This past Sunday the Chicagoland Permaculture Meetup and Living Off The Grid Meetup joined forces to build a compost pile that would provide heat for the grow beds of a greenhouse.
Meet Our Friend Rob Frost from the Milwaukee, WI Area
Back in the 1970s, a Frenchman by the name of Jean Pain of built a compost pile from woodchips about the size of a garage. Inside the pile he had coiled around a single, very long hose that he could run clean water through. In the very center of the pile was a very large-sealed-tank holding a slurry of cow manure.
Once the pile started to heat up he was able to run water through the hose at will and extract some of the heat. He had all the hot running water he needed for bathing, washing, and get this…for heating his home…for 18 months…!!! And from the manure tank in the center he extracted enought methane to provide gas to his stove and oven but more impressively, he compressed it into tanks and ran his automobiles from it. And when he was all done, he had a pile of fantastic compost for his gardens.
Our friend Rob Frost is attempting a mini version of this for his suburban home.
Rob’s Home Heating Experiment