generator itself. The important thing with doing it like this is, is that you need to have a really good fuel feeding mechanism. Because it is not the gasifier that is hard to do. Gasification is pretty straight forward. It is the feeding of the material into the gasifier that is the labor intensive time production part. Our book, "Hydrogen generator for vehicle engines volume 6" is all about big stationary gasification. Especially material feeding mechanism and gas clean up. It makes it a whole lot easier, again we will put a link to this at  And now is the time to buy the generator like this. There is a recession on. Now is the time to buy. These things are going at world record low prices right now and you can pick one up for 10 cents, 15 cents, 20 cents on the dollar. It's very viable.

<Time 11:21>
Jack Spirko: That is a pretty good size system too. I remember when i was in Honduras we had 2 large generators. I don't remember there size. they were bigger than 100 kilowatts that ran the whole camp. They looked like... Man I tell you what, when they brought one up the first time you could hear it clear across things. I wish i could remember what the wattage of those things were, but they were absolutely massive. 100 kilowatt is something, like you say, you can tow around with a little pickup truck if you wanted to. One thing we need to mention, you were talking about a differed rate and going rate, I guess you would say. Are there some states where you can't even do it either way? Or do all states have to buy it at the differed rate right now?

Steven Harris: Well, generally they will buy from you at the deferred rate. That definitions is "The price that they will be paying for electricity, when they build the next power plant. Which will be a coal or a nuke." Which is about 1.8 to 3.2 cents per kilowatt hour. Right now you're paying between 8.5 and 10 cents a kilowatt hour. Unless you're in the socialist republic of California who have artificially taxed their electricity to 20 to 25 cents a kilowatt hour. It varies from county to count, from state to state, and location to location. There are places that won't buy back your power. There are places that will only net meter power. Where they will take your power, but will only give you credit for as much as you actually use in your house or your business. If you produce more they keep it. It just varies all over the place. There is no standard really at the moment.

Jack Spirko: I am going to through an extra question in here then. Would a person benefit at all, if they could get a lot of scrap wood cheap, from building a gasifier? Getting a typical generator, more like somebody would use as a backup generator, not a big standby one, but you know a 75K or 100K or something like that. Hooking that up and basically setting that up to net meter, so it would run maybe a few hours a day. What ever surplus it provided would net meter back. Or is that just too much trouble for the return.

<Time 13:38>
Steven Harris: If that is your area of expertise. If you can fabricate or you want to buy the gasifier and you want to hook it up to the generator. You want to do the matching to the grid and you have someone that can help you do this, like a professional electrician. It would be worth the effort. Especially if you had; one the time and two you have the source of free material. It is entirely possible to do. You are going to have to jump through a few hoops, but it is possible. It would work. It would be beneficially. Not if you are slammed with having 4 kids and working 50 hours a week. It wouldn't be worth it to you.

Jack Spirko: I guess unless you can tell them kids, "An hour a day you are out there feeding the gasifier"

Steven Harris: Yeah, you want to feed the gasifier about once or twice a day, ideally. There are some systems out there where you can... The ones i was working on in Texas, we would actually load it with a front end loader. There would be a big grain auger and it would feed the gasifier. It would run for days. But that was an experimental unit we were working on. That is the real way to do it.

<Time 14:47>
Post by: Hootie on May 09, 2012, 10:01:37 PM
Jack Spirko: Very very cool. Next person sticking on the wood gasification thing. "Please ask how we can best start out with wood gasification. I have never seen it before and I would like to start something small before i invest too much. also would my neighbors object to a huge boiler belching fire in my back yard."

Steven Harris: <laughs> One, the hydrogen gas generator book volume 3 and 4 is the best one to start with. I has hands on instructions. There are no boilers in gasification of wood. There are no steam engines. There is no belching fire from a boiler. You are running internal combustion engine directly from the "wood smoke." And if you live your life around what your neighbors think, you'll do nothing but except mow your lawn.

Jack Spirko: You know it make me think of one kink in the works here. If you are going to rely on this, you need to plan for in your seasonality. Right now my county and half of Arkansas, in spite of the resent rains is still under a burn ban. I think that is one thing people should plan for there.

Post by: Hootie on May 17, 2012, 10:33:52 AM
Steven Harris: This is not burning. Wood gasification is not burning at all. It is completely inclosed. It is contained. It is sealed. You are not burning the wood, you are doing a gasification of it. A partial oxidation of it. It does not qualify as burning in any shape or form. It would be like saying you couldn't run your wood furnace to heat your house, because...

Jack Spirko: Because the flame is contained

Steven Harris: The flame is contained, completely.

Jack Spirko: Ok. That makes sense. You don't even have a lot of smoke either because the smoke is being consumed by the generator. You are not even going to have a noisy neighbor report you then.

Steven Harris: You have smoke on startup. You generally use an air blower to suck the air through or to push the air through to start the thing up and heat it up for about 5 minutes.

Jack Spirko: Ok

Steven Harris: In that time it can smoke, but no smokier then having a fire in your backyard. Like a pit fire or something.

Post by: Hootie on May 18, 2012, 08:51:46 PM
Jack Spirko: Ok. Next one here says, "I asked about about building a small gasifier on a lawnmower quad trailer, but forgot the heart of the question. I know there are popular plans for an easy to build FEMA gasifier. I understand it makes tar. Other units are more complicated to build, but filter out the tar. I can live with making tar since I plan to run salvage lawn mower engine and spin an alternator, but i would like to weight the options between the two. How long would it take tar to damage the motor? If it takes a week, I might want to filter it out. If it takes years, I wouldn't care since my free lawnmower engine might not last that long anyways. Thanks, Mike"

Steven Harris: Mike, it all depends on how good your filtering is. The FEMA gasifier which is HGGVE 3 and 4 (Hydrogen Generator Gas for Vehicles and Engines: Volumes 3 and 4) has pretty good filtering in it. Adding a water based filter would improve the gas quality. There are some water filters HGGVE book number 6. Tar buildup could become a problem in weeks to a few months to a few years. Depending on how often you are running it. Depending what your feed material is. Depends if you are changing out your filter material. Many times you have 3 filters. You have a rough filter, a finer filter, a water filter, and then you might have a forth filter. The first filter might be running the gas through a bunch of leaves and the tar will condense on the leaves. Then the gas will go through a bunch of dry grass or straw as the second filter. Then it might be pushed through a water bubbler and bubble into the water. Then you might have the gas go through something like an automotive engin air cleaner filter as a 4th filter. When you start building up stuff on your first and second filters, which are the leaves and the grass. You take that stuff out of your filter, which is usually a barrel and you put it into the gasifier as fuel. You put more leaves or more grass into the two filters as new filter material and you keep on running. You are going to get tar build up based upon: How good you are filtering. How ofter you change your filter material. What your material is that you are running. Hotter tand the quicker you can run, the better. It could become an issue in weeks or months. It is more that it will become an issue in month to a year. To take care of that, what you do is take the heads of the engine. You take a cleaner and clean off the tar with a light hydro carbon. It could be gasoline, it could be alcohol, or it could be acetone. All of those things will clean out the top of a motor just fine.
Post by: Hootie on May 21, 2012, 09:41:03 PM
Jack Spirko: It is not at big a deal to do. Especially with a little something you talked about. A little system run by a lawnmower engine. If you know anything about lawnmower engines, it is a pretty easy job to do, right?

