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Archive for the ‘Mechanical’ Category

Trus Joist engineered wood products

Trus Joist engineered wood products


Truss joists make it easy to run plumbing and elctrical

Truss joists make it easy to run plumbing and elctrical


Many natural builders use wooden TJI engineered joists for floors and roofs. This online specifier’s guide makes it easy to determine what size TJIs to use.

From Custom Truss LLC:
“What are TJI Wooden Floor Joists?
TJI joists offer an excellent alternative to wooden floor trusses or flat roofs. These high-tech joists combine webs of O.S.B. (Oriented Strand Board) and flanges made from Microllam. They are patterned after steel I-beams. Next time you pass a commercial construction project take a look at the steel beams. Shaped like an ‘I’ they have very narrow centers with heavy flanges on top and bottom. Look how much weight they can support. Wooden TJI joists work the same way.

Why use Wooden TJI Joists?
TJI joists can use as little as one-third of the wood used in traditional sawn lumber. Resource-efficient, engineered wood TJI joists are manufactured to resist the shape-changing effects of temperature and moisture. Long length, lightweight and versatile, TJI Joists use an innovative design to help prevent squeaky floors and can be easily drilled and cut for plumbing and ductwork.”

From Woodbywy.com:
“Advantages:
• Uniform and Predictable
• Lightweight for Fast Installation
• Resource Efficient
• Resists Bowing, Twisting, and Shrinking
• Significantly Reduces Callbacks
• Available in Long Lengths
• Limited Product Warranty

Why Choose Trus Joist® TJI® Joists?
• Engineered for strength and consistency
• Efficient installation saves time and labor
• Longer lengths allow more versatile floor plans
• Less jobsite waste
• Fewer red tags and callbacks”

Text and images source: Custom Truss LLC
Source text and specifier’s guide: Woodbywy.com

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Container for mechanical systems: I think the biggest aspect is you can invest in systems and take them with you. It is an investment not an expense.

Container for mechanical systems: I think the biggest aspect is you can invest in systems and take them with you. It is an investment not an expense.


Guest article by Cliff, who’s planning his sustainable home in a rural area.

“Am pondering using a 10ft container as a systems room located at the back of the vault. It will keep the inside of the house clean without need for additional space or clutter. I can put the coal boiler, hot water cylinder, clothes washer, and electrical fuse box inside. I can terminate any communications (phone, internet) inside as well. It would be short runs from boiler to accumulator tank for reduced heat loss. If I use rainwater any water filtration equipment can be installed there as well. I just need to feed hot water and electrical wires from the container into the home from the rear. I am used to computer rooms that use a central power distribution unit. All outside power runs to the distribution unit and you use flexible wiring to anywhere else. The biggest plus is I will never need to worry about carbon monoxide or fire from the coal burner. I can mount a decent size coal hopper on to the back or side of the container and use the supplied auger feed directly into the boiler.

From a tradesman or service standpoint I think it keeps it in a better comfort zone. Non standard can become a big issue here where people won’t work on it or touch it. Some people will work on anything and some won’t. For standardized trades I best keep it standardized.

From a project management point I can have my electricity and boiler all functional and tested during the build. I can have 2 critical paths instead of one, systems and build parallel instead of build then systems serially. There is some integration but nothing complex. If I ever move all the expensive stuff is in the container. I can just haul it away.

The container makes it much more plug and play. You can work on it yourself at any location in any weather (fully waterproof) long before you actually begin building. If you are building in a remote area it makes it much more possible and easier. A 24 ft container would be much more difficult to move around. Tare weight of a 10ft container is 1,100 kg so movable by a tractor with a front end loader and doesn’t require specialty equipment which can be expensive especially in a remote area.

Thinking out of the square you can even have multiple low cost houses. You can move your systems container to whichever you are about to live at.

As a business opportunity you can sell packaged systems containers. They could be built in a developing country cheaper and then shipped to the end client anywhere in the world. This component option is a pre-manufactured unit designed to simply attach to conventional plumbing and electrical connections. This generic design makes it easy for anyone to install the unit. Because it is a manufactured, packaged, it is cheaper, more efficient and more reliable than any custom design. For a first time owner/builder it would make it a lot easier as he could focus on just building and not need to worry with all the specialty skill sets. You could even have a toilet and shower option.”

Owen: Putting all the mechanicals in a container is a great idea. As I was reading I figured out right away the ease of taking it with you if you ever move. Can’t say that for any other house. And like you say, everything is easy for the electricians, plumbers and heating guys. Plus, it’s easy to lock up if you’re gone. There’s even decent potential in selling units like this.

