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Old 02-14-2017, 03:30 PM   #1
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Default Heat Storage Idea

So over the winter I have been thinking about a project for yurt camp this summer. One thing we rely on at my camp is propane for hot water. We use solar to pump it, but that is not practical to heat it using induction. I have a couple of ideas though, that I thought I might share and see what kind of feedback you guys have..

The main idea is to get a sealable, metal, 50 gallon drum. I would coil 1/2" copper tubing about 30 inches high around the inside of the barrel. Through the cap of the barrel, I would make water connections to the coil. I would fill the barrel with used vegetable oil.

Now there are a few ways I could go about heating this. One idea was to hook up a 12 volt water heater element to a wind turbine (which I have one laying around) and install that in the barrel. Another might be to hook up some sort of parabolic fixture so the suns rays are focused on the barrel. I figure the barrel will be jet black and outside so it should already be getting some of that heat naturally.

My thinking is, this veggie oil would hold and retain quite a bit of heat. Running water through the coil should in theory, transfer that heat to the water.

My concerns are, this would have to be regulated somehow.. It couldn't get TOO hot or otherwise the water would be useless if it melts your skin when you try to take a shower for example. Turbines require the load go somewhere at all times, so some sort of dump load arrangement would have to be figured out.

Thoughts?

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Old 02-14-2017, 04:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Heat Storage Idea

Neat idea--I need to get me some hot water setup, too. I've worked some on thermal storage designs--often just straight water is used (insulated underground tanks). Absorbents/Zeolite can also be used (for heating & cooling). I've seen some wood-powered water heating setups, too.

Parabolic fixtures are neat--you'd want to align them east-west and adjust the inclination angle throughout the year (or not, so as to decrease efficiency in the summer). Small ones aren't too hard to make, either; but a fixture large enough to surround a drum might be tricky...

You can also get somewhat cheap fresnel lenses, set them up to direct sun onto your drum (not as a focused point though).

Solar heating tubes are also available--but if you already have the turbine & heating element, why spend money?

Like you mentioned, you don't want things too hot. A tempering/thermostatic mixing valve might be useful, but pressure requirements might be problematic. Depending on your setup, there might be a chance of overheating your oil during the summer... It would be good to check numbers for how much hot water you can expect to get out of your oil drum at different temps.
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