Steven Harris: Yeah, it is. I did tar up one of my Honda generators, my fancy eu2000i. It was a pain. I had to spend $500 having someone take it apart, because the whole thing had to come apart. It is a real detailed engine. Using a simpler Honda engine or a simpler lawnmower engine. The top part comes right off. There is the value. There is the cylinder. There is the piston. It just takes a little fuel or acetone and clean it out and continue on.

Jack Spirko: Very very cool. Sometimes the simpler motor is better depending on the application and how well you can set the system up, to begin with.

Steven Harris: You can say that again. Keep it simple.

Jack Spirko: Cool cool. One more question on wood gasification, before we start to do some different questions here. Guy wants to know, "What are some rough guide lines, on how many pound of wood waste (chips, dust, etc...) does it take to create energy equivalency of a gallon of gasoline? How many trees do i need to chop down to make a gallon of gas?"

Post by: Hootie on May 22, 2012, 09:33:54 AM
Steven Harris: This is a fabulous question. It really puts it into perspective. How many pounds of wood or waste material to make the equivalent as if you running off a gallon of gasoline? The answer to that is about 20 to 30 pounds of dry weight of wood or the equivalent material, will make the generator produce the same amount of electricity as if it was a gallon of gasoline. There is another caveat to it. If you had this on your car and you were driving your car off wood gas. The historical proven numbers are that it takes between 1lbs to 1.5lbs of wood pre mile you drive. Now how is that for economics?

Jack Spirko: That is pretty good. If you pick up a good size chunk of hardwood log it is fairly heavy.

Post by: Hootie on May 24, 2012, 09:16:10 PM
Steven Harris: Wood is pretty dense. Sawdust is real light and fluffy. Wood chips are more dense. Pieces of wood cut into cubes the size of 1in by 1in are even more dense. That is what you need to run in a gasifier. You got to run broken up material. You need to cube the wood or you got to shred the wood or you got to chip the wood. You got to have something. You just can't do it with whole logs.

Jack Spirko: Of course. Next question then. "How can you use a rocket stove to heat a room in the house?"

Steven Harris: You will never use a "real rocket stove" to heat a room in your house because you will end up dead. It is an open flame. It is producing carbon monoxide. However there is something called a rocket heater, some times the word stove is put into it. It is a rocket stove design that is contained with a bunch of heat exchanges, like a 55 gallon barrel. The the exhaust goes underneath a bed of concrete. It heats up the thermal mass and then it exhausts outside. There is a great book on the subject and there is a great video subject on youtube. Jack will put it in his show notes. I'll put it on for you to go take a look at. It's on YouTube. It doesn't cost anything. It is a fabulous book, but don't run any open flame combustion from wood, or anything like that, inside your house ever.

Post by: Hootie on May 24, 2012, 10:04:30 PM

Jack Spirko: Agreed. One thing on the rocket mass heater, folks. There is a lot of applications for that. I'll save my thoughts on that for later, because we have got a question where Steven doesn't mention, i am going to. It is one of the really great technologies for you to learn about because if you do it right, and you get the exhaust right, it is a very very clean exhaust. Not something that you want to breath like Steve saying, "You will be dead if you do that." It is basically CO2 and water that comes out the end. There are tremendous application for it. It is very simple technology. It is something that anybody can do, with parts from Home Depot or Lowes. Let's run on here then. The next question is "I would like to know if it would be worth the effort to produce alcohol as a fuel for a vehicle or generator? Is the conversion cost worth the saves? What should I use? Such as corn, sugar cane,... what have you?"

Steven Harris:  Oh boy. What a question? I could do an entire show. I could do two entire shows on nothing but the subject of making fuel alcohol for you car. There are so many ways of doing it. It is really pretty straight forward. It is absolutely legal to make fuel alcohol. In fact the permit is free from the federal government. It is either cheap or easy to get it from the state or not required. To answer the question, "What do you use?"  You want to use waste material. Now you can use 2 things. You can use anything starch. You can use 3 or 4 day old doughnuts for the bakery. They can give those to you. There is sugar and starch in those. You convert the starch over to sugar. I'll tell you about that in a minute you can go get farm bread for the discount bread store or directly from the bakery. Farm bread, is bread that is way out of expiration that they sell to farms for feeding the pigs. You could use wheat or you could use corn that is no good for humans that is being rejected, even for animal feed. You could use that, maybe it has a mold or a fungus in it. That will work good. Pastry sweeping from a bakery. Flour and dough work great, that is a starch. One of the better sources will be waste Cola sirup from you local bottling company. That is just straight sugar. If you can get that, and they generally have it by the drum and by the tanker load. You can ferment that directly with yeast. That makes a solution, "a beer" that you then distill to make an alcohol. If you are running with the free starch, the free bakery material, the free corn, the free doughnuts. You have to convert the starch over to a sugar. You use 2 enzymes, a alpha amylase and glucal amylase. You heat up the water and put in one enzyme. Let it work for 30mins to 1hr. Then you heat it up a little more and put in the second enzyme. Then you cool the whole thing down. It is converted all your starches over to sugars just like you do in your mouth and your stomach. Then you ferment those sugars with yeast and you can use champagne yeast, if you want a 18% yield. You can use special turbo yeast to get a 24% alcohol yield. Or you can use your straight Red Star yeast, right off the grocery store to get about 11% yield of alcohol. Then you run that through a still, which i a whole other subject. Depending on how the still is made  you can get 190 proof alcohol that will run in your vehicle directly. You can run up to 50% alcohol in any car today, any gasoline car today with no modification to the vehicle at all. You can actually run E85 in your standard gasoline car right now. Between 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50%. You start off at 20% it runs fine. Go to 30% runs fine. Go to 40% runs fine. If you notice any hesitation. Any lack of power. It doesn't feel like it isn't igniting properly then you back off from 50% to 40% and you only go up to 40%. Gasoline and alcohol mixes great

Post by: Hootie on May 28, 2012, 12:36:07 PM

Jack Spirko: If you are making your own, you shouldn't be dumping 190 proof straight in to the tank. You should be cutting with gas.

Steven Harris: You should be cutting it with gas. If you want to do 100% conversion and run on complete 190% proof you can get some kits that are on the internet. Basically what they do is, they hold the injectors open for a little bit longer, because alcohol fuel is not as dense as gasoline so more if it has to spray into the cylinder. The little computer box that control, that hold the fuel injector open for a little bit longer. That will give you a 100% conversion to run off of fuel alcohol. Sometimes if your still isn't quite perfect you might have to distill it 2 or 3 times to get 190 proof alcohol for fuel but it is not hard to make a still. I have a complete set of books  on the subject. It is actually at, but I will put up detailed links to it at It is the bible, the book is so think if could stop a bullet. The bible on making alcohol is called "Alcohol Can Be a Gas" by David Blume. I have it on my website and I have it on I also have something called "The Free Fuel Companion" Volume 1 and Volume 2. Volume 1 show you how to distill alcohol with 2 plastic pales and a fish heater, for Walmart. How is that for simple?

Post by: Hootie on May 28, 2012, 03:30:52 PM

Jack Spirko: That is pretty awesome. Folks, some of you guys that are out there that are home brewers that make your own beer. The beginning where we are talking about starch conversion verses just using something like waste cola syrup. Full mash brewing verses malt extra brewing. It is as simple way to nail that down for people familiar with that. If you guys want to get a hold of the yeast that will ferment into this 22% to 24% range. Midwest Home Brew sells a distillers yeast that will do that for you. It is a very very fast acting yeast. It can be used for other things, like if you are making very strong Belgian Ales, pushing the limits of what fermentation can do. I do want to ask you this. I know it is not illegal to do distillation for fuel usage. You said you can get a permit at no cost to do that with.