The closest thing I’ve seen is a pre-built plumbing/electrical kitchen and bath unit. You’ve bumped up this basic idea several fold. It reminds me of data centers that are designed for deployment to remote areas of the world. Everything is self contained in a container, even the generator, air conditioner, Internet, etc. Hmm- what about a backup generator, pump/water purifiers and/or other redundant systems?

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Kiva fireplace

Kiva fireplace


Kiva fireplace

Kiva fireplace


“The kiva or bee hive fireplace with their distinctive arched firebox door is typical of southwestern design and most often placed in a corner. Historically these kiva fireplaces were constructed of the same adobe material used to construct the home.

Custom bee hive fireplaces can be found in almost limitless styles and must be installed by a mason and require a solid foundation to hold the great weight of the entire fireplace and chimney all the way through the roof. Today we have more options available to us. All kiva fireplaces should be installed only by a qualified contractor.

A modern option to a mason built kiva fireplace is a prefabricated masonry firebox with double wall chimney pipe which creates a relatively lightweight fireplace weighing about 650 pounds and can even be installed on the second floor of a wood constructed home. The traditional kiva shape is formed using a metal mesh lath facade covered with stucco or plaster.”

Kiva fireplace insert

Kiva fireplace insert


A third option, and the main reason for writing this blog post, is to install a steel fireplace insert inside the kiva. You could make the kiva fireplace yourself and then install the insert for improved heating efficiency. The kiva inserts are somewhat difficult to find. Most of the ones I managed to find are rectangular and not as aesthetically pleasing as the arch shaped inserts. Please leave a comment below if you find some good brands.

Source: Western and Southwester Decorating
Image source: Eduscape.com
Image source: CageFreeFamily.com
Kiva inserts:
Image source: Clients First Real Estate
Heat & Glo

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Torus Design with E-Cat cold fusion energy generator (click to enlarge)

Torus Design with E-Cat cold fusion energy generator (click to enlarge)


Torus Design floorplan (click to enlarge)

Torus Design floorplan (click to enlarge)


Specifications: 2,224 sq. ft. interior, 564 sq. ft. greenhouses, 1,520 sq. ft. courtyard, each side has two bedrooms, two baths, Footprint: 74’ diameter not including 8.5’ wide greenhouse

Description: The Torus Design is the first home to my knowledge that is specifically designed to utilize cold fusion generation. When LENR reactors come on the market (hopefully next year), they could be coupled with a micro-CHP cogenerator to produce both heat (radiant floor heat, in this case) and electrical power. The house concept was inspired by the movie Thrive, which outlines ways of creating prosperity and equality in the world. Lack of energy is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. Clean, affordable, sustainable energy would likely raise the standard of living for mankind by helping to alleviate poverty, hunger, lack of clean water and more.

The Torus Design brings together three emerging trends: increasing self sufficiency — including renewable energy and food production, families moving back together to save money, and sustainability. These trends are evident in the growth of home gardens, organic food, green building, eco-conciousness, off-grid homes, do-it-yourself attitudes, and cost cutting strategies such as bartering and trading for goods and services.

The current version could be used as a duplex (rent the other half to slash your bills). You could split costs with a friend or family member and share the courtyard. A lot of people can no longer afford their own home, so this design offers a potential solution for families to move in together. The design could be customized for large families.

Options not shown: cisterns on the exterior and courtyard, underground Earthbag Survival Shelter with optional escape tunnel, Cool Pantry, rainwater barrels, food forest surrounding the home.

Thrive movie (also on YouTube or at least it was for a while)
Over 120 more designs at Earthbag House Plans
Plans can be ordered through DreamGreenHomes.com (The Torus Design should be posted there shortly.)

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Tomorrow I will unveil the plans for my Torus Design — the first home specifically designed for the E-Cat/LENR fusion energy system. E-Cats or Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) technology, promises clean, nearly free energy that will likely rank as one of the most important discoveries in history. LENR technology can provide extremely low cost energy that doesn’t pollute or create nuclear wastes. LENR creates distributed/decentralized energy where it’s needed – right in your home, for instance. This eliminates transmission losses and frees us from dependence on big businesses that are prone to manipulating prices. Distributed energy means you’re not reliant on the grid or vulnerable to grid disruptions. A blizzard, for instance, can’t knock out your power.

The reality of LENR is now assured, as you’ll see by the many sources listed below. One can debate the efficacy of LENR products coming to market since the inventors have not yet agreed to public testing, but it’s time to put to rest the tired old arguments about the existence of Cold Fusion that have clouded the issue since the famous Pons and Fleishmann experiment in 1989. The cast of supporters now includes NASA scientists, professors in major universities, military research programs, independent scientists, Nobel laureates and even the Swedish Skeptics Society.

