Friday, February 12, 2016

My 1st ever post

Coming up on the 10th anniversary of this Blog I am re-posting my 1st ever article. I have corrected the spellings, I was blind to many mistakes back then!

Wood Pellet Heating Rip-Off in Ireland

Rip-Off Ireland has become a common catch phrase in recent times. There is now a completely new type of Rip-Off going on which is based on the new Government Grant Scheme set up to promote domestic renewable source heating systems.

There are generous government grants for Solar, Geo-Thermal, and Bio-mass wood pellet heating systems. Full details are available at This is an excellent site with lots of information. There are grant application forms etc., and the site gives details of approved units and approved installers.

What the site does not detail are some of the major price rip-offs going on in the business. For instance; the cost to install a pellet central heating boiler and commission it, price not including materials, the time amounts to about a half days work, was quoted by one recommended installer at €1000 inclusive of VAT. Materials for plumbing and flue etc. are extra. Now that's price gouging at its worst, and it is just plain sickening!! I have a great dislike of gougers, I consider it nothing less than thievery.

Government "Greener Homes" Grant has spawned green eyed monsters!

Some of the more common makes of wood pellet central heating units being sold in Ireland are the Opop and Dor Boilers with either Boink or Scotte burner mechanisms fitted. The Boilers are made in the Czech Republic and I will have the retail prices posted here soon. But be assured that the Irish price is perhaps 50 - 100% more expensive. I will also publish some retail prices for the burner units from the mainland European Continent. Again you can be sure the Irish price is 50% to 100% more expensive.

The single biggest rip-off is in the installation and commissioning prices being charged. Like €1000 one thousand Euro being asked for a single boiler installation. I kid you not! €1000 for installing ONE boiler. The installation and commissioning time amounts to roughly a half days work this information by the admission of two separate installers. The seller-installers tend to charge a bit less for installation - but then they have the sale profit don't they? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Impending World Disaster


The World
is Heading for a Disaster
I am not talking about climate change, nuclear war, or asteroid strikes.
Greed and Avarice, in this case, are the Weapons of Mass Destruction

Just short of one year ago I posted a piece that voiced one of my nightmares; that the world was returning to Medieval Feudalism with all the horrors, disease, and ignorance associated with that time returning.

A time when all the power and almost all the wealth was in the control of a handful of emperors, kings, and war-lords, and church leaders.  A time of plagues, a time of migrations, a time of famines, a time of wars and uprisings. It's happening again now, a return to a form of Medieval Feudalism - just substitute the super rich, the mega businesses, the financial manipulators, the big stock market players, for Emperors, Kings, and War-Lords.

Here is what I wrote then:

Oxfam have just released 
a New Report  
62 of the richest people - just a Bus full
Own as much as 3,600,000,000 of the poorest
1% of people own 99% of everything
The Disaster is happening

Mahatma Gandhi

"Poverty is the worst form of violence"
Mahatma Gandhi


If Mother Nature went seriously awry and some few squirrels were able to take and hide away some tens of thousands of times their normal share of nuts, what do you think might be the outcome?

Thankfully this is not happening in the woods and forests of the world, but it is happening in the human world.  The latest reports clearly show that the rich are getting very much richer 44% in 5 years, while the rest of society is getting poorer. What do you think might be the outcome?

Those who take and hide away more than their fair share, are depriving others. Those who take vastly more than their fair share are committing violence against the greater part of the peoples of earth.

My fear is that the deprived, the starving, the under-privileged will rise up and chaos will ensure.

Frederick Douglass

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced ... 
neither persons nor property will be safe"
Frederick Douglass

The Oxfam Report outlines the GROWING Imbalance.

 Growing inequality means that the world's wealthiest 62 people, as many people as would fit on a tour bus, own as much as the poorest half of the entire world population - some 3.6 billion people - according to a new report from Oxfam.

Don't you think the shape of the graph of growing inequality is remarkably like a missile?

It amazes me just how symmetrical both sides of the above graph actually are. It worries and sickens me that the richest 1% of people - which is around 73 million of the world's 7.3 billion people - now own as much as everyone else put together. That is 1% of people own 99% of everything. Too much water behind a dam - and the dam will burst.

This is in a report published ahead of the annual World Economic Forum of global political and business leaders in Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The latest Oxfam report indicates that world-wide imbalance, unfairness, and inequality has reached levels not seen in over 100 years..

