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Lightning protection

We had an altercation with a lightning bolt during the storm early Saturday morning. Country life has been pungent lately with all the farmers spreading the winters bovine effluent on all sides of our homestead. The air has been sort of thick. So when I went into the sunroom to let the dog out I remarked that it had got worse over night. Marcia said it smelled more like bottlegas than bio-methane. And as the dog went out the door I left it open because it was much less stinky outside. Marcia suggested that we had a gas leak about the time I noticed that the gas heater in the sunroom was hissing. I turned off the valve as she opened windows. The lightning bolt had burned a pinhole in the stainless steel pipe that connected to the heater. Code does not require gas appliances to be grounded but mine are now connected to my lightning protection system. The TV also needed to be replaced. I took a course in lightning protection after we moved in here 30 years ago because of frequent hits. All conductors in a home should be connected and grounded. My solar panels and satellite dish are all tied together as is the gas line now. I think I’ll add a few ground rods and check all the connections. Life is good.

lightning damage to gas connector
lightning burned pin hole in gas pipe
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Green Theology:  Only Gardeners Go to Heaven “ God is Green.”      George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1990  

The Revery—   By Sandra Lindow

At breakfast my husband removes

All gardeners go to heaven

spent blooms from the Persian Violet;

As he gently pinches them off,

dry petals fall on his plate,

pile up among  empty muffin papers.

Dropping the last of them, he says,

“Only gardeners go to Heaven.”

The Headline—

Tel Aviv—Israeli Scholars Finally Release

               Secret Dead Sea Scroll

The Translation–

And the voice from the burning bush

Spoke again unto Moses saying.

“Inasmuch as you desire Heavenly Reward,

you must work the earth yourself,

you, your children and your children’s children.

You must work the land, feed the soil

and gather the fruits in barns.

Of your abundance, you must feed the poor.

For if you have two bushels

and your neighbor has none,

you must in charity share one.

For the earth is the Lord’s

and the fullness thereof,

and you are the appointed gardener.

Woe to those who forsake this part.

The Commentary—

“God is Green!”

The Word is out and it’s official;

even the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees.

All Souls get ready to put on dem leafy shoes,

for dem golden street are really paved in green.

Oak leaves yoke Heavenly Choir robes;

St. Peter stands at the Gate of Green.

In the mundane world Chicago Gold Coast balconies

sprout profusions of gardenias.

Wall Street goes in for marigolds as well—

Everyone wants a piece of Heaven.

Bill Gates is seen with a rose in his lapel.

At the Vatican a lone painter

observes a moment of emerald silence

before painting a green thumb

on the Sistine Hand of God.

“God is green; God is good,

and we thank him for this food,”

children pray before dinner.

In quiet places one can hear

The breath of earth reincarnate

as it sighs in blessed relief.

Finally, the path to salvation is cleared

So even the simplest grasps.

Abel’s gift understood at last:

Only gardeners go to Heaven.

For in their digging,

planting, pruning and picking,

they touch the great green body of God.

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Fuel alcohol training, customized one on one, hands on, 5 day class

We had a wonderful 5 days with our new friend from Nigeria who was fulfilling a month long quest for solar and other sustainable power knowledge and techniques that he can take back to improve the quality of life in his village.

We crafted his class for the need to make fuel grade moonshine in a site that didn’t have modern amenities. Much like the prohibition era Moonshiners this technology is capable of making high octane motor fuel to outrun the revenuers or run a pump to bring water from a well.

malting grain, or, making your own enzymes

potato starch conversion
mashing and cooking sprouted potatoes trying to convert starch to sugar

He had already taken two of our online classes. One on the importance of bio-fuels (Free) and the other being a basic 101 distillation process How to do it. He had the general idea  and having taken the online class for $50.00 he got $100.00 off the hands on training.

It is true you can make fuel alcohol out of anything that grows, but his village grows a lot of corn so that seemed to be a good place to start.  A bushel of corn can make 2 and 1/2  gallons of ethanol fuel and the leftovers will still be nutritious food for animals or humans.

