Hi Folks !

 Calling all inventors and smaht folks !

 What I am going to lay out for you today, is fodder for thought. There are several concepts I have been mulling around for quite some time. Having had years of “fun” bucking wood for pulp and fire, the last several oil spikes raised the ugly specter of requiring an alternative.

 My notes from the start of my research:

2:42 AM 7/21/2008

Ok, today began a search for a method/equipment for making the so-called Bio Bricks -pressed sawdust and woodchip fuel that is being sold. I found the only MFG in the northeast for biobricks (TM) and also found a large industrial equipment MFG ( as alternative to actually buying the product and MAKE it instead ) who makes cube presses for compacting waste called “densifying” for biomass and trash to energy large-scale production, what I was looking for was a method to make a product that could be sold as an alternative to firewood, make a biz and make some money.

 What I have discovered is much more.

 Around the world people are on subsistence cooking methods. In almost every third world country they have already been experimenting for generations in making the best “briquette” and stove for VERY cheap cooking. Places where almost all vegetation has been stripped or they have pennies a month to spend. Their desperation has resulted in MANY low tech methods for making charcoal or char from almost everything or just leaves.

 I have also discovered WE are VERY RICH in resources, although it may not be apparent at first glance.

 Peak oil – I believe is a current myth, although at some point it is conceivable the world will run out.

” a days wages for a loaf of bread, but don’t harm the oil” is bible prophesy referring to an inflation of sorts, where the people cry that it is somehow ok for FOOD to be unaffordable, but DON’T mess with the price of oil. How true it has become, and repeated almost quarterly, some event, some war, some speculator, OPEC, messes with the price of our raw crude oil, and thereby the price of distillates we and our machines hunger for.

 If you think about it, it has ONLY been the last hundred years that modern man has had the wonderful option of central heating, of our buildings and our homes. At that, it is mostly the western world, the vast majority of people in the world still “heat” and cook by fire.

Petroleum is used in almost every plastic and chemical compound the world knows.

Great companies have been built on the chemicals distilled from oil, modern industry runs on it and it’s parts for almost everything it creates. Transportation at speeds unheard of was achieved in the last hundred years via machines built upon the many grades of oil.

It is everywhere, and in just about everything, or the package it comes in, or the moving of the product to market, or ALL the steps. There is great financial boon built around it, it drives markets and economies, and is a percentage of everyone’s expenses.

In every way you can think of.

Obvious by now, it can be used as a lever, a pressure point to manipulate people and governments, markets, and the very well-being of the people involved from the well to the consumer and back again.  THE great hunger, I do not see it “going away” without drastic altering of the world and it’s people.  We are dependant, and crave it, and will until the last drop is consumed.

 Regardless of the wider implications of oil, the individual is concerned in the most basic of areas in:

Heat, Cooking, Transportation, and perhaps the neato products we buy and consume.

As such, spikes in prices, eat into more of our income, and for some even the ability to afford the basics. We could go without the products-somewhat, we could even go without the transportation as has been shown by the price of gas vs. the highway accident rate. { Accidents have declined drastically in the past few years with oil bouncing between $75 and $100 a barrel. } We cannot go without cooking, and for those of us in the colder latitudes -Heat is a must to maintain our standard of living. Here again, I am reminded that a vast population of the world does mostly without, and still maintains themselves and their lifestyle, granted some easier than others.

 So what am I getting to ? you ask.

 In my belt-tightening thinking, for a while I was totally dependent on oil, I had two tanks, and added a third which gave me the legal capacity of 900 gallons storage at a residence. (more than that, and the pollution and fire hazard is greater, hence the laws prohibiting more) I would fill up during the period just before high summer when prices were low, and my costs USED to be around $400 for winter heat. My “winter-mode” house consumes around 500 gallons to stay at 72-75’F which translates to today’s prices of $1200-$1500 A YEAR ! That worries me considering old age and reduced income along with ever rising prices, I could be easily priced OUT of oil and even propane heat.

I KNOW some already are.