Oxfam has calculated that the richest 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.5 billion people, or the bottom half of humanity.

The wealth of those 62 people has risen 44 percent, or more than half a trillion dollars, over the past five years, while the wealth of the bottom half has fallen by over a trillion.

The Toxic Trend

The saying that "a rising tide lifts all boats" could not be further from the truth in this case.  Wealth is being sucked upward at an alarming rate, leaving a massive vacuum at the lower end. Of the generation of wealth in our present day world the Oxfam report says the following:  "Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate".

It points to a "global spider's web" of tax havens that ensures wealth stays out of reach of ordinary citizens and governments, a recent estimate puts the figure at $7.6 trillion in private individual wealth held in offshore accounts. The figure is greater than the combined economies of the United Kingdom and Germany.

Some Other Commentators on the Dangers of Inequality

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining,energy and manufacturing sectors. "Inequality is one of the biggest threats to economic well-being and it needs to be addressed."

Edelman's annual published it's "Trust Barometer" which shows that in 2015 there was a record gap in trust between the informed publics and mass populations. This exists in many countries, and is driven by income inequality and divergent expectations of the future. The gap is the largest in the United States, followed by the UK, France and India.

In the last year, trust has declined for three of the four institutions measured. NGOs continue to be the most trusted institution, but trust in NGOs declined from 66 to 63 percent. In 66% of countries surveyed there is not trust in the media. Governments are not trusted in 19 of 27 markets surveyed.
And trust in business is below 50 percent in half of those markets.

In December of 2014 the New York City's police commissioner has reminded us of the roots of crime, and recent acts of civil unrest."This is about the continuing poverty rates, the continuing growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor. It's still about unemployment issues"

I'm depressed and worried.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Abel Pifre Solar Energy History


Solar Energy History
The French Connection 3
I felt the need to find out more about 
French engineering genius Abel Pifre
This post is my research 

A drawing of Abel Pifre demonstrating his Solar printing press in Paris

I really wanted to know more about Abel Pifre

I have had a keen interest in the history of solar energy for several years, and have written several posts on this blog tracing, as best I could, the far from clear lines of that history. Some of the most interesting and exciting episodes of solar history took place in France where Augustin Mouchot came up with the concept of a practical solar concentrator. Essentially a large parabolic mirror to focus the suns rays onto a target and extract the energy and drive machinery. The idea essentially was for a solar concentrator to produce steam to drive various machines. Realising the idea took the mechanical genius of his student and assistant Abel Pifre to actually bring it to fruition.

History has, for the most part, tended to place Abel Pifre in the role of side-kick to Mouchot. I, on the other hand, tend to believe that if it were not for Pifre, the concept would not have been demonstrated so effectively.

Here is a link to the original referred piece:

What I previously wrote.
Back in July of 2010 I wrote the following:

Abel Pifre (1852-1928), Genius and showman.
(I could find no photo or likeness of M. Pifre)

Unfortunately there is no photograph or likeness of, nor is there any great deal of historical information to be had about Abel Pifre.

He was a French engineer who got his start in solar energy engineering by working as an assistant / consultant with Augustin Mouchot the guy that developed the first solar engine.

Later on Abel Pifre went on to build several improved solar engines of his own, including a solar driven printing press, for which perhaps he is most remembered.

My recent research on Abel Pifre 

 Taken outside Pitre's Lyon workshop before the merger with Otis

Pifre merged with Otis new name on workshop in Lyon

I have been doing a lot of digging and searching and have come up with a few insights into the genius of Abel Pifre. What follows is a condensed version of what I have gathered. There are some questions about the quality and veracity of the data, and especially regarding a photograph taken in front of Abel Pifre's engineering works in Lyon. I am hoping, perhaps naively, that perhaps one of the gentlemen in the photo may be Pifre himself. If anyone has information on this, or any other point, I should be most grateful to have an update.

The Man.

Could the man on the left possible be Abel Pifre?

Marc Abel Pifre was born April 24, 1852 in Segonzac Charente. He died 24th March 1928 in Paris at his home at 54, rue de Monceau in the 8th Arrondissemen. He was 76 years of age.

On the 13th of April 1882 there was a marriage contract; between Marc Abel Pifre, civil engineer of Arts and Manufactures, residing 30, rue d'Assas, and Marie Tavernier, without profession, residing 30, rue d'Assas . Wedding at the town hall of the 6th arrondissement of Paris.