To cook a bushel of grain all at once, you need a 35 gallon crock pot as well as the strength to stir a 300 pound pot of oatmeal and keep it from burning for three hours.  The village may have that kind of manpower but for learning purposes we start at 1/10th that scale.

move to shady spot
I move we find shade

alcohol proof
measuring proof

distillation monitor
Making fuel grade alcohol is both a science and an art

Modern yeasts can ferment to over 20% alcohol in 5 days. We did that and ran an engine on fuel we made that week

ilumination with alcohol fuel
alcohol fuel lamp

alcohol fuels small engine
run lawnmower on pure ethanol


After converting , fermenting and distilling we took a field trip to see how a megga producer makes fuel.

Same thing only bigger

ethanol plant
Marquis Energy
Neceeda WI

corn dumping
corn truck unloads

testing starch

Ethanol factory
Marquis Ethanol Plant

grain for ethanol
for making cookies or ethanol fuel

control center
control room

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Secret Government Reports from 1909

Secret government reports from before 1909

Ok so they aren’t really secret. You can go to the library and check them out like I did. But they do contain information about ethanol fuel that is not commonly available at present time . Since these reports are public domain I make them available to you in total along with this essay.

One report is from the US Geological Survey published in 1909 Titled Bulletins 389-394. The title of the report # 392 is COMMERCIAL DEDUCTIONS FROM COMPARISONS OF GASOLINE AND ALCOHOL TESTS ON INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES. By Robert M. Strong. This report can be found on the internet Full report at

This report is a summary of the commercial results of 2000 tests done by the USGS in 1907 and 1908. “The tests dealt primarily with gasoline, forming part of the investigation of mineral fuels provided for by acts of Congress. To determine the relative economy and efficiency of gasoline it was compared with denatured alcohol” (Ethanol )….. “and to prove that the minimum fuel consumption rate for each could be obtained in approximately the same manner.”

My summary of the test results is as follows.

Ethanol can be used in any engine designed to use gasoline and will have more power but will use more fuel.

Ethanol used in an engine designed to use ethanol will get the same fuel economy as gasoline in an engine designed for gasoline in the year 1909. Because there were no fuel robbing anti-pollution devices on the gasoline engines of that time and because none are needed on modern ethanol engines we can extrapolate that a modern dedicated ethanol vehicle would get much better fuel economy than a modern gasoline powered vehicle. Maybe as much as twice as much.

The down side is that dedicated ethanol engines cannot be made to run on gasoline.

Some of the tests involved mixtures of ethanol and gasoline and concluded, “ there is no advantage in using gasoline and ethanol together. ….. Moreover, the use of gasoline in any appreciable quantity does away with many of the advantages that are obtained from the use of alcohol alone, such as safety and absence of disagreeable odors.”

The other report is titled The use of Alcohol and Gasoline in Farm Engines It is from the US Dept of Agriculture 1909. Farmers bulletin No. 277. By Charles Edward Lucke.

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The answer to everything

Community Sized Ethanol Fuel, A Grassroots Energy Solution

By Jeff Lindow Dec. 2012

In 1925 Henry Ford said, “The Fuel of the Future is Alcohol.”

Ford was talking about ethyl alcohol, also called grain alcohol or ethanol. This type of alcohol is not only the active ingredient in adult drinks but was also a popular motor fuel at that time. Ford initially made cars that could run on alcohol or gasoline or a mixture of both (FFV). Alcohol at that time was about 6 times the price of gasoline. Prohibition prohibited the manufacture of alcohol in 1920. Since there was none for fuel Ford stopped making Flex Fuel Vehicles but he announced in the New York Times (see article at left) that he still believed that alcohol was the fuel of the future. A couple years after Ford stopped making FFV cars prohibition ended.

Many of us who have studied history and have made and used ethyl alcohol as fuel agree with him. And in view of the way alcohol fuel is today being made and used we have come to believe that prohibition was as much about eliminating a competitive fuel source as it was about preventing drunkenness. That may also explain why so many ethanol fuel distilleries are owned by the petroleum industry.

My purpose is to show how increased use of ethanol fuel and other bio fuels can solve many of America’s problems in the following ways. It can:

  • Reduce climate change

  • Be cleaner, safer, and cheaper per mile than gas.

  • Create local jobs making fuel and building efficient ethanol vehicles.

  • Make fuel from waste and non-food crops.

  • Be made now with existing technology.

  • Run existing vehicles with minimal adjustments.