As far as cooking, a normal kitchen stove -four burners and the oven, consumes around 100 pounds(40 gallons) of propane which is $80-$90 a year. So cooking is not a concern. However, I did move from an electric Hot water heater to propane tank, and that ups it to 4X the amount. 400# a year. At some point soon I will convert again to an on demand HWH, and that should come in at 150 pounds – stove and HW combined, per year. Adding a 400 pound tank (called a “PIG”) will insure a 3 year supply, and afford purchasing opportunities in that fluctuation range. So for me, cooking and HW are not a major concern and manageable.

 { Actually, the electric Hot water heater is still in line, I can use it when I run out of propane by simply closing and opening pipe valves.. It is piped “in front” of the Propane HWH, meaning it fills first from the well. It gives the water time to gain heat from the basement “waste” heat of the furnace, and so the propane HW has less runtime to raise the temp from 55’F-65’F+ to the 120’F I have it set at. It is mils of pennies savings but it does add up over time, and there’s the ability to USE whatever fuel I have a supply of -OPTIONS – When I install the on demand HWH, these two will be piped in front of that !! }

HEAT is the thing up here, we know I don’t like the cold…. 😉

 So, 4 years ago, I started seriously researching alternatives to oil heat, and wood. My idea, is that at some time I will be “old” and not be able or not want to fiddle with wood. The ONE commonality I have found with ALL alternatives to oil, is LABOR.

 Let me list the alternatives in no particular order:    

    • Charcoal
    • Wood & corn pellets
    • (propane, but not technically)
    • Bulk wood
    • Electric, but not technically considering oil-fired power plants
    • COAL
    • Walking to Florida (we call that being a “snowbird” here)

 Let me address each of these as listed above;


B100, B50, B20 are the common references, the title refers to the percentage of BIO-diesel in each “blend”.

  • B100 is 100% biodiesel,
  • B50 is a 50% Biodiesel and 50% petroleum product,
  • B20 contains 20% Biodiesel and 80% Diesel aka #2 home heating oil.

 I have a WHOLE website built on documenting Biodiesel. Back a few years ago when it was the “rage” I did extensive research into it, and while it IS an alternative, it is MAJORLY labor intensive, MAJORLY hazardous to produce and MAJORLY destructive to combustion MOTORS. EVEN at the acceptable blend of B20 it shortens the lifespan of a 300,000 mile motor. Don’t argue with me about it, I have the pictures of motors, and the research by universities, you risk your fleet if you burn it. Period.

 That being said, it is PERFECT for home heating.

The only caveats are:

  1.  More frequent burner cleaning and nozzle replacement
  2.  Proper tank insulation, lines and filters, – especially if the tank was used for #2 Home Heating Oil (HHO)

 As a licensed Apprentice Oil burner tech (I worked with my friend for 20 years, he was the master, I never needed a master license) I saw several Biodiesel setups, and even in regular home equipment it is fine. The Glycerin in the Bio-oils is not entirely removed during processing and so they clog nozzles and coat burner tips and cake on like IRON, you have to GRIND it off. There is around 50% more carbon produced so that you also have to clean the heat exchangers twice a year maybe a third time, which is similar to wood chimney cleaning schedule.

 In a tank, it acts like a solvent as it is inherently acidic, and if you used petroleum oil, the sludge and paraffin’s in #2 are “cleaned” from the tank-walls and dragged down the oil line, so at first it can clog lines and filters. After the initial uses and cleanings you will change the filters at least twice as well. The tank has to be thermally protected IE: NOT an outside tank, as the gel point of biodiesel is higher than #2 HHO. IE: Drain a good vegetable stew, into a jar and put it in the fridge, you can SEE it gel. So the tank should be inside at 50’F and either in an insulated box or spray foamed. The same with the filter bell and the fuel lines. Once set up, and some burner adjustments like a different nozzle and air openings, it burns like any other fuel and the system is automagik

 The same properties explained above, put great strain on a vehicle motor. Rings and pistons, and chambers get coated with iron-hard glycerin “coke” deposits. Engines typically die from catastrophic seizure. Fuel gels in tanks and lines, tanks and lines require preheaters and heaters, which can fail or cause fire. So the shortening of a perfectly good long-life motor is a waste of $ and effort.