A replica of Abel Pifre's solar steam generator.

Abel Pifre was a true hands-on leading inventor and engineer. While he is generally remembered for his solar energy work with Augustin Mouchot, he has many other achievements and credits including. Officer of the Legion of Honour (D. August 12, 1923, OJ August 16, 1923, p. 8155).General Albert Adviser (1919-1925). Aveluy mayor (1908-1919) ( Aveluy is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France).

Then mayor of Albert. Engineer of Arts and Manufactures. Industrial Albert (director of Otis-Pifre facilities (lifts)). Founder of Le Réveil of the Somme.

And the bit commonly known about him; his association with Augustin Mouchot the mathematician who worked on solar energy, but it was Abel Pifre who brought the idea into reality. Later, he developed Mouchot's idea far past the initial point, to where he demonstrated the first printing press using solar energy.

Pifre's Patents.

Documents dated 11th to the 27th of August 1901, indicate that Abel Pifre transferred some 29 patents to the new merged company. The new company had already received patents relevant to the construction of elevators, hoists and electric motors (D. 26 Feb. 1902 proclaiming 87 assignments of patents, 47th to 65th, Bull. Acts 1901, No. 2449, Text No. 43116, p. 1477).

Pifre's Workshops.

It would seem that Abel Pifre had several workshops on the go in various places and at different times. I am unable to figure the sequence. Here is a brief list of some workshops.

AteliersAlbert (Somme) for the manufacture of equipment and material for sugar mills, oil mills and distilleries, but also for cement plants. Director in 1899: Théophile Colinot. Workshops destroyed during the war.

Aterlers Abel Pifre, later Ateleirs Otis Pifre in Lyon, at 28 bis, rue Dumoulin - now street of Father Chevrier 7th Arr.

Ateliers Bezons (Seine-et-Oise - Val-d'Oise today -), at 2, quai de Seine, workshops created after the destruction of workshops Albert.During the great war, workshops Bezons were employed in the manufacture of shells:

Ateliers Otis-Pifre built for the Navy including pumps, cranes, electric folding cranes, intended for battleships Danton, Mirabeau and Vergniaud, as well as up-munitions, which were equipped with the first two buildings.

Disappearing name of Abel Pifre.

It would seem that Pifre's name was deleted leaving only the Otis name. I wonder how much Otis owes to Pifre in terms of invention and development? I also wonder why Pifre's name was quickly lost when it comes to the development of lifts.

Was Abel Pifre Shafted by a Lift Company?

Some old postcards show workshops in Lyon where Abel Pifre's name has disappeared from the facade.  Otis remains the great name in elevators but I suspect Pifre was much of the genius in the early development of aspects of elevator technology. I also have a nasty feeling that Abel Pifre was to some extent shafted by the elevator company, if you will pardon the pun, but I could be very wrong in that feeling and stand to be corrected.

Rue Dumoulin in Lyon is where were the Otis-Pifre workshops once existed. The street is now called Rue Pere Chevrier. The old workshops have long gone. One can locate the site which was on the corner of the Rue Anvers.,4.8425194,3a,75y,19.28h,89.8t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sWkaD1oZD2ygn7dHtus5CHw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

You can go to Google Maps and visit the corner. which gives us a 3D look at the street junction.

This post contains as much as I have been able to find on Abel. If you are able to add to this information about Abel Pifre, I would be very happy to hear from you.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Recession Statistics Ireland


Lest We Forget

As it would appear, Ireland looks to be on a steady pathway out of the recession - better IMHO termed the DEPRESSION, for what transpired over the last 8 years amounts to a DISASTER of enormous proportions.

500 Deaths

One single statistic alone serves to give us a clear impression of the enormity of the disaster. It has been estimated that there were 500 extra suicides as a result of the Recession / Depression. Those who helped cause the recession / depression have 500 deaths on their conscience.

Irish Youth Dispora

Add to that the 1000's of our youth and our finest minds who have fled the country in search of a better life, and who will not be in a hurry to return. Recent estimates put the figure at almost 10% of our youth had left the country. Then there are the many thousands of damaged families, the lost homes, the lost life-savings etc. etc.


