Thursday, August 30, 2012

Woodwork on the extension day 1

30 August 2012:  [Extension] With my "Thermal Modelling" paper complete and sent to Vancouver, and two out of three of my dissertation students completed, I've been able to return to the extension.
    I went to the builders merchant and brought back as much 18mm OSB wood as my roof-rack could carry, and yesterday, I bought a large quantity of aluminium angle. The 150mm PIR insulation is coming as quickly as their truck can bring it. Work started on the cutting. Although the extension has detailed drawings, one cannot help finding the proverbial envelope to make final decisions on for cutting. A large envelope!
   The lower part of the extension is all cut now, angles are being added, and so will the foam. I tend to fritter away parts of the daylight and inevitably finish working long after sunset.
    I've done bits of building work for over 40 years now, and have managed without a CLAMP in all that time. But working on my own, and having to handle large boards and a large saw and litres of glue and foam, suddenly, FOUR clamps come along at once. I cannot imagine how I managed all this time. I am impressed with how the design has advanced so much and how completely effective they are as a building tool. Well, I did manage somehow, I just used a pair of mole wrenches most of that time, but these are very limited.

Broadband silence, and Vancouver

30 August 2012: There's been a week of silence from here because our broadband modem failed (electrically) on the evening before the long bank holiday weekend, and today it was only just possible to get the replacement. The iPad has been very useful as the only outlet for Email and Facebook.

Extension: I wasn't able to do much more on the extension as the University stores had run out of aluminium, and Mike the builder was on holiday. I am in need of some steel feet before it is worth ordering timber. I improved the drawings, but had no materials for any building work. I have dissertation students reaching completion, so the time has been usefully employed in helping them!

Vancouver:  Meanwhile I have been working on my paper for the Sustainable Energy Technologies conference in Vancouver in September 2012. For the last two years, I have been evolving much the same paper, mainly advancing the same story a bit further each time, with more up to date graphs etc. This time, I made a completely new start, focusing on the Energy Modelling project of July. The paper starts with a brisk reminder of what the main project is about, and then gets on with explaining the thinking behind the modelling exercise. It is limited to exactly 12 pages, which is quite a good thing, as I would go on for far too long without a limit!
   I also had to produce a 10 page Powerpoint for my professor to take to Vancouver. I cannot go myself due to the need to stay in Nottingham. Getting the paper published, and not having to pay the airfare, hotel and conference admission is good, although I would really love to go. I have a good friend  to stay with in Vancouver, and it is a lovely city.
  I will try to put these on line soon. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 2012 Reports

For those just arrived, this news item is updated each week with any regular reports on performance of the systems in the Peveril Solar house, notably the annual consumption and generation figures. As the Summer 2012 is so horridly grey and rainy, I also mention the 2-year average.  

26 August 2012: It's getting a bit boring reporting the metering every week in summer, because so little happens. There has been no heating requirement since April / May, and the only demand on the heat pump is hot water use, that has little variation unless we have people staying to use more water - not often. Until the winter restarts, it seems that the system has settled down to a House consumption of about 5,030 kWh and a GSHP consumption of 2,985 kWh and it hasn't changed for a long period of weeks. The house consumption has got higher because the contribution from PV was so lousy during the rainy summer. I am worried that this coming autumn will be colder than it was in 2011, and I may see my figures get worse. We shall see.

