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What is it? The Hexayurt
is a refugee shelter system based on work done at the Rocky Mountain Institute. It uses an approach based on "autonomous building" to provide not just a shelter, but a comprehensive family support unit which includes drinking water purification, composting toilets, fuel-efficient stoves and solar electric lighting. Other systems can be added in a modular fashion.
Is this for real? Yes. Both the American Red Cross and the US Department of Defense have examined the Hexayurt system in detail and found that it has considerable merit and utility. I hope that we will see it in use by international agencies within two years.
The best place to get started is to read the slides from the presentation Vinay Gupta gave at the Pentagon in December 2006: Pentagon Presentation (pdf) - 20 pages, not much text, and the best summary of the system we currently have online.
Projected Costs: Shelter: $200 - $500+ per single family unit depending on size, climate and use duration
Infrastructure Package: around $100 per unit.
How to make awesome thermal curtains
Step 1. Measure the windows to be treated with thermal curtains. Be careful on how you convert your measurements into the fabric yard.
Step 2. Obtain the batting material and decorative fabric material. It is best if you can use recycled or sustainable material. Keep in mind that you want sturdy material that is not going to stretch or rip easily. Twill works best, while jersey is impractical.
Step 3. Wash the decorative fabric material before you fabricate your thermal curtains.
Step 4. Cut the batting material and the fabric out according to the measurements of the window, giving an allowance of 2 inches around the perimeter of the decorative fabric material. Remember, it is better to be a little over than too short.
Step 5. Pin the fabric on to the batting material so that it makes sewing easier. With the Warm Windows batting material, the fabric-side of the batting material must face the decorative-side of the fabric material.
Step 6. Use a sewing machine to sew the fabric to the batting material.
Step 7. Make holes in the material along the top for the grommets to be put into.
Step 8. Sew Velcro onto the sides of the curtain panels that need to be sealed onto the wall. Position and set Velcro on the walls relative to the position of the Velcro on the curtains. This allows for better insulation.
Step 9. Install the curtain rod and hang up the curtains.
Step 10. Make curtain ties out of the extra material, if any, if you want to be able to tie the curtains back.
Yeasts for Baking
. Generally when one mentions yeast, aromatic loaves of fresh homemade light bread come to mind. And so they should. Aside from acting as a leavening agent in bakery products, yeast is also the ingredient responsible for the tantalizing aroma that arises during baking.
Though probably today the most commonly known and used are store-boughten packages of dried yeast, there are several other different kinds. The recipes that follow show two examples of different ways to make yeast--dry yeast cakes made from hops and an everlasting yeast "starter"--and also how the yeasts are used in making bread.
The dry yeast cakes are made in part by boiling the blossoms of the hop vine. These flowers contain a fragrant yellowish oil called lupulin. The use of this oil as a preservative in beer and as a narcotic drug originated in Germany before Charlemagne. Since then its use has become wide spread and the vine cultivated in other nations, including America.
The hop vine is related to the hemp and mulberry plants in the nettle family. The plant itself is twenty-five to thirty feet in length with rough lobed leaves and flowers that grow on catkin clusters. It is quite possible that many people in the Ozarks have never seen a hop vine, because although some Ozarkians have had limited success cultivating it, it grows best in sandy coastal regions.
Building compost guide
. There are many ways to build a good compost. This page shows a method that comes from a rural, developing world perspective, although it could easily be used or adapted elsewhere. The aim is to build a quick decomposing hot compost that is made from locally available materials, which can easily be gathered and built in a rural setting. The work in building a large compost is often shared amongst a number of people, with the final compost being used by each one when appropriate.
The method of building compost can be different depending on the amount of compost required, materials available, type of compost and particularly the climate of the region.
Pit compost: Pit compost is ideal for areas with medium to low rainfall. The depth of the pit will depend upon the amount of rainfall. The less the rainfall the deeper the pit should be to prevent the rapid loss of water, which is essential in the natural production of compost. In some dry regions it has been known for pits to be dug as deep as 3ft. For example, this type of compost is used in the dryer and warmer parts of central and northern Uganda.