Greed was the essential cause of the calamity. Along with a very imbalanced society. The gap between the rich and the poor is WAY WAY WAY too wide in Ireland. There is an elite in Ireland who are completely out of touch the what happened. The top elite actually benefited financially by as much as 7% during the recession, while others lost everything including in some cases their lives. Members of the Irish Parliament can be numbered among the elite, I say this based on their large disproportionate and self-appointed salaries and huge expenses. Many failed to apprehend the level of suffering that the people endured due to their financially insulated positions. 

The Irish Prime Minister draws €183,350 p.a. PLUS €296,000 in expenses. An ordinary member of the Irish parliament, who only attends the house for very short numbers of hours in a year, draws €87,000 p.a. PLUS average expenses of around €25,000 p.a. and some have claimed twice that amount - that salary exceeds what the Spanish Prime Minister is paid. Not-imbalanced? Small country - in deep recession - 500 extra suicides provoked by the hardships - can pay that sort of money to it's politicians - BALANCED compared to other countries - compared to the work involved - compared to those on minimum wage?

Faulty Political System and Gross Imbalances

Are we out of the depression? Perhaps we are seeing clear skies again after the deluge, but what worries me is too many of the imbalances still remain, and our politics are fundamentally faulty and incapable of delivering any real changes.

Compiled October 2012


(increased 42% in 5 years 2005 to 2010)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE up from 2010 to 2011 by 15%
(11,000 women and children sought refuge in 2011 according to SAFE organisation).

UNEMPLOYMENT has increased by 352%
( from 4.2% in 2007 to 14.8% by October 2012)

UNEMPLOYMENT among 15 to 24y group nationally stands at 39%

UNEMPLOYMENT in the 15 to 25y group in some areas is at 74%

HOUSE BUILDING homes built 8,488 has dropped over 90% since 2006 at 93,000, and is 20% down in one year.

BUSINESS INSOLVENCIES Up 13.30% from 2010.
(1,684 companies failed in 2012 alone)

FUEL POVERTY, (the decision to Eat or Heat) estimated to affect 40% of citizens

FOOD POVERTY in 2010 was estimated to be at 10%

FOOD PRICES have risen by an average of 12% in the last two years.

HOMELESSNESS up by as much as 45% in Dublin.
(from 70 in 2010 to a current estimate of as much as 101)

RETAIL SALES are down by 5.50%

SUICIDES are up in 2011 from 2010 by 7%

TRUST in the Irish Government in a recent survey fell to a mere 20%


POLITICIANS are the 2nd least trusted profession in Ireland.
(Only 14% of Irish people trust politicians - I wonder why? How about 26 TDs, members of the Irish Parliament, each claimed €5,000 expenses for August - when there are no sittings of the House)

DISPOSABLE INCOME SURVEY: 1.60 million Irish have €50 or less left each month after paying for essentials. In other words, roughly 36% of the Irish population have disposable income of €600 or less per year.

DISPOSABLE INCOME in lower income groups effectively down by nearly 19%

By contrast the imbalance in incomes:

INCOME FOR TOP IRISH EARNERS is up on average by over 4%

DUBLIN CITY MANAGER salary €190,000

COUNTY MANAGERS salary €153,260

Compare salaries:



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ireland's Energy Future & National Security


Irish Energy Minister introduces 
"White Paper"
which outlines Energy Future

A moment of quiet reflection? Energy Minister Alex White

While introducing a Government paper outlining Ireland's energy future, Minister for Communications and Energy Alex White said:  

“Customers will have to pay more in their energy bills as Ireland moves away from fossil fuels in the coming years”.

According to the "White Paper" on Energy published today, Ireland will be using no fossil fuels by the end of the century. (I would imagine that plan might be helped by the fact that most of the fossil fuels will be used up by then).

The Irish "White Paper"outlines aspirations for long-term energy goals and proposed strategies for Ireland. Mr White also said in his statement that Ireland was still dependent on fossil fuels to the extent of 92 per cent.

The paper proposed over 90 lines of action. Among the big and bold proposals there are references to “improved domestic grant schemes and financing options for energy efficiency upgrades” and “a new support scheme for the development of renewable energy technologies”.

My focus and concern is with the impact these Clean - Green - and Carbon Reducing Policies will take on the less well off.

Simply adding taxes to dissuade the use of coal etc. is only going to add to fuel poverty in Ireland, and will ultimately fail as people will find ways to get cheap fuel.

