Solar Thermal Heating
Our heating system is designed to provide all the heat our process needs to make biodiesel while minimizing external energy inputs. The core of our heating system is 144 ft2 of solar thermal collectors.
In sunny weather, the only energy we need to heat our oil to its reaction temperature of 120°F is the 60W Taco pump that circulates water through the panels.
The energy from these solar thermal collectors is stored in a heavily insulated 30 gallon tank of water (above), and we circulate that water through heat exchangers in each of our tanks to distribute the heat to our oil and biodiesel. A system of valves and pumps allows us to select which tank receives the sun's heat. All of our tanks are heated to facilitate settling of oil and fuel.
Heating system schematic (PDF)
We have installed an oil burner to heat our oil in cloudy, cold weather. We can burn vegetable oil or biodiesel in this heater to provide backup heat to our system, so even in unfavorable weather, our system can provide all of its own heathing needs. While we have needed to make very little use of the burner so far, it has performed quite well, and we are very grateful to Mike Anderson for finding it for us.
161 Ayres Lane
Boone, NC 28607