Heap compost: Probably the best way of making vegetation compost in areas of heavy and frequent rainfall. A farmer does not need to build a deep pit to build this type of compost. In regions of heavy rainfall, water would remain standing in a pit resulting in an inadequate flow of nutrients and the production of peat rather than compost. For example, this type is used in the temperate mountainous regions of eastern Uganda and western Kenya.
Trench compost: This involves the building of the compost for convenience close to where it is needed or the source raw material.
. This is a technique to join wood using scrap tin, such as that from a used can. Needed materials include:
- 1. Two sticks of wood to be joined.
- Make sure the wood is in good condition where the connection is to be made. It should be clean, no bits of bark or loose paint, and no knots, as they are too hard for nails.
2. Two pieces of thin tin.
- For the first bond, use a knife for cutting the tin from a small can for example.
- Length and width equal to the stick diameter.
3. One piece of sheet metal.
- For the final bond, use the tip of an axe or chisel for cutting the sheet metal from an oil drum for example.
- Width 3x the stick diameter; Length 6x the stick diameter.
4. Some small, ~1 cm, nails for the first connection.
5. Some larger, ~2.5 cm, nails for the final connection.
Construction of an Affordable Greenhouse
. The capstone project for Queen’s University
4th Year Mechanical Engineering Class,"Engineering for Sustainable Development
", is to design and construct an Appropriate Technology with a quantifiable engineering result. This project is to construct a greenhouse, review the heat requirement on the system for the whole year; then, based on the materials and conditions selected, review costs associated with this and build a scaled model.
This project is the first step to easy community greenhouse development - the goal of the affordable greenhouse is to:
- Improve greenhose design and awareness for residential application.
- Demonstrate the feasibility (i.e costs) of a greenhouse in the winter months and determine the best time to install such a system for optimal crop yield.
Due to the materials selected and the cold Canadian Spring, it is not effective to construct until late April. But with better material selection and innovative greenhouse designs, it is hoped that constructing miniature greenhouses will become common practice.
The blueprints for the construction of an affordable greenhouse are included; for this greenhouse a single pane Polyinyl chloride (PVC) covered greenhouse was reviewed. Heat losses and calculations were done in MatLab using constants from the Canadian Climate Normals website and sunlight radiation from Queen's University Living Building.
. For our final project we rebuilt a greywater system
at the CSA
, Arcata Educational Farm. Greywater
consists of all used water produced at a particular site, except for water coming from the toilet, which is known as blackwater. When building a greywater system you first separate the greywater from the blackwater and send the greywater through a separate treatment system. Ideally, after the greywater passes through the purification process it will then be able to be reused. Greywater systems are an appropriate
use of technology for many reasons. Some of them being: they reduce the use of fresh water
, there is less stress on existing more conventional septic tanks
, it is a highly effective purification
process, and there is less chemical and energy
use required. In our case the majority of water used on the farm is to water vegetables
, herbs, flowers and fruits, and the source of greywater comes from the outdoor kitchen, used by the farmers and volunteers to cook and wash vegetables or dishes.
GEM mosquito control
. This method of mosquito control
involves the use of water containers inside/outside households as well as other buildings, regularly replaced to kill mosquito larvae. It is well known that mosquitoes lay eggs in water where ever it be. It is also equally true that they visit human dwellings as well as cattle/bird sheds for feeding usually from dusk to dawn and they cannot complete their reproductive cycle without animal protein. Exploiting these weaknesses one could achieve mosquito control. For that provide a few micro water bodies around the building using household utensils. Destroy larvae as & when they appear.
By two months one gets tangible reduction in mosquito problem. This experience has repeated at many sites. Further research unearthed the reasons for the magnificent result produced in a short span of two months.
This can be easily extended to larger areas with people’s participation as well as cooperation & guidance from concerned agencies like the WHO and the perennial & apparently unsurmountable problems like Mosquito menace & Malaria, Dengue fever & a host of other problems can be solved once for all. See also Some history. This tall claim is based on the confidence given by the three decade long experience in the matter.
