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Horse Manure as Fuel?


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#1 David Einhorn

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 10:48 AM

A thought occured to me. I see lots of ads in the local paper for free horse manure. We used to have horses, so neither my wife or I find the smell of horse manure unpleasant. I used the search feature on the forum and could not find any discussion on use of dried horse manure for fuel. Does anyone know how horse manure, both with and without sawdust mixed in compares to charcoal and/or coal for energy output?

I would be very interested in numbers for comparative information on the calorie output of:
- coal
- charcoal
- straight horse manure (assuming timothy grass fed with grain supplement)
- horse manure mixed with sawdust
- straight cow manure, grass fed
- straight cow manure, grain fed
- straight cow manure, grass fed with grain supplement

#2 pkrankow

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 12:46 PM

I have read several historical references about not being able to weld using dried dung. Is that going to affect your needs?

There are even discussions of making stove pellets from manure.
making pellets from horse manure *
Elsewhere on that site they list btu for various biomass, but not manure.
Biomass Energy Comparison | Make Your Own Pellets

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#3 Sweany

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 01:13 PM

that's just strange thinking
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#4 Bentiron1946

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 01:19 PM

What is so strange about it? I mean using animal waste as fuel. Folk have been using dried animal dung for fuel for generations. I'm sure that it could be turned into charcoal with a little trial and error on the part of Unicorn and made into a briquette. My personal opinion is that it would make better compost and be better for the earth.

#5 Rich Hale

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 01:45 PM

Obtain some of the stuff and give it a try, if it works use it. If it does not work use the rest of wot you obtained on the flowers.

#6 Rob Browne

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 05:53 PM

It will be interesting to see the results of the Unicorn poo experiment but I would suspect that unless it is compressed somehow it will not be dense enough to get really high temperatures without a continual shoveling motion.

Of course this is pure speculation.
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#7 Jack Evers

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 07:02 PM

I've generally estimated all bio mass fuel at around 7000 BTU/lb - born out by the table in post 2. Something as light as dried horse manure wouldn't carry a lot of energy on a volume basis.

#8 Bill_49

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 07:35 PM

If they can use chicken manure as fuel for generating stations, you should be able to use horse manure. The major difference between bird manure and mammal manure is that bird manure also contains the uric acid from the liquid waste whereas mammal manure does not. I don't know if that will make a difference. I read where the old pioneers burned buffalo manure and cow manure for heat. There you go.
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#9 arftist

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 08:13 PM

I am pretty sure that people in Africa who use manure in their homes as cooking fuel get dreadfull diseases as a result. I would be wary of something which could be readily replaced by charcoal, (a well known excellent forge fuel), which is also free if you make a simple retort.

#10 SGropp

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Posted 28 September 2009 - 10:01 PM

I once did a pit firing of a bunch of ceramic pieces using dried horse manure as fuel.It definitely got hot enough to bisque fire the pottery so that it was quite hard and pretty strong. We didn't try a glaze firing which would have required a higher temperature and more control of the atmosphere. I remember that we used a lot of fuel for the project.It helps if it is dry!!

I think we were inspired by reading how the Pueblo Indians did and still do make beautiful black glazed pottery using horse and sheep manure as the fuel. We also dug the clay out of a bank as part of the process. This was fairly early on in my lifetime career of doing everything the hard way.

I'm not sure if it would get hot enough to forge with, probably pretty inefficient due to the high bulk to BTUs .

There might be some research done on this in regards to the metalwork done by the ancient nomadic tribes in Central Asia. The Scythians [sp?] in particlar were renowned for their fine jewelry and weapons. They were horse nomads on the treeless steppes

#11 Nakedanvil - Grant Sarver

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 12:00 AM

I think it's a great idea! Why, if horse manure and bull poo can power this website, why not a forge?
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#12 beth

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 02:42 AM

naked anvil - ha ha - i reckon youre right! would love to know if this works - have seen many cooking ovens fired by manure in india, the poo was flattened out into discs first - dont know if that compresses it at all? but thats going to be the problem i would have thought - getting it dense enough.

#13 Dave Budd

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 02:48 AM

I thought it worth a go once too. When I was researching my MA dissertation (looking at preindustrial forge fuels and carburisation of iron to steel) I wanted to test dung, but the only dung I could find that didn't have feed suppliments in it was Dartmoor pony poo. The feed suppliments could throw my chemical analysis out, so wanted to keep it as ancient and clean as possible.

I dried it out and made cakes from it, then loaded a forge with it. It burnt really fast and barely got a bar to dull red. smeeled of burning grass funnily enough. I think the lack of structure was the downfall with the pony poo. sheep, lama, cow poo are all much tighter in structure and so would hold together better when burning.

I've been meaning to try some other dung, but not got around to it. Also I was using a blower rather than bellow, doubt it made any difference to how well it would forge in though.
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#14 David Einhorn

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 05:29 AM

I thought it worth a go once too. When I was researching ...Dartmoor pony poo. .. It burnt really fast and barely got a bar to dull red. ..... I think the lack of structure was the downfall with the pony poo. sheep, lama, cow poo are all much tighter in structure and so would hold together better when burning....


Dave, did pony poo burn noticeably faster or slower than charcoal?

#15 Dave Budd

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:14 AM

poo go poof!

Basically burnt away like you would expect a pile of dry grass to do. So much much faster than charcoal. I suspect that a different dung (such as cow pats) being more dense will be a little faster than charcoal.

Tai Goo was one of my sources for a smith who uses dung occasionally, maybe worth giving him a call?
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#16 beth

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 11:57 AM

yeah the india stuff was cow poo....

#17 OddDuck

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 12:00 PM

This might be a case where building a gassifier to heat the forge would make sense. A little more Rube Goldberg than would be strictly neccessary, but then you are using the burning gas instead of that particular fuel directly. A largeish hopper on the gassifier would ease the need for constantly adding fuel. Free is good, but sometimes it costs almost as much to get free working as it would buying new.
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#18 David Einhorn

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 12:21 PM

This might be a case where building a gassifier to heat the forge ....


Possibly makes sense, but I can't use gas at an historical event. :(

#19 pkrankow

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 01:39 PM

What about compressing the dung into a dense pellet? Equipment already exists for that purpose, so no need to reinvent anything. Might even be able to borrow/rent something.

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#20 Dave Budd

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Posted 29 September 2009 - 03:11 PM

for historical purposes it's much easier to go with charcoal ;) although coal and peat are also know options where they are present (and I have forged in them both, so know they work)
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