Steven Harris: Right

Jack Spirko: Do you have to do something to the alcohol after it has been produced to so it would not be consumable? Or is it just basically your not going to be drinking it, it is going into your vehicle? Is there some type of additive that has to be added after it is distilled or anything like that, from a government standpoint?

Post by: Hootie on May 29, 2012, 07:46:29 PM

Steven Harris: Yes. You have to add 2% gasoline.

Jack Spirko: Ok, as soon as it comes out if you are storing it you have to have at least 2% gasoline

Steven Harris: And that makes it very poisonous to drink.

Jack Spirko: <laughs> It wouldn't taste very good either.

Steven Harris: It would be very poisonous to drink ethanol with 2% gasoline

Jack Spirko: Ok, great. It also makes me think Steve. My grand father, is long gone god rest his soul, had a copper boiler and still condenser and all. It is in our attic back home, that was for a different purpose from the 1930's or actually the 1920's. Makes me want to see if my dad will send it down to me, to see if i can't cook some fuel.
Steven Harris: You can. You might have to distill it 4 to 6 times to get 190 proof out of a pot still. You have a pot still. This is a world wide presentation. People in New Zealand could be listening to this. And people in New Zealand  can legally distill alcohol for drinking purposes.

Post by: Hootie on May 29, 2012, 08:08:54 PM

Jack Spirko: That is true. It is not hard everyone used to do it. We had a little thing called the whiskey rebellion in response to attacks on it. It was the frist challenge that our new president Washington had. It is not a new thing it is just a matter of realizing the wisdom of people who came before us.

Steven Harris: Making fuel alcohol and drinking alcohol is basically the same. Except to make it better for drinking you throw away what is called the heads and the tails. And you run it through a carbon filter about 10 times.

Jack Spirko: Or you can stop at the beer level.

Steven Harris: Or you can stop at the beer level, yep. It is perfectly legal in this county to make beer for your own personal consumption and wine for your own personal consumption.

Jack Spirko: We can't leave out the most wonderful invention of alcohol that mankind has ever come with, Mead.

Steven Harris: Yeah Mead. Mead is beer from honey.

Post by: Hootie on May 31, 2012, 02:36:09 PM

Jack Spirko: It is a beautiful thing is what it is. Hey steve i am about to make your day. I am going to ask you a question I know that is the biggest soft ball setup in the world. You'll probably go off on it, 15min response you just run with it. Here the question, "A podcast with Steve was an all time survival podcast great. It left me with an million idea and possibilities to consider. My questions are what are the best things a home owner can do to lower the utility bills? Whats the most bang for your buck? Reducing AC in the summer and solar thermal or some other technology for heat in the winter? I am interested in low hanging fruit here. Just some simple things that get me lowering that electric bill. Of course what books contain the in-depth answers to these questions. Thanks for the great information." And the floor is yours...

Steven Harris: Ok... People, I keep on beating people over the head with this all the time. They will go off and spend thousands of dollars to spend on junk to put on to there car. Thinking they are going to say a few miles per gallon or a few dollars. And it doesn't work, it won't work. But they won't go after the low hanging fruit. Which is to reduce the cool load in your house and reduce your heating load. I can save you a $100 to $200 a month right now on your AC or on your heating bill, if you are in the south or in the north. That is $200 to $300 dollars extra right in your pocket that you can use to buy gasoline. Solar heat and solar cooling for your house actually makes your gasoline cheaper because you have more money. If that makes more sense and i think that makes prefect sense. Where to start. Summer cooling, sense we are in the summer let's start with this. I have a book call "How to really save money and energy in cooling your house." It will be a link on It is the most beautiful book with the best diagrams. You look at the diagrams, you go "I get it. I understand how my house get hot. Now I under stand how to cool it." I will tell you the main concept that is in the book, free right here on Jack Spirko. You water your roof. You literally put a sprinkler of some type on to your roof. You spray water on to the roof and it removes the heat. It does a little of this by laten effect cooling, a little bit from evaporation of the water, and the fair amount of it by just heating the water and the water running down your roof. And down into your eaves troughs and then you can run this hot water into your pool. You can heat your swimming pool with the water coming off your roof. I have a guy that does this in Florida. This is really not a swamp cooler. People say, "Oh it is a swamp cooler it won't work in florida." Yes it works in Florida, it works in Texas, it works in Montana, it works great. And the best practice is one of my great costumers, who has done this better then anyone else. He got a hydroponics controller and it turns on the water on his roof for 5 seconds of every 90 seconds. He has lowered his AC bill by $200 a month in Florida. His house stays perpetually cool, because the way the your house gets hot is that the sun hits the roof. The roof heated up. It heats up the attic. It heats up the floor of the roof, which is the top of the ceiling of your room. You just stop the heat from getting into the house in the first place. One of the things you realize real quickly, if you don't want to water your roof. You get a spray foam company to come in and spray foam the under side of your roof. Not the floor of the attic, on the ceiling of the attic. It will keep the heat out of your house. You will save tremendous amounts of money both on summer cooling and winter heating. And No, this is not going to kill your shingles. No, it is not going to expand them. No, it is not going to hurt them. It is actually going to extend the life of your shingles. One: they will be cooler because of the water running over them. Or two: they will be at a more constant temperature because the insolation behind them and not expanding and contracting.

Post by: Hootie on June 03, 2012, 10:23:01 PM

Jack Spirko: Steve, I have always noticed that when shingles go bad. You pick them up and they are all crumbly and dried out.

Steven Harris: Yep

Jack Spirko: This is going to keep them from drying out, do to the heat suppression.

Steven Harris: Or it will keep them at a constant temperature because the insulation behind them, the foam. And they won't be expanding and contracting. Which is going to get them to breakup. Now, that is summer cooling. That is called "How to Really Save Money and Energy in Cooling Your Home." Heating is even easier and you can save money even quicker on this. There is 2 book for solar heating. One is "Sunshine To Dollars." The book I told you about last time. The book that I wrote. It shows you how to put a solar heater in your window and for a room. It is fully documented in the book. I show you the temperatures. I show you how I made it. Most importantly I show you how to get free glass from almost every city in the entire country. You can get scrap loads of glass from certain business for nothing. And you can use these to make your solar heater. That is the most expensive thing in a solar heater is, it is the glass. Get the glass for free and you got the cheapest free heat you can get. You can start off with "Sunshine To Dollars" making a solar window heater. Then once you graduate from there you get the complete handbook of "Solar Air Heating Systems." This book from me is really the complete book solar air heating systems. It shows you how make the ones that go on your roof. It shows you how to make the ones that go on your wall, which are called 'trombe wall.' It shows you one that will go into your window like an air conditioner, only it slopes down to the ground. It will put a fair amount of heat into a room in the winter time, depending if it is east or west or south facing or north facing if you are in the southern hemisphere. You just open the window a foot. You put this thing into the window. You slide the window down, just like it was an AC unit. You turn it on. You use some temperature thermostat from Granger, which is an easy place to buy temperature controllers or the hardware. It will turn on a little fan, it will just continually blow hot air into the room every time the sunshines. In the spring time, you open the window take the thing out, put it in your garage. You put your air conditioning unit in and away you go. You can get your money back on this stuff in days. If you get the glass for free, were just talking about some 2x4's, plywood, spray paint and muffin fans, or some duct blowers from Home Depot and you have a solar heater. The one that goes into the window can easily be equivalent to have a little 1 kwatt electric heater in a room. Think of how much heat a little electric heater put on you that you plug in the wall. A solar heater in Michigan, let alone the south, in the winter time can do the same amount of heat as a little electric heater. It just saves you money so quickly and so easily. Everyone wants to focus on the hard stuff. Go get the low hanging fruit. Cool your house easily in the summer. Heat it easily in the winter. That that money you save buy the kids book, put braces on their teeth, buy more gasoline. Either way it is more money in your pocket.
Post by: Hootie on June 07, 2012, 01:15:35 PM

