Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I tried to write this out once but it sounded a little preachy so I removed it. So, here it is again....


My project started originally with aquaculture about 6 or 7 years ago.  I wanted to be able to raise my own fish in a pond that I have on my property.  I was having trouble with filtration.  I visited a facility called the "Living Machine," (I posted a diagram a few weeks ago.) Anyway, I dug another pond that I was going to put a greenhouse over and try using the water to grow plants in and filter the water for the fish... Then I thought, "I bet others have been tring to do this...." So I looked up a variety of searches on the internet and lo and behold, "Aquaponics" popped up.  I was imediately excited, and realized I was on the right track but going about it the wrong way.


Economics was my biggest stumbling block. How was I going to afford this?  Heating a huge mud pond was going to cost a fortune. (20,000 gallons) Then, we also have an expensive and unreliable power source.  So, I though why cant I generate my own electricity?  I studied a bit about solar, and discovered our area is not very productive with cloud cover most of the year. Then I thought about steam.  Steam heats, is under pressure so it can move things, and can be produced with inexpensive fuel.  The cheapest sort of fuel here is wood pellets.  Then I began to wonder is it possible to produce my own fuel.  Then I discovered there are manufacturers of biomass pellet mills.  Wood pellets burn cleaner but require the harvesting of forests. I found out the difference between all biomass pellets and wood pellets is that you will use about 20% more and have to clean the ash bin a little more often.  I can live with that.


Unfortunately here in the US we are way behind Europe and Asia in the use of biomass. There are about two companies currently in the US that manufacture boilers that burn biomass and over a hundred I have found so far in Europe and Asia.  Also the cost of foreign equipment is one third or less of the US equivalent.  We are talking over $100,000.00 here and $30,000.00 or less in the rest of the world.  These are commercial units. I was a little disheartened. But then I thought, "this isnt rocket science," steam has been around for about 400 years in practical use, about 1000 years as a novelty.


So, I began my quest into building my own boiler. This is where I discovered how difficult it was going to be to get a practical, workhorse, steam engine.  I found several companies that build very attractive boiler/engine combos in the old timey sense, but not very practical from a 24/7 perspective. Commercially, they manufacture very efficient automated boilers and turbines that produce megawatts.  But nothing on a micro-scale. So, I decided to expand my search.  I found a company in India that makes micro-power plants. But his boilers are wood and coal burning and would be very difficult to import due to EPA standards.  But his engines were no problem because their exhaust is water.


I bought his engine. That is the one you see in my pictures.  The boiler I have settled on having to build, and have put that end of the project on the back burner. I bought the pellet stove you have seen in the pictures I have posted and will retro that to heat water for now. I have a generator, a few solar panels, and will purchase some batteries and an inverter for my backup system.  So I have gone back to the greenhouse design and construction.

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