 The brilliants who claim straight waste oil, even filtered a little, in a diesel motor are full of it. period. The motor MAY run for a while, but NOT for long, it WILL seize. Fine if you got a throw-away jetta or something on its last legs. {same is true for a heating system -You CANNOT use straight veg. oil }

NOT good at all for your $25,000 dodge ram 2 year old truck !

YOU have been warned.

 I will address the process of Biodiesel in another spouting, it is quite involved, but doable, if you have the space and waste oil, The supply of which is already sewn up by other makers, the “waste” is now a marketable item, and is often stolen from the backs of restaurants now. The other alternative is growing crops to make it, 5-10 acres of soybean, or rapeseed and the facility to transform it to oil then processing it, can be done. The process is straight forward chemistry, works like magik, and VERY MESSY, with all sorts of nasty chemical byproducts. Not something you want to do in the garage or kitchen as it is very explosive as well. Also, if you miscalculate, you just made 200 gallons of soap.

But more on that later….

The final caveat, is if you buy it from a dealer, they typically CHARGE MORE for it than the petroleum product 🙂 , so WHY ?


 Charcoal, has been around since the very first campfire.

It is essentially the byproduct of superheated, but oxygen deprived fire and wood. If more oxygen were present, the wood would be consumed by the fire. Is a great site I found that describes the making of charcoal and char to a tee..

 It is a waste of wood.

In Africa, where char and charcoal is widely used for cooking, it has depleted entire forests, changed the landscape, and put the people in dire straits who depend upon it. So much so that there are MANY organizations actively seeking viable alternative fuels and methods to cook. For the third world, it is a MAJOR problem.

 We would see major problems here if it were not for the gas grill, and yet we still have abundant charcoal to buy in the store. About the only other thing I can say about it, is that it is good firestarter, used one briquette at a time, It is very portable, and does the job.


 A whole spouting will be made at a later date on pellets and pellet stoves..

I am currently heating my house with one as this years experiment.

 Propane & Natural gas:

 A fairly portable fuel, perfect for heating water, in an on demand hot water heater or the new very efficient boilers, but it is a fossil fuel, and as such subject to price fluctuations While there’s probably a century or more supply of it under the ocean floor on both coasts of the US -the greenies are in control right now. Don’t hold your breath…

So it is NOT the ONLY solution you should have available.


 While most of the details are covered in spout 17 (my previous post on wood heat), there are a few considerations further to present here.

For one, unless you OWN the wood lot, you will purchase the wood. The prices of all fuels are generally based on the price of oil. Some a little less, some a little more, so as oil rises, so will these fuels. A major advantage of a woodstove, is that you can burn anything in them that will burn, and produce heat. So, if “poor’ you can spend your time picking up sticks, scrap wood, paper etc, for your winter supply.

 One thing I HAVE noticed, is that in times of dire straits, it is NOT so easy, as everyone else is scavenging too. Consider the video you have seen of Russia, Ukraine, and other former soviet states, consider WWII and what people did to stay warm. The most recent example of Bosnia, illustrates it for me. I saw a film of a neighborhood, that was completely stripped bare of trees and everything else that would burn. The film’s name & theme escapes me, but it was dark, noir,  some time was spent with a woman who loved the one standing tree in the courtyard of the apartment complex. It was a symbol of hope, waiting for it to sprout leaves in spring, but it too was chopped down, to her utter despair.

 For another concern,  in the US we now have the chimney police, you will get fined for smoke coming out of your chimney no matter how remote. Unless we do away with the EPA, it will only get worse. There will be laws similar to the UK where you will have to get a permit to chop down even the tree on your own property. During a time of great distress, look for these laws to be brutal and very strictly enforced.

