Most of us aren’t fortunate enough to own dozens of acres. This means relying on outside land for firewood – or does it? Here’s some interesting food for thought: http://www.hybridpoplars.com/heat.htm. Here’s some more information on what is called coppicing, or the natural regrowth of many tree species when cut down. Using such woodland management, it is possible for those of us with just a couple acres to have self sufficient firewood. I first learned of coppicing when I cut down a couple of mimosa trees in my front yard. The next year, they sprung right back into action. In one growing season’s time, they have grown 7 feet and bigger around than my thumb. Here’s a picture of one of them:
Pretty neat stuff if you ask me. Based off of this, I should be able to harvest these toward the end of the next growing season to be used for heating my water. I noticed that the original trees seasoned faster than most wood. Within three months of cutting down, the wood burned like tinder.
Another benefit of coppicing is the production of relatively straight wood. This is a huge benefit when your heating system relies on gravity feeding. The longer a piece of wood will grow straight, the less time and energy you will spend on cutting. It is also easier to handle the smaller lighter wood, which is important to those who are elderly or suffer from injury.
So if you have a acre or more of land and are buying cordwood, perhaps you should take a closer look at coppicing. I’m planning to start my hybrid poplars in the spring myself.
A lot of people sink big bucks into gasoline log splitters that feature massive splitting power. While I’m sure that there are times where that extra power comes in handy, most of the time you can get by with much less. Check the splitter out in action:
Pretty impressive when you consider that oak is some pretty tough wood to split by hand. From researching these quite a bit, most of them seem to come from China and just feature different paint jobs and brands. So I’d say pick your poison, buy extended warranty plans, and maintain your equipment. There is no reason this little splitter shouldn’t last for many years to come.
My quest for green energy relies heavily on my locally renewable resource of wood. A chainsaw is the tool of choice for harvesting wood. Since I want to power my tools off of charcoal gasification, an electric chainsaw was the way to go. Here’s the video that I’ve promised:
I sharpened the chain after the video, it definitely improve cut time. The electric saw seems much better on chain life and oil consumption than the gas counterparts I own. It cuts better than my Homelite 45cc saw and about par if not slightly better than my Stihl MS170. I’ve been very happy with it in the month that I’ve had it. If you have any questions regarding electric chainsaws, feel free to leave them in the comment section.
A long term project of mine is to cut wood using power produced from wood. This involves producing wood gas. Because I want to be able to take the setup out in the woods with me, I’m going to build a small charcoal gasifier instead of a full blown wood gas setup. To keep things simple, there will be only one engine and that will run a generator. The charcoal gas will run a generator, which will in turn run an electric chainsaw and electric log splitter.
I’ll do a full review in the form of a video in the near future. I’ve been very happy with it so far and have cut up quite a few trees with it.
Another component I bought was an electric log splitter. It is a 5-ton model and can split almost anything I have sent its way. Out of an entire tree, I might have one that I have to hit with the splitting maul. Sure beats splitting the entire thing by hand. Here’s what the one I bought looks like:
I’ll do a video review on this as well in the near future. These are all built in China and seem pretty much the same across the board regardless of what model you buy. I went ahead a purchased an extra warranty on mine, just for a little more peace of mind. I’ve got 2 years to break it…
I’ve been using my rocket stove to produce charcoal to use as fuel. I simply rake out some coals from time to time and sprinkle enough water to take out the glow. Once they have cooled, I store them in a 5 gallon bucket out of the rain. It doesn’t take much effort to fill a 5 gallon bucket with charcoal. Charcoal is my fuel of choice, due to the lack of tars in the charcoal gas. If done properly, the gasifier will produce carbon monoxide and a bit of hydrogen from any moisture that remains.
So the only things that remain is to build the gasifier and buy a generator. I’m trying to find a used generator that produces at least 4000 watts so I can run the saw and splitter at the same time. I’ll post updates as things continue to come together.