19 August 2012: We've had a week of withdrawal symptoms (no weekday TV to watch medal winning exploits on...) Football suddenly rushes in to fill the void, and how boring it seems now with the overpaid actors running about for 90 mins, and perhaps only score once. Julian Assange of Wikileaks seems to have filled the newspapers in the UK, Syria continues to rumble on, as does the boring US election campaign. Why can't it be like the British one, all done and dusted in just three weeks? Peveril house... we have started work on the house extension, and I have to order the window. The concreting is done, see other items here about that. Metering wise, we have the disadvantage that last year was so good, solar wise, that figures either hold steady, or slightly worsen. I know that Autumn figures will be bad. The first winter day in 2011 in which the GSHP used more than 12 kWh in a single day was mid December. Oh dear. We won't have another winter like that!
  • House meter holding steady at 5,027 kWh and GSHP meter also holding steady at 2,985 kWh. 
  • PV meter still bad at 3,065 kWh. Not yet enough sun to climb back to the usual level.
  • Sunbox meter 2,564 kWh and Tubes haven't being going for a year yet. 
  • Deep ground temperature is 13.7ºC - I've got used to this being the highest we get. Hopefully, the energy bulb just spreads further. It is higher than last year, even though the summer has not been as good.
12 August 2012: Well, it's been the second week of the Olympics, so this has dominated news stories, day after day. 29 Golds for the GBR Great Britain team! (I presume we could not be called the UK team as this would confuse with the UKR Ukraine team). My best moment, apart from Mo Farah and Jess Ennis, was Andy Murray winning the tennis gold. My worst moment was seeing Victoria Pendleton being faulted because of a wobble that anybody on a bicycle would have done if they were bumped sideways on a bicycle at 50km/hr. Both the start and end ceremonies were great fun but what a pity not to have Eric Claption, Paul Weller and Dave Gilmour at the party. I loved the inclusion of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury, and the use of lighting on the seats to enable the entire audience zone to be made of dynamic coloured pixels.

Elsewhere in the world, Mutton R. Money chose the totally odious Paul Ryan as a running mate. The only good thing about this is that he has gone for the extreme voters, not for the centre ground, and that Ryan's 'Republican Budget' gives loads of evidence of the evil these men could do to their people and to the environment. No longer just the 'trust me' vague platitudes of Mutton. In Northern Iran there was a severe earthquake, blunting much of Iran's pleasure in having done well at the Olympics. What about annual figures for the Peveril Solar house? Having had a reasonably sunny week, there is almost no change.
  • House meter holding steady at 5,003 kWh and GSHP meter also holding steady at 2,978 kWh. 
  • PV meter climbing slightly at 3,089 kWh (averaging this bad year and last year's good one, the biannual average is 3,200)
  • Sunbox meter 2,553 kWh and Tubes haven't being going for a year yet. 
  • Deep ground temperature 13.7ºC - another week above 13º, which is good. It's above 14º much of the day when there is heat going down, but I measure it at midnight on Sundays when the thermal energy bulb has had time to flatten out.
5 August 2012: Another rainy week, so the figures still poor, although if 2013 is a good year, then every week will see excellent progress (just like I did in warm 2011, as it was being compared with cold 2010).
  • House meter holding steady at 5,007 kWh and GSHP meter also holding steady at 2,974 kWh. 
  • PV meter holding steady at 3,062 kWh (in previous 2 years, annual average was 3,330)
  • Sunbox meter 2,524 kWh (2 months were lost in spring 2012) and Tubes haven't being going for a year yet. 
  • Deep ground temperature 13.5ºC.... good.
Taking a time period from 5 August back to 10 May when the combined Tubes and Sunbox were finally working correctly,  I'm comparing this 2012 year with 2011. The Sunbox managed 829 in 2012, and 911 in 2011. With a contribution of 213 from the tubes, the combined solar energy delivered to the borehole in 2012 was 1,042 kWh - so I am grateful to the tubes, and will hope to collect even more if I get the PVT installed later in the year. I need to add another pair of bottlevents to the Tubes system to make it even more reliable.

   Externally, the week has been dominated by the Olympics, with a cascade of gold medals for Britain (of which I witnessed two on saturday). The american writer Gore Vidal died. Aleppo in Syria is the biggest foreign news story, and on sunday night, NASA got their sums and technology right and managed to land the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars without crashing it. The smartness of the engineers delights and amazes me, as they had the idea of a hovering structure that could be a crane and lower the Rover slowly to avoid damage. The airbag method would not have worked with such a heavy object.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Window ordered for extension

23 August 2012: [Extension] The single most expensive item for the extension is the WINDOW, this will be over 2 grand, including installation and VAT.  We have placed the order now, with INTERNORM, one of Europe's leading window companies (will be installed by Newport-based Spectrum Installations)
We sent invitations for tender to Internorm (Spectrum), Rationel (Ravensmoor), Benlowes and Livingwood. We chose the Internorm on price and on the fact that it has the additional foam thermal break in the frame giving it the lowest U-Value of all the windows considered. All windows considered were for the highest performance triple glazing with timber structural frame and aluminium skin externally. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thermal comparison