Jack Spirko: I completely agree and I think people underestimate how much electricity they use to heat and cool. I am sitting on the Nebraska public power district, because it was the easiest thing I could find while you were talking. I guaranty you these numbers are a little bit different in Texas, where the cooling it going to be more and the heating less. Looking at what people use in there homes: space heating in the Nebraska is 48%, cooling 7%, water heating 14%, all the other appliances and lighting to gather you average use of 31%. While I don't say it is not a good idea to use LED or florescent light bulbs depending on the application. That is the smallest part what you are using. The things you are talking about for maximum impact are the things that people actually doing to greatest draw for. What you can illustrate that, real quick, is that i was looking at generators recently. If you look at how much of a generator you need. Go find a generator calculator and leave heating and cooling off and see how much less of a generator you need.

Post by: Hootie on June 08, 2012, 07:52:29 PM

Steven Harris: Let alone air conditioners. There is a reason why your central air conditioner hook up to the 240 volt main of your house, because it draws such an extraordinary amount of electricity. I would say air conditioning in the south easily draws a lot more power then your hot water heater by a factor of 4 at least

Jack Spirko: Are there some other things people can do? You can heat water. It is not that hard to build a solar hot water heater, is it?

Steven Harris: The rule is you heat with air first and then you store in water. You always want to heat air first and drop that air into the house. In fact the cooler the air coming out of the solar heat, the more efficient it is. You want the air coming out of the solar heater being between 90 and 100 degrees fahrenheit. That will be 2 to 3 times more efficient, giving you 2 to 3 times more heat then if the air coming out of the solar hot air heater was 140 to 150 degrees fahrenheit. You want more blower to make cooler air coming out, yet hotter than the ambient temperature of the room. Solar hot air is about 3 to 4 times more efficient than heat up solar hot water. Solar hot water you need to heat up 140 to 180 degrees fahrenheit if you are going to run it through a heat exchanger. There is an efficiency calculation in there that, basically the higher your temperature the lower your efficiency.

Post by: Hootie on June 09, 2012, 10:09:00 PM

Jack Spirko: I got 9 months of summer down here, basically. I don't need hot air, but i do need hot water

Steven Harris: The you want hot water. There are so many different ways of making solar hot water. In "Sunshine To Dollars" I show you how to make a solar hot water, out of a piece of sliding glass door's glass, two 2x4, some black plastic, and an old wood door. You can put it out into the shine and you can almost boil 15 gallons of water in the sunshine in a real short period of time. Then once you do that you understand it, saying "I can see how this works." Then you can go to a more advance solar hot water heater that you put onto your roof of your hours that will heat your hot water. Your payback will be directly proportional to how many females you have in your house that take 30min hot showers.

Jack Spirko: <laughs> Very very cool. I think we could just have you keep going here, but I want to going through the questions. There is so much low hanging fruit out there, but those great tips for people to get started.

Post by: Hootie on June 15, 2012, 08:43:46 PM

Steven Harris: There is one more piece of low hanging fruit, that i forgot to mention. I have a book called "Movable Insulation." It shows you how to put up real simple insulation that you put up and take down every day, like on your south facing windows in the summer time to keep the heat out of the house. It has curtains you can make yourself, to keep the heat out or to keep the heat in. That is another low hanging fruit book that I forgot to mention, but go on the next question Jack.

Jack Spirko: Sure. Get stuff too. We use thermal drapes because it is so simple and it works so well. Next question is on green houses. "What would be the best type of heater to heat a green house to at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit over night when the outside temperature might get down to 26 degrees for 4 to 5 hours?"

Steven Harris: That is easy. You store heat from sunshine in soda bottles or water drums. you can use a black metal drum that contains water. If you use soda bottles, make sure you pain them black as well, such that you heat up the greenhouse during the day time. The water in the bottles retain the heat and then release the heat when the sun goes down. You are going to want to have a fan blowing over your drums or your water bottles in order to 1: heat them up quicker when the sun is shining and 2: to get the heat out of them when it gets dark for a greenhouse I am not talking about a drum or a dozen soda bottles. I am talking about an entire wall of stacked water bottles. I am talking for a greenhouse depending upon the size 1/3 or 1/4 of the floor space taken up by the 55 or 30 gallon drums. I am talking about a lot of drums absorbing sunlight and getting heated up during the daytime to release that heat at night, because it takes a fair amount of heat. The next best thing to heat a green house without doing solar would be to get a wood burner. You heat it with wood in some fashion of form through the night.

Post by: Hootie on June 25, 2012, 05:35:50 PM

Jack Spirko: I actuarially have two more ways you can do this that are pretty easy. One, we go back to our old friend the rocket mass heater. What we do is dig a trench on the inside of the north wall, where you are not going to get much solar gain. You can replace this with thermal gain with wood. We lay our exhaust system that creates the thermal mass energy into that trench. We build a raised bed garden on the floor of our green house right there. We place our most heat sensitive crops into that bed. We can then fire that rocket mass heater up in the evening and it will go out eventually but the thermal gain will enough to get you through all but your coldest nights. Then the super low tech Bill Mollison method. We build ourself a chicken house that is inside our greenhouse but keeps the chickens from get at the stuff, so they don't go eat all our stuff. If we put enough chickens inside a greenhouse it will never get below freezing in there. Unless we are in the coldest cold environment of the United States, but for most people who are dealing with temperatures that are down in the teens and twenties. Chickens will keep your greenhouse form losing its crops. They will provide CO2 which will make your plants grow better.

Post by: Hootie on June 30, 2012, 06:53:58 PM

Steven Harris: There are literally tables that will give you the heat give off by every animal from mice to chickens to rabbits to cows to humans. It is the ASHRAE Handbook. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. There are whole articles about heating your house with rabbits or animals. That is a very true statement, not to be over looked. Put the chickens inside the greenhouse such that they can't eat the plants and it will help keep it warm at night.

Jack Spirko: You are making me think now I am even coming up with one more. Take a corner of your green house and dedicate it to where you are making your compose in the winter. Make a great big heaping pile of compost and you will get a lot of thermal gain out of that. You would love what dis guy did, his name is Clayton Jacobs. He manufactures a little project called the soil cube, for starting your plants with. He did that in his greenhouse. He made a massive pile of compost and he ran water tubing through the center of it. It get up to about 150-160 degrees. He ran that tubing out into his growing beds out side of the greenhouse. Through them and back down into the green house. The heat would just push it up and it would just circulate back and forth as the water heated and cooled. He put floating row covers over his crops. This is california, this is not Idaho with 7 below zero. These are nights in the 20s and he would come out in the morning and his growing beds, his unprotected over then a simple floating row cover were literately steaming in the cold air. It is just being creative and putting these things together.
Post by: Hootie on July 08, 2012, 10:57:38 AM

Steven Harris: Composting, thermal degradation of materials through bacteria does produces a significant amount of heat. That is at least 140 degrees fahrenheit. As you said it can get up to 160 degrees fahrenheit. You can use what is called a thermal syphoning system. Where it will flow naturally because of the difference in temperature, no pump needed. That is an absolutely great forth way to keep a greenhouse warm in the winter time.