About Us

Our Family Business, The Fire Place Energy Center, has been a proponent of sustainable energy since the late 1970s. We presented on the benefits of bio-fuel at Bill Clinton’s Climate Change Roundtable in 1994. In August of 2012 we presented to the chairman of the education committee at the capital in Madison about the need for better public information about renewable fuels. More on this soon.

We make and use bio-ethanol as fuel. We use it in our cars and lawnmowers and generators and chainsaw. We see that it can, and should, be a big part in our quest for clean energy independence. Our goal is to teach the advantages of ethanol as fuel as well as to address the myths and misconceptions. We run classes and workshops giving hands on instruction on making and using this fuel. We have exhibited and presented our small scale production and utilization technology at the MREA Energy Fair at Custer WI., and at the Green Drive Expo in Madison WI. For more go to our website

We can show you how it is possible, with old technology and non-food ingredients, to get into the transportation fuel business.

See us make fuel with leftovers at

Why is Bio-Ethanol the solution to climate change?

Because bio-fuels are made from plants, growing the plants in the first place takes more greenhouse gases out of the air than is released when the fuel is burned. You get more than twice the amount of fuel energy from ethanol than it takes to grow, harvest and refine it. The more ethanol is used to replace gasoline, the cleaner the air and water will become.

Ethanol is easy to make. Farmers used parts available in the early 1900s to build distillers to make fuel for their cars and tractors. When it became illegal, Moonshiners built distilleries out in the woods that could make thousands of gallons a year. An article that appeared in The Joplin Globe, September 29, 1991 reported, “the now defunct Licensed Beverage Industries, Inc., which represented legal distillers, said that between 1950 and 1969, one billion gallons of illegal moonshine were produced nationwide.” Since gasoline was plentiful and cheap at that time this illegal ethanol was for recreational purposes rather than fuel.

Ethanol can be made from most anything that grows. We have enzymes that can make ethanol fuel from waste paper.

If there happened to be a big ethanol spill, there would be no need for an expensive cleanup. Ethanol is biodegradable and would cause minimal harm to the environment before it was completely gone.

Why is ethanol better, safer, and cleaner fuel than gasoline?

The above link is to a Report by Robert M Strong on a study the United States Geological Survey published more than 100 years ago of some 2000 comparison tests of motor fuel, ethyl alcohol vs. gasoline. At the time the comparison tests were done ethanol was 3 to 6 times the price of gasoline but the tests concluded it was better, safer, and less obnoxious. People did use it, therwise Ford wouldn’t have built cars that could run on it. Today ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. The tests also concluded that gasoline could only be run in engines that were designed for gasoline. Alcohol, however, can be used satisfactorily in engines built for gasoline or for kerosene and will give more power but less fuel economy. An engine designed for ethanol gets the best fuel economy but can only be run on ethanol.

We have found that the 10% mixture found at most gas pumps is the least desirable mix because it goes bad quicker than other mixtures and, for drivers unschooled in how to drive with ethanol fuel, results in fewer miles per gallon. We, and others who use ethanol, have learned how any car can get the best fuel economy by useing 30 to 35 percent alcohol with no damage to the cars. These same cars with minor modification can run on pure ethanol, or any mixture of ethanol and gas.

A car that is designed to run on straight ethanol should go about twice as far on a tank of fuel as a similar gasoline car, but it could not be run on gasoline. Indy race cars run on ethanol and their fuel consumption at 200 mph suggests (cube square law) that if they were designed to run at normal highway speeds they would be getting about 50 miles per gallon.

Ethanol fuel can be stored for many years without going bad. Gasoline goes bad in months.

Ethanol fuel used in small engines such as lawnmowers, generators, chainsaws etc. cuts emissions of dangerous carbon monoxide by more than 90%. Small engines that were built to run only on alcohol would cut emissions even more and increase fuel economy.

How can increased utilization of ethanol fuel create local jobs?

Beyond the obvious need for people to grow and make it is the fact that no company in this country produces vehicles that are designed to run well on ethanol fuel. Flex fuel vehicles that are sold in the USA are designed to perform the best on gasoline.

To get the best performance and economy out of an ethanol fueled vehicle it needs to have a higher compression engine and higher speed gears in the transmission to take advantage of the much higher(113) octane rating of ethanol fuel.

We also need trained mechanics to modify the myriads of small engines that people use for everyday outdoor chores. Engines that run at a constant speed are easy to convert to alcohol and doing so will reduce carbon monoxide emissions by over 90%.

