Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm throwing this out there for discussion, spawned by a recent blog, but something on my mind since first being interested in AP.  NO PUMPS. Can it happen, and how?

Why? Well, 'cause if we didn't need pumps or electricity we probably wouldn't use them, and AP might truly join the ranks as a sustainable food production method, and applicable to feeding the poor, saving the world, yada yada...and at the heart of it all, I'm cheap and lazy. I find personal victory in reaching the end goal faster, smarter, easier, cheaper than "how it normally done".

The only thing that comes to mind is a wicking bed of some sort. And I need to consult my book of wild ideas before I open my mouth.

Now I won't be a stickler about including some pumps using waste energy, or some low-tech mechanics, or human power, but try to avoid solar PV and windmill electricity (not that they are not excellent, but they are being done and discussed elsewhere).

link to blog: http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/profiles/blogs/a-no-pump-sy...

Pics, sketches, links, etc are always nice. Happy brainstorming.

Jon

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TYTC

You save me so much writing. Wish we were neighbors

I think there's an outside chance that, if you had enough money, you could build a mini-anaerobic digester to produce a small amount of methane from the solid fish waste and vegetable waste... which could be used to power a small methane fuel cell... which could power a small pump.

Actually, I don't think the digester is really all that outrageous an investment, I've seen pictures where they have built them for 3rd world villages out of mostly salvage sort of stuff.  Just takes a bit of space and engineering.  Then you might not eve need to worry about using a "fuel cell" and you could probably run a simple LP generator or motor to drive whatever sort of equipment you might want directly from the methane.  Don't limit the digester to using only the fish and veggie waste, the human and other animal waste can go to the digester too.  Ya just need the space for the digester.

Now "mini" digesters could probably even be made out of a 55 gallon drum and some other assorted parts but that is going to provide only a small amount of fuel for the amount of effort it will require on a daily basis to stir and feed it.

David - WI said:

I think there's an outside chance that, if you had enough money, you could build a mini-anaerobic digester to produce a small amount of methane from the solid fish waste and vegetable waste... which could be used to power a small methane fuel cell... which could power a small pump.

This video shows the screws being used to pump massive water, but also as a generator. The person interviewed boasts that this is the only dual purpose Archimedes screw he's aware of being used.  (I bet there are backyard tinkerers using it similarly on a small scale.)  They weren't specific, but in this instance, I suspect they reverse the spin direction when not pumping to generate electricity.

 

I believe electricity can also be generated and harnessed in an aquaponics set-up (assuming someone had the desire and interest).  I believe there is more than one way to accomplish this, but all the variations would involve the gravitational flow of water maximizing a laminate flow (versus a turbine flow), for example a laminate flow into a screw used as a turbine to capture electricity.

 

*braces for the next onslaught of naysayers who like to be told what to think instead of embracing independent thinking and creativity manifested in experimentation (and fun)*

 

 

Yes, you can run a small aquaponic system using a Shaduf.

This is one of the most efficient ways of lifting water invented thousands of years ago and still used in some places.

One of my contacts works in remote places and I mentioned it to him.

He says he has made one but unfortunately he is out of contact for now.

If you google for Shaduf you will soon get the idea.

Go to http://www.haller.org.uk/aquaponics/ to see how it started

Graham K

Maybe...

Driving any kind of engine (eg a generator or a pump) is, however, way beyond the domestic-scale.

http://www.small-farm-permaculture-and-sustainable-living.com/metha...

The fuel cell would produce about twice as much power for the same amount of waste but I still think there's only an outside chance that you could put together an "efficient" enough system to power an aquaponic setup.  I could be wrong, again.  LOL


TCLynx said:

Actually, I don't think the digester is really all that outrageous an investment, I've seen pictures where they have built them for 3rd world villages out of mostly salvage sort of stuff.  Just takes a bit of space and engineering.  Then you might not eve need to worry about using a "fuel cell" and you could probably run a simple LP generator or motor to drive whatever sort of equipment you might want directly from the methane.  Don't limit the digester to using only the fish and veggie waste, the human and other animal waste can go to the digester too.  Ya just need the space for the digester.

Now "mini" digesters could probably even be made out of a 55 gallon drum and some other assorted parts but that is going to provide only a small amount of fuel for the amount of effort it will require on a daily basis to stir and feed it.

David - WI said:

I think there's an outside chance that, if you had enough money, you could build a mini-anaerobic digester to produce a small amount of methane from the solid fish waste and vegetable waste... which could be used to power a small methane fuel cell... which could power a small pump.

Good Link there David,

I haven't had a chance to put much time into researching it.  Probably more efficient to use the waste for making enough fuel for cooking.

I don't know much about the fuel cells so have no idea if they would be efficient enough to provide the electricity to run an electric pump to do the job.

Hum, I wonder if using the methane to heat water to make a little steam engine to drive Archemedies Screw idea or something like that would work.