Jack Spirko: Could you help me with that? Because Clayton understood it but wasn't able to explain to me how he was able to get that water to move through there. Obviously the system has to be somewhat closed. If you over pressurize with the heat you would have an issue. How do I get the water to move in either direction? How do make sure that water moves and does what I want it to do?

Steven Harris: Warm water is less dense than cold water. It will want to flow up and cold water will want to flow down. So you don't have them at the the same level. You have on up and you have down. You have your bed outside. In a cold area above the compost pile it will thermally syphon it up. You heat the plant bed and that colder water will then flow down into the compost pile naturally.

Jack Spirko: It is that simple? I just need to make sure that my compost is lower than... (my garden) And there is probably a limit to the lift there?

Steven Harris: Yeah, you want to have just a foot or less above the compost pile

Jack Spirko: Ok. I don't want to push that up a 70% grade over 50 yards, that is not going to fly.

Steven Harris: Nope, not going to fly.

Post by: Hootie on July 13, 2012, 07:11:26 PM

Jack Spirko: Lets go on the to next one. "Where can I buy a wood gas unit?"

Steven Harris: There is only really one place. There are about 3 different people who sell wood gas units on the internet. One is important from China. Another one is a piece of stainless steel work of art that is $20,000. The people you want to buy a unit from is called the GEK Gasifier. We will put a link on as well as in the show notes on Jack's site. That is G-E-K Gasifier it is from a place called (redirects to run buy Jim Mason. They have the best off the shelf gasifier made, period. It is computer controlled. It controls the feeding of materials. It controls the operation of the gasifier. It makes a beautiful gas. They have a complete setup on a pallet ready to go with a 10kwatt, 15kwatt, or 20kwatt generator with a gasifier. Just literally put the material in i, turn it on, and let it run. When they have their gasification workshops, they are in Berkley California. They will have live video cam running for 72 hours on there Power Pallet. Just continuously making power, running lights and welders and everything just as a load to demonstrate and prove it can run continually. The thing will cost you between $10,000 and $20,000, but it is all done and ready to go. They are a open source community. Which means they have plans for this on their website. You can download the plans for nothing. They will make a kit for you. They have a little computer controlled cutter. Which will cut out all the steel pieces. They will send you all the steel pieces for you to make it from. They will send it to you partially assembled for more money. They will send it to you completely assemble for even more money. If you want they will ship you the whole thing with the generator included on a pallet directly to your location. They have these running around the world. If you just want to buy something and just put in material turn a switch and let it run. This is your best closest answer that is our there. I can not say enough about the GEK Gasifier or AllPower Lab and Jim Mason and his workshops. Just fabulous people, fabulous stuff they have done for gasification. They really turned it into the state of the art. Now they are actually working on an advanced Fischer Tropsch Progress, which is not finished yet. Which will turn that wood gas, which is really called sin gas. It is mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen. They are working on a way to turn it over to a liquid fuel. This is entirely possible and reasonable because the germans did it during world war 2. They had some synthetic fuel plants all over germany because they couldn't import enough oil because we bombed the hell out of the Ploie?ti oil fields.

Post by: Hootie on July 14, 2012, 08:49:23 PM

Jack Spirko: Very very cool. That type of system you are about is a large system significantly enough to run an average house hold, no problem, if you wanted to do it.

Steven Harris: Ummmm... 5 house holds.

Jack Spirko: <Laughs> Alright. Cool. Another thing is you kinda beat up photo voltaic panels. So we have a lot of people asking and saying they feel like they need to rethink the entire concept of solar panels in the first place. Can you say a little bit more about photovoltaic.

Steven Harris: Solar photovoltaic panels, they will make you energy independent. They will give you enough energy to be off the grid. They will give you enough energy to go through a disaster, to live a year with out power from the grid, to not even need the grid. However there is a price you are paying for this independence. Solar photovoltaic are made from the vapor deposition of silicon, which makes the polly silicon, and this is done with high temperature electric heat. So a great deal of electricity that goes into the manufacture of solar panels so they are expensive and energy intensive. Insolently most solar panels are made with nuclear electricity over in Japan. Solar photovoltaic is the most expensive electricity you will ever buy. The second you buy the panels to put them on your house, it is like taking the most expensive electricity you could ever have, taking 25 years of those utility bills and paying for them all at once. You are power independent, but you pay a hefty price for it. You got to have a batter bank system. Battery banks have a charge life, the number of charges and discharges cycles. Many time the battery banks will die before you can get your return on investment in your panels. You have to put new batters in. But you will be energy independent. And by no means will you be saving money doing this, except you might get your money back in 10yrs to 20yrs if you are in socialist California. Where they artificially inflated the price of electricity through tax by 20 - 25 cents a kilowatt hour. Then there is a possibility of getting your money back because the solar panels are made with 3.5% nuclear power from japan. If you live in the Bahamas and you have 35 to 40 cents electricity because it is an island nations and they make there electricity up with diesel fuel. You will get your money back even quicker. This also goes for Hawaii, some of the smaller islands electricity is 45 or 50 cents a kilowatt hour. You will get your money back there. Again it is the most expensive electricity you can ever get, but there is one thing more expensive then the most expensive electricity and that is no electricity.

Post by: Hootie on July 14, 2012, 11:04:28 PM

Jack Spirko: <Laughs> That is what I wanted to ask you. Would you say that in spite of expense and the loss in efficiency, if you actually what to be off grid does it really need to be part of what you are doing?

Steven Harris: If you really what to be off grid you need to have a combination of solar, wind, and preferable something else. That might be the gasifier. It might be hydro electric if you have water flowing. Most alternative energy systems are made up of... well you can only buy solar, wind, and hydro off the shelf now so that is pretty much your only choice.

Jack Spirko: Ok. Would you say if someone is going to be off grid that they need to have solar be a component?  At least some component of what they are doing? In spite of the expense, that the independence is worth it for that person.

Steven Harris: Unless they are in a class 6 or class 7 or class 8 wind area where the wind if blowing all the time, yeah.

Jack Spirko: Or where they have a really awesome stream in their backyard that they have water rights to. They can probably do hydro then.

Steven Harris: Hydro is the ultimate. Hydro is the best. Next best is wind. Third best would be solar. If you are living in Arizona or a sunny area, obviously solar is going to be a big component of what you do.

Jack Spirko: Alright, next question. Since pyrolysis which I think I have right, which might be defined as burning stuff without oxygen. Since pyrolysis isn't limited to vegetation, what are your thoughts of burning of house hold waist. Since the resulting gases are being burned, it should be cleaner than burning a pile of trash in an open field with fewer odors. Is this a viable way to get energy back from trash? Is so what materials are best suited and which should be avoided.

Post by: Hootie on July 15, 2012, 03:06:44 PM

Steven Harris: First is, just to be really retentive, the word is pronounced pyrolysis. It works very good. It is not the burning of anything. It is the heating of something you take a metal tank, like a metal gas can or a scuba tank, and you put your material into it. Like wood or trash or waste motor oil or doggy do, anything you want. Then you close it up and you have a valve and a hose coming off of it and you heat it. You heat it in a hot fire or with a hot flame or in a solar furnace. It will heat up the material. There is no combustion. It will start driving the hydro carbons. There is methanol, there is acetone, there is turpentine in wood and in wood chips. It dries off the lighter liquids and gases Then it start driving off methane. Then it starts even driving hydrogen off of the wood when it gets hotter. This is pyrolysis. This was very successfully demonstrated running a generator in the TV series 'The Colony' Season 1. They ran a significant amount of there electricity off of pyrolysis of broken up wood pallets and a 55 gallon metal Jerry Can that was going to a generator that they made out of a small motor and an alternator.

