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Old 03-07-2013, 12:50 PM   #1
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Default Rocket Stove Heating Element

I am wondering if anyone has experimented or is using a rocket stove to heat their brew?

I am thinking of constructing a three tier keggle structure and heating my barrels with independent rocket stoves. I am still in the dreaming stages and looking for help on the dimensions of the stove.

Those of you not familiar with a rocket stove, basically, it is a very efficient wood burning stove. In operation it does not create smoke because nearly complete combustion of the fuel is achieved. Its fuel is finger sized sticks.

Help me brainstorm with positivity on why this will work and possibly save home brewers money by not buying expensive stoves and fuel. I am aware of the hands on approach in this set up but that is why I home brew. If I wanted an automated machine to brew my beer I would buy manufactured beer.



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Old 03-07-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
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Never used a rocket stove before so I am not up to speed but....
I would wonder how well you can controll the heat. I have a three tier stand that runs on propane, one burner for each tier. When I brew I make many flame adjustments many times...



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Old 03-07-2013, 01:43 PM   #3
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I'm familiar with the rocket stove design from reading permies.com. I don't see any reason why this wouldn't work. You'd just need to put enough forethought into the design so it is large enough to heat 6-7 gallons (assume 5 gal batch). for the BK. You would need a separate one for the HLT.

For temperature control, You could potentially design the system to raise or lower the stove, roll it in and out from underneath, or maybe a fan to turn on and blow some heat away from the pot?

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Old 03-07-2013, 02:00 PM   #4
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Mind you I am not familiar with a rocket stove. I wonder how many BTU's one would put out though. Heating a house verses bringing a big pot of water to boil are 2 different animals

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Old 03-07-2013, 02:14 PM   #5
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I am in love with this idea.

Let's say as a conservative estimate that there are about 6000 btu's per pound of seasoned wood (from my few moments of internet searching). Let's say that you need to bring 12 gallons up from 50 degrees to 212, that's 162 degrees.

There are 100 pounds of water in 12 gallons.

It takes 1 btu to bring 1 pound of water up 1 degree F.

It would take 16200 btu's to bring 12 gallons up to boiling (half of that for 5 gallon batches).

Let's say that we get about 30 percent heat transfer from flame to boil kettle. We are getting 1800 btu's per pound of wood transferred into the kettle.

16200/1800 = Exactly 9 lbs.

So a very rough estimate is that it will take you 9 lbs of wood to bring a 10 gallon batch up to temperature.

I think this is very doable and would absolutely love to see you pull this off! If you do, please document with many photos.

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Old 03-07-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeParty View Post
I am wondering if anyone has experimented or is using a rocket stove to heat their brew?
I was wondering that myself and have read about rocket stoves on Permies.com, here is a link to get more info if you are not familiar with rocket stoves...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=t4kX6i4qGRw

I think it would be really awesome to have a rocket stove setup but I don't know what level of control you would have over the heat being put out. It's crucial to be able to control the heat output of a burner otherwise you can't dial in the right temps. For example, I use a banjo burner on my keggle setup and I can't leave the burner open full bore or things get crazy hot, I have to dial it down to the lowest setting once I have a boil going. Definitely an interesting thought though and Im sure it could be made to work with a little ingenuity.
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Old 03-07-2013, 03:47 PM   #7
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You will definitely get a lot of soot on your pots but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

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Old 03-07-2013, 03:57 PM   #8
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Presuming he's got a big enough stove to bring his pots to a boil when it's going full blast, a combination of adjusting the height between burner and kettle and simply choosing strategically when to add more wood should give OP the ability to maintain temperature -- if he's willing to invest in good thermometers and watch his system like a hawk.

I did wonder whether nine pounds of sticks or thinly-split logs would be hard to come by, but, some quick googling puts a cubic foot of wood at anywhere between 25 and 50 pounds; cut that in half to account for the air space between small, irregularly-shaped pieces, and his nine pounds of feed stock would be a pile a foot on a side and somewhere between five an ten inches high -- seems imminently doable.

I do wonder if you couldn't "throttle" a rocket stove, restrict the incoming air-flow to slow down combustion and cool things off, much like closing the lid on your grill when you want to cool down the coals? This would be easier to build than an adjustable-height system, but it seems like it might result in smokey, incomplete combustion.

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Old 03-07-2013, 04:23 PM   #9
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You should be able to improve efficiency by jacketing the kettles. If you find it hard to keep a clean hot fire while throttling back the fuel supply, some additional control could be gained by using dampers to divert the exhaust flow away from the kettle.

I did some experiments years ago with a rocket stove to replace a low efficiency cast iron wood stove in my house. It was a high thermal mass design cast from refractory concrete. The concept was good but there was one major flaw. I should have used a ducted outside source for the combustion air. The stove was very good at sucking all of the warm air out of the house.

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Old 03-07-2013, 04:58 PM   #10
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Excellent idea, I am about to embark on a heater version of this. What's the amount of wort you want to boil with this?

Things to think about:
-Ceramic, fire brick or light weight cement for the combustion chamber will last longer than metal. Having said that you still may want to build your test stove out of metal for ease of construction. (A metal bucket or barrel, metal pipe and perlite)
-Experiment with the diameter of the "L" tube to get the heat output you need to boil large volumes.
-The use of a "J" tube or a "tee" would make it somewhat self feeding.
-To use a rocket stove for your MLT may be a bit of a challenge.

In addition using an insulated pot skirt will make the stove much more efficient. I use this with my propane burners with excellent results.
See this thread- http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/saving-propane-time-while-winter-brewing-393425/



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