There IS a finite amount of things that will burn., so gathering a 4 year supply seems prudent. You can’t store firewood much longer than that even in a woodshed/warehouse, as bugs will degrade it, and it loses BTU’s over time as the chemicals break down. When the bugs are done with the wood pile, they go for the house, some start right away. You also need to consider spontanious combustion in your storage

 Frankly, even though it seems impossible in the US with our great forests, I foresee a day when it will be much like “hunting” on the sheriff of Nottingham’s land. You don’t own it, and will pay the price for violation of it. Now, you may wonder WHY in every state you read of the state or government setting “aside” and purchasing great parcels of land, the same is true of “rich” individuals like jane fonda’s ex – Ted Turner, who holds huge acreage and has it written in his will to do NOTHING with it forever. (meanwhile you the back-breaking farmer cannot leave your estate to your kids).

No, in an emergency bulk wood will be a major luxury. In an energy Crisis, it will be equally expensive, so while a current alternative, it is not viable long-term, and I am afraid even if you own the wood lot, the wako’s will prevent your using it, in the coming future.


Considering the vast numbers of power plants are either coal, oil, or natural gas, and less than 2% of power produced today is “renewable”, electric heat while 100% efficient in conversion from electrons to heat, has to be THE most expensive to heat with.

You could cover your home and acreage of land with solar panels, if you could afford it, but even they have a finite lifespan. However, you CAN get a hot water heater replacement element that is 12 volt, install it in a tank, and it is typically used as a diversion zone so that when your battery bank is charged and the sun still shines, the power is diverted to the element and thereby heats the water. Possibly you could produce enough hot water to heat a room or two that you now designate your “winter-mode” house. It requires investment in solar panels, and all the related equipment. however I have to question if now is the time to dump cash there ? It does require significant investment, and I would only do it on either a small-scale, or after I had everything else setup for the next 20 years. Just like your retirement, you would not want to out live your system. There are some other methods using water as well, that I will explore in further spoutings.


Well, Coal is loved and hated. it fueled the industrial revolution, made America strong, still can, if we can keep the wako’s away from law making.

As a home heating fuel, it has been used a long time, and they still make coal stoves that are of high quality. It too is rising in price per ton, and there are transportation costs if you don’t live in a coal-producing area.

One major drawback is that it produces high amounts of carbon monoxide. A failed venting system has resulted in family deaths in the past, and will in the future. It is dirty exhaust. I find it doubtful that they will come up with a homeowner version of a gasification stove, as it is best applied to large plants. The last thing they want is people back to burning coal in every house. Look at china and all their pollution, they are still mostly coal based.

However there are some things applicable to coal that I will discuss later on in this spout.


Lot’s of folks DO it, being a snowbird is a fun way to enjoy the best of both worlds, at least until the TSA starts covering buses and trains.

Expensive in a car, if we will even be able to afford gas. There’s the issue of maintaining TWO homesteads now, or the possibility of getting “STUCK” in an area either by finances or circumstances. I say “walking” sorta tongue in cheek, but maybe not, many of the cities in Maine are empty of panhandlers in winter, as they go south for the winter, they get there somehow. There’s a certain freedom in having no responsibility nor roots. I am sure there are hard times as well.

Who knows how we will end up. GLOBAL COOLING may very well force us all to move further south.

There is also the issue of everybody else doing the same thing, so it’s not as rosy as first thought. There is also the bugs you can ride, and poisonous critters in warmer climates, along with not being familiar with it all. Perhaps just a nice place to visit after a particularly long harsh winter.

We’re still talking disposable income, so only the few who plan for it I suppose……


 So, a LONG way to get here but, you see what and how we have been using fuels so far, not comprehensive by any means but in general there you have it.

Now, I will get to the call for YOUR inventiveness.

Your thoughts and your expertise.


My first item is BURNING SALT WATER.

Yep, unless you have been living under a rock, it’s possible:… sorta… <– WATCH this as a refresher.

John Kanzius is a GREAT MAN in my opinion !

For one, his discovery was a byproduct of his greater search for the ability to more effectively target cancerous tumors. IN THAT area his discovery has already developed into MANY new treatments you can read about on the web.