Jack Spirko: So it can be done and I got the pronunciation wrong.

Steven Harris: It's ok, I pronounce a lot of things wrong including my own name.

Jack Spirko: Well, i am a redneck so we pronounce lots of things differently then other people. Lets go on to the next question. It says, 'I am interested in device that combines a rocket stove, hot water heater, and waste heat that generates steam that runs an alternator or generate electricity. Is it possible? Is there such a device?'

Steven Harris: Yes it is called a steam engine. You can buy a 3 horse power steam engine from Mike Brown Solutions. Just go google it ( It will cost you $3000 to $4000 for the steam engine. That does not include the price of the boiler or the generator or alternator or the batteries and it will be very inefficient. Steam engines are generally 5% efficient or less if you are lucky, especially this combination that we are talking about.

Jack Spirko: Don't do that, use wood gas.

Steven Harris: Yeah don't do that use wood gas, definitely. The next question that came after that 'What are the best ways to compress and contain the various gas yields that you produce for yourself? What containers are best and most effective?' The answer to that question is us a compressor. People make this a lot harder than it has to be. A compressor has gas in and compressed gas out. You run that compressed gas into compressed gas container and your done. This can be a 120 psi shop compressor or it can be a 3000 psi diving compressor. It works the same. Just use a compressor to compress the gas. You don't need to have a special compressor compress methane or wood gas or propane. Any piston compressing a gas and letting it out will work fine. Now there are a lot of details to this question. It has to do with how much can you store at a 150 psi? How much can you store at 3000 psi? How much gas can you store in a propane tank? How much gas can you store in an air tank? How much can you store in a scuba tank? How much gas can you store in a commercial natural gas storage tank? What if you are using a shop compressor or a dive compressor? What if you are just storing the gas in a large bag? There were vehicles that were driven during the war time in Britain and are today in china, with big bags on top of the busses full of this gas that you made. I have a 95min video that covers all of that. It covers hydrogen, natural gas, methane, propane, carbon monoxide, sin gas, producer gas, and wood gas. It shows you how much you can store in a shop air tank, a propane tank, and a bladder or in a scuba tank or in a professional high pressure tank. It covers all of those for all those fuels. Then it tells you how far you can drive on all of those, in a small car like a Chevette, a medium size car or a pickup truck. It is a 95min long video. It is called "Fuels Video 1: Gaseous Fuels". There will be a link to at and in the show notes. It is a really great video for educating you on how much you can put in where and how far you can drive or us it.

Post by: Hootie on July 19, 2012, 03:06:16 PM

Jack Spirko: Very very cool, man. Lets keep running because I know we are going long but if you are ok with it we will just keep rocking on here

Steven Harris: Lets rock on. We got questions and answers lets go through them.

Jack Spirko: Alright. 'Is it possible to run a diesel engine on bio gas or would it damage the engine?"

Steven Harris: Diesel engine can run on bio gas easily. In fact it runs on bio gas many times easier than the gasoline engine does, but you have to keep 5% to 10% diesel fuel going into the engine to keep it running properly. This is widely done across the united states and across the world with garbage trucks, which are diesel trucks. they will run them on 95% natural gas, which is methane, and 5% diesel. Many times this will be natural gas or methane that comes from their landfill or they will get it directly from utility. A diesel engine will run on 90% to 95% natural gas and 5% to 10% diesel no modification, no changes, won't hurt the engine, it works great.

Post by: Hootie on July 22, 2012, 04:05:32 PM

Jack Spirko: Very cool. Next one here, "I have a bi fuel CNG gasoline, compressed natural gas F150. What is my best home option for generating bio gas to use in its system?"

Steven Harris: First of all do not overlook the natural gas from your house. It is extremely low price right now. The commodity markets today, which is Aug 16th 2011, natural gas is going for about $4 MMBtu. That is $4 per million Btu. Now, what is a million Btu? A million Btu is about eight and a third gallons of gasoline. To put that into perspective for you, it is $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline. A MMBtu that would cost you $29. Well if you wanted that in MMBtu out of 8.3 gallons of gasoline that is $29 to $30 of gasoline to make the million Btu. If you want to get some natural gas out of your house that would be about $4 for the commodity charge plus the utility charge and there is a delivery charge plus taxes so lets say it it about $8 MMBtu. If you drove your car on natural gas from your house, that would be like buying gas at $0.90 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. Why do you want to make a large scale bio digester when you can get the gas that cheap and that fewer from the utility? To answer your question, to make that amount of gas you would use an in ground digester made from bricks or cement as very well documented in the book we have called "Biogas 3" and there is a link on to the book.

Jack Spirko: Some of our folks are concerned, what if that stuff from the gas grid is not available anymore. Then some of our fold say, 'That's great but where is live we don't have gas service.'

Post by: Hootie on July 22, 2012, 07:05:46 PM

Steven Harris: Right. Well one, natural gas grid never goes down. Only in California where there are earth quakes will it get shut off, because the gas lines break and they cause fire. The gas in Louisiana during Karina was never shut off. The gas during blizzards that we have in Michigan has never shut off. Gas system after a tornado is never shutoff. The gas system is hardly ever shut off, not even once during 30 years. It is very reliable. Natural gas system runs of itself. I work with an expert from the natural gas company. He said, 'If everyone died on the planet, the natural gas system would continue to operate for about 6months with no human intervention or human contact. True you might not have natural gas. You might not what to be dependent upon it. You could make a digester, with the book "Biogas 3". It would be a pit in your backyard, lined with bricks or cement. it would be about 12 feet in diameter and about 12 feet deep. You would have to fill it with manure and plant material every day. It would give you the best fertilizer coming out the other end, as well as gas.

Jack Spirko: Awesome. Next question from the same guy, 'Can I use other gases in it like H2 ?'

Steven Harris: Yes, you can use hydrogen and exactly what you mention but really making hydrogen is an entire show in itself. It is not 2 or 3 shows. Buying hydrogen from a welding supply store or Praxis is like paying up to a $100 of gallon gasoline equivalent. Many people thing that hydrogen is like a lightsaber, instantly powered and it is not. You get the same mileage off of hydrogen, as you do natural gas, as you do off of gasoline. It is all BTU per mile driven.

Post by: Hootie on July 22, 2012, 08:07:40 PM

Jack Spirko: Very cool. Lets kind of move on from there. I think that you have covered that one good enough, even that there was a little bit more to the question. I think you have already hit it. Let's say, 'I would also like to use my gas water heater, furnace, and fireplace. From the sounds of it, I think when I worked to get my family off grid in the future.

Steven Harris: Bio gas will work in all of those. Just have to turn the pressure up a little bit more than normal because there will be some CO2 mixed in with the methane. You just need a little bit more of the gas to flow out and that is all there is to it.

Jack Spirko: You have to make lots of it too. If you want to do all of that.

Steven Harris: You have to make lots of it. Your furnace will take up a great deal. Your fireplace will take up a great deal. The best way to start with is the make bio gas as shown in "Biogas 1- 2" that is one of our books. You make it with 33 gallon drum upended into a 55 gallon drum. As it makes gas, the 33 gallon drum rises out of the 55 gallon drum. With a hose attached to it, the weight of the drum give you the pressure. The gas flows through the hose. Then you can use that for cooking to start with.

