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I have been in the midst of the red tape cutting and development of a micro distillery. 

When I started my exploration of greenhouse cultivation and aquaponics, I wanted to heat it all efficiently.  The wiseway pellet stove set many other tangents un heating and energy into motion.  The steam engine, hydronic heating systems, bio-mass usage, and distillation.

What I quickly discovered is to heat a large greenhouse to the level I wanted, in the climate I live in, is not a small investment.

So, I began my quest for a cost effective means of heating.  I settled on bio-mass for a myriad of reasons, and also the pellet type of fuel.

When I discovered the Wiseway pellet stove and spoke with it's inventor Gary Wisener, I found him to be very receptive to my ideas.  He allowed me to adapt and modify his stove, with their help, to accommodate my plans for heating water and the greenhouse.

Along the way I discovered I could create steam with the heat exchangers, and began my study of water distillation.  I had a local still maker Anthony Zaca of Rainier Distillers, build me a column that would distill water with the appliance configured as I had it.

During our discussions, he mentioned that if I can distill water, ethanol could also be distilled as it has a lower boiling point.  The stove and its column were designed to operate in a continuous fashion, which was perfect for the production of ethanol as a fuel.  So I filed that away in my mind for a bit.

As I continued with my greenhouse development and AP experiments, I was not getting the efficiency I wanted out of my heating system.  So I started looking at other potential sources of energy.  The bio-digester intrigued me as it produces methane as a fuel, but it also produces fertilizer.

Since I was also working with a permaculturist, Jeb Thurow, I started study of this technology as well.  But it needs a fairly large amount of raw material on a regular basis, and also needs to be kept warm to work efficiently.

So, I started linking all these things together.  Greenhouses, AP, Permaculture, fermentation, distillation, bio-digestion, CO2 collection, water conservation and filtration, ethanol, steam, biomass, composting, vermiculture, (a few other things that I am sure I am forgetting) and realized that I could put them together as one system. 

A distillery produces a great deal of water that contains minerals and beneficial organic material once processed that would be great for the soil and plants, CO2, that would be useful in enriching the atmosphere of the greenhouse, solids to feed a bio-digester, and waste heat to heat a greenhouse, fish tanks, and the bio-digester.

The filtration would allow me to reuse a great deal of the process water and send it back to the distillery.  The solids removed would be composted.  This would reduce my water usage greatly.  The bio-digester and greenhouse would allow me to process all the wastes in house reducing and potentially eliminating my entire organic waste stream.

The distillery earns the money that would not only support the entire system, but also myself.  The rest of the system manages the waste stream turning all the liabilities into assets, and producing nutritious vegetables in the process.

No small undertaking, but it should be a very interesting project when completed.

We are now finished with all our licensing and permitting.  We are also producing at this time and will have our products available in the next few weeks.

The next task is to begin the plans for the process water treatment, bio-digester, and solids composting systems. I hope to start the greenhouse soon after that.  The bio-digester will be housed in the floor of the greenhouse where all the waste heat of the distillery will be used to heat the bio-digester, fish tanks, and the greenhouse.

Anyone that is interested in this project and that might like to be involved in some fashion should get in contact with me.  I am looking for creative individuals to partner in various aspects of the system.

We have been assigned a grant writer for this project by the state of Oregon in pursuit of a federal SBIR grant.  The state feels that it is a worthwhile project and is assisting us in our project any way they can.

It is an exciting and interesting project.  I look forward to sharing it with others along the way.

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Comment by Rick Stillwagon on February 15, 2014 at 11:45am

Good to hear from you Carey!  Actually it is Rum, Whiskey, and various Brandies I will be producing.  Fuel isn't economically feasible to produce, particularly at this level.  I spent the best part of a year getting through the licensing and permitting process.  I just got our products registered with the state, so we can start putting our Rum on the shelf.  Sometime next month I get my agent's appointment (makes the distillery tasting room a liquor outlet) then I can sell directly to the public.

I hope you can visit again when we have everything in the waste management arena operational.  You could see it all, how it works, and determine its feasibility for your work in China.

I appreciate your encouragement and look forward to hearing from you again.

Comment by Carey Ma on February 15, 2014 at 9:18am

Well done! Cheers my friend! I would love to be a part of this wonderful work. As only knights can dub another, I dub you a fellow Ecolonomicist. I am so glad you have funding. I only wish my work/ experiments was funded by someone other than myself.

So, as I understand it, your still is going to make fuel instead of consumables? Darn! I was hoping for a few gallons of custom Whoo-Ha. Last time I was back, the Liquor Board just got privatized and saw a whole lot of new micro-stills offering almost custom lots of "organic" firewater.

But seriously, if there is anything I can help with (long distance), please don't hesitate to ask.

Your friend and fan,


PS: I'd love to have whatever info, specs, plans you are willing to share. Maybe I can apply it here on one of my future projects? And when it turns out to be a patent able product, would love to be your overseas rep.

May your god guide and comfort you.


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