20 August 2012: I am having to write up a bit about the thermal performance of the Tubes versus the Sunbox, so here is a quick summary of the meter readings. We have had a lousy summer, and I would expect all figures to be low for this year. The Tubes have underperformed, but the combination of the Tubes with the Sunbox have still achieved a higher thermal figure for Summer 2011 or 2010. These are meter readings for exactly three months of the summer of the last three years. In keeping with the higher overall figure, the measured deep ground temperature in Summer seems to have topped out at a higher figure (13.7ºC) than in previous years.


12 Aug1629410041451111474
12 May160571091354810476
Looking at these, it makes me wonder why I changed the design of my Sunbox! The 2010 figure was pretty good! During this period of 2011, the new Sunbox was under construction so for a month of this time, the black panels were not enclosed.
In 2012, the old energy meter was shifted to the tubes, and the sunbox got a new meter which started from zero. For comparison purposes, the fairest time to start from is 12 May 2012 when the heat exchanger was finally fitted and working. Three months of the summer is a good quarter over which to test the technologies.
   I future years, I hope to have an additional set of columns, those showing the performance of the PV-Thermal that I intend to fit on the extension.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aluminium uprights

19 August 2012: [Extension] Major task for today is a couple of Aluminium upright angles, which define the start and end of the extension. It is extremely important for these to be perfectly vertical and equally spaced (top and bottom dimension) because we are making a kit of prefab parts which must fit exactly - cannot be bodged like blockwork.

Each angle is held with 5 M12 anchorbolts
making it ridiculously strong! The angles
have slotted holes to overcome small errors.
Using 40mm equal angle, but it's 3m long
and needs to be 3.35m, so a small section
had to be scarfed on with rivets.
The aluminium uprights in place.
19 August 2012: Weekend work giving further progress on the extension. Took a while because a small error here will cascade later errors, as I found when first building the Sunbox.

Extension foundation wall

19 Aug 2012: [Extension] 
The slab is readied for the edge wall to go in
Morning: A bit of extra skim over the slab
before the insulation is placed. edge foam is
compressible EPS
100mm slabs of extruded PS laid over slab
to insulate floor and make formwork for
edge wall
Insulation in two layers, totalling 200mm
breaking joint.
Insulation in two layers, totalling 200mm
breaking joint.
Tape the joints to prevent random
air movement between panels
Tape the joints to prevent random
air movement between panels
Forming rectangular holes because
we intended to use 50x50 square
washers with the bolts
Forming rectangular holes because
we intended to use 50x50 square
washers with the bolts
Forming rectangular holes under each
wall panel
The upright concrete wall laid
patiently, bucketfull by bucketfull.
No concrete lorries in our road!
All done now with rectangular holes...
these will take threaded rods and
steel feet for the wood panels
...then discover we cant get the square
washers, so bury the threaded road with
bolts only
Make sure the threaded rods are perfectly
vertical in all directions
Each stainless steel rod has two nuts
at the base
Harrisons, good builders, there's their
phone number
Slab finished. wall panels will go up
before the house wall is knocked down
and then final floor will be screeded

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Work starts on the extension

16 August 2012: [Extension] We have made a start on the house extension. We got Building Regs approval in the post in the morning, and the builders started the same day. The extension is very 'minimum impact', so it has a shallow raft (with foam surround and aprons to protect against frost and drought.) The extension will put almost zero load on the foundation as it weighs less than 950 kilos including windows and solar panels) and much of its weight is carried by anchor bolts fixed to the brickwork.

Here we have Ken and Adam
excavating for the raft.

