New development in Biomeiler construction - from Maine, USA

My background is mechanical engineering and project management of process plant construction. (Anlagenbauingenieur und Bauleiter).

I was born in Hamburg, Germany - but my parents immigrated to the USA when I was 2 years old (1949). We always spoke German with each other at home, but I never had foreign language training in German. (Deutsches Rechtsschreiben fehlt oft). I worked in Germany from 1989 to 1996 as an "Anlagenbaukonstrukteur" in Hamburg and Munich.

I am now retired and have a small farm in Maine, where I practice permaculture methods.  (Selbsbeständigkeit und Autarkie)

35 years ago, I built an "Earthship" - style solar underground house. I works well when the sun shines, but can get cold in the winter during stroms and cloudy weather. We have 2 woodstoves, one for cooking (Tirolia from Austria) and an American stove for heating.  We use about 3 cords of firewood per year. (10m3).

I have made compost for many years from wood chips, manure, seaweed and fish factory wastes.  My first use of compost heat was for growing vegetables in hotbeds (Mistbeete) and using compost to heat stock watering tanks (Wassertroge für Vieh).

We also mulch our gardens heavily with whole-tree wood chips for years much like Paul Guchi's "Back to Eden Gardens" has made popular.

Since there has been anywhere from 100 m3 to 400 m3 whole-tree chips stored in heaps here on the farm, I have experimented with these piles over the years. During dry periods (Hochsommer), the chip piles cool down. During the "rain season" (Monsun) the piles heat up again.  By artificially introducing water into some piles, the temperature can be controlled - but not quickly or precisely. Also, by introducing "nutrients" like "manure -tea" (Jauche?) or brewery middings (brauerei Abfälle?), an "exhaused" chip pile can be revived to provide heat for several additional months.

The first Biomeiler I saw was on a farm north of Augsburg, Germany in 1994 where the farmer used manure, hay, stray and wood chips to heat a house. It was a Biomeiler much like those that you at Native Power are building today.  I first heard of Jean Pain back in 1980 through the Mother Earth News, a "Back to the Land" magazine in USA.

In designing my own Biomeiler, I have had to take several things into consideration.

  1. I am a bit handicapped (Geh-behindert, Arthrose im L. Knie, Handgelenke)
  2. I must work alone with my wife, I have no help - we live in a sparsely populated area.
  3. I must use a standard farm tractor with a front-end loader (Vorderlader) for all operations in construction AND dismantling a Biomeiler when it is exhausted (fully composted).

The conventional methods used to build Biomeilers in horizontal layers requires much spreading, raking and compaction of materials within the circumfrence, and the spreading of pipe in a spiral fashion. This cannot be easily accomplished with a front-end loader on a tractor which I must depend on for material handling.

Also, the dismantling of a Biomeiler is more difficult, even with the use of silo-mats. I must use the tractor for every operation possible.

After close study, I designed a concentrically "layered" Biomeiler that allows most of the work to be accomplished with a tractor and front-end loader.

Layout of Biomeiler behind Earth-house, (4 sections of quonset-hut bows = 20' ø circle) (4 stk. nissenhütte Bogen = 6,1 m ø Kreis) and a 7' (2,1m) long toolbox placed in the middle provides a perspective of the finished diameter and height.

A pipe chase being excavated to the house wall. (Rohr Schacht) (Red line outlines approximate edge of Biomeiler.)

Pipe chase and effluent catchment basin in place. (Red line is approximate edge of Biomeiler)

Recycled 8mil plastic greenhouse film is spread as base, concentric circles painted for postioning of fence and heat-exchanger piping.

Horse manure (1 bucket) and old garden soil/compost (1 bucket) is mixed with fresh whole-tree chips (6 buckets)

Center (core) of Biomeiler 4' ø X 6' tall old recycled wire fence (1,2mø X 1,9m) - 200' of 1" plastic pipe (60m) Pipe is fastened to wire fencing with wire-ties. Center "fracking" perforated pipe in place.

Second concentric layer 8'ø (4,2m) was filled in layers and watered down. 200' of 1" pipe (60m) I am able to sit down on an adjustable chair and rest my leg while tying on the pipes, - a great help.
****At this point, it began to rain and we stopped for the day.****
Each concentric layer will be added similarly, and the outside wall (without pipe) with be sealed with 8mil recycled greenhouse plastic.
More pictures will be sent when the weather improves and construction continues.
Yours truly,
Cliff Myles
PO Box 511
Ellsworth, ME 04605

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