Jack Spirko: Very cool. The next one says, 'I have no experience with any of this, nor do I have any technical expertise. But I wanted to flesh out an idea. If solar heated water is so much more efficient than photo voltaic panels. Could you use hot water to generate electricity, in some sort of stirling engine or other generator? What would be the limitation of such a system?'

Steven Harris: Limitations, is call the Carnot cycle. Which is (T2 - T1 ) / T2. Since T2, your highest temperature is so low, because it is just hot water. You have a very very very low efficiency. You are not going to use hot water to generate electricity. It is not hot enough. It will never be hot enough. If it was, it would be steam. Then you would be using the steam and a steam engine as to generate electricity. Your not going to use hot water. There is not one single stirling engine on the entire face of the planet that you can buy that will make any usable amount of power. There is not one single stirling engine that will make 10 watt or a 100 watts and certainly not a 1000 watts of power every stirling engine you see online are basically worthless little toys that just spin a little week. It will not make any power. Do not write to me and tell me about whisper gen corporation, that they have one that will work. They don't. Call them up, they will put you on a waiting list. That waiting list has been there for 5 years.

Jack Spirko: Excellent. That is cut and dry and to the point. On the issue of wood gas, 'What type of fast growing wood would work best with coppicing that will produce the best energy output. I am assuming things like black locus, with a very fast growing dense wood would be preferable. I have also heard that resins in conifers make the gases they produces more redly combustable. Are some types of wood better for heat and are some types better for generators?'

Steven Harris: That answer to that is I have a book that cover every single plant that you could plant in any part of the world that makes wood. It is called "Firewood Crops Vol 1 & 2", there will be a link on If you want reforest Haiti, this book would tell you plants to plant. You want to plant a wood crop in Texas, California, or Montana or the east coast? It will tell you what to plant. It is a very detailed book. To cover some more detail, bamboo grows very quickly in many parts of the united states. The castor plant grows like a weed. It will even produces an oil. Switchgrass is another thing that is very popular. Going back to your question. The conifers with the resin are going to make better light gasses quicker that you can use in an engine. Especially if you were doing pyrolysis. The other non conifers are kind of a hard wood. They will make a better carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas with less tars that will ruin your engine.

Post by: Hootie on July 28, 2012, 08:57:38 AM

Jack Spirko: Next one, "I'm trying to determine the feasibility of your system to be my requirements. considering the digesters it produces methane: One, can you reasonably produce enough gas to run at home gas stove and oven with normal use or could it produce enough to run the hot water tank or could it do both?"

Steven Harris: Yes easily. Even with the 55 gallon barrel ones in the book "Biogas 1 & 2", you can make enough to do cooking with your stove top burner. Your oven will take a little bit more, but you can do it with 2 or 3 barrels. Your hot water tank, again it depends how many females you have in your family that take 30min hot showers. That is going take a lot more gas than your stove or your oven. Both together your going to need a bio digester that is in "Biogas 3" which is the in ground brick laid one.

Jack Spirko: next one says "Talk to me about wood gas using wood pellets. My house came with a pellet stove and reluctantly we use that to heat in the winter. Every fall we have 4 tons of wood pellets available. Can we use this as fuel to make wood gas. If so, does it produce more or less wood gas be more or less dense?"

Steven Harris: You can use wood pellets in a gasifier. You can use it in the GEK gasifier. You can use it in a FEMA gasifier. Wood pellets work really good in a gasifier. However you can not modify your wood pellet stove to be a gasifier. Your wood pellet stove is to heat your house only.

Jack Spirko: Easy one for you. "Which book of Steve's addresses building a wood gasifier and hooking up a generator?"

Steven Harris: That would be "Hydrogen Generator Gas for Vehicles and Engines: Volumes 3 and 4", it is at

Jack Spirko: Next one, "I would love to begin to setup a solar system for my house in Collin County, but I am reluctant to because of the up front cost. What would be the best way to begin? If I could spend $2000 every couple months or so. Buying the individual parts sized for the whole system. For example, buying however many batteries I need for the whole house, then a converter, or buying it in sections. For example, everything sized just to run the air conditioner, or the kitchen, or just saving up and getting everything at once?"

Steven Harris: You don't run a AC system off of solar power. Do one that I have ever seen has a solar PV system that is running an air conditioner because air conditioners take up so much electricity. It would be a huge system and every expensive. There is a reason that your AC system is hooked up to 240 volt line. If you wanted to do it, $2000 at a time every month you might be doing it for an entire year. Your system might cost $20,000. Your system might cost $30,000. Generally you don't size a solar panel system to the needs of the house. You size the house to the solar panel system you are going to buy.

Jack Spirko: Very cool. "I have been contemplating use of an old 8 foot diameter satellite dish to make a solar concentrator to make steam. What is the best way to make a passive solar tracker?"

Steven Harris: It would cost you between $1,500 and $5,000 for the steam engin and it will be very inefficient. It is very inefficient going from solar concentration to steam to steam engine. Which would be about the only way you could do it. As much as i hate solar photovoltaic, solar photovoltaic actually would be doing this financially.

Jack Spirko: What about using that, just thinking in your earlier comments about taking heat sending it water and using water to distribute and radiate it. Would a system like that maybe make sense if you were dumping the heat into water and using it for heating?

Steven Harris: No, not at all. To make a dish that tracks the sun on 2 axis, that dish is capable of making thousands of degrees of solar heat. It could get to 2000 degrees easily. All you need to do for heating water is 1 or 2 layers of glass or plastic in a black covered basin that is insulated. You would never go to... It is like hunting mice with a elephant gun. You would never go to that elaborate of a system just to heat water when water in a puddle heats up so quickly.

Jack Spirko: Ok, next one it says... I already know what you are going to say here, man. "It appears that the ethanol conversion to cars are illegal in many states. Does Steve have any first hand info on this. Would a wood gas conversion on a car run into the same issues?"

Steven Harris: If you live in a state where they have these socialist or colonial yearly inspection scams to keep mechanics employed. You would remove your wood gas system. You would remove your alcohol fuel system for the vehicle before it was inspected.

Jack Spirko: Which is easy enough to do. And I want to point out that the vast majority of states do not have vehicle safety inspection annually on vehicle. They just recently did that here in Arkansas and it was 3 years no body's children fell out of there car and exploded and turned to uranium or any other dangerous thing. Some politician tried to get it back on the books and nearly got road out of office on a rail. Texas still has a vehicle safety inspection. Pensilvania still has a vehicle safety inspection. And I agree with steve, it is nothing more than keeping mechanics employed and a couple bucks to the state. Frankly if they want 2 extra dollars every years from every driver, I just assume that they let that thing go and up the registration 2 bucks.

Steven Harris: which in Pensilvania they already have done.

Jack Spirko: Have they gotten ride of that there?

Steven Harris: No

Jack Spirko: Oh, they just raised it anyway and kept doing it.

Steven Harris: That's right, they moved it from twice a year to once a year. Then they raised the rates on everything else. You have to renew your driver license here every 3 years, instead of every 5 years like everyone else does. They get you coming and going.

Jack Spirko:  Wow, the common wealth of PA. My old stomping grounds. Next is "In the first interview Steve briefly mentioned HH0 and running cars. I am sure most of us have heard of this. Wondering if there was nay validity in this or if it is just complete bunk.