Essentially he used ultra-sound or microwaves. You inject something responsive to that into the tumor, the ultra sound and microwaves excite it and they heat up, and the heat destroys the cancerous tissue, a TARGETED system. Brilliant !

 What he demonstrates in the video is sound ( no pun intended ) science. It was known before that the covalent bond between hydrogen and oxygen are made to be broken. What was not demonstrated before his experiments, was that it was relatively easy to do using microwaves. Somewhere in my archive, I have his complete patent, and I also have the preliminary university’s release notes on the exact frequency’s involved.

This is quite real I assure you. The principal is the electrolysis of water, even with waves it is electrolysis that breaks the covalent bonds.

 Now you will note, that he does state, it’s NOT like “free” energy perpetual motion etc.

He says there is a great deal of energy input into the transmitters you see in the video.

HOW much energy only he and the university know right now.

What I want to do is take this concept in another direction.

So all you backyard scientists stay sharp, as this could be the next revolution.

 Given that it is possible to break the Covalent bond in this way.

Given that the result is free dihydrogen and oxygen.

He adds a spark, and it is the free dihydrogen that is burned, not the water as so many make the mistake of saying.

The frequency applied, is proportional to the chemical makeup of the salt water. He clearly states in his notes as does the university, that various concentrations of the minerals and salts in various solutions of water require different frequencies. That makes sense chemically, and physically.

What his setup to me looks like to me is the nose of an oil burner.

 Got a hint yet of where I am going ?

 Ok, here’s my idea © All rights reserved.

I want to have the local radio guy build the same setup, but using high temp materials and housing. You reproduce what Mr. Kanzius has done, and put it in a steel box.

Instead of a test tube with water, you have a crucible of modern high temp ceramic ( similar to the shuttle’s tiles that make up the “skin” ) along with the SAME similar equipment an oil burner has. A fuel ( water ) pump, a nozzle to create a spray pattern to make the fuel more susceptible to the electrolysis and inside the energy “arc’ of the Microwave transmitters. Dial adjustments for frequency. Gas sensors. water level and flow meters. A cad cell, for proof of flame and the same electrodes to produce the spark that lights it, just like the electrodes in an oil burner assembly.

You will need some sort of exhaust for water vapor, and a method of cleaning the salts and minerals that are the “soot” of the process.  The steel or ceramic coated steel box is the inside of a water jacket,  that is wrapped with tubing, a water BOILER.

 Now, granted there is “significant” energy put into the system for electrolysis to occur, they key would be how much.

Given that we now have essentially a boiler just like a gas or oil boiler, all the rest of the equipment, pumps, controls and piping are the same.

Perhaps the whole thing could be designed to last for 20 years, the same approx. life of existing boilers with some replaceable parts and some expected maintenance.

 The electrical energy required could be produced using solar cells, and stored in a battery bank.  So now the solar system, and boiler have the approximate same lifespan, the “fuel” cost is zero. if designed for Ocean water. So it would be the total equipment install and purchase, that drives the cost effectiveness.

Given the 20 year designed lifespan of the system.

 Maybe it is NOT suited for a household, as microwave energy is not conducive to health. Microwave energy can cause you to go blind and boil your brain, {it is what the US and Russian spies were aiming at each other during the cold war}

So, consider this: I live in a relatively small neighborhood concentrated around a lake.

We used to have a pump house down by the lake and distributed water to all the homes in the hood. With the advent of those outdoor wood boiler “sheds” we nowhave water tubing already made that is encased in High -R foam that is made to be buried, so take our microwave boiler to a central place and size it large enough for all the homes in the hood. ( they do it for whole towns in Iceland using volcanic geothermal-scale our system up an there you have it.)

Now you are taking whole neighborhoods, off the petroleum cycle, for heating anyway, they can use the same water to heat their household hot water. They share in the maintenance and initial investment costs.

I am damn near positive this can be done on a mid-sized scale or larger.

Done cost effectively and for a LOT less than the $1200-$1500 per year per household for oil heat and hot water.  You may consider this a license, for a 10% fee on your first million $ gross. We will talk contract after that. I am dead serious.

