Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

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ZombieKraft
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Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:02 am

Does anyone sell or has plans for a home / personal coal generator (electricity). Coal is one fuel that lasts forever. Diesel lasts only 6-12 months. So it’s easy to buy coal and forget about it. Seems like all the coal boilers are for large power plants. Guessing 5 to 16 kilowatt range would be ideal.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:31 pm

There are actually several ways you could use coal to power a generator:

A simple steam engine turning a generator or alternator.

https://otherpower.com/steamengine.html

http://greensteamengine.com/


To coal gasefication similar to these wood gasefication conversions
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/01/ ... -cars.html

To the much more complex Fischer-Tropsch solid to liquid fuel conversions.
https://petrowiki.org/Gas_to_liquids_(GTL)
I have seen both lab scale and "test plant" size Fischer-Tropsch operations. If you are near a coal producing area this IMO would be the "ideal" way to go since it would provide fuel for the operation of any diesel powered equipment.


Setting up a coal boiler large enough to run a steam turbine engine capable of turning a 15 kw generator would actually be the easy part of this project.
BTW here is the "engine"/steam turbine that you would hook up to an alternator or generator head.

http://www.greenturbine.eu/GT15.html


This is a site that sells plans to make steam engines of various sizes.
http://reliablesteam.com/RSE/RSEengines.html


I work with an entity that uses its waste heat to make electricity. They route the waste heat to a 250kw boiler and then get about 100 kw of power for the plant out of the systems. It is one of the most trouble prone and R&M intensive bits of equipment in an extraordinarily complex and automated production system. There is a reason diesel replaced steam and the key energy source.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:41 pm

Awesome post Raptor, do you know what breaks the most?

I’m wondering if it’s an adjustment issue or “we need lots of spare parts & rebuilds” issue.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:12 pm

Yes the key issue is that the heat exchanger tubes get coated with hard water deposits. They have to be routinely cleaned and serviced. They switched to distilled water but that is expensive to maintain without a distillation unit which was not cheap. Then the distillation unit's heat exchanger tubes kept getting coated with the hard water deposits. They have to be routinely cleaned and serviced.

The system leaks steam despite the best efforts form everyone so it has to be checked and topped up daily with distilled water. The turbine needs annual servicing and the whole system has to be shut down to do this. It takes days to cool down and the water in the boiler has to be drained and replaced in order to service it so the heat exchanger is cleaned when that is done. To clean out the boiler you need to climb inside of the boiler tank so you need a confined space protocol and gear.

It is a case of needing constant attention of someone who understands steam boilers. The generator/electrical side of it is drop dead simple in comparison. BTW we operate a high pressure but not a super heated steam boiler but do not confuse this with a simple water heater type boiler. These are very dangerous if handled improperly.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by Halfapint » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:49 pm

This is fascinating. Sounds like its a lot of work for a "backup" especially if something long term happens. Curious if OP has looked into a good gas conversion that can run an ICE? Actually now that I think of it you can do the same with coal if I'm not mistaken? Actually I looked back and think raptor actually posted that in his original remark.
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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:00 pm

Halfapint wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:49 pm
Curious if OP has looked into a good gas conversion that can run an ICE? Actually now that I think of it you can do the same with coal if I'm not mistaken?
I’m looking for things with 18 months of reserve power. The assumption is all utilities will be down for that time frame.

If it’s outdoor (solar/wind) it has to be stored inside and easy to set up when needed.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:01 pm

Halfapint wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:49 pm
Curious if OP has looked into a good gas conversion that can run an ICE? Actually now that I think of it you can do the same with coal if I'm not mistaken?
I’m looking for things with 18 months of reserve power. The assumption is all utilities will be down for that time frame.

If it’s outdoor (solar/wind) it has to be stored inside and easy to set up when needed.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by ZombieKraft » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:05 pm

Raptor, thank you so much for the very informative post. Those turbines look awesome. Any recommendations on boilers? I’m guessing that company (green turbine) will have plenty so I can reach out to them.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by raptor » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:38 pm

There are lots of used boilers available cheap. Obviously caveat emptor.

Sizing a boiler for the load is very important. You need enough power to run the generator size you want. You also can use it for hot water and heating needs.

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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by taipan821 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:40 pm

We use a coal-fired boiler at work for hot water (megalitres of hot water at 80 degrees C) one thing you might not be aware of is the startup time, which depending on your setup might be several hours before you can begin to produce electricity. with regards for power supply for 18 months, it might be worthwhile to look into the manafacturing of biodiesel from canola oil (as far as I'm aware oil doesn't go bad as quickly as diesel). lastly whatever you decide will be a permanent addition to the house, so make sure the wiring is correct and the town planning doesn't oppose a smoke stack.
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Re: Coal powered Generator - small / home sized?

Post by Maast » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:57 am

ZombieKraft wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:02 am
Does anyone sell or has plans for a home / personal coal generator (electricity). Coal is one fuel that lasts forever. Diesel lasts only 6-12 months. So it’s easy to buy coal and forget about it. Seems like all the coal boilers are for large power plants. Guessing 5 to 16 kilowatt range would be ideal.
Actually, diesel even in just a plastic fuel can will last for a couple of years if you've treated it with StaBil or the like, diesel in a phenolic lined drum thats had the headspace purged of oxygen and treated with a stabilizer lasts pretty much forever - decades at least.
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