Here’s a recent quote from chief NASA scientist Dr. Dennis Bushnell: “In short, LENR, depending upon the TBD performance, appears to be capable of revolutionizing aerospace across the board. No other single technology even comes close to the potential impacts of LENR upon Agency Missions. The two decades of experiments and the weak interaction theories have removed the existential risk, what is remaining is to engineer for improved performance.” Watch Bushnell’s slideshow.

Dr. Joseph Zawodny of NASA Langley Research Center gave a presentation on LENR in September, 2011 along with Bushnell. Zawodyny’s presentation slides are available here.

His summary of LENR:
• Chemical energy release compared to fission nuclear = 1:1,900,000 ; fusion nuclear = 1:7,300,000 ; LENR = 1:8,000,000
• A cheap, abundant, clean, scalable, portable source of energy will impact EVERYONE
• Singular solution to peak oil, climate change, fresh water, and associated geopolitical instabilities
• Drop-in replacement for traditional utility heat sources. Minimal impact to existing infrastructure
• Enables widely distributed generation. Homes and businesses generate what they need – on site
• Enables whole new approaches to all of NASA’s missions – we can affordably get off this rock!

Michael A. Nelson, 29 years experience with NASA, said “Technology demonstrated by Andrea Rossi or Francesca Piantelli is potentially a “game changer” for space propulsion and vehicle energy needs.”

The US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) lectured on twenty years of verified research involving anomalous heat and mini-explosions on deuterated metals, reported by various governmental and international research laboratories. They conclude that these energetic observations are of nuclear origin and sow the seeds of a true green energy source. Their video presentation titled Twenty-Year History of Lattice-Enabled Nuclear Reactions (LENR) – Hiding in Plain Sight is shown above.

Nobel prizewinner Professor Brian Josephson promotes Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat.

Dr. Brian Ahern, MIT graduate, holds 26 patents and was a senior scientist for 17 years in research and development at USAF Rome Lab at Hanscom Air Force Base. Ahern claims to understand the underlying LENR phenomena and has filed a patent titled Amplification of Energetic Reactions. His theory is available in this PowerPoint presentation.

Lewis Larsen, co-author of Widom-Larsen Theory, explains his ideas in this interview: Lewis Larsen Talks LENR

Professor Sven Kullander is a professor emeritus of high-energy physics at Sweden’s Uppsala University and Chairman of Energy Committee, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Kullander observed some of Rossi’s E-Cat demonstrations in Italy and concluded, “Any chemical process for producing 25 kWh from any fuel in a 50 cm 3 container can be ruled out. The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production.” Kullander is currently analyzing the spent fuel from Rossi’s E-Cat and his detailed report is expected shortly.

Dr. Michael McKubre is a long-time cold fusion/LENR researcher and advocate at Stanford Research Institute International in Silicon Valley, a major source of cutting edge technology. Dr. McKubre was featured in the 60 Minutes segment about cold fusion (a good introduction to the topic). There are numerous excellent videos by McKubre on YouTube.

Dr. Robert Duncan, vice chancellor of research at the University of Missouri, wants to establish a national research program that would help scientists study LENR. Once a skeptic, Duncan did the research and now endorses the technology.

Be sure to read Ruby Carat’s fine article Reviewing DoD Interest in Cold Fusion, that details verification of cold fusion research by US military labs.

Dr. George Miley with the Fusion Studies Laboratory, Professor Emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois, recipient of the Edward Teller medal for innovative research in hot fusion, editor of Fusion Technology magazine for the American Nuclear Society for more than 15 years and author of numerous books and articles says, “There’s very strong evidence that low-energy nuclear reactions do occur. Numerous experiments have shown definitive results – as do my own.” George Miley’s Power Point presentation.

Professor Emeritus Yoshiaki Arata, Japan’s most decorated scientist is expert in LENR. Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) formed a research and development consortium with ten major industrial corporations, including Hitachi, Toshiba, Toyota, Tokyo Electric Power, and others. The number of corporate participants has now grown to 20, and last year the four year budget contribution from MITI was increased from $25 million to $100 million. Three hundred patents of this kind have been denied in the US while 100 comparable patents have been approved in Japan.

Luigi Paganetto, president of ENEA (the Italian national energy agency), said in the foreword of COLD FUSION – The history of research in Italy, “… two government programs – carried out in close interaction and with check of results – have proved the existence of this phenomenon in terms that are not ascribable to a chemical process.”

