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Article on heating water with no electricity, no gas, and no fire

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Here’s an article on heating water with no electricity, no gas, and no fire.   The system uses a compost pile to generate hot water year round (up to 160 degrees/71C and over 1 gallon per minute/4.5lt).
Who was Jean Pain I can hear you ask -well … Jean Pain was a French innovator who lived in southern France from 1930 until his passing in 1981. He was able to create a compost-based energy production system that was capable of producing 100% of his energy needs. Until recently, Pain was an unknown. Today, he’s hailed as “the king gold,” and energy experts from all over the globe have come to Domaine des Tenipliers to study the miracle Pain has wrought: an amazingly simple, and incredibly inexpensive system that extracts both energy and fertilizer (gold) from plant life (green). These scientists are hopeful that Pain’s new process will go a long way in helping overcome the worldwide shortage of fuel.

Using compost alone, Jean was able to heat water to 71C+.  He used this water for washing, cooking and heating his home. His system was able to heat water at a rate of 4 L per minute. –


Thinking of Building Your Own?

Creating a compost-based water heater is excellent weekend project. The only things you really need are compostable material, an area to devote to your compost pile, and lots of polyethylene tubing.

One of the most important things to remember when creating your own compost water heater is to compress the compost pile very well. Since anaerobic bacteria are responsible for heating the pile, the more compressed your compost is, the better your water heater will work.

Another thing that some people have done successfully is create two small piles with tubing coiled in each of them. In areas where space is limited, this may be a good alternative that will still heat water practically as well as a single large pile. Truly, the key is to use lots of tubing and coil it throughout the compost pile – as long as you do that, you should have no issues heating up your water to 70C or better.

As previously mentioned, you could also consider using a compost water heater as a way to preheat water entering your hot water tank. This is often easier than implementing a standalone compost heater and it will save significant amounts of energy typically used to heat groundwater in your hot water tank.

Other people have also used compost water heaters in conjunction with various solar water heating techniques. Although a compost water heater is a very effective solution by itself, the power of the sun makes it an even more reliable option.

Jean Pain Mound cross-section  

And something for the forestry folk;

In the book Another Kind of Garden, the methods of Jean Pain are revealed. He spent his entire short-lived life studying brush land and forest protection, specifically fire prevention, alongside his wife Ida. These studies led to an enormous amount of practical knowledge for composting, heating water, as well as harvesting methane, all of which are by-products of maintaining a forest or brush land with fire prevention techniques. While this knowledge is applicable in many instances, it is worth remembering that the root of all of this knowledge lies in forest preservation..



About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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