Luggage carrier for transport bicycle
are used for transporting bulky and heavy loads. It is trickey to do this in a way that it is still possibe to pedal the bicycle. In practice sometimes special racks are permanently attached to the bicycle. Such racks may hinder the more normal use of this bicycle. Moreover normal bicycles are not build to take heavy loads over rough roads. Special bicycles for heavy loads are not generally available. An alternative could be a load carrier characterized with the following: the load does not rest on the frame of the bicycle, but is transferred directly to the wheelaxles; it is easy to mount and remove the load rack; such a load rack can be made by the user and adapted to the load to be transported. The load rack should not be in the way to push the loaded bicycle or to ride it.
To make sure that the load put on the bicycle is mainly transferred to the wheel axle, straps are attached where the wheel axles are bolted to the bicycle frame. These straps are made by winding some thin wire around frame and axle and twisting it into a loop.In each strap fits the tapered end of a straight stick roughly one and half a meter long. For the load rack over the front wheel, these sticks are tied with a strip of rubber to the steering handle. For the load rack over the rear wheel, the two sticks are also mounted in the loops attached to the rear wheel axle, then higher up with rubberstrips to a T-shaped wooden extension strapped to the frame under the saddle. Any basket, bag, netting or platform can be attached to the sticks, that support the load in the most practical way. This choice is left to the user. After use only the wire loops remain attached to the bicycle frame for future use. The sticks and the T-frame are removed. On the way back from the market, these parts can be tied in a bundle to the side of the bicycle.
CCAT yurt rainwater catchment
. The long history of rainwater
collection, can be traced (in recorded history) as far back as ancient times some 3,000 years ago (850 BC) if not even farther. The need for water
is a basic human essential for maintaining life, without it, no civilization could have prospered. Rainwater collection in ancient Constantinople is one of the last megalithic structures of its kind.
The CCAT Rainwater Catchment Group consists of: Sean Colley, Matt de Young, Jessica Radtkey, Sarah Shimizu, and Tiesha Whittaker. Our project for ENGR 114 was to build a rainwater catchment system around the yurt at CCAT on campus at Humboldt State University. The purpose of the rainwater catchment system is to capture and store rainwater in a large storage drum for use to water plants on the CCAT grounds. Water is a resource that is always present around us but not always in an immediately useful form. Therefore, it is necessary that we use innovative and appropriate techniques to capture and transform the water that we have into a useful form of water for our needs.
Underground rainwater storage facilities
. Rainwater storage tanks are more important in semi arid areas than any other areas because they are useful in storing limited water supplies for agricultural purposes. In semiarid regions, where precipitation is low or infrequent during the dry season, it is necessary to store the maximum amount of rainwater during the wet season for use at a later time, especially for agricultural supply. One of the methods frequently used is the underground
storage tanks. The in situ technology consists of making storage available in areas where the water is going to be utilised. All rainfall-harvesting systems have three components: a collection area, a conveyance system, and a storage area. In this application, collection and storage is provided within the landscape.
Consider five main factors when designing your underground tank.
- Length of the dry spell
- Daily usage
- Construction costs
Kiva's straw bale greenhouse
. Welcome to our straw bale
greenhouse. The following page will take you with us on our greenhouse building adventure. We will discuss the process, what worked best and did not work, problems we had, how much time it took to build, and the money spent on the project. Over all we hope that this is a fun and comprehensive look at what we did to make this project come together. The reason that we chose to build a straw bales greenhouse is that both Scott (my building partner) and I would like to get into alternative building
as a career and we thought that this would be a good place to start and learn from.
To build a straw bale greenhouse where Kiva can grow chili peppers, tomatoes, and lots of other yummy warm weather plants. The reason we decided to build with straw bale was to gain experience with this material and the great insulative value of it. Scott and I decided to have two of the walls straw bale and the other two wood and glass. Where we live no permits are required for a 10' x 12' greenhouse, so we decided these would be the inside dimensions. To receive optimal year-round sun in our area the glass on the south facing wall is at a 40 degree angle. At the building site there is plenty of morning sun and not much evening sun so we opted to have our east side be glass and our west side be straw bale.
Hotel Perote solar pool heating system
. Parras de la Fuente is a desert oasis town of about 44,000 residents located in the south of the Mexican state of Coahuila. Along with textile manufacturing, tourism is one of the main industries in Parras. Tourism has become increasingly emphasized after Parras's designation as the "primer pueblo mágico del Norte de México." Parras is warm in the summer, and cooler in the winter, but temperatures rarely fall below freezing, snow falls once every several years.