What about 0% Disposable Income Families and Energy Costs?

I sincerely hope that the discussion and planning fully considers how carbon taxes and energy costs impinge on the less well off. "You cannot get blood from a turnip" and low income families cannot just go out and buy expensive heating systems - taking advantage of grants etc. There needs to be a LOW-TECH and LOW-COST strategy applied in addition to the high flying ones.

I hope also that any grant schemes would consider the real carbon value of the investment. The huge State grants schemes, of recent years, given for geothermal heating systems and wood-pellet systems, I am fairly sure, did not factor-in the carbon costs in terms of the heavy reliance on non-green electricity, or indeed failed to properly calculate the carbon costs of the machinery itself and its regular servicing and replacement.

Would the Minister consider the following?

1. A Scheme to eliminate all open fires and replace them with Stoves?

I hope that low-tech and low-cost green solutions might come into the focus for the planners. Solutions like encouraging the installation of simple and very inexpensive stoves to replace open fires would be one very important investment which would offer HUGE long-term pay back, and very low maintenance costs.

Advantages would include:

(a) A large reduction in fuel usage for home heating.

(b) A reduction in heat loss caused by the excessive airflow of an open chimney.

(c) An additional financial and social advantage of such a scheme is that it would substantially reduce fires and fire related accidents in the home, saving lives, suffering and money.

2. A Massive up-scaling of timber production in Ireland? 

Another long-term and perhaps initially costly investment would be in a massive up-scaling of forestry in fast growing timber to feed a wood-based solid fuel industry to replace coal in domestic heating. We are talking National Security here, so costs should reflect the importance.

Sally tree plantations would provide quality wood suitable for bio-mass use in a very short space of time and can be cropped repeatedly for several years before replanting is necessary.

In 2012 Ireland imported 2.4 Million Short Tonnes of coal. If we assume, (I do not have actual delivered price per tonne), a cost per tonne including shipping and transport of say just €100 - that would give us a figure of roughly €240 Million Euro leaving the country every year for coal.

Additional benefits from a 3x expansion of current managed forest acreage would include:

(1) an increase in wild life, pollinating insects etc.,
(2) additional oxygen creation,
(3) the re-building and stabilization of eroded soils,
(4) planned forests can add to amenity areas for the public, and
(5) provide many more jobs in that industry.

3. Investment in Super-Hard Fused Wood Briquette Production. 

The proposed type of wood briquette / log differs widely from the types generally available in Ireland at the present time. There are currently 3 types being sold. Non of which are good substitutes for coal products in stoves etc.

Below are 3 less satisfactory types of wood briquette.

The top two, of the above 3 photos, show briquettes, which are essentially compressed sawdust are the least desirable, as they expand up to twice their size in the fire.

Expansion of fuel in a stove etc. can present Carbon Monoxide poisoning danger by restricting the flue. The burn pattern is also quite poor. They tend to fall apart in the fire.

The bottom photo shows a slightly better type of wood briquette. This type is screw extrusion type and tends to hold its shape better. However, it burns much to quickly and is therefore not a good substitute for coal. While this type burns well, it is incapable of giving long duration burn and long duration of burn overnight is exactly what is needed when a stove is the primary source of heat in the home.

The proposal:

Along with massively developing timber production, the Minister might also consider investment in a wood-fuel production industry to produce primarily super-hard fused wood logs / briquettes, but also wood pellets. This type of briquette / log is not currently available in Ireland, as far as I am aware, let alone produced here.

Contrary to general belief, this type of fused wood briquette can 100% successfully be produced from most soft woods, and from waste wood or sawdust.

Fused wood briquettes are capable of fully replacing coal as a fuel for stoves and ranges.

Advantages in using this fuel include:
(1) It forms 'coals' in the burning process and therefore can burn for up to 10 hours,
(2) It releases heat in a pattern not too unlike coal,
(3) It does not expand in a stove or fireplace unlike most other forms of wood briquette and is therefore much safer in use.
(4) It is very easily stored and handled.
(5) It has a lower creosote deposit, and lower particulate release to the atmosphere.
(6) It is a 100% carbon neutral fuel.
(7) Replacing coal with this type of home produced briquette would save many millions of Euro leaving the country each and every year sustainably in perpetuity.
(8) An industry based on this type of fuel would create many long-term sustainable jobs in the country.

