@jayprab "Mankind, in all it's [sic] arrogance, is still insignificant in the face of the AWESOME stuff nature can (and does) throw our way."
That kind of logic leads to the equally false assumption that nothing we do can disrupt the ecosystem.
All we can do is be the best stewards we can be, studying the literature as it exists and applying it as appropriate. I, myself, am "lucky" enough to have dropped $100k+ for the 40 acres of "agricultural wasteland" adjacent to my home (and continue to be "lucky" enough to pay taxes thereon) so that I can harvest the deadfall in my woods to heat my house. I supplement that with cut & split wood from the local sawmill that comes from those portions of the log unfit to make a useable 2x4.
While I cannot manually crosscut a log to save my life, I do split wood with a sledge and wedge: quieter, safer, & more satisfying. Not sure that it's faster but it does help control the paunch that develops as I work in front of the keyboard.
78RPM, some of the forest fires this summer could be attributed to fuel buildup. Wildfires near me a few summers back when all of California seemed to be burning were made much worse by 50 years or so of buildup. But much of the recent fires in the West problem has been exacerbated by the horrific effects of ongoing super-hot and dry summers due to climate change, which also affected us here during that time. 15% humidity in the redwood forest?! And there's also been devastation of trees throughout the West by beetles, partly because they were so dry. It's a "perfect storm."
Yes, Ann, controlled burns are a tool for removing ground fuel and ladder fuel, and you rightly point out that they get out of control sometimes. I guess nothing is perfect. But what's important about the facets of this discussion is that the people on this blog are Engineers. If anyone is going to solve world energy needs in a way that can save the environment, it's the engineers who read this magazine. If you want to predict the future, then invent it. Let's challenge ourselves ladies and gentlemen. Hoooah.
Secondarily, I think of the horrible forest fires this past summer in the U.S. If we had done some sustainable logging, many of those big trees would have survived the fire. But now we have the equivalent of a clear cut decided by flames. We could have provided jobs for loggers and still kept our forests.
78RPM, I'm with you on the relationship between humans and nature. Wildfires are a natural way of keeping forests thinned and diseased trees under control. This has been the case for thousands of years, and the US Forest Service finally figured this out when they started doing "controlled" burns. However, those can be hard to control, as they discovered in Idaho in the summer of (I believe) 1998 when a controlled burn got out of hand and devastated thousands of acres in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The foresters at a state park close to me do this every few years, too, but with a lot more success. So did native Americans throughout California.
@Habib, in this southeastern part of Michigan many of the currently being built houses do have fireplaces, but that is mostly in the expensive houses. So there are lots of them here. The addition of a small circulation blower is a good idea, and the trick of using the temperature -induced change in diode forward drop is a neat way to have a stable temperature sensing system. Great engineering there.
And for all of those folks screaming about pollution from heating systems, why don't you all move to southern California where pollution comes only from transportation sources, which in that area everybody must have in that part of the world?
@78RPM, isn't it interesting as to the reality that the unintended consequences of some idea not adequately thought out wind up being rather unpleasant. The whole concept of not using any of the fallen deadwood almost invariably leads to really bad fires with a lot more damage, justy as described. For that reason I have written my (previously) favorite Canadian park off. They changed policy and made it an expensive fine to burn even one twig off the ground. Instead, people bring in firewood from all over, which brings in all kinds of bugs and diseases. But they do get their wish for a collection of tinder and fuel at the base of their great forest, no matter what else may also happen. Why couldn't those politicians think ahead a few years.
The most satisfying aspect of this is the use of existing "junk box" parts. Like the PJT - my thought would be to create a three second delay with a 555, but then I'd have to go buy one. Using "correctly mismatched" diodes means not having to buy temperature sensors. A great design, Dick!
We are all off the subject of the project itself but let me offer another take on the environmental effects of burning wood. I lived 22 years in Honolulu, then retired to the mountain forest of Montana seven years ago. Until I bought land here I, too, believed that one must never take a stick out of the forest; then in 2005 a forest fire destroyed 20 acres of my trees and several square miles of Forest Service timber. I have pictures of one side of the road where the Forest Service had thinned the trees, and the other side where they had not thinned. Where no thinning had been done you see 100 percent mortality. The thinned side shows almost 100 percent survival of mature trees as burning grass and brush did not find ladder fuel to reach the tree branches.
On my own 64 acres I have learned that when I thin the trees to 220 trees per acre, the remaining trees grow much better. In some areas, I have 400 to 500 per acre and all the trees look like bamboo stalks. Wildlife doesn't like to go through such thicket. After cutting trees, standard tree farm practice is to burn the piles, so I might as well make use of the burn.
I do not believe that nature's purpose is to serve man. I'm in the Transcendentalist camp of Thoreau, Alcott, Emerson, who believed that man is another animal and a part of nature. But I do believe that we have to manage some parts of our environment using our best judgment. Hmm. I think I'll look for a way to sequester that smoke.
I agree with wlawson: if you're burning dry enough wood and doing it carefully and correctly--and you have an EPA-approved woodstove (which most people don't)--there's almost no creosote buildup. My chimney sweep keeps telling me I could have him come only once every two years because I'm doing all that. Most of his other customers need him twice in one year, i.e., 4x as often. And it's not exactly a choice where I live: it's much cheaper than electric and propane heating, and when the power goes out in winter as it often does here, propane and wood are the only alternatives.
@Constitution_man - Dude, I gotta agree with jayrab on the angry thing.
Please continue with your good facts, but take a couple of deep breaths. I lean to your side of things. but you're getting me spun up -- and it's not even my conversation.
Since I jumped in, I will note that (I'm no chemist but) I took exception with his remark about all 6 Cs going up to the sky. I don't own a fireplace shovel to clean out the hydronium (OH) ions under the grate.
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