Antiqua Hacienda de Perote is a hotel, restaurant, nuez (pecan) ranch, vineyard, and winery. It sits on about 500 acres on the western-most edge of Parras. According to Igancio (Nacho) Chacon, Perote's owner, Perote's hotel business has been growing rapidly, and in 2006, the hotel was constructing rooms to meet demand.
Parras Program students Heather Kuoppamaki and Rowan Steele built a rooftop solar hot water system for Hotel Perote in the summer of 2005. Intended as prototype for a larger system to heat a spring-fed swimming pool (alberca), then being constructed, the system was sized to provide heated water for a single hotel bathroom. The 2005 system is no longer located at Perote, and has been moved to the residence of someone afiliated with the local city government. Igancio has requested a system to keep the pool at 28° centigrade from October to March. The design problem revolves on this performance parameter and several state variables.
Parabolic basket and tin can solar cooker
. The objective of this project is to create a solar cooker
out of local invasive species and waste
materials. We want to create a device that can pasteurize water
and be an alternative to the use of fossil fuels for cooking food
. Our criteria for evaluating the appropriateness of technology are: use of local materials, efficiency, durability, ease of use, ease of construction, cost, impact on environment, impact on culture/lifestyle, education or expertise needed for construction.
Overall this was a successful project. We were able to meet our goal of pasteurizing water. The solar basket can pasteurize water in a quart container in about an hour with optimal conditions. If we were to make the solar basket version 2.0, here are some changes we would make: 1. double up the blackberry runners so that the ribs of the basket are stronger; 2. use another material instead of pampas grass because it causes lumps on the basket's surface, maybe something softer; 3. use all large can lids, of the shiniest quality; and 4.construct the rings that hold the parabolic shape out of a less flexible material than the aluminum and wire that we found.
Blue ox earthen oven
. The earthen oven at the Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka, California was constructed in 2004 by Appropriate Technology (Engr305
) students at Humboldt State University
. The project took four, three-hour work sessions to complete over a total of four weeks. As of 2007 it is still standing, is in immaculate condition and retains nearly the same heating efficiency as when it was first constructed. This page includes information on the construction of the Blue Ox earthen oven and information and updates on its current condition.
Earthen Ovens have been used for thousands of years by cultures all over the world and they are still built today by people all over. Earthen ovens are made up of just that, EARTH! Sand, clay and straw are used in building these versatile ovens.
An earthen oven can be used to cook the same things cooked in a normal household oven, so long as you can fit it through the door! Often Earthen Ovens are somewhat unique from other ovens in that they don’t have a fire burning continuously to cook with. The oven is heated before any cooking is going to take place. Generally Earthen Ovens are fired for a few hours and the hot coals are then scraped out of the interior. Once the coals are scraped out, the oven is ready to cook in.
CCAT natural paint project
. The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology
(CCAT) at Humboldt State University
in Arcata, CaliforniaW
is completely remodeling the inside of their building. When all of the construction is finished the entire interior of the house will need to be painted. As an ENGR 305
project, Spring 2007, Andrea Lanctot
and Jill Anderson
have decided to make all the interior paints from scratch using safe natural ingredients.
The project has four main goals. The first is to research natural paint ingredients, recipes, and techniques. The second is to make several of the recipes and test the paints for color, durability, and texture. The third is to choose paints from the tests for the new CCAT house and apply them to the interior. The last goal is to test the final application with the test of time. See natural paint basics for background research on ingredients, types and advantages/disadvantages of natural paint.
Ethanol from organic sugar beets versus refined cane sugar
. The purpose of my project is to determine the cost inputs and energy outputs of small scale ethanol production from local and conventional sources. I decided to use local grown organic sugar beets farmed with bio-fueled agricultural equipment. In comparison to the costs of a local source, I also used conventional sugar transported from Mexico and sold at a local restaurant supply company. In addition, I made Amal's ethanol still
to do the testing.
