Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance…

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

The Pain Mound is a large pile of woody biomass, aka mulch. Invented by French farmer Jean Pain in the 1970s, it is made of woodchips and sawdust, surrounded by a ring of hay bales for structure and insulation. As the Pain Mound decomposes, heat is produced and harnessed using a hydronic loop. The Pain Mound will produce heat for up to 18 months, after which time the remains (nutrient rich, earthy humus) can be used to build soil.

Step 1: Lay Out the Mound

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Stake out a circle approximately 12 feet in diameter. Purchase hay bales from a local farm, collect fallen trees and branches, and rent a chipper. A load of sawdust can usually be procured from a local sawmill: they will often deliver for a nominal fee.



Step 2: Create a Hay Bale Backstop + Add Aeration

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Lay about 15′ of perforated 4″ tubing at the bottom of the mound, with each end protruding out of the perimeter. Create a “backstop” of haybales to catch the woodchips as they are thrown from the chipper into the mound. Chip a layer of woodchips approximately 1′ high into the mound on top of the aeration pipe.

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Step 3: Lay the Hydronic Loop

Coil 1/2″ plastic pipe at the bottom of the mound and hold it down temporarily with cinder blocks. Run the end of the pipe outside of the ring of hay bales, to be connected to your water source.

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Step 4: Chips and Sawdust!

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Chip wood into the pile, intermittently stopping to throw shovelfuls of sawdust in. The high carbon content of both materials create a lot of heat when decomposing.

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Step 5: Continue Laying Water Pipe + Building Up the Mound

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Once you get started, this project should take 1-2 days of labor. Keep looping in water pipe and building up the hay perimeter as you add woodchips and sawdust. Throw in some manure – any animal will work – if you have any.

Step 6: Fill Line with Water

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

The Pain Mound can be used to heat hot tubs, greenhouses or hydronic heating systems. Plan out your location carefully ahead of time so that you are close to the thing you will be heating. In the diagram shown here, we hooked up a pain mound to a greenhouse. We buried the water lines so that we would not lose additional heat to the outdoor air. For more information, CompostPower.org has an excellent detailed installation guide.

Step 7: Track the Heat Output

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

Building A Compost Water Heater For Hot Water Abundance...

If possible, consider including a series of temperature sensors with your water pipes, so that you can track the BTU output along the way. Our mound produced more than 6 million BTUs over a period of 12 months, including a freezing New England winter. Article originally published here.

If you like this idea, be sure to share it with your friends and inspire someone you know. Anything becomes possible with just a little inspiration…

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(19) comments

Scott Phillips
Douglas Southard

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Saw this in Mother Earth news. Cool idea.

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Knud det må være vvs’erens job at installere den ved mig inden vinter

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Marco Jules BramucciRic Bramucci

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Tuffy Muller

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I’m so confused the pictures seem like two separate things ?!?

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Interesting…

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long live old hippies ; always trying to find clean holistic sustainable ways to create energy and food thus undermining the established global carbon based destructive establishment .

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Where’s my matches!
I got a shelter belt that would burn well on thus!

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At last a use for an urban garden.

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Where’s your permit buddy?

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    You got the time Honey … I can can get the car tire fire starters and watch out for Polar Bears!!!

    Reply

Robert O’Neal

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