It’s out here, it’s now in the web archive, and you heard it here first.

It can revolutionize home heating and COOLING, just as much as the combustion engine revolutionized transportation.

© All rights reserved.

© All rights reserved.


 BIO -MASS briquettes & Pellets:

 This is a Wide and Varied Topic.

I have many things for you to consider.

 Here is a link to the ONLY available copy of a 1960 US forestry report on briquettes on the entire internet.

I grabbed it years ago from YAHOO. and when I just now went to find the link, it is not there Nor at the internet archive, I wonder WHY ?


  • Paper waste
  • Municipal waste
  • Wood waste
  • Coconut fiber
  • Peat
  • Tundra dust
  • Cotton waste
  • Sawdust Straw
  • Groundnut shells
  • Hazelnut shells
  • Olive-oil residue
  • Sugar cane
  • Bark
  • Rice husks
  • Sunflower husks
  • Leather waste
  • Hemp
  • Manure
  • Used motor-oil (as an additive to solids)
  • Hay
  • Shrubs
  • Fish waste
  • Food-processing waste
  • Additionally you can add in:
  • Coal dust
  • Glycerin waste product from biodiesel
  • Corn & corn husk & stalks
  • Leaves
  • Grasses
  • ANY dried plant
  • Any other burnable material.


There are many different processes that are used around the world.

The United Nations and governments around the world are actively seeking solutions.

For the majority of the populations around the world, fuel, is a major concern for food and sterilizing water to drink. Whole countries are either barren of trees, prohibited from further cutting, or priced out of the market for wood. Like I said above, whole Bulk wood is a luxury -an expensive luxury in many ways.

 There are two sides to the coin when discussing fuel to burn, there is the fuel itself, and there is the contraption you burn it in.

The proverbial campfire typically has rocks around it as a surround, to contain the fire, and to rest cooking implements upon.

There’s almost as many configurations for burning a fuel as there are people past and present,  It is only recently that mankind is concerned with the efficiency of them. If you read thru the United Nations material, it seems as if it is a downward spiral with greater pressure upon the people and lands, the requirement for efficiency, and the dwindling supply of fuels to burn. In some places it IS a downward spiral.

 We are very blessed in this country, these lands may have been highly populated in ancient times, but for a great period the land lay fallow and produced the great abundance of food and forests that we built upon. If you consider the buffalo and wild turkey both were present in the millions when the pilgrims landed. Look at where we are today, luckily we are rebuilding and raising their populations. In Maine the introduction of the Turkey is so successful they are a hazard to traffic, and a nuisance to gardens and crops.

They may yet save people from starvation.

 So, it is not totally outrageous that we could consume our forests.

It has happened in other places, IS happening.

In parts of Africa they are reduced to making ‘Char’ from leaves and grasses. You make it much the same way as charcoal, but with leaves and grass the result is more like a collection of carbon. They mix with water and soil and squeeze thru a tube like play dough and cut it off in chunks and dry it.

It must be terrible reduced to that for cooking etc.

 What I fear most is the government response if/when the people get to that point of needing it for survival. In the meantime, we CAN take lessons from the rest of the world, in what NOT to do, and in developing reasonable and efficient alternatives BEFORE we HAVE to do it. That is what this spout is all about.

Put your thinking caps on, get a bunch of experimenters with varied skills, together and develop some alternatives, put them to use, if ONLY to save a petro-dollar or two that You can USE elsewhere.

 Around here, when oil spiked sometime after the gulf war II you could not find a pellet stove to buy. Immediately there after you had trouble finding pellets to get you thru a winter. Now used stoves are on craigslist and there’s a shortage of sawdust so many pellet mills sprung up, good for business and employment too.