Ethanol is a grain alcohol that can be used as fuel in most four cycle spark ignition engines. The process of making ethanol begins by extracting the sugars from a sugar crop such as sugar beets, or converting the starches of crops such as corn or potatoes to sugars. Crops used for ethanol production are titled "feed stocks". Starch and sugar crops both have their benefits depending on the region that they are produced in. The benefit of sugar crops is that they require less energy input since no starches need to be converted. The benefit of corn is that it can store much longer than sugar beets before rotting. I am using sugar beets since they were the most appropriate crop for the season and region. The sugars are extracted by juicing the beets and boiling with water. Now the solution is called "mash" and it can be fermented and then distilled to extract the ethanol.
CCAT's Vermicomposting Bin
. I am very excited to be posting directions for building your very own home vermiculture
bin! The methods employed will produce a bin appropriate for a household of 3-5 people and should last a number of years if constructed properly. There of course are many types of bin designs out there and I wanted the creative opportunity to design my own. In looking for ideas in a gardening magazine, I noticed a pentagon shaped planter for gardens whose shape I really liked. A pentagon is also practical because compost is less likely to get stuck in the corners as often happens in normal square shaped boxes, preventing the organic materials from cycling properly. I decided to make a two-part stackable bin so that using the finished compost would be easier. Once the compost is processed it is easy to take off the top section, dump the compost in the garden, and put it on top to be filled again. The partitioned design is also improves aeration to speed up the composting process. Aeration is also provided by the holes drilled in the sides of the bin. The bottom of each bin section is finished with wire mesh to keep the compost in place. The holes of the wire mesh are large enough to allow worms and microbes to enter the system and speed up decomposition. The top is simple plywood cut to size with a brass handle and L-brackets to keep the lid in place. The bin was lastly finished with natural organic linseed oil as a sealer for endurance in the elements and general durability. I hope you enjoy!
. The Full Belly Project
(FBP), has designed a Universal Nut Sheller (UNS) that are distributing throughout West Africa and Haiti
. The UNS shells large amounts of nuts in a fraction of the time that it would take a single person.
Our Engr215 Introduction to Design class from Humboldt State University was divided into seven teams, each consisting of four members. Each team was given one of three assignments:
- Create a smaller version of the UNS to be marketed in the US in order to fund FBP's efforts abroad.
- Find a way to make a UNS out of cheaper, lighter and more sustainable materials for the countries of West Africa.
- Find a way to make molds out of recycled plastic bags for the working parts of the UNS using extremely limited resources in Haiti.
Our team worked on the first of these assignments by redesigning the UNS to be marketable in the United States.
Wild Chick Farm
. In the fall of 2005 Sarah Brunner
and Shail Pec-Crouse
, started a commercial pastured chicken operation in Arcata, California. The first four months see update
of business were spent learning from other successful models
, experimenting with different equipment, suffering through trials and tribulations, getting our hands bloody and planning improvements to our system. Throughout it all we have been guided by our core values of humane husbandry and sustainability
We began with a very small flock of 175 birds and decided to try two different models of raising them on pasture to see which model worked the best for our situation. We compared the two models by looking at efficiency, loss to predators, land impact cost, fossil fuel use and mobility which strongly effects efficiency, land impact and fossil fuel use. After working with both models for a couple of months we came to the conclusion that the Chicken Tractor (CT) model is most appropriate for raising meat chickens and the Hoop House (HH) model is more appropriate for raising laying hens. The CT is better for meat production because it is more cost effective and mobile and there is less predation. The CT is also important for pasturing laying hens for their first few months since there are less predator risks. The Hoop House is better for egg production because it accommodates nest boxes and roosts.
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Aleiha's parabolic solar cooker
. The paraboloid is an interesting shape with some amazing qualities. It has the power to concentrate light, electronic waves, sound, etc. to its focus at the center. To find the focal point of a paraboloid, one must use the formula,
, where p is a constant. The variable y is the depth of the dish, and x measures the distance from the center axis to the maximum circumference of the dish. You have to pretend that there is an x axis going through the center of the base of the dish and a perpendicular y-axis passing from the center of the base of the dish to the focal point. The two numbers, x and y, represent a point on the paraboloid, and from that, you are able to determine where the focus is.