Alcohol is also a cleaner and safer fuel for home heating than oil or gas.

There are alcohol fueled heating appliances available but more manufacturers are needed.

Alcohol can be used for lighting and is cleaner, less toxic, and safer than kerosene.

What can be used to make ethanol fuel?

Much of the reluctance of many people to support alcohol as fuel comes from the fact that what it is made from can also be used as food. One of the most common questions 🙁 Second only to “Can you drink it??“:- ) we get asked when we talk about ethanol production is “What do you prefer to use?” Our answer is always, “Whatever we can get for free.” According to the USDA almost half of the food in the United States gets thrown away. Every community should have an ethanol plant that converts these otherwise wasted carbohydrates into fuel. It would be similar to a recycling or to a trash to energy program. Wisconsin fields produce piles of spuds and pumpkins, apples and berrys, that are deemed unacceptable for human consumption and are plowed under.

As for as a crop to be grown for bio fuel production, I am most impressed with a group that is concentrating on growing cattails from which to make ethanol. Wild cattails are hard to harvest but it should be possible to domesticate this hardy plant that grows everywhere and to create revolving wetlands similar to Wisconsin’s cranberry marshes. The research and testing that was done and is being done has been compiled by Peggy Korth in her book, Small Scale Energy and Fuel Production. Her research and plans for setting up a business turning cattails into motor fuel can be found here. The book also addresses the fact that cattails, grown for fuel can, in doing so, also help clean sewage. Order her book at

How is ethanol made?

Henry Ford said that there is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. 82 years later his great grandson William Clay Ford reiterated the urgency of perfecting cellulosic conversion that can let us distill sawdust, wastepaper and grass clippings for extended ethanol production. This is true. We have enzymes that can convert waste paper to ethanol. But for our purposes at this time we are going to focus on the process of converting starches and sugars into fuel.

Fermentation is the process in which ethanol is produced by feeding sugar to a culture of single cell organisms called yeast. The yeast eats the sugar and produces ethanol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide (CO2) can be released into greenhouses and will speed up the growth of vegetation. It can be sold to carbonated beverage factories at a fairly good price. Although baking yeast and brewers yeast only produce up to about 7% alcohol, modern fuel grade yeast cultures can produce concentrations of ethanol well above 20%.

All green plants use the energy from sunshine to turn water and CO2 into sugar. They use the sugar for their metabolic processes or they further convert the sugar to starch which can be stored for longer times, like over the winter. Both sugar and starch can be easily made into fuel grade ethanol. Apples, sugar beets, sugar cane, sorghum and a long list of other sweet fruits have been used to make ethanol. Many small scale distillers use sugary things that are being thrown away by various businesses such as candy factories, grocery stores, and restaurants. Free is always best and using stuff that would otherwise go to a landfill is always good.

If starch crops are to be used, the starch must be converted back to sugar. The plants do this themselves when in the spring they make enzymes to convert the starch back to the sugar that they use for the energy to grow again. Barley seeds will make about ten times the amount of enzymes they need and home brewers take advantage of this to make beer. Commercially made enzymes can be purchased and are often preferred for producing more consistent results. Grains have been traditionally used as a source of starch from which to make ethanol. The recipes to convert the various grains are fairly well known and published. Root crops like potatoes have been Widely used to produce alcohol.

The cartoon shown at right portrays part of the process by which corn is turned into a liquid on which we can run our car. About 20 lb of grain will make a gallon of 190 proof ethanol which is fine for fuel. An average acre of corn in Wisconsin can produce about 250 gallons a year.

The Distillation System

Combined Sequential Distillation is used to separate ethanol from water in a solution of beer or wine or mead or anything else containing ethanol.

This Prototype, “The Silver Cloud” , shown at left, is versatile and has proven that it is capable of utilizing either sugar or starch crops or any type of food waste that contains starch or sugar.

At a production rate of 15,000 gallon per year a system like this is enough to fulfill the transportation needs of about a dozen average families. Pushed to the theoretical limit it could make 36,000 gallons annually.

If only smaller amounts of fuel are to be needed the distiller can be used as a stand alone production system without any external fermentation and cooking apparatus. In this configuration the system can produce about 50 gallons a week or 2500 gallons a year.