Sawdust used to be great heaping rotting piles everywhere in this lumber state. I used to use it for gritting the path in winter, as it would just rot away and not damage grass and plants like salt does. Some people use wood ash, but anything on the path gets dragged into the house.  Besides wood ash and water make LYE a very strong base. In general anything in the yard ends up in the well water, reason 9999 I don’t have a lawn but a yard of WILD flowers and grasses. If you drive down the main highway in NH (RT. 16) the trees are ALL a different color green. They don’t fool around in NH with Ice and snow, it’s almost pure liquid salt they use on the roads. It hurts the trees, they have this yellowish twinge to them, and you can notice it even in high summer just crossing the border into Maine……

 So I started to investigate alternatives to pellet stoves and pellets, I had not bought one at that point. I am still working on alternatives, and there are many.

 First, in making a BRIQUETTE or pellet or SLUG, or any fuel for that matter, you have the dilemma of holding it together and being able to put in your firebox and have them catch each other with flame.

 Sticks and grasses can be tied together to make bundles:

News paper and other paper can be rolled and tied to make a bundle. There used to be a hand machine that facilitated the rolling of newspapers with a crank handle. It also had a trough for water, as it was far better to wet the papers first, then roll them as they would bind together and Burn far better afterwards.

 However for the majority of other loose fuels you need some method of making them into some sort of shape and having them hold together long enough to store and be placed in the fire, as well as burning nicely once there.

From this need rose various methods of hand press:

This is the UN’s depiction of a simple hand press.

Aside from the technical nature of wood pellets, you generally need to mix your materials at hand. and some method of binding them together.

Most materials are shredded, chopped and mixed together. Then the liquid waste fuels added and semi dried and then the binder added.

In general ,I call the two available methods of binding HOT and COLD. Since we are talking about pressing.

In the COLD method some glue like substance is added, I like the idea of a tub of cornstalks boiled down to a thick sticky mess and that ‘glue’ added to your dry materials, then cold pressed, as it dries it binds together. Still quite a bit flaky, but serves the purpose to get it stored and to the fire.

 The other method HOT or Torrified as they call it, has the material heated to begin release of the natural lignin present in all plant material The lignin acts as glue, and when mechanically pressed holds together quite well in a nice easy to handle compact briquette or pellet.

 The final factor is MAJOR and that is the SHAPE.

  • You have to consider proper burning.
  • You have to consider ease of pressing.
  • You have to consider ease of storage.
  • You have to consider the firebox of stove that will accommodate the made briquette.
  • The design of the stove, should be such that it is efficient for the shape and type fuel to thoroughly burn, and HOT.
  • You also have to consider the task you are burning it FOR, heating or cooking or heating a container or pan of water.
  • You have to consider the availability of construction materials for the stove and the task vessels.
  • You have to consider what conditions the whole setup will be used under, and does it make life easier or HARDER ?

For the UN and the third world, these are MAJOR considerations.

They should be for all of us.

 A thin barrel stove will burn out in a few seasons, but a thick heavy cast iron one will last a long time. Neither will last very long if used outside.


 You have the obvious balls, that can be hand-made from a slurry of your mix and dried.

 You have the tiny pellets used in US pellet stoves, made to be caught up by augers and dropped in the crucible.

 You have the bio-brick:

Made to be used in just about any type wood burning stove.

You have the similar MiscanthusCubes, made by machine:

They are made from old hay, paper, straw and other vegetation You can use them for animal feed OR use “gone by” feed for fuel.

 You have the large pellet or slug made by hand press:

These are made with sawdust and a clay slurry, then pressed manually.

 A Doctor in Cuba, José Fernando Martirena Hernández (Prof. PhD Ing.) who is in Germany finishing a doctoral study, developed a press and recipe, in his words:

New clay bound briquettes. We have -after a hint from the stoves list, shifted to a holey sawdust briquette which burns far better than our previous versions. We have also re-engineered the machine, which now is more productive…,

He has a research lab, trying to develop the shape first, and the burning equipment later. These hold together quite well, and require no power other than people to make.

 His press and the Dr. himself :

When using a press, and a clay binder, you need tonnage of pressure. This puppy obviously has that. Not only do you need a good shape and reproducible equipment, you need a method to extract the slug from the mold. If you look carefully you can see at the bottom a slide bar and two thick rods, attached to plates inside the mold. He has a foot lever (not shown) that you step on and it pushes the slug up and out.