You say not windmill electricity, does that include windmill pumping directly?  Pumping water with windmills goes on all over the world to this day. A windmill powered pump with a reservoir and I mechanical water powered timed release would do the trick.  All of these things are currently being used, just not sure if they are being used together.

A person could try... electricity is too cheap here for me to even consider spending money to go "off-the-grid" but "Electric power generation with steam at the individual household level is making a comeback." according to this guy: Steam Power

CH4 is a remarkably efficient energy source. Here's various energy densities for scale: 

Natural Gas/CH4: -810.0 KJ/mol

Petrol/Gasoline:      -48.1 KJ/mol

Hydrogen/H2:       −571.6 KJ /mol

When burned it creates CO2 and H2O (both not as much of a greenhouse gas as CH4). Collecting and burning CH4 is a very "green" thing to do! 

A fuel cell, in general, STORES energy--electrolytic cells are more common than galvanic/spontaneous cells. Unless you have an intermittent power source (ex. wind, solar, etc.) on your property or electricity cost differently at different times, they're basically useless for powering your system, because of thermodynamics.  Anyway, see you all in the year 2525.  (CONTEXT: 'twas a meta-joke about climate change.)

TCLynx said:

Good Link there David,

I haven't had a chance to put much time into researching it.  Probably more efficient to use the waste for making enough fuel for cooking.

I don't know much about the fuel cells so have no idea if they would be efficient enough to provide the electricity to run an electric pump to do the job.

Hum, I wonder if using the methane to heat water to make a little steam engine to drive Archemedies Screw idea or something like that would work.

Somewhere out in internet land there is an interesting "sun tracker" for aiming a solar panel or mirror at the sun.

It started with a double-acting "bimba" type air cylinder (ram) with each port attached to a sealed aluminum air chambers.  The chambers were slightly behind the solar panel, so that when the panel is aimed directly at the sun both cylinders we in the shade.  As the sun moved, one chamber would be exposed to the sun and heat up, causing the air to expand and drive the ram enough to turn the panel and put that chamber back in the shade.

So, the thing ends up facing west when the sun sets.  The next morning the other air chamber is completely exposed to the sun and heats up fast and drives the panel all the way back to the east and it stops (momentarily) when both air chambers are shaded by the panel (facing directly into the sun).

I would think if you had big enough air chambers you could drive a piston pump to lift water up into a tank or something... or make the thing work more like a crankshaft in an engine and have it go round& round (during the day).

Something like this, when viewed from above:

Attachments:



Jim Fisk said:

OK this was strange. Just 2 days ago I sent an email to my ME son with a bunch of links to Sterling engine websites. The "subject" was: "We really need to build one of these." Here in the Smokys there are old 8' sat dishes sitting around in back yards doing nothing. What a great solar mirror and tracking system to power a Sterling.

There is also the method that hydro power companies use to store power and that involves a reservoir or in our case tanks to which ap water can br pumped to during windy periods and drained thru the system as needed, Wind pumps are still a standard on many farms and parts are always available. Both solar and wind could be combined and no expensive batteries needed, just perhaps ibcs or a pond up hill.

Then there is always the bicycle powered water pump and "villagers" can take turns pedaling. There are unlimited possibilities. I still need to post a pic of that shrimp on the treadmill:-)

Vlad Jovanovic said:

I'm pretty much with Chris in that some sort of pumping probably needs to be taking place. Now how this pumping is accomplished is another matter, one that can be open to all manner of 'creative' designs. 

Lately, I seem to be constantly drawn to technologies from the 19 century to solve simple problems that crop up here on the farm and/or in the village. I know, I know that isn't exactly 'outside the box' sort of stuff, but I really feel like the 1800's were a profusely creative and productive period in many regards, and is a good period to pilfer through for pre-massive electric grid, pre-petroleum technologies. (Or,maybe it just seems that way because of all the good documentation that exists from that period. IDK)...Anyways...

One of my favorites is the Sterling engine

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine

Here is an interesting take on a free piston, or rather, liquid piston version

http://www.ornl.gov/~webworks/cppr/y2001/rpt/27113.pdf

Here's a neat little DIY build just to show you don't exactly have to work for NASA to build one of these things (though I'm sure it helps...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUnDjIyII4g

These things used to be used to pump water, turn a shaft, generate electricity...whatever...mostly good in low or mid power environments (they tried powering a whole factory with one once, but that didn't work out so well) before being displaced by the stem engine and electric motor.

It's not going to solve world hunger or anything, but it might be one of many different interesting ways (especially perhaps when combined with other more 'modern' technologies) to at least solve some of our power/pumping requirements.

Again, I do feel that for AP when used in an intensive food production model, one that is stable in its consistency to provide food, power/pumping is a requirement, though not necessarily grid, or even electric dependent.  

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