Midway, Vollan Oil Company (left} is a family owned Ethanol Producer just North of Sioux Falls. They sell directly to the community and offer blends of fuel containing 10, 20, 30, 50, 85, and 98 percent ethanol. They tell me that their most popular blend is 30% ethanol. We are guessing that the community has learned the secret of getting the best fuel mileage with non-FFV vehicles.

The bottom Line

Five years ago I was as skeptical as anyone about the viability of ethanol as a solution to today’s energy and environmental problems. But I did my own research and testing and am now convinced that any community or neighborhood that wants to be secure in their energy independence should at least look very seriously at biofuels as part of the answer. I am looking for work with a company, community, or individual that can see the short and long term benefits of a sustainable energy community. I am currently demonstrating to our local Amish community that their small engines can be easily modified to use cleaner safer ethanol.

The corporations and government agencies are not going to do this for us but this is a transportation energy source that we can make ourselves .

Contact Jeffre W Lindow


715 683 2540

Academy of Renewable Fuels

Myths about Ethanol Fuels
Make Ethanol at Home

Flex-Fuel Conversion

Space Heating

Cooking with Ethanol

The Secret
Start Using Clean Fuel
Without Having To Buy Something First

Where to get E85 Fuel
Current WI Prices

Benefits to the Environment






green drive


MREA 2013


No Whisky today


ozark shiner




test jars




making mash

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Fueling Harley Davidson with party leftovers

Ethanol Fuel essay 4 17 2010

The best thing I learned in college I can put in my gas tank.

A Hungary Harley fueled with party leftovers.

Once upon a time in 1973, in the US of A, there was a boy who set off on his Harley Davidson motorcycle to seek knowledge at an institute of higher learning miles away. There was at that same time, half a world away, a group of evil sultans from the land of OPEC who decided to punish the people of the US of A by withholding and raising the price of their oil and gasoline. The price tripled from 3 to almost 12 dollars per barrel. This worked well for them and there were lines and shortages and unhappy people at the gas pumps. “What will I do?” thought the boy. “If we run out of gasoline how will I get home to my family at semester’s end? I will just have to find a way to make my own fuel.” He remembered a Jules Vern novel he had read. The hero , Phillious Fogg saved the day by substituting brandy for the depleted fuel supply of their Zeppelin. With this in mind the boy went to the library and studied up about alternate fuels. He read about how farmers coped with fuel shortage during the war. Suddenly he had the answer. A large number of the other guys who lived in his dorm were real party animals. The morning after a party there were always a large number of unfinished drinks sitting around. He could simply pour them all together and separate out the alcohol for fuel. So that’s what he did.

His distillatioist still mockupn device consisted of a popcorn popper and a wine jug coupled to various tubes and fittings borrowed from the chemistry lab. It worked reasonably well till he let the pan boil dry and the excess heat cracked the wine jug. What a smelly mess. Fortunately that’s what the dorm usually smelled like. The fuel he did produce (less than a gallon) also worked reasonably well in his Harley. Just advance the spark till it ran right. Not as much speed but OK to get from here to there.

That is where his initial interest in producing alcohol fuel ended. He did not fix his still or make another drop of alcohol for 35 years. Why bother? The oil embargo ended. Gas was once again plentiful although higher priced. Making alcohol in the 1970s was still a federal crime. But the biggest factor in changing his priorities……….He met this girl……..Sold the Harley and bought an MGB convertible. They graduated from college, got married, had kids, and lived happily ever after…….untill they realized that the petroleum fuel  that was being pumped out of the ground for fuel was causing damage to the earth, air and water and that we needed a clean renewable alternative that can be used in cars and trucks on the road today ……….To be continued……

Jeff Marci bike
Not the Harley from 1973. We are no longer college kids

You CAN free yourself from Oil Industry control

You can legally make your own fuel for less than a dollar a gallon. The technology is here right now to use this fuel in your car. Starting with E85 which is 85% alcohol and can be found at some filling stations.

Indy cars go more than 200 miles an hour on pure alcohol fuel. They have been using this fuel exclusively since 2006 season.

If the Exxon Valdez had been loaded with ethanol fuel instead of crude oil when it ran aground in Prince Williams Sound there would have been no environmental disaster. The spilled alcohol would have been diluted and dissipated in the sea. Yes the sea otters and other marine life would have been frisky for awhile and really grouchy the next day but there would have been no need for an expensive cleanup, and there would not still be toxic residue on the shore.