Parabolic cookers have been used for centuries now. The idea to concentrate light using curved mirrors was developed by the Greeks, Aztecs, Incas, Romans and Chinese. The Incas used bronze and gold for their mirrors and they built structures that were several stories high. This technology seems to have appeared around the same time for each of the civilizations. It is thought that Archimedes harnessed the technologyW to defend Syracuse from invading Roman fleets in 212 BC.
Photovoltaic vaccine refrigeration at Centro De Salud
. This photovoltaic system was designed to power a DC Vaccine Refrigerator at the hospital Centro De Salud in Parras, Mexico. Centro De Salud had a list of items that needed to be purchased at their hospital. Among these was a new vaccine refrigerator. After learning of this, the project group members set out to design a PV system for the hospital that could fulfill this need.
PV systems are well suited for vaccine refrigeration for a few reasons. PV arrays are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to gas generators for supplying energy to off-grid vaccine refrigeration because of their ability to create reliable energy that requires little system maintenance. LINK PDF According to the World Health Organization, PV refrigeration systems are much more efficient at maintaining internal temperatures in refrigerators than gas generators. This creates for an overall greater reliability of the refrigerator system. In the case of Centro De Salud, having a PV powered vaccine refrigerator could prevent vaccine spoilage due to grid power outages, which can be very costly.
Solar Charged Lawnmower
. An electric lawnmower that utilizes solar
power as an energy
source will address a number of issues that standard internal combustion engine mowers do not. An electric lawnmower with a solar charger will be easier to use. There is no messy dangerous gasoline to deal with. It will eliminate those pesky trips to the gas station for fill-ups. Just plug the mower into the charging station when not in use and it will be charged and ready for your next mow! Most importantly it eliminates the emissions of an internal combustion mower.
The basic idea is to convert an older non-working gas mower into an electric powered mower by replacing the gas engine with an electric motor that runs from a 12 volt battery. This battery will be charged using photovoltaic panel (A.K.A. - solar panel). I chose to convert an old gas mower rather than just starting with an electric mower due to cost and so I could design the power output. I also planned on using as many used materials as I can. This will help to save these materials from ending up in our already over filled landfills.
I would like to claim that I came up with this solar charged electric mower idea on my own but the truth is I came across an article about one in a "Home Power" magazine (Issue 107) a while back and have wanted to build one ever since. When the opportunity arose to use it as a project in my Engineering 305 class at Humboldt State University I jumped at the chance.
CCAT Wash n Flush
. The Wash n' Flush is a Humboldt State University
environmental science 410 senior project implemented by Jeffrey Steuben, Annie Welbes and Tim Dower which is located in the downstairs bathroom at CCAT
. This is a toilet modification that allows users to save water by utilizing the wastewater
from handwashing to flush the Toilet
If you think of this project as a way of doing a DIY version of an Aqus Toilet, you'd be mostly right. These are also commercially popular in Japan.
The goals of our project were: conserve drinkable water by eliminating the use of clean, potable water to flush toilets; break down social stigma around toilet water pre-use; build awareness of creative water conservation; make toilet modification replicable, accessible, and affordable to low income households; and conserve water at CCAT.
We thought about the fact that clean, drinkable water is being used to flush human waste down the toilet. We consider this to be environmentally and socially irresponsible. Therefore, we took action.
WaterPod Rocket Stove
. The M2-B2 Rocket Stove promotes sustainability through demonstration and education while on the WaterPod
in New York City. The stove is designed to provide a reliable and sustainable means of cooking by minimizing fuel use and optimizing efficiency.
The WaterPod is a project being put together by a group of artists and engineers. This project is going to take place in New York City, in which a group of artists are going to live on a barge for six months traveling down the Hudson River promoting sustainability. The WaterPod will stop off in the five boroughs of New York and allow the public to tour the barge. The WaterPod has worked with the Engineering 215 - Intro to Design class at Humboldt State University to create sustainable projects for the WaterPod. Team Mel Brooks was assigned the task of creating an efficient means of cooking that can be utilized for the duration of the project. Team Mel Brooks created a rocket stove, which will optimize biomass as a fuel source to cook for The WaterPod.