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11/24/2013

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Jheri

How did you measure the cow pie? :)

steve

The cow pie story goes to high school. I spent time as a teaching assistant in the physics class rather than going to a study hall. The school had a lot of old lab equipment that was never used and part of the work was to try and get it working. There was a bomb calorimeter - an instrument where you put a measured amount of something combustible in a chamber, burn it and measure how much heat the reaction produced. It is how you find how many calories there are in food. We got it working and calibrated and stated making a lot of measurements. Mostly food, but I wanted to try fuels for comparison - it impressed me that fuels like wood were so close to foods in energy density. At one point the teacher remembered that some of the early settlers had to burn dried manor in treeless parts of the state, so we started measuring dried dung. There is still a lot of energy left in a cow pie. It isn't a surprise that this is a common fuel in the third world. Some areas put the stuff in vessels and treat it to extract methane to run a generator.

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