3.5 metres to do, 2 metres done
1.5m still to dig.
Bottomed out now, and forming
a compressible foam strip surround,
formwork for the concrete upstand
The Wacker is deployed to get a good flat
Finding the Wacker a bit hard going
in the confined space
So its time for some hand tamping
of the base to get a perfect smooth
Now the concrete being laid by Ken
Adam mixing the concrete in the
front garden
Done for the day, another ton of ballast
arriving in the morning so that the
edge wall can be built up.
Section through the proposed extension.
Every part of it is modelled in 3D, even
the bolts buried in the concrete.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The pleasure of the Green Belt

13 August 2012: We are so lucky to have a site on the edge of the Green Belt of Nottingham, with countryside only about 4 metres from my bedroom window! The farmer has just harvested the whole field with his giant combine harvester. He even works at night by headlights, and as the lines are so perfect, I assume that he is following GPS guided pathways.
   In the foreground is my daughter's dog, Barney, staying with us for a few days. How wonderful for him to have countryside like this to have several walks a day in! You can have quite a long walk and still keep the house in sight.
   The house looks a bit odd there, but if you scan sideways and can see around the trees as you walk along that boundary, it's clear that there is a greater concentration of PV here than in any other part of West Bridgford. At least 6 other houses within 200 metres of the Peveril Solar house now have large PV arrays.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Article writing for SET 2012

12 August 2012: I am meant to be writing my paper for SET 2012 in Vancouver, but it's been terribly distracting having the Olympics and supervision of several dissertation students at the same time.
     I am writing about the thermal modelling process. One thing I have to illustrate is the shape of my theoretical energy bulb. this is based on measuring the energy inputs and outputs. Well, it can't be the actual figure of eight twin borehole quite yet as the maths of that growing and shrinking, with varying surface area and volume is defeating. A simple single cylinder is what I have used, of a fixed height, so that expansion and contraction is wholly based on RADIUS. Thus the volume is relative to the square of the radius.
   The bottle-shape is because you can ignore the performance of the bit nearest the ground, and the lower part is rounded off. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lens flare without Photoshop

9.8.12: A couple of brilliantly sunny days in August are helping to restore my faith in the British climate (poor gullible fool...) and yesterday the house buried 40kwh - 20 electric and 15+5 thermal. We'll probably get the same or more today, 45 kWh, and hopefully more days like this before the week is out. If Sunday is a good day, I hope for a good reading for the deep ground temperature.
    This photo taken at 5pm shows the sun has moved to the West (end of the working day for the tubes) and there is a brilliant solar reflection off the Sunbox.
    I've agreed to go ahead with having the ETFE fronts and these are almost wholly transparent to solar thermal energy compared with polycarbonate (although they are not optically transparent). The reflection off the polycarbonate is probably as much as with ETFE and there's very little thermal energy lost in reflection off a transparent surface. ETFE is usually lens shaped in building applications (like a pillow) but the ones from Holscot will be flat and stretched, with a central mullion to reduce the span.

MG Renewables visit Peveril

9.8.12: Martin and Gerry of MG Renewables came round for a visit. MGR's plumber installed the Tubes last March.
     Tubes have not been used for solar earth charging (as far as I know) and it has been useful research to discover how to get the best from them - using a heat exchanger. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Little Battersea power station

6 Aug 2012: The heat exchanger now has Four bottle vents (airlock removers) to make it even more reliable. The four vents, one at each corner, make me think of London's Battersea power station (retired) I will wrap more insulation over these before the Winter comes.

While I had that part of the system drained, I thought it advisable to replace the Pump, as the previous pump failing was one of the causes of major problems last March. This one is a new Wilo, an A-rated pump working at 15W, at about 500 litres/hour.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nettles on the border

6.8.12: Despite a good cut-back in June, the alternate rain and sun conditions have been perfect for the growth of wild things, including these nettles, heavy with seed, about to blow over into our garden. Yes, I have been out with the big scissors!

The house is right on the edge of the Green Belt, and this is what I have to look out at from my bedroom, from the window below the Sunbox. This was a set of bright yellow rape flower, and now, there's not a trace of yellow, it is all these dried bean pods. I presume these are used to make oil with. A few have grown outside the boundary of the field (some of the seeds have strayed) and I was wondering if one could do something with them (e.g. eat them.... :)

Postscript 9.8.12: The farmer has now cleared the field of rape.

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