Other highly respected scientists working on LENR include Dr. David Nagel, Dr. Frank Gordon, Professor John Dash, Peter Hagelstein, Dr. Edmund Storms, Professor Sergio Focardi, Francesco Piantelli, Tadahiko Mizuno and many others.

The E-Cat has been covered by EV World, Wired, TEDx, Popular Science, Discovery, CBS, Fox, Washington Times, PhysOrg, Slashdot, Yahoo News, Daily Mail, MSNBC, LiveScience, Forbes, EE Times, Gizmodo, Renewable Energy World, Zerohedge and countless websites.

Despite the overwhelming evidence supplied by the experts listed above (and many others), mainstream media such as Forbes Magazine still claims “no one could duplicate” the work of Pons and Fleishmann. Many sources, including those I’ve just listed, show this is completely wrong. Most reliable sources say several hundred replications have been done. Jed Rothwell, founder of LENR-CANR.org and LENR expert, claims around 17,000 replications. No matter the precise number, review the sources presented here and judge for yourself. I have no doubt a large number of successful LENR replications have been done. And with LENR products beginning to enter the marketplace, time is running out for the die hard skeptics.

Recommended sources:
LENR-CANR.org (more than 1,000 original scientific papers)
What is Cold Fusion? (good overview)
Vortex list (active discussion among scientists and engineers, although the quality of the site is currently hampered by trolls)
E-Cat News
Al Fin Energy claims a 1MW reactor the size of a rice cooker
The Science of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction by Dr. Edmund Storms, retired researcher from Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Storms and others at LANL successfully replicated Fleischmann and Pons experiment)
E-Cat Energy Catalyzer: Unlimited Low Cost Energy?

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Andrew, one of our readers, suggested a blog post about small stoves for all those planning small earthbag homes. This is a great idea because earthbag buildings are highly efficient and so in many cases all you need is a small stove. The emphasis here is on small, low cost, do-it-yourself wood stoves that are fairly easy to make. Making the stoves yourself can save you $200-$300 or so. Buying used or a kit are other good options. These small stoves go by various names, including tent stoves, outfitter stoves, shepherd stoves, barrel stoves, homemade wood stoves and so on. The following stoves include military surplus stoves and stoves made from drums, propane tanks, water heater and compressor tanks, beer kegs and ammo boxes.

If you’re serious about building a stove like this, it will pay to watch lots of videos, because there are lots of ways of making things – some better than others. You can mix and match features and get a stove that’s just right for your needs. Consider adding a cooktop surface and hot water jacket (water heating coil). If your welding skills aren’t up to the task or you don’t have the necessary equipment, barter or trade work with a local welder to keep the money in your community. The following list contains some of the best videos from a variety of types.

Army surplus and ammo box stoves
M1941 tent stove
Army Surplus Hunter SHA (Space Heater Arctic)
Homemade Ammo Box Woodburner Stove
Ammo box wood stove 3 FINAL
DIY wood stove from a surplus ammo can

Gas bottle stoves
Luke’s stove made with a gas bottle homemade wood burning stove
Recycled gas bottle log burning stove part 3
Gas bottle log burning stove
Wood Burning Grover Stove
Homemade Wood Stove a.k.a. “Piglet”
Homemade wood burning stove
Wood burning stove with water heater from gas bottle
Home made gas bottle wood burning stove
Cylinder hunt tent stove
Cylinder Stoves Hunter Stove Package Wood Burning Tent Stove

Barrel or drum stoves
Double barrel stove
Winter solo hot tenting
DIY Hunter Tent Stove woodburner #3
Barrel wood stove update
Build Your Own Woodstove For $100
Survival stove
55 gallon wood stove barrel
Barrel Stove Kits

Stoves from hot water tanks
Wood Stove From A Hot Water Heater
How to build a wood stove from old hot water tank
Wood stove from hot water cylinder
Water Heater Wood Stove

Stove from compressor tanks, beer kegs, scrap steel
Air Compressor Tank Wood Stove – The Finale
Beer keg wood stove
Homemade wood burning stove
SHTF Box Wood Stove

Rocket stoves (hugely popular, do a search on YouTube)
DRTV: Rocket Stoves

Stoves for sale
Shepherd stoves
Outfitter stove
Wood burning stove woodburner coal gas bottle stove
Cylinder Stoves Hunter Stove Package Wood Burning Tent Stove

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DIY masonry heater with oven. Very practical. These stoves will burn for several days with no fire tending. The builder had no previous brick laying experience.
Click for free building instructions with drawings.

The Masonry Heater Association of North America (lots of great pics and plans on masonry heaters and ovens, and they teach workshops)

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