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Reports from people who have built
Robert Warren's still.

Hi Robert,
I ordered your blueprint for the 803 still and received it in the mail a few days later.
I am really excited about making ethanol from your still. My particular interest is using Duckweed (Lemna) which, as you probably know from your days in the central valley, is a small plant that grows on top of the water in ditches and  ponds, and can theoretically be used to produce ethanol. From the literature I have been reading, it has an amazing growth rate and the growth rate can even be accelerated by adding carbon dioxide, which of course is a product of fermentation!
 
Duckweed also has a substantial amount of protein, and a few years back there was a project started at the U. of Wisconsin to extract protein from alfalfa which still left the fermentable sugars in the solution. This process was used to enhance the protein content of food in the diets of children in Mexico.
 
Duckweed has also been used by rural farmers in Vietnam and other places around the world as a feed supplement (up to 30 percent)  for chickens, ducks, and other farm animals.
 
There are also a number of research projects using duckweed to process waste from animal barns. "Waste" from the animals is converted into "nutrients" for the duckweed, which is then composted and returned to the soil.
 
My eventual goal is to develop a system of growing duckweed in enclosed ponds in desert areas to provide protein, animal feed, and alcohol fuel for developing countries in semi-arid and arid regions. There was some research by a fellow in Israel who used greenhouses to return the transpired moisture from the plants back into liquid water and he was able to recyle something like 98 percent of the water in the system.
 
Instead of using grain from prime agricultural land, in makes sense to me to use the arid regions of the planet to produce food and fuel. With abundant sunshine, and a method to recycle water in enclosed systems, the whole project looks feasible on paper, and I am now engaged in developing a working prototype to actually demonstrate the principles in a working system. Wish me luck!
 
Thanks again for sharing your work on ethanol production,
 
Alan Davidson

 Subject: RE: [biofuel] ethanol from plums

Robert,
Thanks, you are a big help! Thanks to you I will be
soon making my own fuel for my farm. I can get lots of rotten peaches and plums in season.
One more thing. Will it be better to use just the
juice?
       Dear Van,
Yes, I have made ethanol from plums and also
from peaches. The key to doing it without adding
sugar is to use overripe fruit, or windfall fruit. 
Good fruit which has a commercial food value
would not be economical to turn into fuel: it will
cost a high price as produce.
The only real problem is the issue of dealing
with the stones. What I did, was to fill a 50-gallon barrel about 2/3 full with the overripe fruit, and
then add water until it was about at a little over half full of water (more fruit than water). Then add a 1/4 pound of baking yeast from the natural food store. (I
don't know what this is by volume, but I expect
it is about one part water to three parts
fruit).
Then I took a garden hoe and mashed and hacked
at the fruit for about a half hour each time,
three or four times a day, for the first three or four
days (outside temperature makes a huge
difference in how quickly the yeast takes hold and
reproduces.) You can let it ferment for maybe a
week, but keep the fruit flies away with some
cheesecloth, or they will contaminate the batch
and it will turn to vinegar.

The next step makes it a bit easier to handle your mash.  I used a 1/4 inch wire mesh screen to strain out the stones, fastened to the top of the barrel with some bailing wire.  I scooped out the gooey mash with a plastic bucket and dumped it into my cooker barrel with the wire mesh tied securely around the top of the barrel. (Use enough stiff wire screen so that you have a pretty good depression in the middle, so that as you pour, it doesn't run off to the outside of the barrel). This way you are also filtering out some of the skins, which can be thrown into the compost. If you filter it too fine, you lose lots of good sugary pulp. Test your femented mash with a sugar hydrometer before running it through your still, as you want to make sure it is fully fermented. Here is a link to buying hydrometers.

http://www.distillery-yeast.com/instruments.htm

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Fuel vs. Food

Take a look at this page for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.

http://www.greenfuels.org/ethafood.html

First of all, you get 2 to 4 times more energy from alcohol fuel than the energy it takes to produce it.  But the main thing in terms of fuel vs. food is that fermenting grains and then distilling out the ethanol leaves you with a higher protein feedstock than the original grain itself: it is easier for milk cows to digest it, and the extra protein comes from the fact that nutritional yeast organisms were grown. It is sold as Distillers Dried Grains (DDG) and gets a higher price per kilo than raw grain, so this makes economic sense, too.

 Have you ever bought nutritional yeast in a health food store and sprinkled it on a salad or on popcorn? It is delicious! English folks love their Marmite spread on toast: another yeast product from the brewing industry. This is an acquired taste, perhaps, but it is high in B vitamins.
 
This group, Food First, points out in their work, The Myth of Scarcity that there is more than enough grain to feed the worlds 5 billion people. It is usually the problems of war, of dictators, and of the insanities of Globalism which makes people grow cash crops instead of food crops they could use locally, creating the horrible shortages creating malnutrition and starvation.
12 Myths About Hunger
http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/1998/s98v5n3.html

Also,  a lot of corn goes unused and could be made into ethanol instead of rotting. See:  http://www.news.wisc.edu/view.html?get=6810

.