Steven Harris: Complete bunk. Hydrogen is not HHO. HHO does not exist, it's a myth. It is a dumb name that people put on to something and then they start to expunge magical powers to it. Like if I did electrolysis of water and the hydrogen and oxygen and I called it Steven's gas! And now it is not hydrogen and oxygen, it is Steven's gas. Now it takes on magical properties. It will purify water, it will cure cancer it will remove radiation. This is what happens when you put dumb name on thing. It begins to take on a life of there own. HHO is 100% bull crap. I don't care what you say. I don't care how loud you are now yelling at your iPod at me. It does not work it will never work. All the people on YouTube and all the videos you have seen have completely diluted themselves and its an hour long discussion. I actually wrote up on it, maybe I will put a link at to the article, so you can read it. Your fuel economy is all in your foot and all you are doing is making steam with an underwater electrolysis system that is starving the engine. That is making you drive like you can't accelerate as quick. Your not driving as fast, so your fuel economy is solely because your not driving as fast.

Jack Spirko: If I just lengthened your throttle cable a little bit, I would do the same thing a lot easier.

Steven Harris: If you put a piece of wood underneath your peddles so you could never go more than 60 miles an hour. it would do the same thing.

Jack Spirko: Awesome. Also two of my favorite people,Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the Myth Busters took a look at this. They said the something flat out the same thing you did. That none of these systems work, from the turn key ones to the buy the plans and build it yourself. It was all complete crap.

Steven Harris: It is, completely. I was development engineer for Chrysler corporation for 10 years. I am an expert in hydrogen and all those fuels, alternative and conventional. I have done it all. I can tell you it is 100% don't waste your time. It doesn't matter, there are people still brain polluted who are still yelling at there iPods right now. Screaming at me. I am fine.

Jack Spirko: Don't apologize for telling people the truth, that is what this show is all about. The final question now. "I am looking to build a wood gasifier that will run a 5000 watt generator. That will charge a bank of batteries, that I can use as a source of power in an outage. Or to plug a small portion of my appliances into. Any tips above what is in your book. A little background to the question. I live next to a saw mill and have access to a large amount of saw dust. that are a nuisance to the saw mill operator. My idea is to run this gasifier with saw dust as fuel to create wood gas, so I can run the run the 5K generator, charge the bank of batteries with inverter, that would be a backup power for essential power needs during a power outage. And other times as a way to cut my grid usage by wiring a separate line of 120 volt into a room or two to run things in the house. I ordered your book "Hydrogen Generator Gas for Vehicles and Engines: Volumes 3 and 4", as beginning of my plans for such a system. Just wondering if you had any additional tips for this specific application.

Post by: Hootie on July 28, 2012, 03:08:29 PM

Steven Harris: First of all you got the correct book. That will get you going. It will get you making a FEMA. It will get you hooking it up to your generator. It will get you going. A battery bank is about the most reliable source of power you can get for an emergency because there are no moving parts to them. They are sitting there waiting for you to use them. You just flip on the inverter and instantaneously you have power. I have one at the mother house. I have dozens of other people who have built them for emergency backup power and they work absolutely great. First keep them charged off the grid all the time, in case of emergency. If you want to save energy and run part of house off the battery bank and then recharge it with the wood gas, go ahead you can do it. That will work real good for you, it is a good place to start. In fact you can even get a grid tie in converter and you can tie it into your house. The house will automatically use the high voltage coming off of the grid tie in converter. The grid tie converter will phase make the house electricity perfectly and if you are making more electricity off of the wood gas generator and the battery bank than you are using, and you have a net metering meter. It will actually run the meter backwards for you.

Jack Spirko: Absolutely awesome for spending about an hour and a half with us today. I am sure everybody out there is once again mind swimming with ideas and concepts I think we really answered a lot of questions. I am sure a lot of people out there that didn't send in questions had very similar questions and have a better grounding and better understanding of these concepts now.

Steven Harris: Fabulous, I am happy to come back anytime you want. On a schedule or not and answer all the energy questions from your people and give them hands on solutions. Provide them with the best stuff, even if they don't buy anything, we'll give it to them for free of charge. As much as we can. We will continue on. Maybe we do a show on alcohol. That would be a populate subject for everyone and it sounds like you got a great deal of background with your beer brewing on the subject.

Jack Spirko: I like to make alcohol. I have never made it to put in my diesel truck or my gas car. I have made quite a bit of it to put into myself. I enjoy that too, so I always enjoy talking about things that involve yeast and fermenting and mash conversion processes and things like that. Yeah, I think we would like to have you back maybe once a month of something like that. I also want people now, that didn't hear the first interview or forgot. Tell them where they can go to buy your book, find out more you, and what have you.

Steven Harris: The company is Knowledge Publication. Our website is Like US H2, United States Hydrogen. That is kinda hard to say on the air so I always tell everyone go to You can remember that, cause you are driving, it is easy to remember, you can write it down and I'll have have a link to and Knowledge Publication on there. I'll have a link to every book that we talked about. I will put up a link on there to the first interview with jack, to Jack's website. You'll have the links to the current interview up there. From that website it will take you to where the Gaseous Fuels video is, to where Sunshine to Dollars is, it will take you to where AGG 3 and 4 is, it will take you to my YouTube page where I have all my videos you can watch. will be a resource that changes with every interview to reflect what we talked about and where can get everything we spoke about. I will put a link up there to GEK Gasifiers and everyone else. Your audience is just fantastic. I just want to give them as much as possibly can, as much knowledge and information on where to get it free on the internet. If they so desire where to get it in our books and DVDs. There is a great deal of free information out there. I am happy to point them in the right direction.

Jack Spirko: Excellent, I think that helps people formulate what they want to do. Then buying your materials takes them to the next level. Folks, I want to remind you here at the end, a really cool thing Steven did. It take me usually a lot of work to add somebody to the Member Support Brigade, as a supporting member. Generally not because it is not a good deal for them, generally because they don't understand that it is a good deal for them too. It generally take a week of working a minimum to say "Hey yeah, I will support your Support Brigade and give a discount to your members." Steven we did one interview and at the end of the interview I explained to him what the Member Support Brigade was. He said, "Well of course I'll do that. Access to your best costumers for a discount." Of course things like rocket stoves and some of the other hard products, they have thin margins. He wasn't able to do a discount on everything but what he did put a discount on is, what I think is the most valuable thing there, the information. All the books, all the DVDs on Steve's website 15% off to Member Support Brigade members. So if you are MSB and you are going to buy there, use your benefit go thought the MSB and do that first. When you are trying to find out how to do stuff like this, your thinking about where to get your informational product from. I always say keep it in the community. When somebody steps up and sponsors the MSB they are part of the community, so put your money to work there first. He has done a lot for the show. I know he has given me a tremendous education. You do this show long enough and you think, what else can I talk about. I have a hundred different ideas now, just from the interview from Steve. Folks put your money back in the people that are supporting the community. Steve thank you again for being here

Steven Harris: As Jack mentioned, we have rocket stove. I actually a wood gas stove that gasifies wood and burns the gas. We have some nuclear safety products on the website as well, but 15% off all books and DVDs. Absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Member Support Brigade and The Survival Podcast in itself. Thank you to Jack and thank you to everyone else. Write me if you have any questions. I'll answer them for you and kick you off in the right direction. Its just been a pleasure.

Jack Spirko: Again folk with that we are going to wrap up. I know we when long today, but i wanted to get as many questions as we could. we do have some other ones we'll line Steve up for many sometime in September probably after the self-reliance expo, to come back on. We'll keep answering your question. I think that... I am very appreciative that steve came on the show. I am really appreciative of the listener that tracked him down in the first place. With that, this has been Jack Spirko today along with Steven Harris. Helping you figure out how to live that better life, if times get tough or even if they don't.

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