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Gumbo

The potting material in your garden that can heat your home

Adding a salt to vermiculite enables it to store vast amounts of heat for months

A mineral used by gardeners for potting plants could be used to heat homes in the winter using the power of the summer sun, scientists have discovered.

When a type of salt is added, vermiculite, which is normally used to pot cactus and similar plants, takes on an extraordinary property.

Blow warm air over it — breathing will do — and it dries out. But if you then expose it to cold, damp air, it absorbs the water and releases heat.

Dubbed “magic beans” by researchers at Swansea University, the material can be used to store heat energy for months in this way.

A fridge-freezer-sized box of it could be used to provide effective heating for a domestic house for potentially months during the winter.

A trial is already underway at a building on the Tata steelworks plant at Port Talbot.

It is used in conjunction with simple solar thermal panels made from a sheet of metal that intensify the heat from the sun.

Professor David Worsley, an engineer at the university, said: “In the summer, we’ve got this massive amount of hot air collected by solar thermal collectors.

“We wanted to make a material you could put heat into and save it for the winter.”

While he was not involved in its invention, Professor Worsley and others at Swansea are working out how to incorporate it into buildings.

“You drive hot air over it, it drives all the water off and in the winter all you do is introduce cold damp air. It absorbs the water and releases energy,” he said.

“It will keep the heat until you put some damp air on it — so you can time-shift solar energy from the summer into the winter. We are really excited by this.”

The two ingredients, vermiculite and calcium chloride, are both cheap — the expensive part in terms would come from installing the system to pipe the heat around the building.

The material, called interseasonal heat storage, is being developed as a way to store energy by Tata Steel, supported by the Swansea University-led SPECIFIC team.

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/heating-vermiculite-potting-plants-heat-storage-summer-sun-winter-swansea-a7234406.html

:idea:

Gumbo.

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Wow. Is this true, could be good if it is.

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yeah Vermiculite dust what could possibly go wrong there

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Just sprinkled some salt on the cats litter tray, load o bollocks just makes the cat shit taste better.

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lol

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the only thing that makes the vermiculite special here is its capacity for holding water?

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@@swam_pi

Looks that way.The process is based on the work of Russian scientist,Yuri Aristov.The vermiculite stops the delequesence of the Calcium Chloride in the system,that is,to stop it going into solution from the water it absorbs from the atmosphere.

Don't know much about it to be fair,just read a few of the comments under the article,but a google search on 'Vermiculite CaCl2 Aristov' returns a few papers on the subject so it seems legit.

:hippy:

Gumbo.

E2A tag

Edited by Gumbo
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this is pretty cool, excuse the pun, could a solid block of vermiculite be made that still performs this function and is also safe around people inhaling air?

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This has some great potential for heating grooms eh Gumbo ;)

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this is pretty cool, excuse the pun, could a solid block of vermiculite be made that still performs this function and is also safe around people inhaling air?

I'm unsure on that but instead you could just enclose it to make it safe perhaps.

This has some great potential for heating grooms eh Gumbo ;)

Yeah I wondered if that was a possibility.They have been writing papers on this for some time now,so I'm quite surprised no potting shed inventors have worked with this.

:smokin:

Gumbo.

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@@Gumbo

I suppose it depends on what kind of heat this material would re produce mate and what kind of losses are calculated due to entropy.

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@@botanics

I think the science behind it must be quite complex involving thermodynamics and such so I'm sure entropy must be a factor but I confess I haven't fully tried to read or understand all the papers on it to date.

:smokin:

Gumbo.

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how would one turn the heating down,would it not be a constant temp?

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how would one turn the heating down,would it not be a constant temp?

Blow warm air over it — breathing will do — and it dries out. But if you then expose it to cold, damp air, it absorbs the water and releases heat.

something in there, it only releases the heat when exposed to cold and damp. id have to play about with it.

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