Complete Distillation of Ethanol by Solar Concentrating Method

Project Overview

FNC06-600
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Miscellaneous: ethanol

Practices

  • Energy: biofuel feedstocks, renewable energy, solar energy

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    Our Farm consists of 175 acres of rolling north Missouri pasture and timber with 10 acres in orchard. We grow Apples, Peaches, Plums, Pears, and Apricots — approximately 1300 trees that are now 16 years old. We have a sales building for our fruit on the farm and we encourage a You-Pick for all of our customers.

    PREVIOUS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PRACTICES
    I have implemented other completed grant projects into our farming practices, in as much as using some of the ethanol produced by us to power certain equipment here on the farm.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION
    Goals: My goal was to build a machine (ie. Solar Concentrator) that would track the sun and have a batch type fractionating column type ethanol still that would distill alcohol out of fruit wine made from our waste fruit collected here in the orchard. The original objective of the project was to distill ethanol completely independent from any outside fuel source other than solar.

    PROCESS
    The initial steps were to procure a large used satellite communications dish that would have the ability to be made to tract the sun. We procured one such dish in southern Missouri and hauled it to northern Missouri here on the farm.

    We then engineered a base of concrete pillars in ground and a large heavy concrete pad for this unit to sit upon. Then we erected the mounts and dish.

    PEOPLE
    • The 1st individual whot assisted was Joe Koenin from the University of Missouri Extension here in the Northern District of Missouri. I met with Joe and explained our concept, he then wrote a letter of recommendation.
    • Next my son Wade West and I made the trip to southern Missouri after doing some research finding a large 15 foot diameter communication dish from a David Terry. Mr. Terry had a business years ago in removing these unwanted dishes from companies going to a different avenue rather than super large parabolas.
    • Next a friend Don Collins and I, along with a few other individuals, formed and dug, framed with wire and rebar the base and poured the concrete columns and pad. We then started the erection of the system which is very heavy and massive.
    • Others have helped with the engineering of the equipment.

    RESULTS
    The results are such that we have gotten into a very large project and basically have run out of funds to complete it. I underestimated the size and magnitude that this equipment actually is and also how much it will take in electronics to track the sun using this large equipment. At this point I still aim to complete the project but will now have to wait to gather more funds privately on my own.

    The things I would do differently would be to study the cost on the tracking mechanism better as this is really the only hold up now on this project.

    DISCUSSION
    I’ve learned to be a bit more objective as far as trying to figure cost on a project of this magnitude.

    We do have the dish up and constructed and can show anyone including farmers, etc. where we are in the stream of this project and can explain where we are going with this project. It still is very viable and we have all intentions of completing it.

    OUTREACH
    Our main outreach is our customers and others whot will visit our website as well as come to the orchard to purchase and pick their own fruit. We also can communicate by email and create a disk for computer use.

    PROGRAM EVALUATION
    This program is a fine vehicle for folks such as myself to expand their own horizons and try their viable ideas.

    I’m very satisfied with all the folks I’ve visited with regarding the grants I have won including this latest one on Solar Distillation.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.