This would also represent a fairly large investment for Ireland to make, but if one was to think about it again, it could spell no less than an investment in the National Security, future economic stability, and help to ensure a sustainable energy future for the country.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Paris 2015 Implications for Ireland


Implications for Ireland + some suggestions

The recent highly acclaimed Paris climate agreement is certainly a big step forward in International Relations and its approach to environmental protection. The start of the end of the fossil fuel era!

What it will take to convert the words into reality will be another days work.

Cutting Carbon Emissions and the so called “cost of carbon” will become a really big issue in many countries. This will be especially true for rural Ireland where many households rely 100% on open solid fuel fires as the primary source of heat.

The poorer part of the population will, going on previous knowledge, be asked to proportionally bear more of the burden as has become the usual practice. Just like India and China, which are fairly recent polluters, are being asked to forgo on cashing in their fossil fuel deposits.

Implications for Ireland

Grant schemes in Ireland have tended to heavily favour the better off, where massive grants were offered for very expensive geothermal and wood-pellet heating systems, things that marginal earners cannot even begin to consider.

What is needed are schemes to entice the low earners away from fossil fuel usage. With not so much of the BIG STICK of more taxation.

I have suggested, several times over the years, on this blog that it would be a prudent investment for Ireland to invest in several areas that could impact positively on the situation.

1. A large-scale investment in timber planting and production.

2. Investment in high-density “fused” wood briquette production. This type of pressure fused wood briquette, and only this type of wood briquette is fully capable of properly replacing coal. Hammer mill and screw extrusion hollow briquettes simply do not measure up and will NEVER be widely accepted.

3. Subsidize the price of wood briquettes and keep them tax free.

4. A grant aided scheme to eliminate all open fires by installing multi-fuel stoves.

5. Get the price gougers and also the "expert" BER certificate issuers out of the grant picture. This is complicating the issue and adding cost.


Monday, December 07, 2015

Rich to Pay Heavier Court Fines?


I see in the news today a proposal by the Road Safety Authority to have a sliding scale of speeding fines based on the income of the offender, in order to act as a greater deterrent for the well off.

 Rich More Likely to Offend

Those who are better off financially tend to have an inflated sense of entitlement, and this has been shown to negatively affect behaviour on the roads. Piff. Berkley etc.

Interestingly, an online survey by "The Journal" suggests that over 60% of Irish drivers are against the sliding scale of fines - I wonder why?

In February 2015,  I wrote an article on this blog about Justice and Atonement. One factor in correcting and updating our medieval system that I suggested was that Court fines should be made proportional to the means of the defendant. The Justice and Atonement issue is so strongly felt by me, that I even went to the trouble of writing to the Minister for Justice and to the Justice Reform Commission. I just got the usual sort of stock replies.

I have very strong feeling about how the Law is currently administered. Our current system of law focuses on simply punishing the guilty parties. It however does little or nothing to compensates the victims and make atonement.

Fine Fines.

When a fine is imposed it usually is not linked to the resources of the guilty party. If a person on £10,000 a year is fined £5,000. By all justice and fairness, a person on £2,000,000 a year should receive a fine of £1,000,000. This should apply not just to motoring offenses but it should apply across the board. The funds from these fines should go, at least partially, into victim redress and compensation funds. It should be possible nowadays to operate such a system by linking with the taxation system etc.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Update on Calco Mix

An Update on 

It has come to my attention from several regular users of Calco Mix that there has been high level of stones and pieces of concrete etc. found in Calco. One lady told me that an exploding stone had broken the glass of her stove - that can cost a fair bit to replace depending on the type of stove..

I myself have found a collection of extraneous bits and pieces in my Calco-Mix of late. Some are harmless bits of wood etc.  - others are less benign. Either the agents or those making the mix are quite careless, or could it ever be possible that this EXTRA material is being added intentionally for some reason unknown??

Above is a photo I have just taken showing a collection of rocks and concrete I found in my Calco. The lignite briquette and the 1 Euro coin are there just to show scale. The two brownish stones are that colour because they came out of the fire. Luckily I had discovered the rest before placing them in the fire. That collection represents the use of perhaps 2 to 3 bags of Calco - that is a fair bit of extraneous matter. Apart from devaluing the Calco, there is always the dangers presented by an exploding stone in the fire.

