[Stoves] Fwd: Repeat of PEAT

Richard Stanley rstanley at legacyfound.org
Sat May 2 10:44:15 MDT 2015

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From: Richard Stanley <rstanley at legacyfound.org>
Date: May 2, 2015 at 09:42:09 PDT
To: Stanley Richard <rstanley at legacyfound.org>
Subject: Repeat of PEAT

We had the good fortune to visit Ireland recently and had the occasion to look at this thing called Peat. The following observations are just that completely unvetted and hardly scientific but that where most inquiries begin eh? 
Anyone's considered  comments most appreciated. 
Richard Stanley

Ireland's original forest cover has long been denuded. Peat has been the mainstay of home heat for many in the rural areas. We have seen peat in use here and the fire is ok but abit smokey and the odor slightly off-pleasent,  most probably due to the minerals and salts in the bulk of the material. 
There is at the same time, a. big concern about the mining of peat in Ireland, ( its said that it takes 1000 years to regenerate, that only 7% of original peat is left in ireland and that little can grow on remaining acidic bog-muck base. Typical peat land . You can easily insert a walking stick 2 mtrs into it ---right where you are standing: To say that one gets 'bogged down' in something would be a serious understatement here!

I began to wonder if there would be any way to utilise peat more efficiently while keeping production in the hands of those who have traditionally utilised the resource.

I washed out a fist sized clump of peat , by manually  scraping mashing the clump over a door screen/sized sieve (~2mm square openings), which I had  submersed in a bucket of tap water,  to get some idea of the actual fiber content --as opposed to the nonfiber mineral rich sludge faction; The thinking was that if the fibers could be extracted easily ( as in-- by local farmers for their local homes and markets), these fibers might provide a good base material for blending in such as waste paper, sawdust /other less precious resources to  extend the use if the raw peat, as a heat source. If this were practical it might also allow the producer to supply  the extracted liquor for fertiliser. 
What I discovered was that, Presuming screen size was optimal,  the fibers in left photo below constituted perhaps 20% of original clump volume (right photo below) and their weight was not more that 10% of total clump weight.
Pardon the poor photos its cold there, at this time of year

. More interestingly the fibers  deformed plastically (not spongy or springy) yet they retained considerable tensile strength.  The fibers appear to be largely composed as nearly all cellulose which is the hottest element (with highest energy content) of burning wood. On the face of it, this is an ideal material for wet, low pressure briquetting.
ADs recent comments (chernoble aside) about the absense of soil microbes as a cause for non decomposition of trees might be explain the persistence of the high content of lignin and cellulose fibers in that reducing anaerobic environment as well. But it  might mandate other treatment of the "muck " faction before use as liquid fertilizer. 
As it is now it seems that large scale commercial mining persists while the small farmer is being restricted from further access. 
There is also the emerging commercial sale of  evidence of highly compressed peat and other ag residues but as in other damp climates,  as these logs come out of those presses bone dry: In that environment they would have to have a very short shelf life, unless a chemical binder is added. What i saw of the commercial product had the  density of hardwood but none the less it was fairly easy to peel  off flakes, somewhat  like bad chipboard furniture. Only a few  samples observed though. 
But with all this, as noted earlier, these observations are not vetted through and substantive discussions there, much less real research on the subject anywhere,  so please have at it!  Anything to add to  here, or has it already been invented ?
Look fwd to your insights,
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