 I consider this a very good shape, as it has a decent burn time, will burn hot, and you can design a stove around it and even a hot water heater, all you need is a removable fire-box that holds one or two slugs on top of each other.

The only thing I would change is the hole, I would add more rods to the mold to create more holes thru the pellet as they aid in the gasification of the fuel and raise the temperature.(you will see WHY below)

Otherwise A perfect design, you could replace the screw with a hydraulic jack/piston, and use a hydraulic motor to power it. but this is designed for remote areas of Cuba/India where there is no power and a great need for an easily reproduced set of solutions.

 There are machines for the pellets and cubes we have here in the US:

For the MiscanthusCubes you have these:

A duel cubing system


three separate operations in a plant

A complete briquette assembly line of mixers, pressers,, and dryers conveyed to the bagging station.

A piston press that is just before the dryer conveyor.

And finally another hand press made in south America:

Note the PVC tube in front used as a mold, this device can also produce great tonnage via lever. Made from easily found materials, See the corn stalks and bags of leaves simple in design and you can build your brick and mortar stove around the slug produced.

 My Favorite application, is widely used in China and Vietnam.

It is the honeycomb briquette. Made from a thick slurry of red clay and coal dust.

You have a simple hand tool that looks like a coffee can on a stick, it also has a lever to push the briquette out, and you simply dry it in the sun.

Note the multiple holes, this is a built-in gasification element of the design.

It allows for VERY high heat, for cooking and home heating.

These are from Vietnam, and here you can see the hard clinker of the red clay:

Once the coal dust has burnt off. The clinker is very hard and brittle.

Here you can see the simple honeycomb stove, made from a galvanized pail and lined with concrete (the original story says ceramic-doubtful) Note the briquette fits perfectly, and is fed air from below. Just like a “hobo” stove from a #10 can. You will also note it is the perfect platform to set a wok on top of.  I have a wok with a long wooden handle, I cook EVERYthing in it. On this stove, you can BAKE with it. The honeycomb acts like a sophisticated gasification process and superheats the material. VERY HOT.

Now Imagine this as the slide in base to a hot water heater. You can take hot water OR add pipes, baseboard, and circulation and you have a boiler. Make the “stove” so that two briquettes fit on top of each other and you have a VERY FAST hot water heater/boiler.

 Picture of the guy who wrote the original article in China Note the tool to press, and the myriad of briquette drying in the sun you could pump these out all day and not get tired. 

This article and MANY others can be found at

 Be warned, it will give you a bazillion ideas, and take you in many directions.

What got to me, was the utter dire straits most of the world lives in.

It is not that we are better in any way, we are fortunate. A few swings in the right direction and we too can be reduced to that level. Look at Katrina, it did not take much to have what? half a state reduced to homelessness with nothing but what they could flee with.  So when making your creations consider a large home model, and a model you can grab and dash with. The Chinese example is simplicity itself, You could build it ALL over again from scratch and be set right back up in very little time.

Consider combining all the materials mentioned to make the slug/pellet/briquette.

Experiment with differing mixes, and perhaps you can come up with something better than corn goo as a binder( although I believe it will work great for ‘cold’ pressing methods ) Also note from the site, There is NO such thing as “POOR” in the US.  All of us can find heat and warm places, even ride the bus all day. Food “insecurity” is NOT the same thing as starvation, or not having a place to cook it. The people pictured on that site are poor. Probably most whom you see are already gone to their maker.

Say “Thank-You” when you click on the thermostat and go yell at the evening news. You are Blessed.

Pay attention, and GO FINISH some of the thoughts I laid out here.

You could end up paying it forward.


LINKS: FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Is a great site I found that describes the making of charcoal and char to a tee.. Mill for MiscanthusCubes Good info site: Their $300 12 volt 140 watt RESPECTABLE wind turbine BEAT THAT ! Energy” LOGS” Used Mil Equipment IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GET INTO COOKING WITH GAS THIS METHOD is PROVEN and WIDESPREAD in INDIA ! <–their home page

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