I will reserve final judgement but suffice it to say I have lost some of my enthusiasm for Calco-Mix.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

Smokeless Coals and Solid Fuel Stoves

Of Smokeless Coal and Stoves
A Cheaper Way to Heat
A look at a New Smokeless Briquette
1st Part 

Left to Right: CosyGlo - HiBrite and Hi-Glo

When the stormy season starts blowing and the temperatures drop, it is the time I start to think of how to best maintain heat and hot water in the home at the lowest cost.

For 8+ years now I have heated our house on an increasing basis using solid fuels. Over 4 years ago I have gone to some 95% heating using solid fuels, mainly coal. I do recognize and accept that coal is not a good environmental choice in fuels. It is dirty and releases a very large amount of carbon and particulates. However, smokeless coal based fuels are, at the present time, still despite carbon taxes etc., the most economical fuels to use.

My Little Rant.

If the government or the more financially better off community want to protect the environment, then they should seek ways to encourage the use of wood based and other non fossil fuels by the poorer half of society. One way to do this is (a) to subsidize these wood based fuels, and (b) seek to have high-density fused wood briquettes introduced to the marketplace. But it seems the preference if for the STICK method over the CARROT method. Which do you think might work the better?

The general environmental debate is a little like the argument between the USA and India over climate change. For over 100 years the USA has belched massive carbon into the air without a thank you to the rest of the world. Now they want to stop India benefiting from it's coal deposits. They can do that OK, and easily too, if they are prepared to pay and compensate India.

An Initial Look at Hi-Glo 

I got two 40Kg bags of Hi-Glo just over a week ago and have been experimenting with it in both my 6 Kw Blacksmith stove and also in my fire with its back-boiler and fire-front door. Additional I have a friend also testing this coal and giving me feedback.

First and foremost the Hi-Glo which is in a full size 40Kg bag is currently on promotional offers by some dealers. Econ Fuels Monavalley Tralee are my local suppliers is, for a short time, offering this fuel at €17.50 a bag. This represents terrific value while it lasts IMHO.

The fuel looks very like Bord na Mona CosyGlo, it is also very like Eco-Glow - maybe even the same thing under a different name? Hi-Glo has a blacker and finer texture look to it than CosyGlo. See the photo above. It appears to have a binding agent holding the briquette together - this may explain the smell it gives off when burning. (see below)

Does the fuel match up? 

The feedback I have received to date gives the following indications:

1. This fuels burns really hot and with some flame.
2. It lasts through the night and up to 9 hours without quenching.
3. It burns to a fairly fine ash, no cinders or lumps left.
4. There is 0% waste and no stones or other foreign bits in it.
5. My initial perception is that is gives greater heat output than Bord na Mona CosyGlo.

HiGlo has an unpleasant smell when burning. The smell is something between burning paint and an electrical burning smell. It is not a problem in my big fire as the smell all goes up the chimney, however, in my little stove, there is a bit of a waft into the room when the door is opened and this can cause a very unpleasant smell in the room. I have since limited HiGlow in the Blacksmith stove to last fueling at night. That way the door of the stove is not opened again until morning when the fuel has burned down and no further smell comes from it.

I will come back to this again


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vapour Ware from Audi e-Diesel?

Vapour-Ware from Audi?

I apologize for not attending to this blog for some months, or, for that matter, not writing a promised follow-up to the last post. This post is a lesser effort to follow through on the Audi Eco Diesel story.

Last April the media was buzzing with the story that the car manufacturer Audi had succeeded in manufacturing a high quality diesel fuel from essentially nothing more than Air and Water. I was very excited by this news in the belief that a major player like Audi would lend its name to to a publicity stunt or mere vapour ware.

Five months after the hoopla and the WWW, the media, and just about all other sources, have gone deathly quiet on the Audi Eco Diesel from air and water story. When that happens, I have learned that the project is either dead or, at the very least, some major wrinkles have appeared.

It saddens me that 90+% of stories that I have followed over 9 years about new super batteries, new types of generators, super water splitting techniques, super conductors, natty nano science super electronics etc. etc. etc. have all gone down the same road into SILENCE. Elon Musk might perhaps an exception to my above rule, and there are a few other exceptions. Alas they are so few.

I just hope that Audi has enough self-respect to give this story a decent burial or perhaps re-open it with fresh developments. Owners VW are gaining new insight into morals and ethics in business, perhaps the Audi team will follow?